The culture and customs of Onitsha are strengthened by the clear hierarchy and demarcation of responsibilities among traditional administrative cadres. With the Obi as apex, he is levered by the able support and collaborations of distinct institutions, led by Ndichie.
Ndichie were in ancient times warriors in their own right – military commanders of sorts – within the polity. It must be stressed that their roles then were defense and advisory because the monarch does no wrong and therefore cannot be corrected as it were.
Ndichie (traditional red-cap chiefs) by Onitsha customary practice, are the only recognised chiefs. They are classified into three distinct colleges with various levels of authority within the polity. They are also traditional political heads of various clans from where they emanate.
The Ndichie Ume are on top of the hierarchy. They are just six in number: Onowu Iyasele, Ajie Ukadiugwu, Odu Osodi, Onya Ozoma, Ogene Onira and Owelle Osowa, with Onowu Iyasele as the traditional Prime Minister. There are also the Ndichie Okwa who constitute the second college, and finally the Ndichie Okwareze who make up the third college. The Ndichie serve as Council of Advisers to the Obi who solicits their advice in major decisions he takes in the Kingdom.
The functions of the Ndichie are as follows
- To act as Obi’s representatives
- To maintain law and order
- To dispense justice according to equity and laws of the land
- To promote social welfare, and lastly
- To defend the land against aggression