By Egufe Yafugborhi
ITSEKIRI nation, yesterday, closed a royal transition in Warri Kingdom with the crowning of Prince Ikenwole Gbemisi Emiko as HRM, Ogiame Ikenwole I, the 20th Olu of Warri, who succeeds his elder brother, Atuwatse II.
Heralded by a boat regatta at the waterfronts of the Warri naval base and the Warri club in the morning, dignitaries from far and near joined the Itsekiri to witness the enthronement of Ikenwole I at the Ode-Itsekiri ancestral palace.
Before wearing his crown, the new Olu observed the rites of splitting of firewoods, fetching of water and paddling of a boat signifying the last manual labour he will ever indulge in for the rest of his life.
He then progressed to choose his adopted stool, when he, blindfolded, picked a fresh sword (scepter) of authority to the exclusion of an array of other swords previously used by his predecessors, upon which he adopted the self title, “Ikenwole I”.
At about 2:14pm, Pa Higgson Oporokun, Olara-Aja of Jakpa, acting in the capacity of Ologbotsere (Prime Minister) of the kingdom, crowned HRM, Ikenwole I with a diamond crown, said to have been imported from Portugal to the throne in 1411, by King Dom Domingos.
In his speech, Ikenwole I thanked all who found time to grace his coronation, wishing them blessings and journey mercies back home.
“I am for you all and you all are for me and I hope this bond of friendship would grow stronger and promote greater progress in the years ahead”, he said.
Earlier, Ojomo of Warri and Chairman, Olu Traditional Advisory Council, Chief Yaya Pessu, thanked the royal family for the “seamless selection of the new Olu”, praying God to grant the monarch wisdom and composure to take the kingdom to greater heights.
Edward Ekpoko, Secretary Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, said on the occasion, “It is easy to understand why this is the largest gathering of the Itsekiri nation and demonstration of the fullest of its culture and heritage anywhere on earth”.
“The stool and royalty is the symbol of our existence, the instrument that binds us together, so it is duty bound of every Itsekiri to be part of the enthronement of a new monarch. This kingdom came into being in 1480.”
In his remarks on the occasion, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State believed Ikenwole I would fit squarely into the shoes left by his predecessor, hoping he consolidates on the peace and inter-ethnic harmony in the commercially strategic Warri to rebuild confidence in investors.
“Government efforts at building peace and encouraging investments and growth in the state will not yield desired results if traditional institutions do not show corresponding commitment and partnership”, Okowa said.
On the roll call of dignitaries at the event were several traditional rulers including the Emir of Zaria and the Ooni of Ife who was crowned on Monday.