The 13 traditional rulers from Anambra State who went to Abuja to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on Aug 7 but were barred from getting to the Presidential Villa based on security reports are now locked in a fight, it has been learnt authoritatively.
They are fighting not just Prince Arthur Eze, the controversial Anambra State-born businessman, who sponsored the ill-fated trip, for what three of them who spoke to journalists this morning in confidence called their “royal humiliation’’.
They are also fighting among themselves on suspicion of betrayal.
“Before we left Anambra on Wednesday’’, one of them told journalists from his Sheraton Hotel suite in Abuja at the weekend, “Prince Arthur Eze assured us that the Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr Boss Mustapha, had made a solid arrangement for us to visit the president in person and read out our prepared speech, which he got someone to write for us, only for us to realise on getting into Abuja that we could not leave Sheraton Hotel’’.
Another grievance against Arthur Eze is the travelling allowance he paid the traditional rulers.
“We were promised N250,000 each’’, said a monarch from the Anambra Senatorial Zone, “but Uzu Awka, Chief Austine Ndigwe, a former Arthur Eze’s employee, gave us only N100,000 when we were in the palace of the traditional ruler of Ukpo, Dr Robert Eze, Okofia VI.
“The traditional ruler of Alor in Idemili Local Government Area, Igwe Chinedu Mac-Anthony Okonkwo, assured us that we will receive more money on reaching Abuja and even added that the money would be so much that traditional rulers who didn’t travel with us would deeply regret missing out on the largesse’’.
More worrisome to the monarchs is the growing lack of trust among them.
They are embarrassed that Gov. Willie Obiano has videos of their meetings, which he has passed on to some senior administration officials.
“Some of us must be black sheep’’, one told journalists, expressing the fear that the videos could leak to the public soon which would lead to their “ultimate disgrace in the state’’.
The Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C Don Adinuba, confirmed that up to a half of the traditional rulers called Chief Obiano in the morning of last Saturday ostensibly to wish him a happy 65th birthday but ended up providing details of their Abuja visit.
“The funny thing’’, according to Adinuba, “is that each told the governor that he participated in the Abuja trip in order to monitor how his political opponents led by Arthur Eze were plotting against him and accordingly report everything to him’’.
Since their return at the weekend from the ill-fated trip to Abuja, the traditional rulers and their supporters have been making open moves for a rapprochement with Gov. Obiano.
Chief Austine Ndigwe on Sunday, Aug. 9 issued a statement denying ever having a rift with the governor, whom he described as a good man who has made Awka look truly like a capital.