The Oba of Benin is born and not made, Oshiomhole’s statement, a sacrilege

The Oba of Benin is born and not made, Oshiomhole’s statement, a sacrilege


By – Thompson Omorodion, Ph.D.

There is no debating the fact that an Oba in Benin is installed by the Benin king makers(Usama N’Ihinron), not the governor of Edo State.

The governor of Edo State, following the military inherited Section 19 of the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Law, 1979, is only to recognize a duly installed Oba and present the ceremonial staff of office after the traditional authority has concluded the coronation process. The statement by Edo State Government regarding the appointment of Oba of Benin by Adams Oshiomhole is therefore another “iconoclastic” blunder, executive rascality, administrative arrogance and apparently disdainful display crude use of brute power him – a slap on the face of the Benin monarchy and the good people of Benin.

In a megalomaniac statement dated 24th May 2016, issued by what has become known as the iconoclastic government led by Adams Oshiomhole, published in many national dailies, a supposed professor of Political Science and Secretary to the Government of Edo State announced, albeit arrogantly, the “appointment of HRH Edaiken N’Uselu, Crown Prince Ehenede Erediauwa as Oba of Benin without prior consultation nor input of the Crown Prince, Benin Traditional Council or the Palace of the Oba of Benin, to which such matter relates – while the obsequies was still on for the former Oba. This is the apogee and height of disrespect, and callous disregard to our revered traditional institution.

It is therefore not surprising that within twenty four hours, there have been massive outpouring of both emotive and rational reactions to the gaffe of the government that is ever acting as alien to us, a reaction which has led the government withdrawing the cursed statement today in a letter signed by the same Secretary to the government of the state. The wording of the withdrawal betrayed evidence of the true intentions of the government in issuing the statement in the first instance.

“The said letter was issued in error as the rites of passage of His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba of Benin are still on”.

The withdrawal came without apology. This may also have been deliberate. The true intention of the APC and Adams Oshiomhole led Edo State government was egoistic, nay – megalomaniac – futile attempt to denigrate the Benin crown, reduce the dignity, prestige and majesty of the Benin crown, and attempt to demystify the glorious mysteries of the Benin Kingdom. This ulterior motive of Adams Oshiomhole and his outgoing iconoclastic APC government in Edo State can be deduced by the x-raying the three main patterns described in the following paragraph and that that have played out within the last 30 days or so.

First, the Edo State government released an article last month describing Oba Erediauwa as an iconoclastic Oba. Shortly after the announcement on Friday April 29 of the passage of Oba Erediauwa, Adams Oshiomhole caused an iconoclastic condolence message to be released which offended the palace and the Benin people. Upon reaction by the public, the government through an aide (rather than the governor making such apology himself) apologized to the palace but he ignored the Benin people who he also offended.

Secondly, the Edo State government, on May 3, disturbed the peace of Benin City by violently removing the former Speaker with thugs, urchins, gunshots and tear gas at the Oba palace area during the mourning period. This is further demonstration of the suspicion that it is a deliberate slight to the Benin people and disregard for the sorrowful mood at the time. Why could Oshiomhole not ask his legislators to sheathe their swords in respect of the mourning of the Oba?

And thirdly, Oshiomhole hurriedly announced that he was appointing the Oba of Benin. The statement by the Edo State government that HRH Prince Ehenede Erediauwa has been “appointed” as the Oba of Benin is not only an abomination but a sacrilege to everything reverent about Benin Kingdom. This is the apogee of disrespect. Oshiomhole, and indeed the governor of Edo State, does not have the right to ‘appoint’ the Oba. The Oba of Benin does not derive his legitimacy or authority from any government anywhere in the world, let alone a state governor like Edo State government.

Can Oshiomhole appoint an Oba? Even if there was a so-called Section 19 of the contentious and pointless 1979 Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Law that purportedly empowers the government to recognize (not appoint, in the case of Oba where there is no contention) an Oba who is corronated by the traditional authority of Benin. In Benin, we call them Uzama N’Ihinron.

We agree that no one is perfect. However, there are higher degrees of responsibility expected from certain high office holders, especially those who have aides and assistants provided for them by tax payers’ money for the purpose of minimizing errors and maximizing effectiveness.
A state government is one of such high offices. The plethora of errors, nay blunders, that have characterized this government of Adams Oshiomhole and the APC in Edo state, in recent times, leaves decent and intelligent people to begin to wonder whether this government hasn’t broken down irreparably or its chief officer gone berserk.

We the Benin people are still offended by these gaffes by the Edo State government, and even more annoyed for the following reasons.

The governor, not the Secretary to the Government, should have done the withdrawal, and apologized, in light of the gravity of the grievous harm that the announcement has caused our Benin people and our monarchy.

The timing of the statement is not only wrong but insensitive.
The governor has belittled the significance of the coronation of a Benin monarch, usurping the traditional functions of the Uzama N’Ihinron of Benin kingdom.
The governor is making the highly cherished traditional rites of ascension to the Oba of Benin of no effect.

The governor is giving non-Benins, and even some unsuspecting Benins, the wrong impression that he is the one that has the capacity to appoint an Oba for Benin thereby downplaying the well-known primogeniture ascension rule of Benin kingdom, and most of Edo state peoples.

The governor, by his repeated acts of subtle aggression, is daring the Benin people, overstretching our patience and spoiling for a dirty war which would most likely consume him and everything he stands for. Onyearuegbulem is a ready case study in the Benin principle of Aiguobasimwin.

In light of the above identified further flaw of a thoughtless non-remorseful withdrawal by Edo State government in light of such grievous, provocative and denigrating announcement which the government calls ‘error’, I am calling the leadership of the APC, particularly the Comrade Governor, Adams Aliyu Eric Oshiomhole, to come out and publicly apologize, not only to the Benin monarchy – but also, to the Benin people who feel particularly socially embarrassed, psychologically deflated and generally hurt by the grievous harm that that erroneous and annoying announcement has done to the Benin psyche; our collective pride, our cultural heritage and our public image locally, nationally and internationally. Anything short of this further clearly defined apology would make the now popularly held belief to stick for fact, that Adams Oshiomhole is doing all these things to deliberately spite us the Benins and also to denigrate our Crown. But the Enikaro of Benin will resist anyone who seeks to embarrass the Benin or our ancient institutions.

Dr. Thompson Omorodion, a scholar and policy analyst based in Benin City.


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