Ogiame Atuwatse III: Thorny path to the crown

By Jimitota Onoyume, Asst. News Editor 

IWERE land, also known as Itsekiri ethnic nationality in Delta State, has been full of gratitude to the Olu of Warri Kingdom, Ogiame Atuwatse III, for numerous reasons since he bestrode the throne of his forebears last year.

1,000 POS machines 

Until the revered monarch of Warri Kingdom, His Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse III, came up with an empowerment initiative to strengthen cash flow across communities in his kingdom with Point of Sale, POS, machines, most city dwellers were usually stranded when they run out of cash while in the village. 

 Some of the communities in the riverside parts of the state till date, have no bank. So, you could imagine the relief when the monarch rolled out a project in collaboration with Stanbic IBTC that resulted in 1,000 POS machines being given out to local entrepreneurs drawn from several communities. 

 The beneficiaries cut across both sexes. It was excitement at the colourful presentation ceremony which held at the palace of the monarch, April 4, 2022. 

 You could literally touch the joy among the beneficiaries that day. The projection was simple: the 1,000 POS machines given out, created 1,000 direct jobs across communities in Warri Kingdom and additional ancillary opportunities for many in the area. 

 Some of the beneficiaries on their part also engaged hands to run the business while they focused on other areas of endeavour, consequently bringing to focus the ancillary gains in the vision of the monarch.

Unending flow of appreciation

A jubilant Duakpemi Utieyinmi was full of gratitude when she got her machine. She was not alone: another beneficiary, Ogiden Tuoyo, also thanked the monarch profusely. It was ceaseless flow of gratitude from beneficiaries at the ceremony. 

 Some of the beneficiaries headed straight to their communities to commence business, a move that has guaranteed cash flow in several riverside communities of the kingdom and boosted the local economies with more cash to spend.

 A resident in Ugbuwangwe area of Warri South Local Government, Mr. Edema Frank, said he was sure to find cash whenever he was in his village because some POS operators had started business there, adding: “All I need is my ATM.” 

Monarch’s wish for subjects

At the exciting presentation ceremony in April, the monarch, in a brief remark laden with passion, vowed to continue to put his people first in all his actions. 

  “If I have millions of dollars, I will make sure that I give them all to you. What I have I give it all to you today. This empowerment items you will receive today, God will give you wisdom to use them; you will see the prosperity that they will bring you.”

Why we partnered Stanbic IBTC   

On the part of IBTC bank, its South Regional Agent and Network Manager, Mr.  Perebor Awoju, lauded the vision of the monarch and the queen. 

 “We are committed to driving Africa’s growth, and one of the ways we do this is by meeting the lifestyle needs of the unbanked and the under- banked population while empowering businesses in our communities to provide digital financial services. This in turn promotes financial inclusion and financial literacy, and drives sustainable development.

 “Beneficiaries of the initiative are privileged to benefit from the means in which Stanbic IBTC expresses its passion and commitment to broadening opportunities and access to financial services for every Nigerian and African, irrespective of culture and location as our methodology and practices are not just the sales of products, rather, a process of identifying needs and providing the best solution possible,” he said.

 Medical outreach

It is also through the kind gesture of the monarch, ably supported by his lovely wife, Olori Atuwatse III, that  no fewer than 500 persons with various ailments have been treated for free. At the last count, about three different free medical outreach programmes have held in Warri Kingdom since his ascension to the throne. 

Olori Atuwatse III, flagged off the first free medical outreach programme at Odi-Warri, the ancestral home of Itsekiri in Warri-South Local Government Area, last year. She said the drive was to ensure that the riverine communities had access to quality and free medical care.  

“The free medical outreach will be geared towards reaching these communities who have little or no access to good healthcare. The aim is to promote and maintain health: through preventive care, managing disease, reducing unnecessary disability and premature death.

“The desire is to bring quality healthcare to the people with the vision of making healthcare more readily accessible to all indigenes in our community. So tell a friend to come for the event and together, let us realise a healthy and whole Warri Kingdom.”

She said they were partnering with several institutions on the project, and since then it has been a reoccurring exercise with the most recent held in Warri South Local Government Area, about a month ago. This time, it was free eye treatment for indigenes of Warri Kingdom and their neighbours.

Setting the stage for profitable implementation of PIA in communities

Ahead of implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA, at community levels, the monarch has inaugurated  the Olu of Warri  2021 Petroleum Industry Act Advisory Council for Warri Kingdom, promising a peaceful atmosphere across the area for smooth  implementation of the gains of PIA.

This move has put Warri Kingdom firmly on ground for effective utilisation of the gains of the PIA.

He also had a summit where a Marshal Plan was evolved for radical development across Warri Kingdom with the increases of the PIA and other benefits from the state government.

 At the maiden edition of Warri Economic Summit presided over by Dr. Ebi Omatsola at his palace in Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III said the era of selfishness and self-centeredness was gone in the kingdom.  “To the Iwere people, we pronounce that self-centeredness in our land ends today.  Singleness of vision and mission arises in its stead. The land is alive and I proclaim over it today. The soil of Iwere land is blessed. The sea around Iwere land is blessed.

 “We assure government, companies, non-governmental organisations and regulatory authorities that we are well aware that our job is to make Iwere land more hospitable for business, whether energy or otherwise, no matter the obstacles thrown our way,” he said.

While pronouncing abundant blessings across his kingdom, the monarch lauded the PIA, describing it as an instrument to redress challenges of greed, appropriation of collective wealth by a few in oil-bearing communities in the Niger-Delta region.  “The PIA is essentially an instrument designed to cure the appetite of individuals who have become used to appropriating the common wealth to themselves or mismanaging the wealth to the detriment of the people.

 “The primary purpose of PIA is to assist in any developmental purpose deemed beneficial to the host communities as may be determined by the board of trustees,” the monarch added.  

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