Ejagham Tradition Custodians

Traditionally, the socio-economic manifestation of Ejagham people typically exist in the form of villages. Each village (Mfam or Etek) is autonomous and they relate with each other on that basis. The administration of the villages is in conformance with Ejagham culture, customs and tradition, all of which constitute Ejagham heritage.

Ejagham heritage is proudly owned by all Ejagham people. It is made manifest through the institutions that form its  foundation.  The culture, customs and tradition of Ejagham people is protected and safeguarded by the leadership of these institutions. These leaders  are Ejagham tradition custodians.

Natural Rulers

A typical Ejagham village is administered by a group of Ejagham tradition custodians  which include but may not be limited to the following.

  1. Ntufam
  2. Iyamba
  3. Ntui Emang
  4. Ntui Okwa
  5. Ntunkae Ekpa
  6. Ntui Ekan

The above represents the core traditional leadership structure of the custodians of Ejagham heritage  across Ejagham nation. It would not be unusual to detect slight variations in the designations of the core leadership structure from one cluster to another.  However, the substance remains the same. This core structure constitute what  is referred to as the Natural Rulers. They are referred to as such because normally the lineage of each individual in these positions could be traced to land in which the rule. The context of Natural Rulers is important especially as it provides clarity to subsequent acknowledgment of the influence of 21st century phenomena to Ejagham core traditional leadership structure.

It is important to mention that at all times, there is only one person in the village occupying positions 1 to 5 mentioned above. Position 6 usually have multiple holders depending on the number of age grades that have come of age in that community (Mbing Ekan). In all cases, the positions are usually maintained for the life of the individual. There may be unique situations where Ntufam may double as Ntui Emang or Ntui Okwa.

Like most other aspects of life endeavour,  modernization, urbanization, migration, technology, geo-political delineation etc. have influenced the structure of Ejagham tradition custodians. In spite of these influences, the core structure is still prevalent to a large extent in Ejagham communities.


Ntufam is the ruler of the village, who is assisted by other Atui (Chiefs).

Since Mgbe is the highest institution of collective local authority in Ejagham, most Atuiofam (plural of Ntufam) also attain high ranking status in Mgbe institution.

To date, each Ejagham village is ruled by Ntufam.


Iyamba is the head of the Mgbe institution in Ejagham. Mgbe is the supreme governance system in Ejagham. Hence, while Ntufam is the ruler of the village, Iyamba is essentially the Prim Minister of the village. Iyamba is the  “owner” of Ocham, the Mgbe Lodge[.

Ntui Emang

Ntui Emang is the High Priest of the village. He is regarded as half spirit and half man in the traditional sense, an intermediary between the gods and men who wields absolute authority.

The ancient process of his enthronement involved very rigorous rituals and sacrifices. Because of his enormous authority, he was well tamed (prior to enthronement) to control his powers and temperament. Thus,  for a period of time in a year he squats  somewhere all-day everyday. You can spit on him and insult him as you like and he would never react (this is practiced in Akparabong). But on completion of this period you hardly look into his face directly again. You had to bend downwards or crouch to greet him because he then had the power of death and life in his hands. At his death his burial, just like his enthronement, was graced by special rituals.

Ntui Okwa

Okwa is simply a Court. Ntui-Okwa is akin to a Chief Judge in today’s setting. Thus,  he judges cases involving everybody in the village including women, children and strangers. This position was unlike Emang whose affairs and dealings never directly involved women.

Ntunkae Ekpa

Ntunkae Ekpa is Chief of Ekpa institution. Ekpa institution is the most dominant Ejagham women socio-cultural institution which also  doubles as a judiciary system for the enforcement of norms and punitive mechanism for women.

Ntui Ekan

Ekan mean age grade and Ntui Ekan is Chief of a particular age grade. Ekan is an age old Ejagham traditional institution. An Ejagham age grade is typically made up of three ages. For instance, people born in year 2000, 2001 and 2003 would make up one age grade.

In most Ejagham communities, age grades that have come of age are recognized by naming them in a tradition naming ceremony called Mbing Ekan. This day is usually a significant day for the age grade and the community.

The age grade, amongst of things,  supports the community for the execution of directives of both the Ntufam and Atui, the elders Council.

Influence of 21st  Century Phenomena. 

