Why democracy is regarded as a way of life among nations is that it affords one the ample opportunity to decide “who gets what, when and how,” as well as the avenue for people to deeply express their wishes and aspirations to the fullest. As it is known that election is an integral event in the process of democracy, most of the representatives in a democratic community are always elected by the people and for the people. In some exclusive cases, the elected representatives who have signed several social contracts with the people can as well make some appointments in accordance with the laws of the state. The laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are very clear on the political offices any elected or appointed person may occupy. One of those areas an elected person can occupy in a democratic environment like Imo State, is the position of the president-general of an autonomous community. This also applies to the offices of the local council chairmen and their councilors. That is the position of the law but in reality, there seems to be a remarkable shift in the recent years on how this is done in some states across the country.
Despite what the law says, some governors across Nigeria have been appointing local council chairmen and their councilors with little or no regard to the people who elected them to office. Indications hold that perhaps, it was this understanding that made the Njaba Local Council chairman, Hon Emeka Ihenacho, an appointee of Imo State governor to also appoint Hon Kizito Duru as the PG of Umuaka community. From the time Hon Duru was appointed, controversies have been finding easy expressions in the community concerning the two PGs in the community. The elected Chief Maxwell Kelechi Ezike and the appointed Hon Kizito Duru have been working for the progress of the community respectively, with each seeing himself as the authentic PG.
Despite the alteration of his tenure, Chief Ezike among other things has secured the final approval of the state government for the takeoff of High School Umuaka as a government school. High School Umuaka which operates from the premises of Hilltop Primary School, has been in operation since last year. Hon Kizito Duru in the spirit of sportsmanship, sent a congratulatory message to Chief Ezike thanking him for the approval he successfully secured for the community. This kind gesture evidently shows that there is nothing personal between the two young politicians and community leaders.
Umuaka Times findings show that undeterred Chief Ezike has been making a lot of progress for the community despite the appointment of Hon Obama. After securing the final approval of High School Umuaka which he presented at several whatsapp fora of Umuaka, some prominent indigenes of the community and their followers expressed their deep confidence in him and congratulated him for the achievements he secured against all odds.
On the other hand, the vibrant Hon Kizito Duru whose appointment took place a few weeks back has been trying his best building bridges across the community. He has called several stakeholders’ meetings and in one of those meetings he told the audience that he was prepared to elevate the status of the community especially on the areas of security and peace building. He appealed for support and already, the security summits he has initiated are expected to yield positive results in the soonest time possible.
It is illegal for any community to have two presidents-general at the same time but as it appears today, Umuaka (which is also called Uba) has two. The confusion behind this is that the two PGs have their followers and advisers including the low and mighty. Chief Chris Nwachukwu, an American based attorney and a well known philanthropist spoke to Umuaka Times on the controversy. Hear him; “I have stated my position on this matter publicly. Umuaka people elected Maxwell Kelechi Ezike as our PG and only them have the right to remove him unless his term expires. Umuaka PG position is not a political appointment.”
This is supposed to be the final arbitration to the raging controversy but Chief Marcel Duru, a Kano based legal colossus has a different opinion on the matter. “Is it not obvious that the government in power will deal with the person they appointed whenever there is the need to have any dealings with the community. When the Rochas government created what they called 4th tier of government by law, that’s when they dabbled into an area that was hitherto the preserve of the community. The government whether rightly or wrongly does not recognize any person other than the one they appointed as PG.”
After making this emphatic statement, Umuaka Times urged him to drive home his point with more elaboration. “I thought my answer is very clear. Kizito Obama is the person, they appointed and recognized. If they want to bring any developmental projects in Uba Umuaka, that’s who they will deal with and no one else.”
Still on the issue, Dr Chris Nwachukwu seems to agree to an extend with Chief Duru on his legal submission.” Law is not absolute. Any law that substantially contravenes the rights of people is void. I have not specifically looked into the Imo State PG law, if there is any, but if the government passes any law that abrogates the rights of community to elect their PG, it is voidable in court. Barrister Marcel Duru is right, if the government appointed PG let them fund him and bring development through him to our community. There is no conflict between government appointed PG and our elected PG. I spoke with one of my friends from Amucha about how his brother appointed PG for us, he laughed and told me that Iheanacho is not capable of appointing PG in Amucha.”
Despite all these events and political kilometers so far covered by the community and their PGs, the question still rings deep bells like a struck record; Who is the authentic PG of Umuaka? Is it the elected Chief Maxwell Ezike whose tenure is still running or the appointed Hon Kizito “Obama” Duru, who has just begun a fresh tenure? The answer to this question according to Bob Dylan, seems to be blowing in the wind. Anything can lead to anything. Lets watch and see as more events unfold.