Speaking in an interview, the traditional ruler, and Eze Onumini I of Mgbundukwu Community in Mile 1 and 2, Diobu, Port-Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State said those who say that Governor Nyesom WIke doesn't respect traditional rulers weren't telling the truth.
He said: “You can be driving car, not that you don't know how to drive and you will hit somebody's car as an accident. Some people are seeing the truth but they don't like to talk (about the truth). Some people see the truth but they pretend that they don't see anything. How can people say His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Wike, doesn’t respect traditional rulers when he has built traditional town hall for them and His Majesties are riding different cars, and he has given them their packages.”
Chief Tobin said all that the governor did which was misinterpreted was to tell some traditional rulers to respect themselves.
He said some traditional rulers do not respect themselves and would cause trouble in their communities, saying the governor was right to speak to them.
Governor Wike has said that he respects the traditional institution.
Speaking at the inauguration of former Transportation Minister, Dr Abiye Sekibo, as War Canoe Chief of Awolome-Biri, Okirika, Governor Wike said: “I have great respect for traditional institutions. Traditional rulers have a lot of role to play to stabilize our state and our communities but it is unfortunate that some people will want to play politics when it comes to traditional institutions”.
The governor said: “All I said was this and I will continue to say it that traditional rulers must give themselves respect. All I said is that we must promote our own. We cannot continue to promote other people's culture. If you are coming out as a chief from Okrika, the people must know that you are a chief from Okrika. If you are coming out as a chief of Ikwerre, people must know that you are a chief of Ikwerre. You must not dress like other people who would not identify where you come from.
“I said to traditional rulers that their staff of office is very important like when you are coming for quarterly meeting you must show that you are a recognized traditional ruler. You must not carry ordinary walking stick like me. Some of us go to other areas to worship their traditional rulers but when they come to our own, they will not regard them”.
Meanwhile, Chief Tobin appealed that his stool should be recognized and further appealed the governor should allow chiefs yet to be recognized to answer traditional titles.
He condemned statement credited to paramount ruler of Oginigba kingdom, HRH King G.B. Odum, who allegedly said traditional rulers yet to be recognized should not address themselves as royal highnesses.