The phenomena of the 21st  century that has impacted the globe  include, but are not limited to, Modernization, Urbanization, Migration, Technology and Geo-political delineation. Ejagham heritage was not spared.

The influence of 21st century phenomena has resulted in changes to Ejagham heritage (as with other heritage) that are intended to match contemporary times. These changes could be said to enhance Ejagham traditional leadership. Fortunately, it has not fundamentally changed the core structure.

Influence of 21st  Century Phenomena –  Ejagham Nigeria

In Nigeria, the obvious changes to our traditional leadership structure are the introduction of Paramount Ruler and the Clan Head. Both are political creations. There is also a third dimension which is the creation of honorary chieftaincy title

Paramount Ruler

Nigeria operates a three tier system of government, Federal, State and Local government Area. The modality in which traditional Rulers are engaged in political governance is by appointing a Paramount Ruler for each Local Government Area. Hence we now have Paramount Rulers.

Some Local Government Areas are not mono ethnic hence in some cases the Paramount Ruler may not be of Ejagham heritage.

Clan Head

Each local government consist of clans and  clans, villages. Hence we now have Clan Heads. We have always had Village Head, the Ntufam.

The unique situation of the Paramount Ruler and Clan Head being political appointments also means that they could be removed at any time. On the contrary, a member of the core Ejagham Tradition Custodians serves for life. It is reasonable to opine at this point that as long as the Paramount Ruler and the Clan Head retain their appointments, they remain part of Ejagham tradition custodians, alongside the Natural Rulers.

It is noteworthy to mention that, all things being equal, the Paramount Ruler and Clan Head are usually products of the Natural Rulers which further supports the argument for them being part of Ejagham tradition custodians.

Influence of 21st  Century Phenomena –  Ejagham Cameroon

In Ejagham Cameroon, similar changes apply. The nomenclature of the chieftaincy titles varies slightly but essentially structurally similar. In Ejagham Cameroon, it is understood that the core structure still applies with Ntufam at the helm of affairs. However, in the South West of Cameroon, there is a south West Chiefs’ Association and Chiefs are officially classified into three groups – First Class, Second Class and Third Class Chiefs. First class Chiefs must rule villages or groups of villages with a population of ten thousand people upwards. Villages with populations between four thousand people but less than ten thousand have second class chiefs. The rest are third class chiefs.

Influence of 21st  Century Phenomena – Honorary Chieftaincy Title.

The conferment of honorary chieftaincy title to an individuals is foreign to Ejagham and a direct influence of the 21st century phenomena. It appears it has come to stay hence the need to clarify the reason, context and implications and or consequences.

The context of conferment of chieftaincy title is very important. The whole context of chieftaincy title is traditional. If someone does not like tradition, the person should  reject the conferment of such title as soon as it is mentioned.

In Ejagham, Chieftaincy is Otui, a derivative of Ntui. Ntui is Chief and there could be many chiefs in a village. The attainment of status of Ntui may vary but are crystal clear. However, only one Ntui becomes the leader of all the Atui. This leader in Ejagham is the Village Head named Ntufam.

It happens that not only has Ejagham adopted conferment of chieftaincy title, the prefix that has been chosen for the title is Ntufam, although they rule over nobody. This is what applies in Ejagham Nigeria, Ejagham Cameroon equivalence is yet to be established.

As stated earlier, the whole chieftaincy conferment is tradition based and always executed by the Natural Rulers. The conferment exercise is significant for many reasons.

One of the reasons of its significance is  that – it is an extension of Scepter of Authority (in the area of conferment) preserved for the Natural Ruler, to the recipient.  The recipient is obliged to perform the responsibilities associated with the area of conferment on behalf of the Natural Rulers. This is very significant. It is hoped that it is now obvious why implications and consequence were mentioned earlier. If the recipient fails at his or her obligations, the Natural Rulers wasted their resources in conferring the honorary title to the recipient.

The point of this is that, the 21st century phenomena has created a formally non existent arm of Ejagham tradition custodians, the honorary Chiefs. In EjT we refer to them collectively as Atem-Atui.


His Royal Majesty (HRM), Echi-Atui Ntufam Clement A. Emayip, Paramount Ruler of Akamkpa LGA.


HRM Echi-Atui Ntufam Clement Emayip was born on November 22 1940, son of Ntufam Emayip Ntui in Mfamosing village, Ojuk South clan in Akampka LGA. His father Ntufam Emayip Ntui was married to his mother Madam Nkoyo Itakui. Nna Nkoyo was also from Mfamosing.

