Honourable Oji Nyimenuate Ngofa is in the twilight of his second term in office and the jostling for who succeeds him has begun in earnest. The jostling may not necessarily be about who the successor would be, even though some aspirations are more than obvious, but importantly, the battle at this time is about the where in the geopolitics of Eleme the successor would come from. Several permutations ranging from the absurd to the macabre are being postulated by different interests in justification of primacy of succession, but herein only one is worthy of discourse, being, the issue of Nchia/Odido Dichotomy.
OKrika/Obigbo/Tai/Eleme Local Government Area (OTELGA) was created on September 6, 1979 from the old Bori Local Government and further into Gokhana/Tai/Eleme Local Government Area (GOTELGA) in December 1989. This political administrative arrangement was again separated into Tai/Eleme Local Government Area on September 23, 1991 and once again Balkanized into the present day Eleme Local Government Area in 1996. Consist predominantly of the Odidos (Ebubu, Onne, Eteo, Ekporo, etc) and the Nchias (Ogale, Alesa, Alode, Agbonchia, Aleto, Akpajo, etc); from inception, harmony, brotherhood and cooperation has been sustained through the efficacy and conscientious application and observation of the Odido/Nchia dichotomy principle in the allocation of socio-political and economic gains accruing to the Local Government Area, as a balancing ideology to promote unity and discourage discord.
This trend of political engineering as handed down to us by the founding fathers of the Local Government Area and which has been sustained as a vehicle for equitable distribution over time by all well-meaning leaders has continue to be the source of our strength and pride as a people. The sanctity and ingenuity of the Odido/Nchia dichotomy principle which has sustained us as a united family as we were moved from one political-administrative permutation to another over these many years cannot be continuously violated by the dictates of inordinate ambition of an unconscionable few. There is no better time than NOW to reverse the ongoing mindless repudiation of the Odido/Nchia dichotomy principle thus promote and uphold the doctrine of rotational leadership and true brotherliness in Eleme.
For the avoidance of doubt let us briefly examine the table below to see how the principle has been abused and the pendulum of leadership leaning towards one direction between 1979 and 2013. The table, without being parochial and/or economical with the truth, reveals the imbalance in Eleme Local Government Council Chairmanship and whether justice, equity and fairness have been served; our amity preserved and promoted; and our heritage and posterity, united and progressive, if in 2014, due negligence and inattention to detail we consign the glue of our peaceful co-existence to extinction by promoting the election of another Nchia Local Government Chairman.
Table 1: List of Past Indigenous Chairmen of Eleme Local Government Council
S/No NAME DISTRICT WARD Period
1. Chief Hon. C. C. Okpa Nchia Agbonchia 1981 – 1984
2. Hon. Chief (Sir). John O. Obele Nchia Agbonchia Oct. 9, 1991 – Dec. 1, 1991
3. Hon. Olaka Nwogu Nchia Alesa Dec. 3, 1991 – Nov. 9, 1993
4. Hon. Evang. Precious Osaro-Ekee Nchia Alode Apr. 11, 1996 – Mar. 15, 1997
5. Hon. (Dr.) Nwokolu Dimkpa-Nte Nchia Agbonchia Mar. 26, 1997 – Jun. 9, 1998
6. Chief Rev. Princely Emeka Chujor Nchia Ogale Jun. 2, 1999 – Jun. 4, 2002
7. Hon. Onornwi Ngofa Nchia Aleto Jun 4, 2002 – Dec.7, 2003
8. Hon. Fred Mbombo Igwe Hon. Nchia Aleto Dec. 7, 2003 – Aug. 26, 2003
9. Chief Davis Saloka Nchia Alode Aug. 26, 2003 – Apr. 22, 2004
10. Hon. Chief Ejor Ngonwa Ejor Odido Onne Apr. 22, 2004 – Apr. 24, 2007
11. Hon. Mba Laleobe Nchia Ogale Apr.24, 2007 – Dec. 10, 2007
12. Hon. Josiah Olu Odido Onne Dec. 10, 2007 – Apr. 25, 2008
13. Hon. Oji Nyimenuate Ngofa Nchia Aleto Apr. 25, 2008 – Apr. 24, 2011
14. Hon. Kammy Ngelale Odido Ekporo Apr. 24, 2011 – May 31, 2011
15. Hon. Oji Nyimenuate Ngofa Nchia Aleto May 31, 2011 –?
Of the fifteen (15) occupiers of the Eleme Local Government Council Chairmanship seat who are of Eleme origin Odido District which is located in the East and Southeast regions of the Eleme territory has produced only three (3) for only three years and four months period, while the Nchia District which is situated in the Western area has occupied the Eleme Local Government Council Chairmanship seat twelve (12) times spanning a period of over twenty-two (22) years. The current Executive Chairman, Hon. Oji Nyimenuate Ngofa hailed from Nchia and he is serving his second tenure, so no one begrudged them and the Odido accepted this in good faith, even though this unprecedented act of chivalry will culminate in an unbroken 22 years in power to the Nchia. Now, if we accede that in 2014, it is the turn of the Odido District, to complete the dual rotation, common sense and astute judgment, devoid of sentiments, demand that the Nchias should in good faith and for justice sake concede the position to Odido. Anything short of this conscientious interplay of mutual accommodation may consign our togetherness to jeopardy, because it would amount to reckless insensitivity to consciously attempt to exclude the Odido component of the Local Government from the power matrix for 28 years res ipso coquito!
