Let’s tell ourselves the truth, all has not been well with Aro kingdom governance for some time now. We have had several self-inflicted crises and conflicts that had worked against our unity and had negatively, to noticeable extent, divided us as a people of one kingdom. Certain events today have proved we have been deceived by intrigue (secret schemes) of some ‘divide and rule agents’ among us. We have pretended a lot for so long believing that all was well. But time has come to speak the truth to the head, to seek peace, pursue peace and secure it.
Many villages are really in crises, some have been divided along kindred lines. Council of Ndi Ezeogo and Okpankpo Aro had been ridiculed and dissolved. Some Kindred leaders have deliberately been fighting to have their own autonomous communities carved out of the kingdom. As a people, we have been divided and torn apart by several unfortunate internal conflicts, most often generated by some of our overzealous kindred biased leaders. The result of all these is that Arochukwu is now rapidly losing its vital political, social and traditional relevance as a renowned historic kingdom. Our unity is shaky. Arochukwu and Eze Aro that used to be highly respected and regarded by the entire Igbo nation and none Igbo people within and outside Nigeria are both on the verge of being relegated to the background. Our dignity as a kingdom is now doubtful. Mazi Ugochukwu Okorafor recently wrote on Rebuilding Aro Nation platform: “Sadly Arochukwu is gradually being relegated to the background in current Igbo affairs and our history is being similarly eroded and revised.
When you look at the pre-1966 almanacs of Eastern Nigeria, three traditional rulers would usually be featured prominently – the Amanyanabo of Opobo, the Obong of Calabar and the Eze Aro of Arochukwu. Today, even in a much smaller geographical-political expression like Abia state, the Arochukwu monarch is struggling to be relevant. He is not even the knee jerk leader of the Abia state council of traditional rulers”. To some people, Eze Aro does not even appear to be the king for the whole Aro kingdom anymore; he seems now to be just a mere head of a certain kindred, whose palace place at Oror has even been ceded by a recent Abia state autonomous communities law to a different kindred community outside his own in Arochukwu. What an irony of fate. That may be allegedly where we are today or where we are gradually heading to.
But Eze Aro himself should seriously think about this and begin to imagine how such unfortunate development, if it is allowed to stand, might affect the future interests of his throne and sustainable relevance of the Eze Aro institution and even Arochukwu as a kingdom in the scheme of things locally, nationally and globally. Some umuaro tend to believe that Eze Aro and his inner caucus might have unwittingly contributed to this unfortunate situation through His Majesty’s various acts of omission and commission. The good news is that he still holds the key to the doors of solutions to some of the challenges. He can do a lot much better than he is currently doing. He should find a workable solution to restore Aro kingdom unity, peace and dignity of Eze Aro throne and Arochukwu kingdom before it is too late. Eze Aro remains our paramount king. With wise counsel he can still amend the mistakes through reconciliation and understanding and achieve the unity and peace we desire. All are in his hands. His predecessor, late Mazi Kanu Oji, applied great wisdom strategy in his leadership of Aro kingdom. He summarized his wisdom leadership style in his most quoted proverb: “Anagiachi’ Aro achi; ana`e’sowo’ eso’. (You don’t lead Aro as if they are animals; you lead them with humane understanding and follow them with wisdom). In other words, wisdom is the principal thing: “Ako bu ije”
We urge His Majesty to adopt the same wisdom strategy in resolving the problems facing Aro kingdom today. Pretending that nothing is wrong cannot help the matter. We urge the king to rise and reconcile with all his people. It is an important thing and a good approach to restoring peace in his kingdom. We urge him to call his village heads (Ndi Ezeogo), all his past and present community leaders and sincerely offer unconditional general amnesty to them, and even to his presumed offenders in his family and among his former and current inner caucus members. Let it be that “all have sinned” and come short of any praise. Forgiveness and understanding will resolve everything. Eze Aro nearly got it right on 26th December 2018 Aro day when he publicly announced he had totally forgiven everyone that had offended him and he urged others to also forgive one another. He advised all to: “let every tattered basket go down the drain”; and that all should embrace peace and move forward. That was a great message, delivered on his behalf by Mazi Oji Kanu Oji. That message was apt and was received with joy by everyone that was there. The news went viral across the city almost immediately. Every citizen who heard it was happy too.
