…Promises development in Umuisu Autonomous Community
His Royal Highness, Igwe Sunday Nwobodo, Isu 1 of Umuisu, Akaekpuchionwa of Enugu and Lagos State, Chairman/CEO of New Planet Resort Ltd was crowned the Traditional Ruler (Igwe) of Umuisu Ugbawka Autonomous Community of Nkanu East Local Governmnet Area of Enugu State on February 20, 2021. In this Interview with CYRIACUS NNAJI in Lagos, Igwe Nwobodo spoke glowingly about how his people chose him unanimously, his programmes, and advice to Nigerian political leadership on security.
Tell us your name
I am His Royal Highness, Igwe Sunday Nwobodo, Isu 1 of Isu Kingdom, Igwe of Umuisu Ugbawka Autonomous Community, Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.
How do you feel being the Igwe of your community?
I feel great because when you are chosen by your people to be their king, it is an honour because it is the greatest honour that can be given to anybody, so I feel very great.
Was there an election or your people simply approached you to be their king?
Yes, when they called me, they said they want me to be their Igwe, and I insisted that, if anybody wants to contest let the person indicate, that I would like to see it that you people decided that I should be the king. I said whoever wants contest or oppose should come and contest as Igwe, but when I came out I saw it as unopposed.
I didn’t attend the coronation ceremony, but in one sentence, tell us the activities that took place on that day
After I was selected as Igwe, then the coronation date was fixed, because it was a unanimous choice, so under the nine days that was when we announced the coronation. And surprisingly on that ninth day, I saw people from far and near, the crowd was much, beyond my imagination. I was overwhelmed with joy. I said yes my people really needed me. And in Igbo land they said Ekwe (tom-tom) does not call a hero for nothing. There is something you are doing for your people, they check your childhood background and family background, that you deserved this.
If it were in the church they would say, anointing, now, who placed the crown on your head?
Government gives certificate, but normally on the issue of the king, you must be chosen by the community, and in that community there are procedures for crowing the king. The first is that you will first have final title of Ozoship, after crowing you with that, they would bring you to the village square, it can never be in your home, when they bring you to the village square, they bring the chair of the king, all the decorative items, like ofor, ankara and akpukpo agu, lace materials, and of which everything was complete on that day. That day they called me to the village square, everybody was there, everybody was happy, everybody was jubilating, I moved round and greeted the whole community.
So the various groups of women were more than 20, in different colourful uniforms and in their various canopies. They sang and composed different music in my name so when I was approaching their canopy as I greeted people each would raise their own song.
They called the eldest men in my own communit; they would be the ones to give cap. All the families gave their own decoration, then other nearby communities, gave their own decoration. That is why they are now saying that I am not only the Igwe of Umuisu; that I am also the Igwe of Ugbawka Community because everybody decorated me and agreed that I am the king.
Have you formed your cabinet and what is the structure like?
Yes I have just formed my Cabinet, before we formed the cabinet, first an announcement was made in the village that each family should bring their candidate, Igwe didn’t want to appoint anybody. The reason is that anybody they selected as their candidate, which we advised them that the person should know how to talk and listen, so that whenever we have a meeting in the cabinet, that person must also belong to their family meeting, so that when he goes back he would deliver whatever we discussed in the cabinet. In return he is expected to give us feedback from his family, in the end we know what to subtract and what to add, that is why we made it that way. So the cabinet has been established, each family has two representatives, families that make up Umuisu Autonomous Community.
When you talk about families are you talking about villages?
Yes, when you come to the villages there are families, we wanted the messages to go to those families directly, but if you do it by villages, such messages or resolutions may hang on the way. So we said kindred should provide people, all the members of the kindred are there so that any message would go to kindred families direct.
And you know there is the Town union, they have their own caucus also, Cabinet, Elders Forum, Youth and Neighbourhood, so these are organs that make up a community. So when you talk of security, we call on neighbourhood, the youths have to give their own report, because anything you are doing without carrying the you along, it means there is a foul play. They have to bring their own complaint, their suggestion, because wisdom or good idea can come from anybody so far as you have a listening ear. So with all those things in place we don’t have much problem.
What is your vision for your community?
My vision for Umuisu Community as they have chosen me to be their Igwe is to make sure love, peace and progress exist, and to make sure I attract more development to my community. On that day of my coronation, the first thing I promised them is the issue of maternity and health centre, I mentioned it which I have started working on it seriously because I believe if you are a leader, you should first show love and ensure development, so it would be a thing of pride, so that when others see it they would like to emulate your footstep.
Being the first king of your community, how do you see the challenges of kingship and how prepared are you to face those challenges?
You know in life when God chooses you, he makes a way for you, that is why in Igbo land they say, you don’t compete to be king. If God gives you a crown and community gives you a crown, nothing will be difficult for you. One, the favour of God is with you, two, the favour of human being is with you, so before reaching that place someone must appear to even do the work for you, or to advice you, that is when you get the best. So I don’t see it as too much of a challenge.
