BEING A SPEECH BY H.E. PASTOR UMO ENO DURING THE MEETING WITH THE AKWA IBOM TRADITIONAL RULERS COUNCIL, OCTOBER, 17TH, 2023, EXCO CHAMBERS, GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, UYO,
Our Dear and Revered Royal Fathers,
1. This meeting is another step in my earnest desire to make peace where there is war and infuse love where hatred abounds. I do this conscious of the fact that we are brothers not enemies; friends, not foes; coming from a treasured heritage and having a shared glorious future.
2. As the Governor of this state, a mandate popularly obtained through the will of the people and the endorsement of God Almighty; and a Pastor by calling, I cannot and will not allow strife to persist, and if you check, that it has persisted, is not of my making.
3. Recall that I was in attendance at a meeting convened by my predecessor in May this year where the issue of the Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers in our State was discussed. Recall also that there has been President’s General position created from 2021 and occupied by the Oku Ibom Ibibio, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk CFR. We can also sincerely recall that there was no comment, except one, from the Paramount Ruler of Itu. Thereafter, having assented to the law passed by the House of Assembly, I became aware of the protestations by some Paramount Rulers, and I immediately stood down the inauguration, rather inviting all of you to a meeting the morning of September 23, 2023. The aim of the meeting was to offer me an opportunity to listen to the pain points of those affected and for us to collectively reach a decision favourable to all. I waited for hours without the affected Paramount Rulers showing up for the meeting. Had that meeting held, all of these tensions would not have arisen in the first place. But you, our traditional fathers, whose office is established by law, appointed and funded by government, refused to attend the meeting or communicate your intended absence to me. Rather, you preferred to gather in clusters at politically sponsored settings to make very provocative statements and to pour libation against Government and her officials.
Despite this obviously provocative response, I still offered an olive branch on Sunday, 24th September, at the State Thanksgiving service, where I asked that I be invited to your meeting so that we can discuss, since you spurned my invitation. Till today, I have not received any invitation from you, rather, I have read very inciting, provocative and inflammatory press releases, interviews and the sort.
4. Today, I invited you to come let’s reason together, express our fears, concerns and demands in an atmosphere of brotherhood and unity, not acrimony and strife. I am calling on you to drop sentiments and let us discuss objectively in order to reach solutions that will help us not just today, but the generations unborn. As a leader, I have been very careful with the things I have said since this challenge surfaced because words are powerful and like a shot arrow, once spoken, cannot be retrieved. I am here informing you of my readiness to have this conversation with you and to walk with you on the path that must lead to the destination of peace and unity. But there is however an existing impediment- the law suit filed on this matter. With the pendency of this law suit, any in-depth discussion or intervention therein will be subjudice. Therefore, I urge you to remove this legal obstacle, cease all media and politically motivated media wars and return here let us amicably resolve this issue, to the satisfaction of all.
5. As I end my speech, may I very respectfully draw your attention to the fact that the refusal of Your Majesties to attend a properly convened meeting at the invitation of the Governor is not just an act of insubordination, but may set a precedent for an unending spiral of insubordination across the leadership spectrum. For example, village heads May refuse to attend a meeting called by the Clan Head or Clan Heads may begin to disobey their Paramount Rulers. This will lead to chaos, which is not good for the state. This is why we need to put a stop to this negative drift.
6. May I also remind you that the primary duty of your office is to promote peace within your jurisdiction. You must not allow any deviation from this duty and responsibility as Government will frown at any breakdown of law and order in your domain.
7. I urge you to allow the wisdom of Solomon to prevail here, so that we do not kill the child in a quest for Justice and equality.
8. May the God of peace give our minds peace and lead us to a peaceful resolution.
9. Let there be peace in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria
10. You are all welcome to this meeting.