Oba of Benin, Otaru of Auchi and Oba Danise II of South Ibvie, during the visit
Otaru of Auchi Kingdom, Ikelebe III gives insight into Oba’s meeting with traditional rulers of Edo North
Penultimate Saturday, the joyous mood of indigenes and residents of Auchi town, who trooped to the Otaru’s Palace, was an indication that an important guest was about to visit Auchi and was being eagerly awaited. Most residents woke up that morning to find an unusually clean town, as major streets wore new and beautiful looks.
At the Otaru’s end of the town, palace officials kept regular communication with the Oba’s Palace in Benin City. Indeed, men were deployed from the Otaru’s Palace to all strategic points in the town to direct the august visitors to the Otaru’s Palace once they arrived town.
At about 2:45 p.m., the convoy of the OmoN’Oba N’Edo Ukuapolokpolo arrived Auchi and headed straight for the Otaru’s Palace, where notable traditional rulers from Edo North alongside its sons, daughters and elites from the senatorial district gathered to receive the OmoN’Oba.
On why the journey from Benin to Auchi took the OmoN’Oba and his entourage such a long time, the Oba was quoted as saying, “I did not quite anticipate that the Benin/Auchi Road was in such a deplorable state.” This road happens to be one of the major links between the south and northern parts of Nigeria.
Palace Watch had an interview with the Otaru of Auchi Kingdom on the visit.
How will you assess the reign of OmoN’oba Eware 11 so far?
I believe leaders are inspired to seek the common good of their people. It is also my belief that most kings are appointed by Almighty Allah, although there are some leaders, who one could safely say, are not too endowed with the spirit of Almighty in their rulership. But with regards to the OmoN’Oba Ewuare II, he is a man with an excellent spirit and administrative skills, no matter what some people might say. These skills he has aptly demonstrated during his tour of duties as Nigerian Ambassador to so many world countries.
As expected, he is bringing this rich background to bear on the management and administration of the traditional institutions in Edo Kingdom.
During his coronation recently, we all saw the assemblage of men and women of quality from diverse cultures and backgrounds that graced the occasion. Oba Ewuare II, in a deliberate attempt to demonstrate that he is clear-headed about what he wants for his Kingdom in particular, as well as other kingdoms alongside the good of the entire Edo State, immediately he ascended the throne of his ancestors, curbed the recklessness of land grabbers in Benin City and its environs. This particular action helped to check activities of known and unknown land grabbers in Benin and its surroundings.
Previously, this ugly trend was becoming an embarrassment, as we had a situation, where youths went about grabbing lands that did not belong to them. They were also selling such land to one or more persons, thus creating lot of commotion, confusion and pains all over the city. But the Oba came in and said, “No, this can no longer be allowed to continue in this city.” This type of action is a mark and quality of a focused leader. I must say though that land racketeering and such other vices were not restricted to Benin City alone, as it was also occurring here in Auchi.
Before OmoN’Oba’s decisive intervention, the problem of land grabbing and racketeering was more pronounced in Benin and Edo State in particular. I was, therefore, not surprised, when Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State took it up immediately. This has now kick-started a major step towards comprehensive Land Reform in Edo State. This is because the governor has come to realize that once miscreants are allowed to take over the land and deploy them to reckless use, a time will come, when the state government will need land(s) for meaningful developmental purpose, and there would be no land for such.
Another bold step being taken by Oba Ewuare is the effort and spirit of having one common language for all Edo speaking people. He is presently working very hard to ensure that this objective is realized.
Does that mean as an Esan or Estako person, I will now have to learn to speak the Benin dialect, whether I like it or not?
No this is not exactly the position of things. Mind you, this is not the first time this initiative is being introduced. Chief Anthony Enahoro of blessed memory once initiated the idea of one language for Edo State. The realisation of this objective might not be during our own time. What is important is for us to work on it, and get credible people to sit down to consider how we can marry these dialectical variances of all the people of Edo State and then have one acceptable language. It can be done. It is possible.
I am not saying everybody in Edo State will be forced to speak Benin, for instance. No, this is not the idea and this was not the issue, when Chief Enahoro first mooted the idea. What is of importance is for us to come up with one common Edo language that will be acceptable to all. This can be done. Of course, some of our linguistic and history professors have said it is possible and of course, if we all put our heart to it, it will be done, Insha Allah. I believe there are some other issues that have been raised, which, when the international seminar/council for the state is inaugurated, all the gray areas and fears of our people will be adequately thrashed and taken care of.
So, why is His Royal Highness in Edo North?
Oba Ewuare II came visiting in the spirit of unity. He craves and wants one united, indivisible and focused Edo State people. This is the way I look at the visit. To me, he is a very simple man. You just need to know him to know that his heart is pure. He desires that Edo State people should have a common approach to all the good things of life; and that we spread from here to such places as the South-South and then across the country. He strongly believes that the Edo State people have something to offer all the segments making up Nigeria. He simply wants Edo State to be a model. This is precisely what Oba Ewuare II is navigating now.
What was the kernel of your remarks, during the opening speech?
I just highlighted the events that have taken place in recent time. For example, it was obvious for all to see that Oba Ewuare II had a very grand coronation. Indeed, I have never seen any other event(s) better organised or more glamorous anywhere in and outside Nigeria than that. The event was a takeoff, opening the gate of light into Benin Kingdom, in particular and Edo State in general.
This was for all of us to see and appreciate. It was for us all to know for sure how it came and what it was. By the world standard, that coronation was a spectacle to behold. It was beautiful and dignifying. That paved the way for various other things the Oba wants to do. He has planned to visit other senatorial districts in Edo State.
He told me he is also going to pay similar visits to other parts of the country, just to appreciate all the people that came for his coronation. He will personally go to appreciate and thank all those kings, obas, emirs and obis that graced his coronation from various parts of the world.”
So, what have the Edo North Traditional Rulers gained from this visit?
The visit re-created the much-desired unity among the traditional rulers and institutions in Edo State. This is a good omen. A few of our brother traditional rulers do not have the spirit or more appropriately, the know-how to negotiate and do things that will strengthen the cohesion among ourselves, thereby promoting commendable spirit in the administration of traditional and cultural values, which will bring about the unity of Edo people. This interaction will invariably become the basis for traditional rulers to discuss and initiate projects for government to work on.
What was the significance of your four-year-old son presenting the Holy Qur’an to Oba Ewuare II at the occasion?
My son, Aliru Momoh Mumin, who presented the Qur’an to Oba Ewuare II, is presently memorising the Holy Qur’an, with the hope that by the time he is 10, he would have successfully completed the entire Qur’an. We wanted to present the OmoN’Oba with the Qur’an, but it occurred to me he should recite a verse, i.e. any Surah in the Qur’an before the presentation.
We had to pick the boy from school and I told him to decide on the Surah he would recite at the occasion. Later, the teacher came to tell me that the boy had decided to recite “Suratu AL-NUR (The Light)” in Chapter 24 of the Qur’an. It reads: “With the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful. This is a highly dignified Surah, which We have revealed and the ordinances of which We have made obligatory and We have revealed in it clear commandments so that you may rise to great eminence.”
This Surah is in nine parts. The magical thing was that, after the recitation of the Surah and presentation of the Qur’an, to the surprise of all those present, the heavens opened and it rained heavily. You know what? It has not rained in Auchi for quite sometime now. This was a sign of good and wonderful things to come. That was the climax of the event.
By: Gabriel Omonhinmin