With the highly revered stool of Gbenemene Babbe Kingdom still lying vacant following the withdrawal of government recognition from former occupant, Chief Monday Frank Noryaa, calls are mounting on the need to fill the seat which is the highest stool in Babbe Kingdom in Khana Local Government Area.
Although Babbe is arguably blessed with men of impeccable qualities who have distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavor, National Network took its searchlight to the respective communities that make up Babbe Kingdom to seek the views of the populace on who the cap really fits.
From the lips of the people who spoke, including some who responded to our questionnaire, a name ricocheted: Chief Matthew Atangsi Marcus Tornwe III, JP.
It was revealed that Mene Matthew Atangsi Marcus Tornwe III, JP, is the first son of Late HRM, Mene Marcus Deebari KpuginataKpuginata (Tornwe II). He was traditionally installed as the Gbenemene of Babbe Kingdom on 18th October, 1975 and crowned at Babbe Central Ground in Luawii on 28th August 1976 after completing all rites pertaining to the throne which includes SUMENE (Taking of Kingship), Keepeemeeba (slaughtering of He-goat on the wrist of the deceased Gbenemene) and Linee (second burial).
He was said to have fled the country and took asylum in Benin Republic during the General Sani Abacha military junta in 1994 after his name was penciled down for execution by the late military dictator for his role in the minority rights struggle of the Ogoni people.
In, 1997, he and his family were shortlisted by the United Nations as venerable refugees and was thereafter repatriated to Canada where he has been till date.
But in recent times, the call on him to return home to the shores of his birth has intensified. The reasons for the call was not far fetched as gathered by close associates of the liberator. They gave six reasons:
The first reason: That Tornwe is the rightful occupant and owner of the stool, having been installed in 1975 as Gbenemene Babbe after completing all traditional rites as stated earlier following the demise of his father.
The respondents added that the the numerous calls and appeals from good spirited individuals from within and outside the kingdom has become deafening and as such, it has become obvious that he is loved and wanted by his people.
They pointed to the lack of development in Babbe Kingdom, stressing that his track records of development before he was forced to flee the country spoke volume. “It's obvious that the Kingdom at this point needs his leadership and charisma to put it back on the pedestal of development in the comity of kingdoms within Ogoniland”, said a respondent.
Another reason for the mounting call for Tornwe bothers on the prevalence of insecurity in the kingdom and Ogoniland in general. Another respondent put it succinctly: “He is a peace builder and a lover of youths. The kingdom has identified him as the most suitable to restore peace in the kingdom, especially at this particular juncture where cultism and cult related killings have ravaged the once peaceful kingdom and displaced its inhabitants”.
It is further said that Tornwe is a lover of his people. They described him as someone with an enviable track record of selfless sacrifice who has demonstrated enormous love for his people which is made evident through his people-oriented programmes and policies around empowerment and sustainable development.
“As a matter of fact, the circumstances leading to his repatriation to Canada as earlier stated was resultant from his demand for the equitable distribution of resources (Miidekor) and the protection of his people within the Nigerian polity”, another chipped.
The kernel of their conviction stemmed from the fact that Mene Matthew Atangsi Marcus Tornwe III is not wanting, and has been blessed with years of exposure and experiences that will be a driving force behind the much needed human capital development, empowerment programs, increased standard of living for the people, and economic resurgence within the Kingdom.
His interests, according to them, were not based on what they perceived as 'the juicy nature of the throne', but rather to better the lots of the people, as can be witnessed before now in his delay to come back.
As another pointed: “He has earlier proven his mettle as a pragmatic and charismatic leader, even under military junta and so his call to return to his rightful place on the seat of the Stool of his ancestors is timely and highly welcomed by the people and by God. Because much like the Biblical Jonah, his return to Ninevah is requisite and preordained”.