By Idajor Ajah
The demise of Queen Elizabeth II and the smooth, flawless transition from one royal era to a new royal dispensation prompted an outpouring of reflection and reactions across the globe.
But my concern here is the pre-arranged transition to a new royal era in the British Empire in comparison to the tussle, the delay, and the funny political quagmire that characterize the election of a new king in many traditional royal systems of kingdoms in Nigeria and across some African countries.
However, it is pertinent to note that the coronation of any king in Nigeria, from the Alaafin of Oyo to the Emir of Zazzau, and from the Obi of Onitsha to the Oba of Lagos has remained a high point of pomp and pageantry. And this is especially because it represents the traditional and cultural manifestation of all that aesthetically appealing in the cultural heritage of the people.
The Paramount ruler of Akweya an ethnic group in the southern part of Benue State, HRH Chief Alfred Odaba Ekereke went on a hunting expedition in 2004. I mean he died in 2004 but got a real viable replacement in 2023 in the person of HRH Chief Pastor Wilson Pius Ahola.
That’s about 20 years later. Different Chiefs or Clan Heads have acted as District heads at different times.
Also, the King of Takum, a chiefdom in Taraba state, Ukwe Ali Ibrahim Kufang II passed on in 1996. The throne has been vacant for 36 years. An indigene of the community told me that the Palace of the King is now dilapidated and taken over by grasses and reptiles.
A Professor of Theatre Arts, Professor Oga Abah, in an interview with AkweyaTV, said one of the reasons for the delay in transiting to a new royal era in some of these Chiefdoms is derailment from the tradition and process that was laid by the ancestors since the inception of these thrones.
According to the Prof, whatever rules have been laid down by the forefathers for the selection of a new king should have been dogmatically and sacramentally adhered to give peace a chance.
In Idoma land of Benue state, according to history, the Och’Idoma seat is rotated among the 22 districts of the Zone C Senatorial District of Benue State. In 1947 the 22 Beaded chiefs/District Head of Idoma land met and selected Chief Ogiri Oko, District Head of Adoka as the first Och’Idoma.
According to an article attributed to Aojoko k’Idoma this selection process has been the norm and the laid down tradition of Idoma. Hence the selection process of all the occupants of the Och’Idoma stool from 1947 up to 2021 had been amicably and peacefully undertaken, without any serious rancour.
But, they have however alleged that the 2016 Chieftaincy Law promulgated by the Benue State Government has turned everything upside down as the law changed the process of electing a new Och’Idoma by excluding the Beaded Chiefs/District Heads from being part of the electors in the selection of a new Och’Idoma among other things.
Could the involvement of the government and political leaders in the selection of traditional rulers across the country be the reason for the crises, the delay and the decrease in reference and respect for traditional institutions across the country?
More so that it has been recently proven that a highly revered traditional ruler can be deposed or dethrone by the government of the day without incurring the anger of the gods.
By a letter dated March 9 2020 and addressed to the Emir of Kano, Mohammed Sanusi II, issued and signed by the Secretary to the Kano State Government, Usman Alhaji, the Emir of Kano Mohammed Sanusi II was deposed from the throne of Emir of Kano by the Kano State Government as reported by Premium Times.
Recall that the Kano Emirate which began over 200 years ago is now been monitored and controlled by a Kano State Emirate Council Caw promulgated in 2019.
What happened to the laid down rules and order since 1819?
In Great Britain and Wales, the selection and coronation process has remained largely unchanged for the past one thousand years.
It is true that a lot of things could change with time by reason of enlightenment and civilization.
But there are some rules and orders that should remain so that the result of peace, tranquillity and contentment they engineered in years past could still be reproduced today. Especially as it has to do with transiting from one royal era to another.
In the same week Emir Sanusi was dethroned in Kano, some traditional rulers in South-West Ekiti State were embroiled in a face-off with the Governor after he appointed an Oba (Yoruba king) to head the traditional council.
A group of 16 local Obas were not pleased with the interference and stayed away from state functions drawing a stern letter from the governor who accused them of insubordination.
In November 2019, Nigeria’s Supreme Court dethroned another Oba in Oyo State declaring the process of his ascendancy to the throne as illegal. Samuel Adebayo Adegbola, who was the Elemwa of Eruwa had spent 21 years on the throne before he was forced to step down on the grounds that he was not a member of the town’s two ruling houses whose turn it was to produce a successor in 1994.
The throne had remained vacant.
The first king of all of England was Athelstan (895-939 AD) of the House of Wessex, grandson of Alfred the Great and 30th great-granduncle to Queen Elizabeth II.
The Anglo-Saxon king defeated the last of the Viking invaders and consolidated Britain, ruling from 925-939 AD. The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional form of government by which a hereditary sovereign reigns as the head of state of the United Kingdom.
The current monarch is King Charles III, who ascended the throne on 8 September 2022, upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The proper coronation ceremony was held on the 6th of May, 2023 with world leaders in attendance and Nigerian artists like Tiwa Savage headlining it.