Nzuko Arochukwu as now constituted came into existence in 1981 when the legend late Eze Aro, Mazi Kanu Oji, CFR, urged the Aro people (umuaro) to come together under one umbrella named Nzuko Arochukwu, structured into two wings, namely: Nzuko Arochukwu men’s wing and Nzuko Arochukwu women’s wing with each wing having its own separate national executives and branch networks. The two wings are relatively independent but they were structured to co-operate with each other under one national constitution. The formation of Nzuko Arochukwu as a main umbrella union of hitherto many Aro unions that existed before then was aimed at stopping the unhealthy rivalry that was existing among the various groupings, such as Aro Union, Aro League, Aro Youths, etc. Such unhealthy rivalry was impacting negatively on peace, progress and development of Aro kingdom and her people. Arochukwu Joint Action Committee (AJAC) headed by Mazi (Dr) Sam Nwangoro was formed to midwife the birthing of the new Nzuko Arochukwu. And the birthing was very successful and peaceful.
The men’s wing of Nzuko Arochukwu held its first general election in December 1981. Mazi Emmanuel Okorafor (Avonta) (from Obinkita, resident in Lagos, was elected President General, Mazi Col Antony Okoro Eze (rtd), first Vice President General and Mazi Ukwu Udonsi, Secretary General. They did well as a team; they initiated many laudable programs and ensured peace in the kingdom. But they stayed in office for too long, about eleven good years (1981 – 1991) and bowed out in honour.
In December 1991, another general election of Nzuko Aro was held; the following leaders among others were duly elected: Mazi Ukwu Udonsi (from Ujari, a top civil servant resident in Umuahia), President General, Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi, 1st Vice President General and Mazi Sam I Ohuabunwa, Secretary General. They served for five years in total as the tenure of their first term was only two years. But the tenure of their second term was increased to three years following the new Nzuko Aro constitution that took effect from 18th day of April 1992. And so their two terms of five years spanned from December 1991 to December 1996. They did well and were very successful too.
On 26th December1996 another general election was peacefully conducted. The following emerged successful: Mazi Sam I Ohuabunwa (from Atani, resident in Lagos), President General, Mazi Rowland Igwe, 1st Vice President General and Mazi Dave Imoko, Secretary General. They did well and were also successful. They served for six years in two terms of three years tenure each (1996 to December 2003).
As usual, on 26th December 2003, another new general election was held and the following were also peacefully elected: Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi (from Asaga, resident in Lagos), President General, Mazi Elder Nnamdi Udoh, 1st Vice President General and Dr Alex Ekubo Okwaraeke, Secretary General. They did very well and were also successful.
On 31st December, 2009, after a very successful two terms tenure that spanned December 2003 to December 2009, the Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi led executives honourably stepped down in line with the constitution to allow for another election to elect new executives. From the inception of Nzuko Aro in 1981, the men’s wing general elections had always been held in December of any year of its general election very peacefully, without violence, until the general election of 31st December 2009 which was marred by thuggery and violence introduced by some aspirants. From that day Arochukwu started experiencing public violence in Nzuko Aro elections. Many strange things that had never happened before in the history of the people and Nzuko Aro began to happen, Some Aro youths armed with guns and machetes roamed the election venue at the civic center. They posed as voters and ready to vote even though most of them were not qualified to vote.
Immediately Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi’s led executive team stepped down honourably, some of the leadership aspirants and their “imported” thugs hijacked the election proceedings. The thugs violently intimidated people and chased away the national patrons whose constitutional duty it is to conduct general elections. Most of the patrons ran for their dear life as the “thugs” and their collaborators took over the arena and conducted an illegal election upon which they declared Mazi Nnamdi Udoh a ‘winner’. They quickly led him as “the President General elect with other purported elected officers” to the palaces of Eze Ibom Isii and Eze Ezeagwu respectively to present them to the two kindred Ezes as ‘their new executives of Nzuko Aro’. That was very strange to Nzuko Aro as it had never happened before; that action became the very first open declaration of kindred leanings in any Nzuko Aro general elections since its inception. As if gods were angry, crisis ensued everywhere in the town. A Nigerian soldier sadly lost his life at Obinkita village that same day by unknown ‘ekpo’ masquerade. That also took Arochukwu to the bad image side of national and international news. But God intervened as help came from some Aro patriots at home and in Diaspora to control the situations and save Arochukwu from chaos.
However the result of that violent ridden / illegal election was eventually declared void and cancelled by the national patrons of Nzuko Aro men’s wing. Three senior patrons: Prof Oji Umozurike (now late), Prof Okoro Ijoma and Col Anthony Okoro Eze (rtd) were visibly disturbed by the incidents of that day. In their wisdom and with consultation with other patrons, stakeholders and the outgoing President General, they quickly set up a powerful transition administration comprising Mazi Dave Imoko as Chiarman, Mazi Anicho Okoro, Secretary, Mazi Rowland Igwe and Mazi Ohuabunwa as members. They were told to work with Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi and Mazi Alex Ekubo to ensure that a conducive environment was made possible for the patrons to conduct a peaceful general election by the next Easter Saturday of 3rd April 2010, which was also the very day Mazi Emma Ivi’s led executive were originally billed to hand over to any duly elected new executive. The usual practice of Nzuko Aro men’s wing after the 1992 constitution has always been to hold its general election in December of its election year and do a proper hand over to the new elected executives by the outgoing executives on Easter Saturday of the following year. It is called a transition period and it lasts for about three months.
