By Jasper Etukudoh
The Muri Munene of the Efuts and Paramount Ruler of Calabar South local government Area of Cross River State, HRM Effiong Mbukpa has challenged anyone or government to prove that the Obong of Calabar is superior to him.
Speaking in his Palace, the paramount ruler said that the three monarchs in Calabar, including himself, the Obong of Calabar and the Ndidem of the Quas are all equal and of same ranking.
He was reacting to the alleged preference of the Obong of Calabar by both federal and state governments in matters relating to the dredging of the Calabar Channel, whereas he, Mbukpa, claims that ninety per cent of the waterways situates in his Efut land.
But reacting, the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V has said he will not join issue with his brother, the Muri Munene of the Efuts; that he was merely invited to the flag off ceremony and nothing more.
The Muri Munene said “The Obong of Calabar does not have powers over the Efuts, just as the President of Nigeria does not have powers beyond the country. The Muri Munene can never be under the Obong of Calabar.
“Our intention is to write to the governor to ask him to correct the anomaly. How can he make Obong of Calabar seemingly superior to the rest of us? We, all the paramount rulers in Calabar are all equal. None is superior to the other. You are in your father’s house and I am in my father’s house. You cannot come and become superior to me in my father’s house.”
Following the alleged marginalization, HRM Mbukpa said he may no longer be able to calm his people, who have been denied opportunities as work on the dredging exercise get under way without anyone reckoning with him.
Early last month, the minister of transport, Senator Idris Umar formally flagged off dredging of the Calabar waterway at Nigerian Ports Authority after several years of failed attempts. Heavy machinery have been deployed by Calabar Channel Management and other critical stakeholders, signaling possible commencement.
Mbukpa vehemently protested the preference of the Obong of Calabar over him in the matter of the dredging, saying the entire water channel belongs to the Efuts of Cross River State, and he, rather than the Obong ought to be consulted.
HRM Mbukpa said “We are not unhappy over the dredging of the Calabar waterways but are rather pained over it because government is dealing directly with the Obong of Calabar without recourse to the other major ethnic groups, the Efuts and the Quas. Ninety per cent of the waterways in Calabar belong to the Efuts. It is in government Gazette to show who owns the waterways. But now, sadly, government is dealing with only one person. My mind suggests to me that the government is taking advantage of what they have caused in Calabar to want to rubbish us, the Efuts”.
He stated that because of the dredging of the waterways, the then governor of the state called a meeting on Monday 25 September 2006 where the three paramount rulers in Calabar met and he advised that they should not quarrel over the Calabar waterways.
He said he is writing a protest letter on the issue to the state governor so that it can be addressed soon to avert civil disobedience in Calabar.
“Why should they be dealing with him alone on this matter? We have always addressed this waterways issue jointly at the defunct Calabar Traditional Rulers Joint Forum”.
If government continues to deal with the Obong of Calabar alone, the Muri Munene said, “If they do not heed to our protest, only God knows what will happen next, as my people may have to show their displeasure.”
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