Politics Is Eroding Traditional Institution


Politics if kept under control and within its bounds can be an instrument of social transformation and re-ordering. But when it is not properly managed, it brings destruction and desolation on other existing complementary institutions. Armed with this rather fragile philosophical oddity, Chief (Barr) Temple Owhonda Wopara, recently cautioned against the excesses of politics in any given society.

Chief Wopara, who spoke with The Weekend Tide in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt recently, reasoned that, the unbridled antics of politicians in Nigeria have the possibility of drifting the society into anarchy. Using Nigeria as an example, the legal luminary said politics of undue interferences and dislocation of existing structures had become inevitable because of die-hard approach to securing political powers.

One of the institutions that had been severely yoked under over bearing political pressures according to the Rumuobiakani High Chief is the Traditional institution.

By these interferences, Chief Wopara said the honour and prestige that go with royalty is been whittled down to a point of abrogation. “The Traditional institution is no doubt under intense political pressures, and it cannot but bow before political forces. In the days of old, the traditional institutions were the only government and political set up that existed.

But today, that sense of responsibilities which goes with preservation of cultural values had been thrown to the winds. Our traditional institution is impoverished, politics had taken over everything and we are worse off for it.”

Chief Wopara, who doubles as the Eze Onumba I of Rumuobiakani and the Eze Manunda of Rumuluku communities, averred that the traditional institution remains the foundation of good and responsible governance. “There is always something good to be cherished about our customs and tradition. Our tradition is the foundation for good neighbourliness, communal bond, patriotism and moral edification”.

Chief Wopara attributed the decadence moral stench in our society, especially among the youths to the gross abuses of traditional institution. Consequently, youth restiveness, lack of respect and aparthy for industry and hard work are consequences of a society that is orbiting indepedently of its fundamentals. Like a house built of a sandy foundation, it certainly bows to the wind, he stated.

Another issue of critical concern to the lawyer cum royal father is the policy of youth empowerment. He reasoned that the concept of youth empowerment in Nigeria is addressed with very momentary and short term objective. Consequently, it has a reverberate effect, on society. “I don’t believe in the idea of dolling out money to the youths in the name of youth empowerment. The real way of empowering the youth and preparing them for life challenges is to develop the mind which is the fundamental resource. You have to let them go through the crucible by imbibing the virtue of hard work and industry.”

Drawing from his upbringing as a growing child, Chief Wopara said he benefited from the discipline and sense of order that was the hub of that society. “My late father was an organizing secretary for the NCNC and also a Customary Court Judge at the Obio Customary Court.

After closing from work, he carried me along with him to the bush to cut sticks for staking yam. We didn’t pay for labour, that was how I learnt how to stake yam, that industry is what should be encouraged in our youths. It requires keeping with the tradition. A situation every one wants to go into politics without any leadership orientation is totally wrong and unacceptable. Youths have to be groomed for leadership position. Our youths do not want to work hard, they disrespect the elders and these habits are worsened by the government of the day”

Chief Wopara is a major victim of the Rumuobiakani demolition. His structures on both sides of the road were demolished. Reacting to the demolition, he embraced the urbanisation policy of government but decried what he calls the grossly inadequate compensation.

“I am not opposed to urbanization, but the government should discuss with the people and make adequate compensation. Shell had taken a huge part of our land, the other side is taken by the Air Force. We are confined in between and the little one left is under pressure. We don’t have any other place.” Given the dearth of land in Rumuobiakani community, Chief Wopara suggested to government to re-plan the area by building high risers, while provision will still be made for facilities, like play ground, and other amenities. In carrying out such project, he said, it must go beyond political consideration as the people must be taken into confident and fully rehabilitated. “Urbanisation should have a human face. The indigenes should be fully rehabilitated. It happened in Finima, Bonny, why can’t it happen in Rumuobiakani? We have given out enough to government and the people deserve to be appreciated.


Taneh Beemene