There is tension in Alor, the home town of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, as two traditional rulers installed by different interest groups are set to perform the annual ofala festival on December 30, 2020.
Security has already been beefed up in the community and it was not clear yesterday whether the event would still take place amidst the controversy.
While Igwe Mac Anthony Okonkwo, who is recognized by the Anambra State government, has concluded arrangements for the celebration of the annual festival, another traditional ruler, Chief Ebere Onyemesiri, crowned by Senator Ngige’s group has also set machinery in motion for his own celebration at the same venue.
Igwe Okonkwo was recently reinstated by Governor Willie after being suspended for several months along with 12 traditional rulers in the state who accompanied the billionaire oil magnate, Prince Arthur Eze to Abuja without the permission from the state government and the community has planned to use the December 30 celebration to show appreciation to Governor Obiano.
President General of Alor Peoples Convention, Chief Chris Okudo, in a statement commended Governor Obiano for pardoning their monarch and urged those opposed to him to allow peace to reign in th community..
He said: “With joy and unprecedented gratitude, the Alor Peoples Convention, Igwe in Council, Alor critical stakeholders, community and village leaders want to use this medium to say thank you to the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano for listening to our plea.
“Few months ago, we gathered in Awka to plead for him to tamper justice with mercy on our beloved and humble Igwe Mac Anthony Okonkwo, Ezedioranma III of Alor Kingdom and lift the suspension placed on him by the governor.
“We are indeed grateful for this wonderful Christmas gift to Ndi-Alor and may God continue to bless you and keep you in all your endeavors.
“Ever since the announcement was made, Alor Community has been agog with cerebrations for the lifting of suspension of their beloved traditional ruler. Indeed, Alor Community was thrown into a joyous mood with the lifting of the suspension.
“We recall that Igwe Okonkwo was among the 12 Igwes suspended by the governor for visiting Abuja without approval. Igwe Okonkwo, however, as a good and loyal leader, immediately apologized to the governor and the Anambra Traditional Council and today we are celebrating.”
He, however, urged the people to ignore the insinuation that some people in the community were not happy with the lifting of the suspension, alleging that such stories were being peddled by those who did not mean well for the community.
Okudo recalled that Igwe Okonkwo has been having a running battle with Senator Ngige, who, according to him, campaigned for the Minister to become the governor of Anambra State in 2003.
He added: “Dr Chris Ngige started well in Alor when he was the Executive Governor of Anambra State by making sure he brought development to Alor. He tarred some roads and put boreholes and street lights.
“But it wasn’t long enough before he felt threatened by the rise of another Alor son who also tarred many roads in Alor, brought three health centers and helped graduates from Alor gain employments at federal level in record numbers.
“The squabble in Alor continued up till 2014 when it was time to select a new Igwe because the former Igwe, J’C Nkwoka died in 2013.
“Igwe stool in Alor being rotational, a young vibrant man from Umuokwu, Chief Okonkwo went through the screening processes with three other contestants and emerged the winner.
“Every process was concluded, from town union to local government, to DSS screening point and finally to state government where the state governor, Willie Obiano issued him certificate of recognition.”
He regretted that despite the transparent process for the selection of Igwe Okonkwo, Ngige’s group appointed aparallel traditional ruler and crowned him, adding that the development had caused tension in the town.