BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, Benin City
The quiet community of Koko, in Warri North Local Government Council of Delta State, was thrown into a frenzy last weekend when the 89 year old grandson of the great Nanna of Koko, Chief Victor Esimajemite Nanna, was installed the Olare-aja of Koko (Akatagbeni). The title is normally bestowed on the oldest man in the community.
Due to the significance of the title, the historic event attracted sons and daughters of Itsekiri both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora and brought alive the spirit of his grand father. The occasion commenced with the initial in-house traditional rites where all the Elders- in -Council and Chiefs performed their various functions before the installation. The traditional rites were performed at the hall just opposite the museum of his grandfather.
Some of the dignitaries who attended the ceremony included Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, traditional leaders and Chiefs from Delta and Edo states. Dr Uduaghan, in a speech read by the Chief of Staff to the Delta state government, noted that the ceremony demonstrated the respect that the Koko people have for age. “I have been reliably informed that the Olare-Aja is the oldest person within Koko. In fact, old age calls for a unique veneration and that explains the profound respect that is accorded to old people,” he said. He enjoined the new Olare-aja to consult his people in all decisions that affect them and the community. “Allow the interest of the community to inform your decisions and actions. I urge the Olare-Aja to continue to mobilize his people toward self help, which will enhance their well being,” he said. “At a time like this, communities should not be looking only up to government for solutions to the myriad of problems associated with the sustainable development.
The resources available to government are limited while other pressing needs and demands from numerous sectors continue to rise. While government will continue to live up to its responsibilities, I urge our people across the state to partner in government’s pursuit and attainment of sustainable development. On this joyous occasion, permit me to use this occasion to enjoin all traditional institutions across the state to continue to serve as the rallying point for peace and development in our communities,” the governor counselled..
Chairman of the Publicity Committee for the occasion, Chief Bob-Mattu, described the event as because “apart from the fact that he came from a well respected family known all round the world, he is a man of high potentials and impeccable character”.” Nanna is widely accepted by the community and we are very proud of him”he said.
Responding, Chief Nanna asserted that his present position is the will of God. He buttressed his stance this way: “About 45 years ago, I made a decision to settle in Calabar, a place which I loved very much and where I spent almost 30 years of my working life. When the crisis in Nigeria started in 1966, I relocated home with my family. This became an eye opener, as I found out that there is no place like home. If my plan to settle in Calabar had materialized, today’s event would not have happened and I would have lost this opportunity to serve my community as an Olare-Aja.
I cannot but feel the mighty hand of God in the series of events leading to my installations as the Olare-Aja of Koko today at the age of 89. I therefore thank God for giving me this opportunity to serve my people and I pray for his guidance”. Declaring that the achievements of his grand father inspired him in life, Chief Nanna narrated how his grand father died before his birth. “I knew my grand father only through my father and I am pleased that I am born into this family. I am glad that I am born to serve this community; I could have been else where. The progress I have made in my life and the way that I am going is all shaped, after his character. I am glad to be born into this family.
When I grew up to be able to think for my self, I have always tried to emulate the life of my father and my grand father. They were two of a kind. My best friend was my father when he was alive. My mother died when I was only six years. I did not know her that much. I try not to do what is shameful, I was trained to respect people, to follow truth and the way of God. I copied things from my father and my grand father, their way of life and style of living.
I feel pleased because God’s intention manifested today. I have noticed for quite a long time that God intended me for a good purpose in this town but I did not know the position but now I know. It is the fulfillment of God’s intention and I am glad that I have been chosen to fill this position by God himself and I will do my best to ensure that the will of God is done in this community. Friendship, development, truth and all that is good will happen in this community”. Admonishing politicians not to engage in political violence as the general elections commence this weekend, Chief Nanna tasked them to fulfill all that they promised the people during their campaigns. “They should not be selfish because we have observed that politicians now go to represent themselves and their families and not the people any more. Politicians should ensure that when they leave office, they must have done things that they will be remembered for and people will pray for them. Politicians must learn how to make life more meaningful for their people. That is why I will liaise with the government and other stakeholders to ensure that I direct their attention on the need to carry out developmental projects and ensuring that the people in this community are empowered to be self reliant and live happily,” he said.