Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo, has met with traditional rulers in the state as part of a consultative meeting with stakeholders to review progress.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Christian Aburime, who disclosed this in a statement, said this was part of the line up of events in the new year which began with a retreat of members of the State Executive Council, followed by engagements with Ndi Anambra in Lagos and the Consular-General of the US Embassy.
According to the statement, about 94 Traditional Rulers were in attendance despite the short notice.
At the meeting, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, CFR, in his opening remark strongly reaffirmed the unalloyed solidarity and support of the Traditional Rulers for the government of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, and assured the government that the Traditional Rulers stand ready to partner with the government in all its efforts to transform Anambra into a livable and prosperous homeland.
He also expressed the wish that some of the issues pertaining to the suspension of some Traditional Rulers and the controversies of the last few days arising therefrom be put to a rest.
He requested that there were other issues that the Traditional Rulers wish to bring to the government, and further expressed a desire to have another forum after the meeting to discuss these issues, including the welfare of the Traditional Rulers.
Continuing, he further requested for a meeting with government officials to discuss other issues of mutual interest.
In his address, the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Hon. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne, assured the Traditional Rulers that government holds them in high esteem, and look forward to continuing working with them closely.
Nwabunwanne tried to clarify some of the issues leading to the suspension of a Traditional Ruler and query of two others, assuring them that this was all in the spirit of ensuring law and order in the State.
He also highlighted the concerns of some Traditional Rulers over the composition of members of the traditional Rulers Council.
He stated that such concerns and similar issues are being looked into by government.
On his part, Governor Soludo reiterated the purpose of the meeting which was to focus on the partnership of all stakeholders towards the execution of the Solution agenda for 2024.
He elaborately briefed the Traditional Rulers of the major milestones of his administration in the past 22 months; and solicited their cooperation as stakeholders under the Public Private Community Partnership (PPCP), a strategy of his administration’s rapid development of Anambra State.
In the course of the discussion that followed, it was observed that the body operating as the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council as constituted was unknown to the law as the State Government has observed that the body was improperly constituted in violation of the provision of section 2 (F) of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers (Amendment) Law, 2020. In specific terms, that section provides that the Council shall be composed of the following persons to be appointed by the Governor-
(a) a Chairman;
(b) two Deputy Chairmen; and
(c) one member from each Local Government Area provided that members appointed from a senatorial zone shall not exceed eleven.
There are three senatorial zones and twenty one local governments in Anambra State. The above provision of the law therefore mandates that the Traditional Rulers Council shall be constituted with not more than 36 members.
The record of the State however shows that the body currently acting as the Traditional Rulers Council is composed of 52 persons in utter violation of the law, the implication of which is that the body is not the Traditional Rulers Council known to law. To that extent, that body as presently constituted cannot make any valid decisions or function legally and could not have done so in the light of the provisions of the law.
Furthermore, section 30 of the Traditional Rulers Law 2007 and 2020 as amended provides that each member shall be appointed to the council for a term of four (4)years only and shall be eligible for appointment for another term of four years and for no further term.
However, the State Government has observed that most members of the said body as presently constituted have held their positions beyond the eight year limit in violation of the law.
The cumulative effect of the above is that the present body cannot legally function as the Traditional Rulers Council as it is made up of persons who are legally disabled from being members of the Council. Unfortunately, this body has been functioning as the Traditional Rulers Council of Anambra State for several years.
In order to purge the state of this illegality, the governor made the following suggestions which were accepted by the traditional rulers:
a) That all Traditional Rulers in the State shall become members of the Anambra Traditional Rulers Council other than a select few, and therefore remove the term limit.
b) But that for this to function there will be a need for amendment of the relevant sections of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Law.
c) Consequently, it was agreed that a committee made up of 5 Traditional Rulers, plus officers of government to urgently meet to consider the amendment of the relevant sections and any other section of the Traditional Rulers law deemed pertinent for a review.
d) As quickly as the law is amended there shall be a meeting of Traditional Rulers for the Governor to formally inaugurate the council so that it can function in strict compliance with the Law.
The Governor also magnanimously addressed some of their welfare issues. The Governor announced that with the apologies of the affected Traditional Rulers, the State government accepts their apologies, and subsequently reinstates the Traditional Ruler of Neni, and forgive the Traditional Rulers of Ojoto and Aguluezechukwu.
Mr Governor further clarified the legal status of the Igwe Nawfia as adviced by his legal team.
As part of the vote of thanks both the Obi of Onitsha and Igwe Ojoto passed votes of thanks and requested for regular meetings with Mr Governor which Mr Governor graciously accepted to hold at least twice a year.
The meeting ended on a high note with the traditional leaders having photo sessions with Mr Governor.