The Palace and Ezeship in Owerri municipality
It is imperative that it is high time a befitting Palace was built for the Monarch of Owerri Municipality. Since Osuji Njemanze reigned as the Ozurigbo the first, until the last Eze Emmanuel Njemanze the Ozurigbo the fourth, they have used their respective private residences as their palaces. It has not augured well for NdeOwere and showed the lack of dignity associated with the office of the paramount ruler befitting the status of Owerri Municipality. A first class Eze and the Landlord of Imo State Government. This may have brought disrespect to the Eze and NdeOwere within the Imo State in particular and Nigeria in general.
The Palace of Eze Emmanuel Njemaze, the Ozurigbo the fourth was razed down by fire. He was forced to relocate to a place provided by the State Government within the Municipality. It was at this place he used to preside the traditional affairs of his subjects. This burnt Palace was not rebuilt until his demise. He was buried at his own site within the municipality.
I do not want to enter into a semantic debate milling around the burnt Palace of the Eze, the controversy notwithstanding. It is high time a permanent site for Eze’s Palace was built. This is an opportunity for Owerri indigenes to muster resources and erect a befitting edifice as a permanent Palace for any Eze that shall be enthroned from Njemanze dynasty. If the present site is not sufficient, more land can be acquired from the space close to the Palace facing Whederal Road. This land is owned by a member of Njemanze family. A consortium of indigenous Architects and building Engineers should be constituted to produce a workable, cost effective and aesthetic design that can stand the test of time, befitting a first class Eze’s Palace. The construction and modalities shall be their prerogative. I feel happy that the billboard by the Schnapp Wine advert has been restored at the entrance to the burnt Palace, with the caption: The Palace of Eze Njemanze of Owerri.
The construction cost shall be borne by the Age Grades with the support of Imo State Government as the tenant of Eze. This proposal shall start immediately, so that before the installation of a new Eze, which shall take place one year after the demise of the last Eze, a reasonable amount of work might have been done. No matter how long it takes for this project to get to fruition, the better for the community.
The choice of next Eze is very crucial. Who shall be the next Eze? There are two great sons of Njemanze that are qualified for the throne. Both have unquestionable résumé and intimidating pedigree. They do not need the power of clairvoyance to divulge into their past and future. They all have the love of NdeOwere at heart. They are Israel Njemanze and Ahanonu Njemanze.
Israel was a National Security Organization (NSO) Boss when he was in service. Ahanonu was the immediate past Chief Judge of Imo State. Israel has an edge because of age and general acceptability within Owerri Community. Most families in Owerri benefitted from his generosity of placing our children in NSO. Ahanonu could not be said to be liberal in helping our children in job security, maybe because of the sensitive nature of the post he occupied within the period of his service. They are all qualified for Ezeship. Their wives’ acceptability in the traditional, custom and culture of the community may be a determinant factor in the choice of their husbands as the Eze. The last Eze’s wife actions were not in sync with the community, which they may not condone again.
If we cannot persuade any of the above to accept the Ezeship, there is an option in the younger and acceptable person who has paid his dues in a very short period of his life. He is humble, unassuming, respectful, down to earth and above all, he does not carry his shoulders high as a sign of royalty, with blue blood in his veins. He is Eze Ohiri Njernanze. This lad can be groomed for future Ezeship, if he is not considered now. The earlier these proposals are taken into consideration the better for NdeOwere,
This is an unbiased opinion of the writer without any coloration of facts as elucidated above.
(A retired civil servant)