THE harmony of human hearts is the sweetest music in the ears of God. This has been the propelling force behind the first year of the reign of His Royal Majesty, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin.
Today makes it exactly 365 days since the Monarch ascended the revered throne of his ancestors as the 40th Oba of Benin. It is time, once again, to congratulate the Royal Family and, indeed, the entire people of Benin Kingdom, on the annual double-barrel celebration – our Monarch has the unique opportunity of being coroneted on his birthday anniversary. There can be no better signs of God’s love and blessings.
In one year, the Monarch has demonstrated abundant love and care for his people. He has shown himself a prodigy and a listening Oba.
We have placed his achievement side by side with our original agenda for his entire reign; and we feel impelled to conclude that he has surpassed our expectation. We recapitulate, in a synopsis, some of our original demands on the Monarch:
First, we stressed the importance of unity among Edo people; and the need to promote inter-group relations with all sub-groups. “Ed’ okpa makhin” cannot continue to be a term in the abstraction – it must be real! Secondly, we called on him to do something about the menace of some of our youths, particularly leaders of Community Development Associations, CDAs, who had turned themselves to cogs in the wheel of development in the State, particularly Edo South.
Thirdly, we requested the Monarch to prevail on our politicians to play the politics of development as against that of the “pull him down” syndrome. We also spoke of Benin Renaissance in Culture, Arts, Politics, Language, Economy, etc., and stressed the urgent need to make the teaching of the Benin Language compulsory in all the primary and secondary schools in Edo South.
On his ascension of the throne, the first proclamation of Oba Ewuare II was the proscription of the CDAs. In order to give the proscription a lasting relevance, he followed it up by getting the State Government to back it up with necessary enabling legislations while setting in motion, stringent monitoring measures to ensure compliance.
Before the arrival of the new King, there was the reign of terror and a complete delusion of impunity, no thanks to the leadership of the CDAs, culminating in near-anarchy, leadership tussles, family disputes over inheritance, and boundary disputes among villages and communities.
In the area of boundary disputes, classical examples existed in the case between Iguomon and Ikhuen-oboh; and that between Egbirhe and Okhoromi communities. In the past, several efforts were made at settling them but to no avail.
At the peak of it all, the CDA leaders even grew so much wings that they embarked on the indiscriminate suspension of the Enigie, Edionwere and Ohens who were supposed to be their heads – an ugly reminiscence of a case of the tail waging the dog. Here, the cases of Egba village along Benin-Abraka Road in Ikpoba Okha LGA; Uteh Ekoko along Upper Mission Road Extension; and Azagba in Uhunmwode LGA, come readily to mind of where CDA leaders deposed the authentic heads and took over their places.
In one short year, His Royal Majesty has moved into all these thorny areas and has provided necessary remediation to the satisfaction of almost everyone.
To Oba Ewuare II, justice without representation is a tyranny. He maintains that you cannot shave a man in his absence. Hence he has moved the Open Mediation process from “Ogua-ematon” where entry is forbidden to women, to “Ugha-Ozolua”, which is open to all. Women now participate effectively on issues affecting them.
Oba Ewuare II earnestly prays for, and works hard to ensure, perfect harmony and peaceful co-existence among his people. This is one way of explaining the establishment of the Benin Customary Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee made up of erudite scholars and jurists who have distinguished themselves in character and in learning; Government representatives as well as High Chiefs who are profoundly knowledgeable on issues of Benin culture and tradition.
It is note-worthy that this Committee is not in conflict with a similar body in the State, or for that matter, with the State judicial system. This is yet another strong point of the Monarch – he works in tandem with established authorities.
The Monarch has demonstrated deep respect for the unity of all Edos. Soon after his coronation, he embarked on a unification tour of the entire State, starting from a perfect grouping of the towns and villages in Edo South before moving to Edo North and finally ending up in Edo Central. He is also providing an enviable leadership to the Edo State Traditional Council – always consulting, always listening and always working.
The politicians of Benin extraction have never been this united. To the Monarch, it is clearly impossible, and indeed undesirable, for all Benins to cluster themselves into one political party; but after all the contestations in the field and in the court-rooms, all contestants – winners and losers – must quickly bury their differences and fall in line to face the task of developing the State and the nation-at-large. This is where the last governorship election provides a litmus test – while the bickering over the 2015 general elections still persist in some States, Edos are moving on, looking forward to the next elections and the next generation.
The Benin Renaissance is already on the move. The teaching and learning of Benin Language has been made compulsory in the primary and secondary schools in Edo South. Mechanisms have been put in place to take the Renaissance to foreign lands with the active collaboration of Nigerian Missions abroad.
True, morning shows the day. From his enviable record so far, this is undoubtedly the Messiah Edos have been waiting for! It is our fervent prayer that the Almighty God will grant him long life as well as guard and guide him alright to fulfill his purpose for humanity. Oba gha t’ okpere… Ise.