It is also worthy to caution, that the present sabre rattling and threats of dire consequences, demeans rather than enhances, the quest for Chairmanship, since it will only inadvertently alienate many of us who consider ourselves lovers of and believers in ONE Eleme. Let no one be deluded that any single clan or ward can install itself Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area without the cooperation and collaboration of the other clans, wards and communities.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) unequivocally in Chapter II, Section 14(4) states inters alia “….The composition of the Government of a State, a Local Government Council, or any of the agencies of such Government or Council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or Council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognize the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the peoples of the federation” If we may ask, would Eleme Local Government not be in violation and indeed in contravention of the spirit and letter of the Constitution should the Nchias insist on excluding and marginalizing the Odido component of the Local Government Area for 24 years?
Even the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) took a cue from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when in Section 7(2) of the Party’s Constitution it affirmed that “The Party shall adhere to the principles of zoning and rotation” and so it is applicable to most of the registered Political Parties. Most States today and their out-going Governors tend to subscribe implicitly to this dictum, as can be gleaned from the public declarations of Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State; Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State; and even our own indomitable Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, amongst many others, whose unwavering commitment to ensuring that the egalitarian principles of justice and equal rights are upheld to the greater glory of unity, amity and equity. Therefore, we dare say without apology, that only an uninformed and unreasonable person, impervious to the peaceful co-existence and co-habitation of the peoples of Eleme, who is pandering to selfishness and inordinate ambition can dispute the overarching imperative of an Odido Chairman for Eleme Local Government Area come 2014.
For these reasons, and to preserve, promote and protect our collective destiny, and the future of our posterity and heritage, we implore and encourage our compatriots of Nchia extraction, especially our political brothers and sisters, who though eminently qualified and believe they are poised to actualize a long anticipated aspiration, to acknowledge that the vicissitudes of current political fortunes weighs precariously against their aspiration, if amity is to be preserved. The Nchias need come to terms with the fact that they represent “OUR BIG BROTHERS” and have been privileged to occupy the position of Eleme Local Government Council Chairman for many years. Conceding the position of Council Chairmanship to Odido is an esteemed sacrifice that must be made to the greater glory of our tomorrow as Eleme people with one destiny under God.
Again, a sincere beam of searchlight on Odido District will pin the Eleme Local Government Council Chairmanship position to Ebubu come 2014. The reason is not farfetched. Of recent, Ekporo has produced a Member Rivers State House of Assembly in the person of our great son, Chief Hon. Precious Osaro Ngelale who was later appointed a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and a Chairman of Council in the person of Hon. Kammy Ngelale. Onne has gotten two Council Chairmanship slots in the persons of Chief Hon. Ejor Ngonwa Ejor and Hon. Josiah John Olu and two (2) Members of Rivers State House of Assembly (RSHA) in the persons of our illustrious sons HRH (Barr.) Dr. Emere J. D. Osaronu (JP) and Hon Josiah John Olu. Eteo has also taken its own share of political leadership in recent times with our vibrant son Hon. Marcus Nle Ejii serving two tenures as Member Rivers State House of Assembly and also as a Portfolio Commissioner in the Rivers State Government. In all these, Ebubu has always played both fatherly and supportive roles with only Membership of the Rivers State House of Assembly in the person of Hon. Samuel Oguru to its credit. This shortcoming in the distribution of political power cum abuse of the doctrine of rotation can be collectively addressed if the Eleme Political Class (EPC) is determined to do so by simply conceding the Eleme Local Government Council Chairmanship position to Odido in general and Ebubu in particular come 2014.
A peep into the remote past is necessary here. From the “Eleme County Council” of 1959 created by the Eastern Nigeria Government through the highly cherished Governor Melford O. Okilo’s “Eleme Urban Council” of 1981 down to the present Eleme Local Government Council, history attests to the fact that Ebubu, within the Odido bloc, has suffered much oppression, suppression and repressions in both political and social matters and denied political representations and appointments. To put the records straight, between 1960 and 1965 Chief Hon. Israel Saloka Oluka of Aleto served as Chairman Eleme County Council. He was succeeded by Chief Hon. Aaron Oluka Ngei of Alesa who headed the Council from 1965 to 1967.Chief Hon. Columbus Okazu of Ebubu served as Chairman Eleme Urban Council for less than 6 months and was succeeded by Chief Hon. Gaius O. Ngofa of Aleto in 1982. Chief Hon. Paul O. Wokoma of Akpajo was Chairman Eleme Urban Council from 1982 to 1983 and was replaced by Chief Hon. Olungwe Osaro Baah of Eteo in December, 1983. During this period (1981 to 1984), the real cum overall Chairman of the Eleme Urban Council, designated Coordinating Chairman was Chief Hon. C. C. Okpa of Agbonchia, who by all standards deserved inclusion in the above table. This narration is not intended to arm-twist but born out of the sincere believe that together we can correct this abnormality; together we can reverse the trend; together we can give every section of Eleme a sense of belonging based on the doctrine of political power rotation between Nchia and Odido.
We are not unmindful and neither are we naïve to the great sacrifices the Nchias have made and continue to make, nor are we impervious to the perceptions of the “our turn” mentality being aggravated, but we pride in the conviction that the Nchias will always do what is right, no matter the cost. We are also of the conviction that truth, astute judgment and good conscience will surely prevail. God bless Great Nchia! God bless Eleme Local Government! God bless Rivers State! God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Eleme bi nnԑ!