by Stanley Azuakola
The English language may be Nigeria’s lingua franca, but in Imo State, South East Nigeria, speaking English in public is the surest way for a traditional ruler to be dethroned.
Henceforth, according to the Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, any Imo State monarch, who speaks English in any public forum in the state, risks losing his traditional stool. He said this in Owerri, the state capital last week, while inaugurating the state’s Imo Traditional Rulers Parliament and Community Government Council.
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Apart from Okorocha’s pronouncement, another highlight of the event, was the emergence of Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri as the elected chairman of the State Council of Traditional Rulers.
Governor Okorocha charged the traditional rulers to use the forum to project the ideals of Igbo language and culture. He said he did not want to see a situation where the native language and traditions of the Igbo people are allowed to go into extinction, adding that the parliament would afford the monarchs opportunity to deal sincerely and creditably with the issue of customary cases and matters in their various domains according to the rule of law.
A recently passed law of the State House of Assembly, the Community Government Council Law Number 1 of 2012 was also presented at the occasion by the speaker of the state House of Assembly, Chief Benjamin Uwajimogu. Uwajimogu said before it was passed, it went through the rigorous legislative process, including receiving public hearing.
In his remarks, the new commissioner for Community Government Council and Public Utility, Prof. Chima Iwuchukwu, said the inauguration was one of the best things that have happened to the state.
Okorocha was later conferred with a traditional title of Eze Gburugburu of Ndigbo (ruler of all Igbo people).