By evangelist.com.ng edition, Sunday September 24, 2023.
Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom has shed light on the recent protests regarding the Installation of the President-General of the Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers.
He explained the need to understand the context behind the protests and debunked certain misconceptions.
According to Governor Umo Eno, insinuations and misunderstandings have been propagated by individuals who lost in elections and are attempting to exploit ethnic sentiments to divide the state, adding that he firmly stated that this division would not be allowed under his administration.
He clarified that the elevation of the Traditional Rulers’ Council to the Supreme Traditional Rulers’ Council, with the President-General, was a decision made by the paramount rulers themselves before he assumed office.
The governor further explained that the President-General, who is the Oku Ibom Ibibio, and the two Vice President Generals (representing Nkuku Annang and Ahta Oro) were selected to represent the Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers nationally, saying that this selection was in line with the rotation tradition of the chairmanship.
He said that to formalise it, the bill was sent to the House of Assembly and passed into law after due consultation and public hearing, emphasising that the move was in alignment with the wishes of the traditional rulers.
He urged traditional rulers from all parts of the state to affirm their presence and participation in the meeting where this decision was made, maintaining that the allegations of individuals trying to disrupt the unity of Akwa Ibom were unfounded and urged people to disregard such claims.
The governor urged traditional rulers to uphold the sanctity and dignity of their offices and not allow politicians to manipulate or undermine them.
He stated his commitment to respecting the diverse ethnicities within Akwa Ibom, noting that unity was essential for the progress and development of the state.
“Before I came into office, the paramount rulers had met in a meeting amongst themselves. I was just a witness in that meeting. The 31 paramount rulers in the state, apart from those that were sick or deceased met and agreed that to enable Akwa Ibom to play a role in the national traditional rulers council, there was a need to elevate the traditional rulers council to be called the Supreme Traditional Rulers Council headed by the President-General that they had for 4 years. I didn’t appoint him.
“And incidentally, the President-General is the Oku Ibom Ibibio. Along with him, they had Vice President General 1 as the Nkuku Annang, then chose Vice President General II as the Ahta Oro.
“They said that would represent the Supreme Council of the Traditional Rulers for the purposes of playing at the national level. They now decided to rotate the chairmanship of the Traditional Rulers Council as it has always been. They did this without my interference.
“I’ll like any traditional ruler from any part of this state to stand up boldly and say he was not at that meeting. There was only one suggestion from the Paramount Ruler of Itu who said there should be a slight modification and that slight modification was well taken, creating the two other offices (VPG 1 and VPII).
He further stated: “To make that possible, we needed to back it up by law. So when I came into office, we had to consult; the bill was sent to the House of Assembly to make it a law. The bill went to the House of Assembly and I understand there was a public hearing.
“The bill was passed, and I returned yesterday and signed it into law. Doing that was just honouring the wishes of our traditional fathers. And I had expected them to call me and thank me for honouring what they wanted. I did not originate the bill. I did not have a part in that bill.
“So the issue of people who should have stood for election and won coming through the back door to try and confuse Akwa Ibom people is completely not acceptable. I ran for election for the office of the governor of Akwa Ibom State for the Ibibios, for the Annangs, for the Oros, for everyone and I will respect that until the day I leave office.”