How do you intend to surmount the challenge posed by distance, as you are living here in Lagos?
Just like I said before, when the people want you to be on that seat, nothing would be difficult for you to handle, when people are supporting you, my brother, they would even do the work before you come, and help you do some in your presence. And even if any fly passes they would consult you and they would tell you the truth, because truth is the best way to solve any situation, truth and trust.
Do you have programmes devoted to the poor and the less-privileged in your community?
Yes, I am doing a lot before; that is why before they choose you to be their king there are many factors. They would check your background, and the Igbos say, your dancing step determines how the drum is beaten for you, so it is that drum, those things I have been doing that made them to ask me to come and take the Igweship of my town. By the grace of God they know their son, and they know what I am capable of doing, I have been doing my best and I will do more especially with special focus on the youths. I will empower the youths. As I said earlier, healthcare, the youths are also included, because I noticed that some of the reasons people no longer grow old is mainly because of distance, people stay in the village, 50, 60 years they can’t go to the hospital, to the extent that only BP, they can’t check BP, and when BP arise that is when you hear about sudden death in the village. Some women who are pregnant don’t go for antenatal, but once the person delivers, people would say thank God o.
Let’s go business, as a businessman; can you say that Nigeria is getting better since after the lockdown?
Nigeria in my observation, since lockdown things are getting worse in many ways, not only business; even in the security of the country, there is an increase in crime rate, and you know when there is crisis in a country, community or in a state, you know that nothing would move; it will even worsen the situation. Here in Nigeria things are worse than before. It has even reached the extent that people no longer have normal movement as human beings.
What are you doing on issue of security of your community, because communities are now taking care of themselves; what are you doing in this regard?
Yes, security is a serious challenge now. The last time I travelled that was the major reason I travelled. We are having meeting seriously, I have contacted the authority in charge, the DPO, and others, so that they will come and give our people proper training on Neighbourhood according to the law. We and other people can help to build it up so that our own side will be the best; we are getting uniform, means of transport, machines, some vehicles and some other things that are involved in security.
I want you to use this medium to send message or advice to your people.
The message I have for my community is that I pray to God to give us long life, to give us the spirit of love, to give us strength, so that we will live and establish a great community that other people will emulate in Nkanu Local Government. And so far as I live as the king, Isu 1 of Isu, my purpose and my job is to make sure that security, love, peace and unity would be our joy and our priority so that others will learn from us. Because when there is love there is peace, there is joy, progress, development will naturally come by itself.
I will also like you to advise the Nigerian leaders
My advice to our leaders, mostly those in higher authority is let them be in position of peace to unite the country, and the best way of uniting the country is for those in authority to do their jobs, they should wake up and work? Let them call the people in charge of security for security meeting, and let them appoint people that will always hold the meeting on daily basis, because the situation of security in Nigeria has gone bad. It is not something they would say okay, let us have security report every two weeks, or month, they should have it every day, because if they have a committee they would handle security report, from high authority, also from presidency, they can appoint anybody for president direct, because in some cases the president may not hear the whole report immediately, may be after some days, or some weeks, but if they have somebody manning that office that every day they must have meeting with president, at the end of the day, either early in the morning or evening in the closing hour, give us the security report, and phone will be open, if there is any attack in any village they will jot it down, they will look at the attack if they have the video of it, they will put it and arrange it, immediately the president or the major people come they play the video, they will see the particular action, when they see the action, it would be easy for them to get what is called presidential instruction or action.
If it is to call the people involved to a meeting, what is your problem? Everybody will have the right to express his anger, because you know, fighting start with complaining, after complaining, cry will follow, after crying starts, the next thing, I don’t have option and when war starts, the next is I am ready to die, that is the action. So I am suggesting let them call all the people that are involved to a meeting, let them ask them what is their problem? You will see that the solution must come up, and you listen to them, anybody that says I am not breathing, if he is not breathing, he is not breathing. If he is not breathing he must struggle to survive.
The more they are killing more youth, see now, Nigeria now are enjoying the way I see things, if federal government don’t tackle this very well, this war we are fighting now, do you know when it started, it started gradually. Before you know it, it entered east, before we were talking about North, now it has entered east, everyday they are killing men, all those families, they have families, they have wives. You know, this one we are doing is first one, second war will be, when those women will rise again, when many widows are more than men on ground, another war will be, those women will start stealing somebody’s husband, that war is different, because they need to be comfortable.
In the third war, the children whose fathers were killed in the war and or in the fight, will become another problem because who will train them? They become street boys and girls, that one is another disaster. So if it got to that extent where will you start to solve this problem? If the federal government doesn’t do something fast, the more they delay, the more it is tightening. It is like rusted bolt, instead of loosening it; it would get tight the more, until it comes to the point you can’t loosen it again. That is the advice I am giving, they should do something fast.