Whenever our king, Eze Aro, speaks we know. The tone of his voice and the language of his speech are familiar to us. Eze Aro’s words are normally laced with care, peace and love but never jumbled with malice, conflict and hate. He is always concerned with things that will bring progress to his kingdom. He is humble, merciful, forgiving; not arrogant, not punitive. Like the biblical good shepherd, he knows his sheep. And his sheep also know him. The cabal are like mavericks or dissidents; they are conspirators and usually very deceptive and dangerous. Wherever they are, confusion emerges. And it appears that some cabals have sneaked into the palace to destabilize the kingdom. Their influence now dominates decision roles there. It now seems anything the palace must do must first get approval of the cabal. And that played out few months ago when Eze Aro was almost ‘stopped from endorsing’ Aro kingdom letter made on the Okpankpo Aro letter head paper that had to do with ARO special request to Abia State government to restore recognition to Eze Ibom Isii and Eze Ezeagwu. Such an important letter which was pre-signed by some eminent Aro leaders had to wait in the palace for some months until the cabals’ approval was got, after intense pressure. Thank God the recognition of the two Ezes has been restored. And the plans of the cabals cut short.
When our late legendry Eze Aro, Mazi Kanu Oji, was alive, he became famous due to his leadership style and the language of his words. He was always seen as a king who was willing to consult widely and speak wisely with calmness of heart. He would not react nor respond quickly in anger to any remarks made against him. He would tarry until any perceived storm calmed down. He would always say: “Ekwu ma ju’ oyi, tam nkita adia.’’ He would consult with Aro leaders of thoughts before he would speak or attend to any intricate issues to avoid making costly mistakes. Aro believe in proper consultation as a mark of respect in leadership. Aro leaders like to discuss issues with their people and try to agree with them as much as it is feasible. Late Mazi Kanu Oji would always say: “Anagi achi Aro achi, ana eso wo’eso”. You don’t govern Aro by force; you lead them with wisdom by following their minds. You don’t just wake up and decree anything; rather you sit down, discuss and agree things with them. That doesn’t mean weakness; it is pure humility in leadership. That was the leadership style that made late Mazi Kanu Oji the most popular Eze Aro ever. And ndi Aro admired him a lot; whenever he called on them, they answered and followed him. Till date, umu Aro keep admiring him and quoting him: “Anagi achi Aro achi, ana eso wo’eso.” When he died, the question of who would lead Aro people and speak for them like he was doing became a big challenge.
A long tedious search for a new Eze began and ended with the right choice of our current Eze Aro, Mazi Vincent Ogbonnaya Okoro, CFR; a good man of great learning and a former lecturer at the University of Nigeria. I know him well and was involved in most of the processes that culminated to making him Eze Aro and also in the legal tussle of over eight years that followed his emergence. Just like his late uncle, Mazi Kanu Oji, the current Eze Aro is a humble man, very peaceful and merciful. He loved to work with respected Aro leaders and used to consult with them on many critical issues until this recent past when some cabals cunningly sneaked into his palace through the back doors and began to create confusion in his kingdom. They took advantage of his old age and illness. Some of them, in the past, had even wished him dead but God shamed them by giving him a long life. They later turned around to ‘fake as his friends’; ‘mutilating his voice and the signature of his hand’; writing unintelligent letters which they circulated widely on the streets and the internet; thereby creating bad image of the palace of his kingdom. However, many now know that those letters purported to have come from Eze Aro, especially ‘the 4th January, 2017 new-year message’ and the two others that followed in quick succession, were really not from the mind of Eze Aro. Ndi Ezeogo Aro had described those letters as “the voice of Jacobs and the hands of Esau.” Although some names had been publicly mentioned as those behind the making of such bad letters, only Ernie Onwumere has published a ‘denial’. Oh! But can there be any other ‘Okwara Ezi’ in the palace besides Eze Aro? No, there cannot be. Eze Aro is well and alive.
Umu Aro are watching and waiting to know the intention of those behind the confusion. Some have argued that the issue could not be separated from Nzuko Aro politics. That it might have some roots on envy of the successes the current Nzuko Aro leadership has so far recorded in less than one year of its being elected into office when compared with ‘the six years of near total failure’ of the immediate past leadership as seen by many. Some of the good successes recorded by the current leadership of Nzuko Aro (led by George Ezuma) within these few months, include among others:
(1) Highly successful 2016 Ikeji Aro that was adjudged the best in the recent past; it was well organized and yielded N1.5 million income from MTN for show casing their services at the Eke Ekpe day. The money has been paid into Nzuko Aro account. (MTN had participated in some Eke Ekpe events during the immediate past regime and had paid some good sums of money which the leadership never accounted for, nor paid into Nzuko Aro account. Ndi Aro may still need to know who pocketed that money).
(2) The grading of Arochukwu – Okobo road from Amuvi end to Ndi Okereke Abam bridge that provided great succour to Umu Aro and other users of the road during 2016 Christmas period and even till date. It is same road the Abia state government failed to do over the years.
