News

September 20, 2015

OLU of Warri: Itsekiri nation mourns, designates brother, Abiloye Emiko, as successor

The Olu of Warri, His Royal Majesty, Abiloye Emiko

THE Itsekiri nation, yesterday, announced the passage of Ogiame Atuwatse II, the Olu of Warri, and  immediately designated his younger brother, Prince Ikenwole Godfrey Abiloye Emiko, as successor.

Both announcements were the key issues of a national congress the Itsekiri nation held at the Olu palace, Ode-Itsekiri, ancentral home of the Itsekiri nation also known as Big Warri.

Tradition fulfilled

Palace chiefs, the dressed in white robes with a mix of red apron signifying their royalty and black for mourning, gathered before  10am  at the palace hall together with other men, women, and youths of the Itsekiri nation to hear what was at stake.

Chief Yaya Pessu, Ojomo of Warri, representing the Ologbotsere (Chief Priest) of the kingdom, fulfilled tradition when he smashed a big ball of native chalk on the floor of the venue with the exclamation, “The calabash is broken”, signifying the announcement of the passage of Ogiame Atuwatse II, the 19th Olu, who joined his ancestors after 28 years on the throne.

The act by Pessu, which came  at 11.50am, was followed by about 19 cannon shots. These happened as the large crowd present remained anxious about the revelation of who succeeds the departed Atuwatse II.

New Olu emerges

The Olu of Warri designate

The Olu of Warri designate

The anxiety lasted till  12.16pm  when Pessu again took the responsibility of announcing crown prince Ikenwole Godfrey Abitoye Emiko as the Olu designate, setting off thundering jubilation across the palace hall and the overflow crowd outside.

Emiko, said to be about 60, and younger brother to the Atuwatse II, is a graduate of business administration from the University of Benin.

The Olu designate was summoned and led by his peers to the palace hall for all to see before he was announced by Pessu.

Why brother succeeds brother

Earlier at the gathering, several eyes had been on Prince Tsola Emiko, first son of the departed Atuwatse II, who came with Toju and Nere, his siblings to the gathering.

By the hereditary appeal of the throne, the uninformed persons present at the gathering had expected Tsola as the automatic successor.

However, Pessu who announced the Olu designate clarified that Tsola was not qualified to succeed the father in line with other expectations a son must meet to succeed his father as Olu.

The Ojomo of Warri said, “By the tradition, a son who must succeed his father must be born of a mother who must not be outside of Itsekiri or Benin by birth, origin. This is a standing tradition and the son does not fulfill this requirement.

Prof. Jim Omatseye added: “In the event that a son is not qualified to succeed the father, the princes of the kingdom from the three ruling houses, Ginuwa, Erejuwa and Ogiame, will choose among themselves who should take the throne. The lot fell on Prince Ikenwole Emiko and he is generally accepted by the Itsekiri nation.

Mr. Edward Ekpoko, Chairman, Warri Study Group and Secretary, Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, said, “Today’s event is significant because it is the first time in 200 years that a brother would succeed a brother on this supposedly hereditary throne.”

Chief Thomas Ereyitomi, Akatigbi-Ayeola of Warri, a palace chief, said, “The wide jubilation and the joy in the faces of all present erase all doubts that the Itsekiri nation was having a hard time choosing an Olu designate.

Dos, don’ts

Within the next 90 days, Itsekiri will go through mourning on the passage of Atuwatse II.  All natives, particularly male and female adults, are expected to wear their traditional wrappers upside down.

Pessu, spelling out the dos and don’ts within the period, on behalf of the Ologbotsere, said: “Itsekiri the world over are to also refrain from merriment, no drumming or burials as all should be in mourning for the period. There should be no form of fanfare.

He added that coronation of the successor Olu will commence only after the passage rites of Atuwatse II had been concluded.

Chiefs, opinion leaders speak

Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, Igba of Warri, in her post event comments, said, “It is just cheering for the entire Itsekiri nation that a generally accepted Olu designate has been chosen”.

A former health commissioner in Delta State, Dr. Joseph Otumara, noted, “What we just witnessed is the end of an era and the beginning of another”.

The member representing Warri Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Daniel Reyenieju, described the late Ogaime Atuwatse 11 as an epitome of a monarch, whose reign  would remain indelible in the sands of history.

The lawmaker spoke of the late Olu “as an ontological father that encapsulates the  beingness of the Itsekiri ethnic nation as a social organism”,  saying Ogiame Atuwatse 11 was focused in his quest for the development of his kingdom.

The member representing Warri Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Daniel Reyenieju, described the late Ogaime Atuwatse 11 as an epitome of a monarch, whose reign  would remain indelible in the sands of history.

The lawmaker spoke of the late Olu “as an ontological father that encapsulates the  beingness of the Itsekiri ethnic nation as a social organism”,  saying Ogiame Atuwatse 11 was focused in his quest for the development of his kingdom.

The lawmaker also congratulated the  Olu-elect.

In the same vein, Reyenieju thanked members of the Warri Traditional Council and the entire itsekiri nation for the peaceful conduct of all the processes for succession to the throne of the Warri Kingdom, such that the  rancour associated with succession in some parts of Nigeria remains alien to the Itsekiri nation.