The rally held on October 8.
The Onitsha monarchy has frowned at the news reports credited to Chris Ngige that the kingdom approved the party’s rally in the commercial city.
Mr. Ngige, the All Progressives Congress, APC, gubernatorial candidate in the upcoming Anambra elections was quoted as claiming that Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, gave his permission to the rally which held on October 8, the same day as the Ofala festival.
In a statement on Monday, Mr. Achebe said that he never gave his approval to the flag-off of the APC’s gubernatorial campaign.
“The Traditional Council and the Monarchy of Onitsha, as a policy, always studiously steer clear of any involvement in partisan politics,” said the statement signed by Ime Obi Onitsha, the Kingdom’s traditional council, on behalf of the king.
“That notwithstanding, after due reflection, the council considers it necessary to correct the persistent misrepresentation of our highly principled and respected monarch, resulting from the privileged access that he granted Hon. Okonkwo-Okom, as a deliberate effort to portray our monarch as unreliable,” the statement added.
In addition to receiving the blessings of the Monarch for his party’s rally, Mr. Ngige had also stated that his campaign organization even got a permission to pay a courtesy call on the Obi.
“We were told at the middle of the rally because we could not pay a courtesy call on Obi of Onitsha, because our Director for Operation, Mr. Okonkwo Okom informed us on Tuesday morning that further communication will be after the Ofala some other time,” Mr. Ngige had said.
“There was never a time we came to disrupt the Ofala festival and we never intended to disrespect the revered traditional ruler of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe and Onitsha culture and tradition, as we hold him in high esteem just like we do to other traditional rulers in Igbo land.
“There was a communication gap and if that resulted in any embarrassment to the Igwe, our party, APC and myself apologize for that,” Mr. Ngige had added.
But Monday’s reaction, signed by Onitsha chiefs led by Chike Ofodile, the Onowu Iyasele of Onitsha; admitted there had been a series of correspondences via text messaging between the Monarch and Ngige’s camp.
The Kingdom also stated that, after Mr. Ngige notified them of his intention to attend the Ofala festival with some state governors, they advised him to inform his colleagues that they must be seated by 2 p.m. when the Obi will emerge.
“In all the SMS exchanges, there was never any mention of a political rally. Thus, the claim by the party that approval for it was granted by our monarch or the palace is a mere ruse,” the statement said.
“No approval for political rally was sought and none was granted,” it added.
The statement said that on realizing the real intent of APC’s request, the Obi promptly informed Mr. Okonkwo-Okom in no uncertain terms “that their intention was very manipulative and irreverent of the culture and tradition of his people and therefore unacceptable.”
The king further told Mr. Okonkwo-Okom that it would be best, in the circumstance, for the APC chieftains not to appear at the festival to avoid an explosion of the anger of his people.
The Council said that it is regrettable and traditionally unethical for the governorship candidate to choose the date of the Ofala Festival as a day to flag off of his political campaign in Onitsha.
“The aspirant’s activities is a deliberate attempt to seek political mileage out of a painful disdain of Onitsha culture and tradition.”
It reiterated the commitment of Onitsha Traditional Council to good governance and democratic process.
“Our people believe strongly in the plural democratic traditions of the country. Thus, we respect the constitutional rights of every political party to pursue its objectives. Indeed, our indigenes enjoy diverse political affiliations, including membership of the APC.”
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