The ancient city of Benin City, capital of Edo state took the centre stage on Thursday, when the high and mighty in the Nigeria, converged on the city for a double celebration, namely, the birthday and the coronation of the 40th Oba of Benin, Eware II.
Leading dignitaries at the event was Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, several governors and prominent traditional rulers from all nook and cranny who came to celebrate the new entrant into the fold of royal fathers in the country.
Among the state governors were Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).
The list of traditional rulers included the Olu of Warri, Ogiamien Ikemwoli , the Obinof Onitsha, Igwe Nnayelugo Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, the Sultan of Sokoto, HRM Saad Abubakar III, the Emir Of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, the Dein of Agbor, Dr Benjamin Ikechuku Keagborekuzi I, and many representatives of prominent traditional rulers from across the country.
Also, not left out were the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Edo state governor-elect, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the PDP governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi and many others.
The large crowd later stood up to sing a Happy Birth Day song to the Oba.
To prevent a breach of security, the entrance to the venue of the event which was held inside a huge tent erected at the premises of Urokpota Hall, was a combined team of police, men of the Department of State Services, Nigerian Civil Defence Corp, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, and hefty-looking private security men.
Earlier, before handling the official staff of office to the new Oba of Benin, the host Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who described his relationship with the late Oba Erediauwa as that of a father and son, said “Nigeria’s democracy requires that we bond effectively with traditional institution.
“We are extremely fortunate to have a new Oba who have been groomed by his father in the finest royal tradition,” the governor said, adding that the late Oba Erediauwa “would be remembered like a king. His contribution remains indelible in our hearts.”
In his address, Oba Eware II, who paid tribute to his late father, said he has reflected on what royalty represents for his people and will be sustained during his reign.
“The Oba remains a channel through which the powers and protection of our ancestors continue to bind our people. We shall strive to ensure that conflicts are resolved between individuals and communities through social just.”
He also promised to help develop the kingdom through agro-allied industry and oil and gas.
He asked the people to maintain the culture and language of the Benin kingdom by insisting on its use everywhere and at schools.
In his speech, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari told him that “the late Oba Erediauwa as the most principled and forthright Nigerian monarch I’ve ever met. A source of pride to Nigerians.”
Commenting on the new Oba of Benin, Osibajo noted that his meritorious service as Ambassador will equip the new Oba to discharge his responsibility like his father.
The Vice President promised that the federal government will partner the Oba in his drive to alleviate poverty and youth employment.
Earlier in the day before his arrival at the coronation venue, Oba Eware II left the Usama palace where he was crowned at about 3 am, walked through Isekhere, where he crossed a symbolic bridge.
Prior to his ascension of the throne of his ancestors, the Oba Eware was the Edaiken of Uselu, bearing the name Eheneden Erediauwa and served as the heir apparent to the Benin traditional stool in Uselu, whuch was his temporal place of abode for months before Thursday when he took up permanent residence at the Oba Palace located on Adesogbe Road, adjacent Benin airport road in Benin City, the state capital.
On Tuesday, October 18, the new Monarch went to a shrine at Use community in Egor local government Area of Edo state, where he chose a name by which he was to be crowned, after playing the ancient Ahkue traditional game. The name was announced at the coronation ceremony by the Oliha of Benin Kingdom, Chief Edionwe Oliha.