Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has called on traditional rulers to continue to be the rallying point for the promotion of peace and development of Rivers communities.
Governor Wike also urged the traditional rulers not to misuse their powers, urging that they should use their positions to advance the welfare of Rivers people.
He spoke in Port Harcourt during the presentation of certificates of recognition and staff of office to government-recognised traditional rulers.
He said: “All that we ask from our traditional rulers is to continue to be the rallying point for the advancement and sustenance of peace, unity and progress in our communities.
“We will not hesitate to withdraw recognition from any one of you who abuses your authority or misuses your powers against the law and the collective wellbeing of our people.
“As traditional rulers, it is important to remind you that the progress of your communities depends on the social, political and economic choices you make and the kind of leadership you provide. In deed, without good leadership, you cannot make any meaningful difference and our people will continue to hope against hope.”
He charged the traditional rulers to set new development agenda for Rivers communities with the support of the elected and appointed political leaders of their communities and local government areas.
Governor Wike regretted that some traditional rulers had been negatively involved in cultism or other social vices, while others had been indifferent to the social crisis in their kingdoms.
“Under your watch or seeming complicity or indifference, cultism and criminality, especially among community youths, continue to rear their ugly heads disturbing the peace and development in our state.
“Worse still, some of you have become partisan traditional rulers and divisive figures in our communities and thereby constituting obstacles to unity, peace and progress,” he said.
Governor Wike informed that the state government formally presented certificates of recognition and staff of office to 84 traditional rulers of different classes drawn from the 23 local government areas of the state.
He said: “Out of this number, 38 existing chieftaincy stools were elevated and or recognised by our administration from 2015 to date after giving due consideration to the merits of their applications as required by the legal regime.
“As symbolic as it may look, this is the last and perhaps, one of the most profound processes in the long line of traditional and legal processes for the formal appointment, recognition and induction of traditional rulers in our state.
“And so, as from today, with your certificates and stamp of authority, all of you will continue to be answerable only to the ordinary laws of our country and the will of your people in the exercise of your traditional authority over your people, communities and territories.”
For over one hour, Governor Wike presented the certificates of recognition and staff of office to the traditional rulers of all the classes.
The venue of the event became a centre of mass celebration as the subjects of the traditional rulers drummed and danced in excitement. The rich culture of Rivers people was on full display.
In a welcome remark, the Attorney General of Rivers State, Dr. Zaccheus Adangor, said that the event was meant to celebrate Rivers traditional institution.
He said that with the recognition, the traditional rulers would be spurred to serve their people with greater commitment.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amayanabo of Opobo, King Douglas Dandeson Jaja, thanked the state governor for the historic ceremony, saying that the traditional rulers would reciprocate by continually supporting his administration to succeed.
He said that the Rivers governor, since 2015, had shown great respect for the traditional institution. He urged Governor Wike to remain committed to the welfare of traditional rulers.