Foremost oil magnate and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ND Western Limited, an oil and gas company in Nigeria, Prince Engr. Eberechukwu Oji, has been selected to mount the throne of Arochukwu ancient Kingdom, in Abia State.
Oji is also a grandson of Eze Kanu Oji, the king who was crowned at age 14 in 1914, and reigned from then until 1986, launching Arochukwu kingdom into profound greatness.
Prince Oji, who expressed readiness to mount the throne come December 26, 2023, made this known during a Zoom Press Conference with journalists on November 6, 2023.
Speaking at the Zoom meeting, Prince Ojinot only maintained that he is the Eze Aro-designate, but also insisted that his coronation would proceed as scheduled on the given date.
Oji went down memory lane to inform his audience how he emerged as the king-designate following an selection process between him and his kinsman.
According to him, he satisfied all the preconditions to the contest, among which is that one must have a blue blood, an expression that means one is from the royal lineage.
The would-be contestant also will not be carrying any moral or cultural burden, or character flaw to be eligible, conditions which he satisfied, having come from the royal family where his uncle, Mazi Oji Kanu Oji, aged 91, is the eldest and the natural heir to the throne after Mazi Vincent Oji passed away.
Speaking, he said:
He said although the oldest male family member was supposed to take over as the Eze, but following an understanding with the older generation, an agreement was reached for a younger person to ascend the throne.
Prince Oji explained: “Mazi Oji Kanu Oji, he is 91, he is the eldest. Naturally the throne should have gone to him. After him is my father, Mazi Joshua Kanu Oji, who will then be next person.
“Now, in the intervening period after Mazi Vincent passed, we the young princes in the family approached these our elders and told them that the custom and tradition is not in question.
“The custom of Aro is clear that in case of the demise of a king, the Okwara Ezi, the eldest, becomes the Eze-Aro. There is no dispute about that. However, following the trend across the world and in Nigeria, the culture is not serving us.
“And so, we asked our elders if it is possible for them, they should allow us to play the role of Eze-Aro on their behalf while they are still alive.
“They will be guiding us, they will be providing fatherly advice so that we will present a young vibrant Eze-Aro, the type of which is seen in the young Olu of Warri, the Ooni of Ife, as well as other countries and nations where there is still monarchy like in Saudi Arabia where the youths have taken over.
“We are the first generation to approach our elders and ask them to modify our culture to create room for the young people. This was all a family discussion.
“In the passage of time, many prominent Aro sons and daughters caught on with that idea and began to speak to these out fathers, encouraging them to allow young ones to come into rulership while they are still alive so that they can provide royal guidance to the young people.
“In short, our fathers, after much persuasion, agreed. Now the challenge was who then among these young people the cap would fit. We ended up with multiple young people being nominated to the Okennachi committee to be screened.
“The Okennachi committee set their criteria, one of which was that they don’t want anyone above 70 years and that only one person will be nominated from one of the three ruling families.
“That how we emerged. In my own family, two of us were grown-ups, myself and my uncle Okey Kanu Oji. My uncle graciously stepped down for me and allowed me to contest, and so, each of the three ruling families had a candidate.
“Obioha, who was father was the last Eze-Aro didn’t even come for the screening so we ended up with myself and Goddy Kanu Ide, being the last candidate standing.
“All efforts by Okennachi committee to get one of us to step down for the other failed and so we submitted ourselves for the screening exercise. Goddy made his case to the Okennachi committee telling what he will do as the Eze Aro and why he believes he is the most qualified to be the Eze Aro.
“I also came and made my case why I think the stars are lined up on my behalf and that I’m the candidate to be the Eze Aro. After we made our case, the committee consulted amongst themselves and the votes split five against two. While five chose me, two selected him.
“When we returned, the result was announced that I am the new Eze Aro.
“It is important to noted that up till this moment everything was peaceful and cordial. God and myself… we held hands with each other and encouraged each other and there was absolutely no issue. But once the result was announced, he rejected the result and stormed out of the room.
“He went ahead and got the Ezeibombuisi to crown him. But the Okennachi maintained discipline. Before the screening started, I was asked: “if it is not me and it’s him, will I support I was unequivocal and said yes. He was asked and he said it will be difficult for him but also said “yes”.
“That was what happened and once both of us gave our commitment, and as far as Okennachi was concerned, I became the Eze Aro Designate who went ahead to present me to Ndi Oke, the ruling family in Oro.
“All traditions were observed and I was presented as the Eze Aro and we did all the traditional rites. From Ndi Oke in Oro we went to Utubu to perform the traditional rites and I was presented as the Eze Aro peacefully and without issues.
“We went from the to Bianko where I was presented to the remaining clan of Okennachi and in Amaja. By our custom and culture, once a person is presented to the three clans of Okennachi, that person is now the Eze Aro. What remains is the ceremonial presentation to all of Aros.
“During that event, that is when Ezeibom ceremonially puts the crown on the Eze Aro if we so desire and design the presentation ceremony to be. Nevertheless, because the Ezeibom puts the crown on Eze Aro, it’s mistaken to mean that that Ezeibom selects who will be the Eze Aro.
“I think it is important to underscore the rigorous, transparent and detailed process that Okennachi followed to select me as the Eze Aro, and the traditional rites that have already been completed to confirm that I’m the Eze Aro as far as Okennachi is concerned.
“And that is why any other information and confusion and misinformation as far as this process is concerned doesn’t matter. As far as Aro culture and custom is concerned, this matter has been put to rest. I am the new Eze Aro of Arochukwu Kingdom.”
Prince Oji, therefore, urged journalists to challenge Eze Ibom Isii on what motivated him to place the crown on the runner-up after all democratic principles had been observed and to defend the tenets of culture, equity and justice.
He further noted that Eze Ibom Isii is already undergoing disciplinary action with the Abia State Government for constituting himself a nuisance and upsetting the peace previously witnessed in the land.
He added: “His action has been declared illegal by the Okennachi; has been declared illegal by the Nzuko Aro; and has been declared illegal by the state government.”
On the why of the dispute where irrespective of the fact that culture has already predetermined the structure of monarchial leadership and what he plans to do next to defend his mandate, he explained that what transpired was also part of what Aro tradition demanded and that both contestants came from royal families.
On what he plans to do to defend his mandate, he said: “the state government is already on top of the game and that justice will be served a la carte.”
Prince Oji invited all well-wishers to hit the roads on December 26, assuring that all details have been put in place, including security and road maintenance to ensure a hitch-free memorable event for all attendees.