By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
IT was a gathering of ‘who is who’ in Benin Kingdom, Edo State and Nigeria as the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Ewuare II, marked his birthday and the third anniversary on the throne.
Indeed, it was a time to celebrate the monarch who is generally believed to have upheld the Benin tradition.
WORSENING INSECURITY: If we close churches, you can’t walk along the road— Uche, Methodist Prelate(Opens in a new browser tab)
Many of his subjects described him as benevolent with compassion for the less privileged.
They cited the monarch’s planned establishment of a Sunday market where the highest price of food items will not be more than N500 as an example of his large heartedness.
He told guests at the occasion to mark his birthday and third anniversary on the throne that he would build on the legacies of his predecessors.
Oba Ewuare said the support he had received since he was crowned in 2016 gave him the encouragement to do more for Benin Kingdom and Nigeria at large, and appealed to the Federal Government to create the environment for youths to be gainfully employed.
According to him, a buoyant economy would discourage youths from embarking on dangerous journeys abroad and end modern day slavery.
The monarch hailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign but pleaded with him to improve security in the country.
As part of the activities to mark the anniversary, Oba Ewuare inaugurated the Committee for the Oba Erediauwa annual lecture series in memory of his father, Oba Erediauwa. Members of the committee are Mr. Leemon Ikpea, Prof. Benson Osadolor, Austin Alegeh (SAN) Chief Oseni Elamah and Prince Aghatise Erediauwa among others.
He also set up a seven-man committee for the purpose of ensuring that agricultural produce are sold at low prices in a market to hold only on Sundays and warned against rich men hijacking the process by buying up the produce and reselling them.
His words, “We have to provide for the needy. Charity is important. We have to do our best for those who cannot feed.
“There is going to be Sunday market where food will be sold at rock bottom prices. We should be able to subsidize farmers for them to sell at low prices”.
Commenting on the anniversary, the Benin National Congress (BNC) said the Oba has remained a shining example in Benin Kingdom.
The President of the group, Ayamenkhue Edokpolo, told Sunday Vanguard: “I can say without equivocation that HRM Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Ewuare II has very unique features depicting the minimum expectation of his time.
“He came at a time community warlords dominated this environment with all the vagaries of their local terrorism, taking land from original owners and selling to more than one person as the case may be.
“You had litany of cases littering our courts and some in the palace; so he came and, with the understanding of the state government, a committee to stop the CDA (Community Development Association) emerged and we now have integrity in land transactions in this environment.
“To that extent, one can say he has done well as he has brought sanity to land transaction in his domain and has also tried to address the issue of insecurity.
“He has taken a position on the Gelegele land issue and also tried to see to it that people who have wrong perception of the monarch have come to the realisation that those old tendencies are no longer acceptable in these times.”
Edokpolo continued: “The other area we look forward to is a situation whereby some of these former CDA members are able to get some level of rehabilitation.
“I am of the view that HRM will ensure that these people who were stopped from CDA activities are rehabilitated by helping them to go into meaningful ventures so that they can be gainfully employed.
“We have seen an Oba who has also been involved with political stakeholders with a view to moving this environment forward.
“The Oba when he met with President Buhari ahead of his coronation, he requested for Gelegele seaport and the President promised to work in that direction.
“The state government keyed into this. This tells you we have an Oba who is ready to meet politicians for the benefit of his subjects. He is well positioned and his years of public service he has brought to bear on his rulership.
“BNC is committed to support Oba Ewuare to make his rulership a huge success.”
Edokpolo said that despite the Oba’s vast exposure, he has held on to undiluted tradition of the land.
“I wasn’t surprised because it takes a leopard to have a leopard; it takes a lion to have a lion. In his days as Crown Prince, he carefully understudied the culture and tradition and he also saw to it that certain festivals are revived like the beads festival which any of us was not aware of”, the BNC leader said.
“His emphasis on the speaking of the Benin language, emphasis on peace and harmony which are the ethos of the Benin man is commendable. “His many travels did not impede his understanding of the Benin culture and tradition; it has rather embellished his understanding and getting our culture properly repositioned”.
On his part, the Obadololagbonyi of Benin, Chief Omo-Osagie Utetenegiabi, said Oba Ewuare II is a reincarnation of Oba Ewuare I who brought a lease of life to Benin.
Utetenegiabi described Oba Ewuare II as a monarch who came with innovations for Benin Kingdom.
He told Sunday Vanguard, “For those of us that God has blessed to have seen the third Oba in our lives, we want to say that it has never been this good. His Royal Majesty Omo N’Oba Ewuare II has done something even governments have not been able to achieve anywhere I believe in Africa.
“Looking into him, you will see that he is a man of distinction. He is a man who is always in a hurry to achieve.
“In a very short time, he has been able to put the government on its toes. Look at the issue of CDA, if not for the position of the palace on that matter, I am sure we will still be in the dark on what to do.
“He has revitalised the culture of our people. Before now virtually all the shrines in Benin were overgrown with weeds but now he has come back, as it was in his first coming as Oba Ewuare I, to re-energise the people.
“Now, to become the Odionwere (community elder) is no longer by fight as it used to be. It was so bad that it got to a point that whoever the CDA Chairman appointed as the Odionwere of the community will be the Odionwere.
“But now, we have gone back to the age of once it is your turn to be the Odionwere, nobody will stop you. You don’t even need to ask the oracle who should be the Odionwere because it is outlined in the culture and custom of our people how it should be; we all know our age groups.”
On Oba Ewuare II’s welfare programs, the palace chief said, “Oba Ewuare II Foundation has given scholarships to several people, children, not just indigenes, but also people from outside Benin.
“We have two people from northern Nigeria who have benefitted. We are grateful to God for giving us Oba Ewuare II.
“When the gods are preparing a king of his kind, they take him through the vagaries of life. He was called upon to be ambassador to first an African country, Angola; some of us at that time were angry about that; then he was posted to Sweden and then to Italy and then the Vatican. These were all learning curves for him.
“During his coronation, he insisted that he must attend to every detail in every stage of the coronation process and we can say that it is the Obas before Ovonranwen that did all that.
“He has set up the committee for the discount market where the highest price of any commodity will be N500”.