His Royal Highness Mene Suanu Baridam, Gbenemene Bagha II and paramount Ruler of Luumene Bagha in Khana Local Government Area, Rivers State is a man that had a date with destiny. He was enjoying a flourishing career in the banking sector and equally warming up for full participation in partisan politics when providence thrust on him a royal status.
Rather than regret his compromised political chances and banking career, he opted fully for the traditional stool which he considered a privilege and honour from his people.
His regrets as revealed in an exclusive interview with The Weekend Tide is the dangerous incursion made by certain interlopers who lay undeserving claims to traditional tools.
These incursions to him, attract the wrath of the forefathers, as traditional institutions are sacred and devoid of personal interference. “It is suicidal to sit on the traditional throne of our forefathers when you are not supposed to be there, history reveal that such persons don’t last on the throne”.
The young monarch called for the review of the edict on traditional institution which currently gives impetus to certain usurping tendencies because of some existing clauses.
“Chieftaincy is not rotational; tradition should be allowed to take it toll. I believe it is overdue for the Rivers State edict on chieftaincy to be reviewed to strengthen the various traditional stools”. Noting that traditional stools goes with enormous responsibilities, the royal father said he had enjoyed the unflinching support of his people and that accounts for the tremendous achievements recorded in his domain since his coronation. Apart from the relative peace the Bagha people enjoy, he said he had been able to attract some development projects, like roads, water and healthcare programmes to the area.
“I have enjoyed the support of my people because I get them involved in everything, I delegate role to every interest groups in the community, from members of the council of chiefs, youths and the CDC.
For Mene Baridam, the amnesty given to ex-militants by the Federal Government need to be complemented with community amnesty as all the ex-militants are members of various communities. He recalled that at the peak of militancy in the Niger Delta, various communities were desecrated with sacrilegious actions and activities by the erstwhile militants. To attain full rehabilitation, he said there was the need for the ex-militants and others involved in the various acts to duly apologise to their various communities, for genuine penitence and acceptance back to the communities.
One of such abominable acts, he stated was the kidnap of Gbenemene Tuatua Tai at his palace, which is the symbol of traditional authority. “Its is important that the militants apologise to their communities, to get full acceptance back, by their previous activities they offended their communities in various ways and those actions have to be atoned traditionally to give them total acceptance.
The federal government on their own part, should comply with the terms of agreement with the ex-militants. The boys have just dropped their guns and some of them are protesting that they have been allegedly slighted in the deal. The federal government must not foot drag; they must convince every body that they are serious about the development of Niger Delta”.
Baridam also reacted to the proposed 10% equity fund to be paid to oil producing communities in the Niger Delta. While applauding the legislative initiative, he said its implementation should be based on equity and consensus interest. Basically, he said representative commissions should be set up comprising men of proven integrity and traditional rulers as the custodians of communities should be actively involved in the management of the fund.
“The 10% equity fund should not be politicised, if the fund is left in the hands of politicians, then it is going to be controversial and it is going to plunge the communities into more crisis”. The former Rivers State chairman of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions employees, (NUBIFIE) also explained why Governor Amaechi is tough with contractors handling various projects in Rivers State. Amaechi is succeeding because, he is tough with them. Amaechi personally inspects the projects at various stages and sees that the contractors are working”.
Mene Baridam is also the treasurer of the Khana Council of Chiefs. He described the demise of the Gbenemene of Babbe, His Royal Majesty, King Mark Saro Igbara, as a great lost to the Ogoni Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers.