By Simon Ebegbulem, Benin City
Oba Ewuare II of Benin was last Wednesday appointed the leader of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities (TROMPCOM) in the Niger Delta. The tenure is for two years. The reappointment came barely two weeks that the revered monarch was decorated as Life Ambassador of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
The traditional rulers from the Niger Delta, led by the Amayanabor of Brass, Bayelsa State, His Royal Highness, King Diette Spiff, stormed the palace of the Oba to appeal to him to accept the responsibility of leading the monarchs whose oil producing communities traverse Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Edo States. Spiff told the Benin monarch that the body was initiated to address the problems posed by oil exploration and exploitation in oil producing communities, through constant discussion with stakeholders.
He explained that the chairmanship of the body was rotational, adding that it is the turn of Edo and therefore appealed to Oba Ewuare to accept the responsibility and use his wealth of experience to move the body to the next level.
“It is our strong belief that Your Majesty will bring your experience to bear in this responsibility of finding solution to the problems of oil producing communities in the Niger Delta, because, as traditional rulers, we owe our people the responsibility to ensure peace, justice and equity in our various communities. We are happy that it is the turn of Edo State and Your Majesty will be taking up this responsibility at a time that the nation is facing several challenges and we believe that this body and the entire oil producing communities in the region are in safe hands”.
Replying, the Oba, described the appointment as a call to duty and assured that he will use his experience to move the body forward. “God and our ancestors will grant me the wisdom and good health to do my best to justify the confidence reposed in me”.
He, however, frowned at the unending flaring of gas in the region and called for the utilization of the abundant gas resources in the region rather than flaring it, especially as flaring is even a major health hazard. The monarch used the opportunity to disclose to the royal fathers about his plans to embark on a nationwide thank you visit which, according to him, was going to start with a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
While welcoming Buhari back to Nigeria, after his medical vacation in the UK, the monarch said: “Our President is back and we thank God for his recovery. I intend to embark on a nationwide `thank you’ visit and I will start by visiting Mr President in Abuja, and also visit traditional rulers both in the North and in the South. I have not done that since after my coronation but I intend to embark on that soonest because I so much appreciate the show of love exhibited to me by Nigerians during my coronation and I need to go round to say `thank you’”.
Saying the Oba’s appointment as the Chairman of TROMPCOM was great news for the Niger Delta people, the Onojie of Opoji and 1st Vice Chairman Edo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs, His Royal Highness (HRH), Ehidiamen Aidonojie 1, declared that Oba Ewuare will bring the desired progress to oil communities.
“The Oba deserves it because most of these thrones were painted with the blessing of the Oba and the Benin Empire. Being a well educated Oba and a diplomat, that will be of benefit to the Niger Delta. He deserves it. He knows what to do to help the Niger Delta. The oil producing communities will benefit from it. It’s a good omen for the Niger Delta in particular. We are all happy because the Oba of Benin is the greatest king in Africa”.
Oba Ewuare has endeared himself to his people due to the reforms he embarked upon since he ascended the throne. He banned Community Development Associations (CDAs) and peace returned to the communities in the seven local government areas of Edo South. The ban on the CDAs was replicated in the entire state after the state House of Assembly came up with the law banning it.
The monarch also set aside every Tuesday and Thursday to attend to issues bordering on land disputes and other problems in Benin Kingdom in the palace court. Those who are in the habit of flouting traditional laws have not had it easy since the coming of this Oba. He has insisted that discipline must be instilled so as to strengthen the traditional institution.
However, the monarch frowned at the alleged assault on 80 -year- old orthopaedic surgeon, Dr C.O.Ogiugo, by some palace guards, last Thursday, after he was walked out of the palace and has resolved to investigate the matter. Ogiugo was said to have escorted a relation to the palace of the Oba but incurred the wrath of palace chiefs when he failed to kneel down and pay homage to the monarch.
He was immediately walked out of the palace by palace guards who placed curses on him. The incident attracted the attention of people when the old man, after he had been bullied out of the palace gate, knelt down to cry to God to save him.
He explained that he could not kneel down to greet the Oba because he was suffering severe arthritis but that he bowed to the monarch to pay his respect which was viewed by the chiefs as a great disrespect. “I tried to explain to them but I was not given the opportunity”, the old man said. However, a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Oba of Benin, Desmond Agbama, said
“The attention of the Palace has been drawn to the news making the rounds on social media about a man who was sent out of the Palace of the Oba of Benin on Thursday 17th August, 2017. For the avoidance of doubt, the man in question is not a Chief in Benin Kingdom as has been ascribed to him.
The man came to the Palace in company of those who had issues to resolve at the Palace, but he violated the norms of the Benin custom and traditions and was found carrying on his personal abominable objects forbidden by Benin custom and tradition. At no time did the Oba order the man to be manhandled.
“The persons who escorted the man out of the Palace may have overreached themselves in their efforts to protect the tradition and culture of the Benin people and the sanctity of the Palace. However, the Oba of Benin has ordered a full investigation into the incident”.
Oba Ewuare has meanwhile condemned the killing of some worshippers at St Philip’s Catholic Church in Umuezekwe Ofufe, Ozubulu, Anambra State and called on security agents to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators, describing their action as barbaric and wicked. In a message, the Oba commiserated with the governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano and the entire people of the state for the killings which he described as a national tragedy .
The monarch called for strategies to stop the reoccurrence of such dastardly act, declaring that the wrath of God will surely visit those who killed in the house of God. According to the letter, “His Royal Majesty called on the various security agencies to carry out proper investigations to fish out and prosecute those behind the gruesome killings. The Benin monarch prayed that God and the ancestors should grant the families of the deceased the fortitude to bear the great loss. We wish such calamity will never again befall our nation or community”.