Traditional rulers from the South-South and South East axis of the country met on Tuesday in Yenagoa and adopted President Goodluck Jonathan as their candidate ahead of the conduct of the 2015 General election.
Expressing their readiness to mobilize support for President Jonathan at ensuring the actualization of his ambition, the Monarchs at the inauguration of the South-south and South East traditional rulers’ forum noted that their support for the President was borne out of the fact that he has provided effective transformational leadership in spite of the daunting challenges confronting the country.
Lauding the efforts of the President Jonathan-led administration at tackling the security challenges and other problems beleaguering the nation, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade and Gbong Gbom, Jos, HRM Da Buba Gyang described him as one of the best leaders Nigeria has ever had.
Speaking through the General Secretary of the Council of Yoruba Monarchs, Oba Aderemi Adedapo, Oba Okunade submitted, ‘Dr. Jonathan’s emergence as President of the country was a fulfilment of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s “prediction that an Ijaw man would rule this country some day in the future”.
“We thank God today that we have an Ijaw son as a good and great leader of this country. If you were there on May 29, 2013 in Abuja where I was representing the South-West, you will agree with me that this man (Jonathan) has surpassed many leaders we have ever had in this country.
“I am not a politician, I’m a traditional ruler. Among the Yorubas, we have this saying “You are seeing something, you are hearing the voice but you are still asking what is this? We thank God for giving us this President at this point in this country.
In his remarks, the Gbong Gbom of Jos, HRM Gyang urged the political class to ascribe constitutional role to the traditional rulers to enable them contribute towards decision making in the Country.
‘Let me say with humility that the traditional institution in Nigeria is not asking for any executive powers that will bring us at loggerheads with constituted and elected democratic rulers.
‘We are asking for recognition for the obvious reason that governance itself today requires the role and input of the traditional institution. Anything less than that means we are throwing away our history.
Also speaking, the Chairman, South-East Council of Traditional Rulers, HRH Cletus Ikechuckwu Ilomuanya noted,’ you would agree with me that of all the geo-political zones in Nigeria, the people of South-South and South-East zones share common affinity especially in the areas of culture and tradition.
‘Historically, we are one people of the same lineage but for political expediency and administrative convenience, we now pretend to be people from two different zones of South-South and South-East. Therefore, it is one of the aims of the South-South and South East Traditional rulers to re-orientate and galvanize our people to begin to think and act as people of one cultural and traditional identity.
In their goodwill messages, the Sultan of Sokoto represented by the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar El-Kanemi, President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, Nnachi Enwo-Igariwey and former Governors of Bayelsa and Imo States, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Ikedi Ohakim expressed delight at the formation of the Forum, stressing that it will cement the bond of unity not only between the two zones but also promote stability of the nation.
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the South-South Monarchs Forum, Amayanabo of Nembe Kingdom, King Edmund Daukoru noted that apart from contributing to peace and stability of the nation, the Forum will promote inter-zonal cultural activities, as well as take joint position on matters affecting their collective interest.
On the state of the nation, a business mogul turned politician, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu called on Nigerians to give President Jonathan a second term, arguing that, there was no time the President pledged to serve a single term alone.
‘Today, I have gone round everywhere in this Country and I feel a sense of joy and happiness that Jonathan has not disappointed us. He has done well.
However, I am surprised to hear some people in some circles talking about four years’ tenure when our constitution allows him to run for eight years, if he wishes to do so. Some people even say there is an agreement to that effect but I am telling you royal fathers, that there was no such agreement’
Addressing the Forum, President Goodluck Jonathan lauded traditional rulers across the country for playing complementary roles to support government especially in the area of maintenance of peace and order in their respective domains.
President Jonathan who was represented by Governor Seriake Dickson underscored the importance of the traditional institution in nation building, urged them to continually partner with other stakeholders on the ongoing effort to build an egalitarian and prosperous Nigeria.
According to the President, “traditional rulers occupy a special place in our system. It was so before in the days of our forefathers and it is so up till now and will continue to be. You are the critical link between our cherished history and past. You have a duty which of course, you are doing well to maintain our values, traditions and cultures. And hopefully, working together with other stakeholders, we believe that you will also successfully transfer these same values to the future generation of our people.
“I thank you all for the support that you have been giving to those of us, who are in secular leadership because you cannot talk of mobilizing and influencing our people positively and even maintain law and order without the role of traditional rulers.
In his remarks, Governor Dickson advocated the need for the political class to support traditional rulers to enable them perform their duties effectively.
Governor Dickson, who called for appropriate legislations in this regard, said his administration has already forwarded a bill known as the Bayelsa State Community Administration Bill to its House of Assembly for consideration and passage.
According to the Governor, the bill when passed, will not only confer legal authority but also strengthen the traditional institution in the state.
The Governor, who described the South-South and South East people as one, commended the traditional rulers for coming together, noting that the move would foster better understanding and economic cooperation between the two geopolitical regions.
He said efforts are already underway to establish a common trade post at Elemebiri, a Bayelsa Community which is 30 minutes drive from Onitsha in Anambra State.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State