HRM had his early education in Oban Town from 1952-1960. His qualities of hard work and humility as a young person earned him nomination for the scholarship awarded by the Oban community. Through this scholarship program, he attended the Teachers’ Training College (TTC) Uyo, from 1974-1978.

His Royal Majesty (HRM) – left During his days at TTC Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Ntufam Clement Emayip was married to Ntunkae Arit Ntui,a fine maiden from Ojok and had four children with her.  As it is customary with royalty, Ntufam took other wives and sired more children . He has 10 children and 30 grandchildren.

HRM and wife

Work History

Upon his return to home, he took up employment with different companies at different times.

HRM during a social function

He worked with Oban Palm/Rubber Estate and Calabar Cement Company (Calcemco). He then took up Employment with the Cross River State Ministry of Education as a teacher. He served in different places and made considerable impact while there in those places. He rose to the rank of Head master and later retired in 1998.

HRM was a classroom teacher in Mbeban, Nkame, Mfaminyen and Ojok. As Head Teacher, he served at Akor, Aking and finally in his hometown Mfamosing, where he also retired in 1998.

Ascension of the Throne

Ntufam Clement Emayip was initiated into revered Mgbe Institution in 1957. He was later inducted into the Mfamosing village council forum in 1960 and in 18 October,1989 HRM was Crowned the Village Head of Mfamosing.

HRM Echi-Atui with HRH, Ntufam Elder Stephen Mbey, the Village head & Clan head of Oban and other dignitaries.

There are four founding families in Mfamosing and Ntufam Clement Emayip comes from two of them. Ntufam Emayip became a Clan head in 2001.

HRM, Ntufam Emayip with his colleague, the Paramount Ruler of Obudu L.G.A, HRM, J.D. Agba

After careful deliberations by the Chiefs of Akamkpa Local Government, HRM, Echi-Atui Ntufam Clement Emayip was elected the Paramount Ruler of Akamkpa Local Government Area in 2005.

Leadership Philosophy

The leadership philosophy  that has guided the reign of HRM, Echi-Atui Ntufam Clement Emayip has been underpinned by his believe in the fact that –  “Truth should be pursued, because no justice can be achieved without the truth.”

HRM Ntufam Emayip with the Larfarge Leadership Team

This modus operandi permeated the communities and was immensely appreciated way beyond Akamkpa Local Government.  This appreciation manifested in the conferment of various esteemed leadership awards on HRM.

The Nigeria Transformation Initiative Leadership Award

On the first day of July 2016 the leadership of The Nigeria Transformation Initiative (NTI), presented an award of Leadership to HRM, Etchi-Atui Ntufam Clement Emayip, the Custodian of Ejagham Tradition, for his astute and sterling leadership qualities.

Nigerian Association of Akamkpa Students Award of Honours

Being an educationists, he help and continues to shaped so many young people. The paramount ruler has helped so many Ejagham students to secure funding for their education through scholarships and grants. This indeed informed the decision of the Leadership of  National Association of Akamkpa Students to present him with an award of honour.

Ejagham East Youth Summit Group Award of Excellence

Being one with an avid respect and love for the Ejagham Culture, followed by an intense campaign for the sustenance and adherence to the Ejagham Tradition, Echi-Atui was recognised for his outstanding achievement within the traditional ranks by presentation of award of excellence by Ejagham East Youth Summit Group  Akamkpa 2 constituency, on the 6th of December, 2018.

African Leadership News Magazine Legacy of True Leadership Award

Acknowledging his effort at nation building, The Legacy of True Leadership Award, was presented to HRM ,by Africa Leadership News Magazine on September 29th, 2012.

Child’s Dream Award of Excellence

Having lost a parent at a fledgling age, Echi-Atui has made it his life’s work to put smile on the faces of the less privileged. He has done this so well to have seized the attention of Many organisations. This therefore explains when in 2017, Child’s Dream, a non profit, non governmental organization, presented HRM Ntufam Emayip with an award  in a bit to extol his exemplary performance in forging humanitarian goals and ideals.

Beema Communications Ltd. Role Model Leadership Gold Award

Following his show of exemplary acumen for leadership, Beema Communication, on 17th  September, 2012 awarded The Echi-Atui with the 2012 African International Role Model Leadership Gold Award.