By Chief Edward Ekpoko
Ogiame Ikenwoli, the 20th Olu of Warri, ascended the pristine throne on 12th December 2015 in a fanfare. His ascension was one of the most peaceful and celebrated in the annals of the Warri Monarchy since about 1480.
The Warri (Itsekiri) Monarchy and the Itsekiri people is like a symphony orchestra. They abide by the strict rules designed to promote both majesty and mystery. Both have many parts but one glorious message; many players but one leader that all must follow. The Olu, like a conductor is applauded before he lifts the baton.
What it translates to is that the Olu immediately he ascends the throne he receives a resounding ovation for the good and prosperity his reign will bring to the people.
An Olu is assessed by what the Itsekiri people consider most important to them at any given time.
J. F. Kennedy in his Profiles in Courage said that men are not great statesmen merely because they had held offices. Being a traditional ruler or even being the recipient of the so-called award of GCON is not a criterion.
The Press (both the mainstream and social media) does not make statesmen. They must present better title deeds to eminence. And I dare say that the search for peace is one of the greatest. This perhaps explain why Alfred Nobel, the scientist who invented dynamite created the Nobel Peace Prize to deflect attention from his past.
On the occasion of his coronation, he promised to anchor his reign on peace and prosperity for all. In pursuit of this peace mission, His Majesty build bridges not only within the Itsekiri nation but to her neighbours and other ethnic nationalities in Delta State and Nigeria generally.
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His Majesty cemented this by visits to our Urhobo and Ijaw monarchs and other traditional rulers nationwide. Such include visit to the Ovie of Uvwie, the Oba of Benin, the Ooni of Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Lagos, Sultan of Sokoto, and other traditional rulers across ethnic and religious divide.
His Majesty was always eager to honour invitation extended by fellow traditional rulers across the nation either by physical presence or representation. Peace to His Majesty was like a magnum opus to an artist.
In pursuit of better life not only for Itsekiris but Nigerians, His Majesty engaged political leaders across board. On at least two occasions, he visited Mr President soliciting for the commencement of the EPZ project at Escravos and the revitalization of the Warri Port and other projects in Delta State to create employment for Nigerians.
The Warri Hospital Project, nearing completion at Ugbuwangue in Warri, is one of the fruits of his untiring efforts. In all these trips, His Majesty never asked for contract or favour for himself or close relatives and aides a fact attested by the Presidency. A testimony of his reign would be littered with such epithets like peaceful, humble, honest, integrity, generosity, etc.
Ogiame Ikenwoli was extremely generous, even at the expense of his personal comfort. His Majesty would always say that God had been merciful to him and no amount of money was too much to appreciate God’s kindness and benevolence.
The church, aged, widows, orphans, community leaders, chiefs, etc. benefited from his generosity. Before his transition in December, he had arranged his annual Christmas/New Year packages for the needy and many others in his kingdom.
To His Majesty, peace and charity are eternal and the accumulation of money does not guarantee happiness. This philosophical thought of His Majesty reminds me of the story I read some years back in a book titled God’s Little Lessons on Life.
In 1923, eight of the most powerful money magnates in the world gathered for a meeting at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The combined resources and assets of these eight men tallied more than the U.S. Treasury that year.
In the group were the following: Charles Schwab, president of a steel company; Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange; and Arthur Cutton, a wheat speculator.
Albert Fall was a presidential cabinet member, a personally wealthy man. Jesse Livermore was the greatest Wall Street “bear” in his generation. Leon Fraser was the president of the International Bank of Settlements, and Ivan Krueger headed the largest monopoly in the nation. An impressive gathering of financial eagles!
What happened to these men in later years? Schwab died penniless. Whitney served a life sentence in Sing Sing Prison. Cutton became insolvent. Fall was pardoned from a federal prison so he might die at home. Fraser, Livermore and Krueger committed suicide. Seven of these eight extremely rich men ended their lives with nothing.
Lesson; accumulation of money alone is certainly not the answer to life’s ills but its use for the good of others last forever. Life is not qualified by fluent English, branded clothes or a rich lifestyle. It is measured by the number of faces who smile when they hear your name.
His Majesty had a large heart; slow to anger and quick to forgive. On his transition, many wailed and in confused mood uttered as Shakespeare puts it in Pericles, Pericles, 3.1.22-24:
“O you gods!
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Why do you make us love your goodly gifts,
And snatch them straight away?”
But we are comforted by the words of our Lord in Psalm 37:37 (NLT):
“…for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.”
Chief Edward Ekpoko
is a Warri based legal practitioner and Chairman, Itsekiri Leaders of Thought
Adieu our Great King
BY Chief Kofi Edomi Kartey
Though your reign was
short, we are consoled that your reign was eventful and remarkable.
Warri Kingdom will remember your zeal to re-invigorate the Itsekiri traditional system and cultural values.
Your desire and effort to take ltsekiri to higher glory, fame and consolidate on the peaceful co-existence with her neighbours, love and unity are praiseworthy.
You ensured community disputes were resolved amicably and youth elections in communities adhere strictly to democratic principles (credible and violence-free ) maintaining. Executive office tenure.
His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli was a bridge builder, generous, kind, honest, firm, God-fearing and deeply humble..
He will surely be missed by all Itsekiri sons and daughters he left his foot prints in the sands of time.
His legacy will surely be a Testament of his sagacity as a king he comported himself gracefully.
His selfless service and dedication to Royal duty is unparalleled.
Adieu our great king, Ogiame, Ogbowuru ! Afomasin ! Akpojorukuda ! Aginwere-tsewere ! Afotse ! Afogbe ! Ekunkperede-oson ! Ekun ! Agbesentsiberokun ! Jenekporo-osondada.
Ogiame Suoo !!!
Chief Kofi Edomi Kartey