But few days later, all the gains made by that message of peace were totally lost. It appeared to be an empty promise. Because some members of Eze Aro’s inner caucus who used to write some controversial letters for him in the past seemed to be uncomfortable with the free gifted peace message. May be the palace letter writers had expected HM to extract some pounds of flesh from their perceived foes before peace could be made. As usual, they took advantage of the King’s state of health and used his 2019 new-year message letter to express their anger. The letter, probably written in anger, was not even needed at all. Most of its contents were not in tandem with the spirit of the king’s 2018 Aro day peace message that was widely applauded. Sadly, the authors of the letter had requested, among other things, a review of what they addressed as “the causes of disloyalty of Ndi Eze ogo and Okpankpo Aro”. Many questions then arose: (1).Was there any need to refer to, or call for any review of, any “disloyalty of Ndi Eze ogo and Okpankpo Aro” after Eze Aro had openly pronounced a statement of ‘let every bye gone be bye gone”? (2).Were the authors of the letter now inferring that the monarch’s 2018 Aro day peace message was a fake? (3).Or had something not yet known to many people happened soon after?
People believe that the letter writers had added bad salt and pepper on a wound that was about to heal. Nobody had expected any peace loving person in Aro to raise any controversial issue like “disloyalty of Ndi Eze ogo and Okpankpo Aro” after Eze Aro had given the entire Aro an open free peace gift. There was also a certain Abia state government gazette which had already been signed into law by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on 29thJune 2018 that listed newly created autonomous communities in the state. It happened that two autonomous communities (one for Ibom Isii and the other for Ezeagwu) were mentioned as having been created in Arochukwu and with certain number of villages named and assigned to each Eze of those two autonomous communities to rule and control. But this is contrary to what we had agreed in 2001. Many people abruptly kicked against the new development, even as controversies on the issue arose and deepened. In all these, all that was needed would have been a careful application of diplomatic wisdom in handling the issues. But the palace letter writers chose to describe the clear obvious issues in that government gazette as “Fake News”. That annoyed many people and they quickly reacted negatively. The crisis deepened more. The letter thus caused more harm than good. But there is still a way forward to manage the situation. I believe Eze Aro can still amend it all and manage it well. It is a matter of his responsibility. I believe he should quickly announce a re-inauguration of the Council of Ndi Eze ogo, and immediately call them (Ndi Ezeogo) to a round table reconciliation meeting. At the meeting, His Majesty should simply repeat to them his 2018 Aro day peace message. “Let all the tattered baskets of the past go down the drain: “Nkata karaka, ya’ la’ na-agbo’-mmiri;”.Let all the bye gone be totally bye gone”.
Eze Aro should also do similar thing with the body of Okpankpo Aro by holding a meeting with its members after reconstituting it, probably with sets of members as he may deem fit. But let that be done after due consultations with some citizens with genuine interest for peace. He should also invite Nzuko Aro, both men and women’s wings, for a “special get together” peace meeting probably on 2019 Eke EkpebAro day in order to consolidate all the peace efforts. All these may cost nothing. It is not good for Eze Aro to continue to battle with various vital units of leadership in his kingdom. No; it is not good. At his old age and time, he needs peace in his domain more than anyone else. Many people are willing to help him achieve genuine reconciliation that will help usher in sustainable peace in Arochukwu. Let no one play any prank by putting pepper in the medicine that will be applied to the eyes. You cannot truly extend a handshake of peace with a clinched fist. We should learn to approach every peace process honestly with clean mind and open hands. We really do not want peace extracted by force. We want sustainable peace that is freely negotiated through honest dialogue that brings mutual understanding. Eze Aro is in a good authority to direct good course of peace in his kingdom. He should find some means to hold the kingdom peacefully united and together again. Because a kingdom that allows its self to be divided no matter by whatever means may find it hard to stand firmly together as a kingdom anymore. We are much better and stronger together as one indivisible kingdom.