The Mazi Dave Imoko’s transition administration did its work very well. For the national patrons were given their constitutional right to conduct the election. The patrons took adequate control and conducted the general election on the 3rd April 2010 that duly elected: Mazi Nnamdi Udoh (from Ibom, resident in Lagos), President General, Barr Steve Amaramiro, 1st Vice President General and Mazi Ernie Onwumere, Secretary General. Mazi Ivi’s outgoing executive did a marvelous work as they ably handed over to the incoming executives on that same election-day. Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi also distributed to the new national executives, Nzuko Aro branches, Ndi-Ezes and all others his “Accounts of Stewardship” well captured in a colorful book containing about 280 pages that detailed out his stewardship accounts as President General of Nzuko Aro (2003 -2009). That book has now become a document of reference on many Aro kingdom issues.
The thugs that disrupted the general election of December 2009 were not allowed to participate in the 3rd of April 2010 rescheduled election. But still, another strange evil thing happened in the night of that 3rd April 2010. Mazi Chike Okoro, a peaceful prominent Aro man, was violently kidnapped by some unknown ‘Aro men’. That was the first kidnap attempt in Arochukwu. The rest is now a history. But since then, Nzuko Aro (both men and women wings) have suffered a lot, from one crisis to another. Why? May be “when the foundation is faulty what can the righteous do?” Now, December 2015 will mark six years the immediate past leadership left office, even though it handed over on Easter Saturday of 3rd April 2010 in line with the normal practice of Nzuko Aro. The next general election is rightly expected to be due in this December 2015 as has been the normal practice. But a lot of issues must be properly addressed to ensure that the upcoming general election is not marred again with crisis and violence as was in 2009.
The current executive were returned “unopposed” after their first term; even though some believed the house was not properly dissolved before they were returned; that is not an issue at all. Their second term should rightly end in December 2015, but the President General had said no general election would hold in December 2015, but on Easter Saturday of 2016. That is also not a problem. For sake of peace, let that be granted him.
Now, it is important that the men’s wing takes proactive action to resolve certain issues that may become challenges to the upcoming general election. It is important that the President General in consultations with senior national patrons, the trustees, calls a special stakeholders meeting of the wing to carefully iron out and clarify some vital issues that will impact on the upcoming election to avoid any form of confusion. The following relevant issues may need to be properly addressed and agreed upon at such stakeholders meeting which should hold before the next general election date.
People need to know in advance who are qualified to vote and be voted for. Nzuko Aro constitution makes it clear that only the financial up to date members shall vote and be voted for and they must be members of their respective branches. The branches that have people to be voted for should recommend such members and include them in the official list of their delegates. Participation at the election shall be by duly appointed delegates.
Delegates shall be appointed by the financial up to date branches only. No village in Arochukwu for several years now is financial up to date in Nzuko Aro men’s wing affairs. And so no village is qualified to nominate delegates for the upcoming election. All the villages for many years now had been merged into one home branch. The home branch may qualify to nominate its delegates based on member’s financial status and on other related structure. Not all the registered branches are financial up to date as at now and may not be qualified to nominate delegates (those to vote and be voted for), unless they are given special opportunity to pay up their financial obligations certainly before the election accreditation-day. Any branch that fails to oblige itself with the opportunity to meet up with its financial obligations to the center may be denied the right to send in delegates or participate. Branches are categorized as A, B or C. Category “A” branches consists of Aba, Abakaliki, Abuja, Arochukwu, Enugu, Lagos, Owerri, Port Harcourt, and Umuahia. Category “B” branches include Afikpo, Awka, Calabar, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Nsukka, Ohafia, Onitsha, Oyigbo, Umuoba, Warri and Yola. While category “C” are Ibadan, Maiduguri, Markurdi, Nnewi and Okigwe. The number of member-delegates assigned by the constitution to Category “A” branch is 7, “B” is 5 and “C” is 3 respectively. All the delegates may be accredited by senior national patrons whose duty it is to conduct general elections. The accreditation of all delegates may be made latest a day or two before the general election date. Branches must so informed well in advance.
Only 12 national patrons are provided for in the constitution. But following various recent appointments of national patrons made by the present executive, the number of patrons has gone up to 15 contrary to the constitution. The mistake needs to be corrected accordingly; note, only the national patrons are authorized to conduct general election.
The present executive and all the stakeholders should throw away their ego, work together, resolve their differences and take proactive actions that will help ensure peace in the system, eliminate the use of thugs by any aspirants and stop unqualified persons from posing as delegates at the arena of the upcoming election. These may also help to ensure that Nzuko Aro men’ wing has a credible and peaceful election this time around. We can’t afford any crisis in the men’s wing at all. The bad blood already generated in the system these few years by the poor handling of the women’s wing general election matters should serve as a huge lesson to the Aro. The aspirants and their supporters should demonstrate disciplined attitudes; they should also know that leadership in Nzuko Aro is purely a call for service to the people and not for any personal aggrandizement. We need peace in Aro kingdom. There is a lot of work to do. Therefore, Nzuko Aro now needs real men with tested credibility, capability with integrity, good exposure with right contacts at top levels and the fear of God in them. We need such men that the people can trust with their funds who are accountable and transparent to lead Nzuko Aro peacefully; and move Arochukwu forward, to a higher level. Not pretenders. No more mediocrity. And so help us God.