Tuesday, 09 March 2021 05:49

[OPINION] Okowa and Idumuje-Ugboko Crisis - Reuben Abati

On March 8, 2021, the Vanguard newspaper online in a story titled “Delta Committee makes all-inclusive recommendations to end Idumuje-Ugboko crisis” by Emma Amaize reported that a committee set up by the Delta State Government which investigated “the kingship tussle and land acquisition crisis at Idumuje-Ugboko Kingdom, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State has concluded its assignment and made far-reaching submissions to the state government on how to bring lasting peace to the troubled domain. In October 2020, some concerned stakeholders reportedly approached Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to intervene to ensure peace in Idumuje-Ugboko, an agrarian community in Delta Ibo part of Nigeria that has not known peace since the death of its former monarch in 2017. The main conflict is between Prince Ned Nwoko and Prince Chukwunomso Nwoko on one hand, bitterly opposed to each other over land acquisition issues, and between the latter and other stakeholders who are challenging his right of ascension to the throne. Idumuje-Ugboko has thus been gripped by a fratricidal, filial conflict that has affected the entire community. Cases have been filed in court. There have been accusations of murder, threats of assassination and the spread of bad blood in the community.  


The details of the committee’s recommendations have not been made public, but Senator Ifeanyi Okowa must be decisive in dealing with the situation. Peace should be the main target, and getting the various gladiators to sheathe their swords. Idumuje-Ugboko is like a typical Nigerian community where a few persons think that they are more important than others just because they have a fat bank account or their palm kernels have been cracked for them by benevolent spirits. They should be told to heed Chinua Achebe’s advice in Things Fall Apart and be humble. Such persons often fail to realise that the people who suffer at the end of the day when they embark on ego conflicts are the ordinary people as has been the lot of the ordinary people of Idumuje-Ugboko in the last four years.


Prince Ned Nwoko whose stories and engagements I follow closely in part because of his marriage to Nollywood star and beauty queen, Regina Daniel is a key actor in the Idumuje-Ugboko story. He wants to build a university and a golf course. He wants land and more land. It is alleged that his cousin, Prince Chukwunomso Nwoko, heir to the throne, thinks he already has more land than he needs. Prince Nomso wants to ascend the throne. He is having issues because according to some accounts, Prince Ned Nwoko, a man of no small means and influence is blocking him. Without Ned Nwoko’s support, Prince Chukwunomso may not get the endorsement that he needs and a staff of office. There have been public fights in the kingdom. People have been arrested. Prominent members of the community like Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie have been dragged into it. In one public intervention (Vanguard, May 23, 2019), Dr, Ogbechie of RainOil sued for peace. He says Prince Ned Nwoko is his friend.  Prince Chukwunomso is also his friend. But in the community, no one trusts the other. The Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union (IUDU) is divided down the middle. The matter has gone so messy that even Edgar Joseph, my Akwa Ibom brother, had to write about it in this newspaper. Can you imagine how the people of Idumuje-Igboko not being able to manage their own affairs are attracting busy-body attention from everywhere?  Even a man from Akwa Ibom is now trying to make peace in Idumuje-Ugboko!


These are the kind of village square fights that show us the other side of Nigeria, and they cannot be taken for granted.  In the 21st Century, Nigerians are still fighting over land and traditional stools, and who is the biggest man in the clan. I think Idumuje-Ugboko is blessed but the people are behaving badly. It has prominent sons like Prince Ned Nwoko and Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie of RainOil, and many others in a state that is richly blessed with some of the most prominent Nigerians in the world today. Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the Governor of Delta State, should step in and stop the reign of madness in that kingdom. A Delta Ibo from neighbouring Ogwashi-Uku, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, just got a job as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Some of her contemporaries are busy back home fighting over ancestral land and title and they are so determined about it.  Some people are just shameless.


The people of Idumuje-Ugboko deserve to have a king that is their choice according to tradition. Ned Nwoko wants to build a university. He should be encouraged to do so. He must put the community’s interest first. If Gabriel Ogbechie wants to build a refinery in Idumuje, why not? He too should be encouraged to do so. If Prince Chukwunomso wants a staff of office, the kingmakers should look into it and ensure that justice is done. They must all stop fighting and give peace a chance. For Prince Ned Nwoko’s benefit, I will like to recommend a story titled “How much land does a man need?” by Leo Tolstoy, with best wishes to Regina.                             

3153 times

Join us on Whatsapp Subscribe to Telegram