By Victor Gotevbe
Agbarha-Otor is a nation doubly blessed by rich cultural heritage and history. By one recent reckoning, the passage of His Royal Majesty John Amrohworiemure Okorefe Ebelle 11, erstwhile Ovie (King) of the Kingdom, constituted of 26 autonomous communities and five other kingdoms which have their ancestral home in Agbarha-Otor, namely Oghara, Mosogar, Jesse, Agbarha Warri (Agbassa) and Oruarivie in Abraka, have the good fortune to reside under the genial supervision of His Royal Majesty (HRM), Richard Oghenevwogaga Ebelle , Okorefe 1 of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom.
Vanguard Youthful Vibes was present at his installation as he awaits the staff of office from the State Government. In spite of his very busy schedule, he granted this interview at his palace to Saturday Youthful Vibes now that he is saddle with the responsibility of leading a people as a Royal father.
Recently, we witnessed your father’s final funeral passage rite and you were installed as HRM Okorefe 1 of Agbarha-otor, what has been the experience?
It has really been wonderful since the very day I got installed as the Ovie of Agbarha-Otor kingdom even though the experience has been quite tasking and demanding. I have not had enough rest for days because people from all walks of life have been paying homage to my palace different from when I was working at the Area council commission in Abuja. It is a new and humbling experience.
Who choose the name Okorefe 1 and what does it mean?
I chose the name because it’s a good name, and it is my grand father’s name. Hence, I believe in continuity and I don’t want it to just go down the drain. Okorefe connotes “ Ship of Wealth”.
Please tell us about your background
I am 33 years old, I attended Ogagaoghene Primary and Secondary school in Agbarha-Otor respectively from there I proceeded to the Delta State University, Abraka where I bagged my first degree in Political Science. Thereafter, I had my Masters degree at University of Abuja, I was suppose to go for another Masters degree in Management science in the United Kingdom when the news of my fathers death got to me.
How did you relate with young people as a crown prince ,and were you able to impact them positively?
As a crown prince I never allowed it to get into my head because my parents thought us humility, none of us the prince and princesses are proud we are from a humble background,it helped me when growing up to mix with other young people easily in life, most of them don’t even know I was a crown prince.
We understand that you are working on establishing a social initiative to help strengthen your leadership? Could this inspiration be from the Crown Prince of Jordan who started a peace building initiative called Generations for Peace?
Yes, that is true, the initiative you mentioned is my pet project, I feel disturbed and sad whenever I see able-bodied youths roaming about the streets; some of them are actually graduates. Yes, I intend to meet with the Crown Prince of Jordan very soon.
Your Royal majesty, how do you intend to tackle youth restiveness as a youth in ‘elders’ clothing ?
Youths are classified as the leaders of tomorrow. I believe young people are also leaders of today as leadership begins from now. My pet project seeks to train and empower the youths. I am very passionate about building peace through sports. Hence, I shall donate a cup called Okorefe1 Peace cup. A healthy competition will be launched which will pull different youth football clubs ,especially all communities under my domain are going to contest for the cup.
Your Royal majesty, since your instalment what has changed in your life? Does this mean you no longer have a life of your own being a young king? Does it mean you will be always dressed in your royal regalia?
Almost everything about me has changed, the way I dress, talk and other activities. I have to adjust quickly knowing now that am a Royal father even though I am going to miss my jeans and T-shirts (laughs).
How do you intend to work the indigenes of your kingdom in the Diaspora in nation building?
I have a plan to encourage all indigenes of my kingdom in the Diaspora to come back home so that we can collectively strengthen our work in building our own kingdom as there is no place like home.
How will you be able to cope with the council of elders and chiefs being a young person as a school of thought upholds the view that many young people are seen as the problem rather than the solution?
Well, that is not going to be a challenge for me because I have lived in the palace as a crown prince and I know how to work with my subjects. Being young is a gift and being old too. They both complement each other. I have known the elders and chiefs over the years to be very level headed and cooperative.
Others who are not born into royalty, what advice would you give to them amidst the poverty level in Nigerian on becoming change agents?
I will encourage the youths to work on being creative and focus in achieving their dreams and aspirations. Every body cannot be a crown prince, for me it is a rare privilege given to me by the Almighty, I therefore would encourage young Nigerians to get themselves engaged in meaningful initiatives.