Since the death of our legend Eze Aro, Mazi Kanu Oji (MBE, CON, CFR) in 1987,Arochukwu has faced several conflicts, from one form to another. We battled with the issue of Eze Aro’s stool succession tussle that lasted about eight years; and that created some divisions among the people. We eventually overcame that by an act of God. The stool succession battle led us to another battle where some kindred began to demand creation of separate autonomous communities in Arochukwu kingdom along kindred lines. Some of us opposed the move. Fortunately, we overcame that battle by working out a certain special arrangement with Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State on 31st December 2001. I was one of those at the center of it. The deal we had with Orji Uzor Kalu, gave Eze Ibom Isii and Eze Ezeagwu state government recognitions and staff of office as second class chiefs, but without expressly extracting any specific villages from Arochukwu kingdom that each of the two would rule and control; all they were required to do was to remain faithful and loyal to Eze Aro, who has a higher authority than them, and for them to assist him in the leadership of Arochukwu as a kingdom. That arrangement was a wise one as we were careful and mindful of the complex composition of various kindred units in some villages like Atani and Oror, to mention just two.
But recent developments on creation of autonomous communities in Arochukwu, now signed into law by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on 29th June, 2018 have created some complex crises in the polity. Now a kindred unit in a composite village, like Atani, is already in court with Eze Atani and Eze Ezeagwu over the issue. That was what we tried to avoid and really avoided by securing that special arrangement with Orji Uzor Kalu in 2001.There was also a time in the past when Eze Aro with Ndi Ezeogo on his side, had battles with Eze Ibom Isii and Eze Ezeagwu (the two Kindred heads).Later things changed; Eze Ibom Isii and Eze Ezeagwu got united with Eze Aro and they began their own battles with Ndi Ezeogo on the other side. Things degenerated to an intrigue game of divide and rule that have persisted even till now. Latter Eze Aro was ill advised to dissolve the Council of Ndi Ezeogo which he was the chairman. He got up one day and dissolved it. He also dissolved the Okpankpo Aro (a highest decision making body in Aro kingdom) which he was the chairman. Unfortunately, HM was equally made to fall out with Nzuko Aroworld wide, an umbrella union of all Arochukwu development organizations. And prior to that, there was a crisis in Nzuko Aro Women’s wing and HM was also unfortunately dragged into. Thus, Eze Aro found himself and his palace in unnecessary conflicts with almost all the important leadership institutions in his kingdom.
The secret game plan was to make Eze Aro and his palace deserted and lonely so as to weaken his royal influence, grip of power and authority in Aro kingdom. But he didn’t realize it. People who saw that early and kicked against such untidy secret schemes to diminish the dignity of our king were wrongfully misunderstood by those who call the shots in his palace. But some people were not deterred from engaging on various positive attempts to find solutions that could restore peace and his dignity. The Body of National Patrons of Nzuko Aro which some of us are still members rose boldly to recommend some solutions to some of the problems in Arochukwu. But their brilliant ideas, well written down and passed to the palace, were ignored, and may be thrown into the dust bin by those driving the minds of leadership in the palace. Naturally Eze Aro as a person is a peaceful man. And now that he is getting older he needs peace more than ever before. He needs to put his house, his palace, and his kingdom in order. He needs peace in his kingdom. And he needs the cooperation and understanding of many willing citizens of Arochukwu to help him achieve all these.
Some Umuaro are willing to help. Various social, physical and economic developments have been going on in Arochukwu these few years, championed by few umuaro, but without much relevant inputs from, or any special reference to Eze Aro and the palace. Aro Civic Center has been completed; many internal roads are been reconstructed and tarred in Arochukwu today. Rebuilding Aro Nation platform members have successfully taken up some laudable projects like rehabilitation of Aro High Court judge’s quarters, refurbishing of police security patrol vans, and an ongoing rehabilitation of a school block in Amoba Primary School. But none of these projects attracted the attention of, or comments from the palace, nor from Eze Aro. All of these may be an indication that the old time vital relevance of our king is gradually fading and being eroded by, among other things, the many battles the king has been having with his people. Time to change all that is now. Human mind remains a battle field where people fight their fiercest battles. Eze Aro should have a change of mind and seek genuine reconciliation with people. He should work smartly to restore peace in his royal family and dignity and relevance of the Aro kingdom throne. Peace is a very important issue in any human community. It is an essential commodity every good leader must treasure and possess. We truly desire and deserve to have sustainable peace with justice in Arochukwu going forward .