February 9, 2020

EMEVOR: The new Odion’s journey to the throne

Lagos Community protest presentation of staff of office of Oba Irede/Onigbanko to traditional ruler

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By Benson Akpotu

For the people of Emevor in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State, it was time for them to select a new king (Odion) after the demise of the former Odion three years ago.

It was a new beginning on the morning of  January 28, 2020.  The  Odion stool is a heritage for all sons of the kingdom and can be aspired to, through initiation into the edhe kingship. That is, you must have been “age marked” during the reign of a particular  Odion. In this dispensation, the new Odion will emerge from Ebu (Abu) 1943-1953 ruler-ship and would become the 19th Odion of Emevor kingdom in line with rotation. It is also pertinent to know that once a king evolves from any of the sons initiated into the “edhe” kingship under any king, no other initiate or person from that group can be made a king again in the event,  of the death of that king. The kingship automatically moves to the next the group.

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The kingmakers known as Ukpedion are the custodian of the kingship, they hold a joint consultation and meeting with the chief priest (Orheren) to kick-start the process.

Surviving male persons who were initiated into the edhe kingship of the Odion stool attend the meeting. One of the most difficult experiences of the kingmakers and the chief priest at this point is usually the rigorous process of determining the most senior amongst the contestants for the stool. However, the senior is usually known when all the contestants with the mark of records either naturally or otherwise are able to prove his seniority, hence he is automatically crowned as the Odion.

Prior to this, a town crier announces that those who performed the edhe during the reign of Ebu (Abu), the odion who reigned in 1943-1953, should come out. In this particular event, nine contestants came out and, after rigorous questionings, seven were eliminated thereby remaining two. One other bowed out. Thus in the morning of  January 28, 2020, there was only one contestant left for the pristine throne of Emevor Kingdom.

Therefore, Pa Johnson Ologho Erieyovwe was presented as the last man standing to the eldest man in the community who made the pronouncement by confirming him to be the 19t Odion. Johnson walked with a rolling gait to greet members of the community there present.

The 19th Odion was born into the family of Erieyovwe Inyenyo. He was the last of three children of the Inyenyo family, having been born on April 4, 1918. He attended St. Michael’s Primary School in Emevor before proceeding to Benin City to complete his education at a  Muslim Primary School where the father of the popular elder statesman, Chief Anthony Enahoro, was the headmaster at that time.

After his primary education, his elder cousin, Pa Obuwo, took him to Warri for tailoring apprenticeship. He thereafter established his tailoring shop at the popular Warri main market and from there ventured into buying of textiles and selling merchandise. This made him traverse the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

In 1996, he retired and returned to Emevor where he also established his tailoring business.

He joined the Christ Saviour Ministry in Emevor where he was baptised.

His emergence as the Odion triggered jubilation in Emevor. Perhaps, what prepared him for this enviable position is his amiable and gentle nature. Johnson is blessed with eleven children comprising five boys and six girls amongst whom is the crown prince, Dr John Holt Ologho, a business mogul. The Odion promised to build bridges, secure alignments to the position of Emevor 1, in its proper position amongst the comity of ancient kingdoms and empires in Nigeria.

Evidently, his reign would usher in peace, unity, infrastructural and human capital development to Emevor. It is often said that “God’s presence in a man’s life is an expression of its grace and not our worthiness”. My prayer, heretofore, is to see grace and more grace multiply in the life and affairs of the new Odion.

* Akpotu lives in Warri, Delta State