The Elders and leaders of the Ibibio Sociocultural Organisation, represented by ‘Akwa Esop Ima-Isong Ibibio,’ said on Tuesday that they support and are committed to the Bill amending the Traditional Rulers Law, Cap. 155, Laws of Akwa Ibom State, 2022.
Recalled that the Bill which had already been assented to by the state governor, Pst Umo Éno, had generated controversy with some other ethnic groups opposing the Bill.
The Annang Youths Forum had opposed the Bill because the law seeks to grant perpetual leadership of the Traditional Rulers Council to the Oku Ibom Ibibio, disregarding the longstanding rotational provision among all paramount rulers in the state.
In a statement jointly signed by the AYF group leaders and made available to journalists in Uyo said, “The traditional system of governance in our state has thrived for generations due to its emphasis on fairness, inclusivity, and unity.
“The rotational provision, which has been a cornerstone of our traditional rulership, ensures that all communities and ethnic groups have an equal opportunity to lead and contribute to the development and progress of our great state.
“The law threatens to undermine the delicate balance and harmony among different ethnic groups within our state. By bestowing perpetual leadership on the Oku Ibom Ibibio, it not only disregards the principles of fairness and inclusivity but also perpetuates a form of hierarchical dominance that goes against the spirit of our diverse society”
But the Ibibio Elders in a communique issued at the end of their meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, insisted that the law is for the overall development of the state.
It reads in part “We, the Elders of Ibibio Nation and Leaders of Ibibio socio-cultural organisations, wish to congratulate the Executive Governor, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno, on the occasion of the 36th Anniversary of Akwa Ibom State.
“We thank Governor Umo Eno for assenting to the Bill for the amendment of the Traditional Rulers Law, Cap.155, Laws of Akwa Ibom State, 2022 and for inaugurating His Eminence, Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon D. Etuk (CFR) as the President-General of Akwa Ibom State Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers and HRM, Odidem Bassey Etim Edet, as the Chairman of the Council as part of the ceremony marking the 36th Anniversary of Akwa Ibom Statehood.
“We also want to commend the Honourable Speaker, Rt. Hon. Udeme Ottong and Members of the 8th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly for passage of the Bill for the amendment of the Traditional Rulers Law, Cap. 155, Laws of Akwa Ibom State, 2022.
“It is necessary to state here firmly that the law is in order for the overall development, peace, stability, national respect, and progress of our dear State, Akwa Ibom.
“We wish to note that other states of the federation have similar traditional structures that have served them well”.