The personal intervention of Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha into the 17 year-old ezeship tussle in Irete autonomous community in Owerri West local government area of the state has ended with the election of Ethelbert Chukwudi Ekwelibe, as the traditional ruler for the community.
The new traditional ruler emerged from a plebiscite ordered by the Governor who personally interviewed the five ezeship candidates of the community at Ahiajoku conference Center Owerri, on June 19, 2013.
The governor had at the forum wondered aloud why Irete people, who were granted autonomy from Umunwoha autonomous community since 1996 had not been able to produce a traditional ruler to manage the addiars of the community especially in the fourth tier of government recently introduced by the governor.
Governor Okorocha ordered officials of the state Ministry of Community Government Council (CGC) and Chieftaincy affairs, as well as the state council of Ndi Eze to conduct a plebiscite the following day to produce an Eze for Irete people. The joint team, led by Eze Chidume Okoro, the chairman of Mbaise traditional rulers, besieged Irete the following day June 20, 2013 and conducted the election at the Teachers training college practicing school Irete where Sir Ethelbert Ekwelibe emerged winner after defeating four other candidates in a keenly contested selection.
Eze Ekwelibe from Umueye village polled 1,110 votes to beat his closet rival, Chief Uzoma Joseph Ibe from Umuelele village who scored 717 votes while the three other contestants, Mr. Anayo Okenwa, Rev. Jude Okenwa (all from Umungada village) and Mr. Enyinnaya Ibe from Umuelele village trailed behind.
Eze Ekwelibe’s victory was made easier by the withdrawal Chief C.Y. Amako from the race. Chief Amako a prominent Irete son had told Governor Okorocha that his withdrawal was in the greater interest of Irete autonomous community which he had helped to build over the years. The New traditional ruler has since received his staff of office from the state governor, and has pledged to work for the unity, peace and progress of Irete autonomous community.