(3) The successful 2016 Aro Day event that witnessed a huge crowd more than ever before.
(4) And the securing of Dr Alex Otti’s promise to help coordinate completion and handover of the Aro Civic Center project expectedly before 26th December, 2017 Aro Day. We are happy to note that preliminary work has already begun as his builders have modified the roofing plan and mobilized to the project site. (However, it is sad to note that the immediate past leadership abandoned the civic center project and yet claimed that they had spent about N20 Million naira on the project. Is that true? It is unbelievable).
(5) The grading of some internal roads in Arochukwu urban town which no Nzuko Aro leadership had ever tried to do in the past. Besides all these, we are aware of many other good works this new administration has promised ndi Aro and which we believe they will surely accomplish. Therefore one may rightly infer that the aim of the cabal may be to create confusion in the kingdom polity as a kind of distraction strategy to stop the new Nzuko Aro leadership from focusing on its laudable programmes and to slow them down on doing the good works they have already started to do for Arochukwu people.
Some others had however linked the current jumbles of confusion in Aro kingdom to the leadership crisis of the women’s wing. A crisis which the current Nzuko Aro leadership has wisely resolved by dissolving the leadership structures of the two dissenting groups in the presence of their leaders and supporters at the Nzuko Aro Central Executive Council (CEC) meeting hosted in Lagos in June, 2016. That meeting was well attended by leaders of Nzuko Aro from so many branches and also by the two parties to the tussle. Each of the two dissenting groups was asked to nominate two representatives of their choice that would join their national women patrons to manage the affairs of the wing with a view to organizing a credible general election for the women based on Nzuko Aro constitution, on or before the end of October 2016. They all agreed and appointed their two representatives each to join their national patrons to begin to work. Nobody opposed the action there and then. But unfortunately, few weeks after that successful CEC meeting, our sister, Mrs. Charity Achinivu, and her team took the entire Nzuko Aro leadership and their patrons (both men and women) to court, challenging the decision of that CEC meeting. Some tried to persuade her to withdraw the case from the court and to use alternative platforms provided by the constitution to seek redress if any, to no avail. They kept urging her to continue with the case, even when they knew she would lose in the court because of many faults in her case. They waited till 15th March 2017 when the High Court Judge dismissed the case with a cost of N30, 000 awarded in favour of Nzuko Aro. And she lost. Who knows, they may still urge her to appeal. To me, that would not be the wise thing to do. Many had expected Eze Aro to have intervened earlier and called the litigants to order, more especially as the court case was instituted against some high profile Nzuko Arochukwu leaders and their national patrons. But they won’t, and didn’t allow that. They even forgot, it was Eze Aro who in his address to Okpankpo Aro in 2009 that urged Aro to always adopt Aro internal dialogue system to settle dispute of non criminal nature in Arochukwu through the use of Aro leaders in their compounds, villages, Kindred’s, the Council of Ndi Ezeogo, and national patrons of Nzuko Aro to Okpankpo Aro. Eze Aro never encouraged the use of any court.
How then could the same Eze Aro write his 2017 New Year message on 4th January, (not even on the 1st as he used to do), without demanding withdrawal of that case from the court. Again how could same Eze Aro now turn around on 4th Jan 2017 and impose a cow, twenty thousand naira, 20 tubers of yam, 20 kola nuts, 20 this and that on Nzuko Aro leaders, after he, Eze Aro, had on his 1st January 2013 new year message told Aro not to impose any fine beyond the normal Aro traditional Ngwa Ato or Ngwa Isii as penalty on civil offence in Aro kingdom. Our Eze Aro we know is not such a punitive leader who would be inconsistent in his policies and who would punish people without first calling to hear from them. Besides, how could Eze Aro write three controversial letters in quick succession, without seeking some inputs from some key Aro leaders as he used to do, namely: from Kindred heads and Okpankpo leaders, from Nzuko Aro leaders and her national patrons. Is it not clear that those behind the jumbles in the palace are indirectly trying to bring the throne of Eze Aro to ridicule? The last paragraph of the last letter dated 2nd Feb. 2017 attested to that as the authors tried to suggest that Eze Aro had abdicated his leadership of the kingdom. That is unfair; it was an attempted coup of a kind. We urge umu Aro to be at alert to protect the throne of the kingdom from any invasion. It is indeed our pride and honour to do. Remember the wise saying of Eze Aro, Mazi Vincent Okoro, who on his 10th year on the throne remarked: “Though I am your Eze Aro, I hold the crown and the throne of Aro kingdom for you all on trust. You are all ambassadors of Eze Aro. Wherever you are, wear the crown and sit on the throne with honour. Your rights must also be protected and respected”. I agree with Eze Aro. The throne belongs to all of us; we all have the right to demand certain things. No matter what, let us all sit down and resolve all the issues through honest dialogue. No victor; no vanquished. We need peace, progress and developments in Arochukwu.