Item (pronounced eetem), is a place in Nigeria. It is one of the communities in Bende Local Government Area in Abia State, Nigeria. It is next to Akeze (in Ebony State) in the north, Nkporo in the east, Alayi in the west, and Abiriba and Igbere in the south.
The Okpi StoolEdit
The Okpi Stool is an ancient, sacred, foremost or highest traditional institution in Item. The Okpi is the father of Item people. The Okpi is the Paramount Ruler of Item and Clan Head of Item. The Okpi Stool is non-religious and non-political; rather he is the father of all religious and political bodies. Okpi of Item is the head of the executive, legislature and judiciary in Item traditional system of government.
Item traditional system of governmentEdit
Before the beginning of colonial government, Item people had a stable traditional government. Okpi was and still is the father of Item and the pinnacle of the whole genealogy. In Item generally as in most neighbouring communities like Abam, Abiriba and Ututu, the Otosi or Ofo Eze is the system of supreme authority of rulership.
It would be extremely difficult to describe or explain the influence and importance of the Otosi in the life of Item people. All authorities in the community derive legitimacy from the Otosi or Ofo Eze, hence traditional rulership in Item is hereditary.
The kindred’s with royal and priestly responsibilities are those that brought Otosi to Item from Potopo. The Otosi or Ofo Eze remains the most important symbol of authority in Item.
The Otosi or Ofo Eze is a very powerful swagger always left in the authority of traditional Ruling and Royal Kindreds. The Otosi was and remains a source of strength succour, bond of unity, as well as political and religious union, hence you hear the slogan “ITEM BU ULORANI” [Item is one house]. Little wonder, all important cultural festivals in Item, such as Igwa Nmam, Ita Achicha, Iwa Ama and Iri Ndi are celebrated on same day in Item Clan.
The following are the ancestral royal and ruling kindred in Item: Ndi Okorocha Apuanu Item, Umuafiaji Okoko Item, Ekwo Amaokwe Item and Umuovum Ameke Item. In the olden days, these four royal kindred constitute the Abu Ano Item Item King Makers and their heads were the heads of the four original villages in Item.
They were assisting the Okpi of Item, who doubled as the chairman of Obu Ano Item in performing the executive, legislative and judicial functions. In these four villages, they are second in command to the traditional village heads, otherwise known as “AGBA EZE” in Apuanu Item, the Agba Eze is Ndu Ihize, in Okoko Item- Umuogbe Okoko Item in Amaokwe Item Amafor Amaokwe Item, in Ameke Item Ndi Elekwa/Ugwuapu/Amaoba.
As farmsteads expanded and increased both in population and socio-economic activities, they were given village status. They include Okagwe, Umuakpa, Akanu, Okai and Amaekpu Item. In other to have efficient and effective government in Item, the heads of the five new villages were admitted into the Council of Chief and Elders, still under the chairmanship of Okpi of Item no matter the venue of their meeting.
They perform the executive functions in their various villages but were not vested with the sceptre of Otosi or Ofo Eze. Nonetheless, it must be noted that in these five villages only the kith and kin of heads and second in command were the heads, hence it is convenient and appropriate to incorporate them into the supreme council of Obu Ano Item Item King-Makers.
No wonder, the colonial government after a careful study opined that Item had a stable traditional government similar to the system in England and congratulated as well as encouraged Item people on their orderly system of government.
Method of selection and installation of Okpi of ItemEdit
Whenever there is a vacancy usually by the demise of the ruling Okpi, the Stool of Okpi Item devolves on the next senior man in Ndi Okorocha Royal Kindred, except where he objects to taking the office for a reason. Immediately after the death of the ruling Okpi and before new one takes office, the son of the deceased Okpi or a minor a regent from his family is appointed by the king-makers to act as Okpi, until the new Okpi is selected and installed in accordance with age-long tradition of Item.