The Uyo Senatorial District Media Practitioners Forum, USDMPF, has appealed to all stakeholders involved in the ongoing traditional stool crisis in Akwa Ibom State to sheath their swords and put the peace and unity of the state above ethnic interests.
In a statement signed by the Chairman of the Forum, Ofonime Isong and the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Joseph Okon, on Sunday, the forum said it decided to wade in since it appears that the amended TRC law is assuming dangerous and divisive dimensions due to the sponsorship of politicians with malicious intent.
They maintained that the amended TRC law is neither out of place nor obnoxious as painted, noting that some of the dissenting traditional rulers were the people who applauded the idea of a President-General and never opposed it until their “sponsors told them they could make political capital from it.”
The forum expressed shock over violent and war-threatening press statements emanating from some Royal fathers over the new TRC law, saying that it was ironic that “those who are supposed to be the custodians of communities and are encouraging their subjects to brace up for war because they want to be the President-General of the Supreme Traditional Rulers Council of the State.”
Giving insight into the law, the forum said, “A look at the status of traditional institutions in states across Nigeria shows that many other states had already operated under the law that gives permanence to the occupants of the stool of number one traditional ruler in their respective States.
“We believe that this law should even be celebrated and those who facilitated the bill for working to bring Akwa Ibom State at par with its contemporaries in Nigeria celebrated too.
“The law now makes it possible for Akwa Ibom State to have a number one king who will be a worthy representative and ambassador of the State Traditional Rulers Council. it is not about His Eminence, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk, it is not about Oku Ibom nor Ibibio, Annang or Oro. What is paramount is the permanent interest of Akwa Ibom people. Whoever does not love Akwa Ibom State does not also love his immediate ethnic group.
“Let us not also forget that by the law of Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council, the President-General does not operate unilaterally and as such will not be leading or taking decisions alone. The law equally makes provision for Vice President I and Vice President II. These two Vice Presidents represent Annang and Oro, respectively. It makes it impossible for one ethnic group to dominate others.
“This means that the President-General will not be attending national events and programmes alone but in the company of the Nkuku Annang and Ahta Oro. In some instances, the President-General can also mandate his vice president I or Vice President II to represent him. It is not an Ibibio, Annang or Oro, it is an Akwa Ibom thing. We call on everyone irrespective of political party and ethnic background to close ranks and work for the good and prosperity of Akwa Ibom State.
“We should, therefore, be cautious of the utterances we make on this matter. Let us emphasize those things that will unite rather than divide us. Akwa Ibom State is all that we have, and there is nothing that is worth the love and unity of Akwa Ibom people.”