By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
The recent reaction of the Oba of Benin and the entire members of the Benin Traditional Council (BTC) to the coronation of King Godwin Ogunyenabo as the new Pere of Olodama kingdom in Edo has again heightened the hostility among the Binis and Ijaws in the state.
For a clearer understanding, Olodiama is a sleepy egalitarian kingdom of Ijaw origin in Ovia North-East Local Government Area of Edo State with Ikoro as its ancestral headquarters.
The Oba of Benin and the BTC in that statement asserted that the entire Edo South senatorial district has only one monarch and that is in the person of the Oba of Benin. They, therefore, went ahead describing the coronation as an abomination and sacrilegious.
To add to this raging controversy, the Edo State Government who is supposed to act as umpire in a release signed by the Secretary to the State Government ordered for the arrest and investigation of all those involved in the purported coronation. This action on the part of government again aggravated the entire scenario.
But to the people of Olodiama kingdom, this position as advanced by the Oba of Benin, the BTC, and the Edo State Government is not just alien but shocking to them as the position of Pere in Olodiama is not new to the Oba and Edo State Government.
They stated that history has it that Oba Akenzua II sent his son then crown Prince Solomon Akenzua (late Oba Erediauwa) in 1958 to Ikoro to represent him during the coronation of Pere of Olodiama, Pere Agulu Ogunyeibo, who was the traditional head of the Ijaws in Olodiama kingdom of Edo state.
To authenticate their position, the people of Olodiama asked the Oba of Benin and royal fathers to seek a wiser counsel in history.
From the above positions canvassed by the parties involved, it is pertinent that we point out some facts that will, in turn, assist in the provision of the needed unity in the state and the nation;
First, Nigeria is a multi-tribal, multicultural, multi-religious and multilingual nation. Same is applicable to all the states of the federation.
Secondly, the Governor of the state is the father of all in the state irrespective of affiliations; party, ideology, language or tribe.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria enshrined as part of the rights of the citizens as; freedom of association, speech, and others.
From the foregoing, the GbaramatuVoice as a media group first, appreciates the decision and the effort of the Oba of Benin to keep his kingdom united. But it is also our view that the creation or existence of other community heads in the towns within the senatorial zone for the administrative purpose may not affect his position in any way negative.
Again, as the people of Olodiama stated above that what they did was not new as it is embedded in history, it is our views that the Oba and the Benin Traditional Council (BTC) be humble enough to cross check with history. Who knows, chances are that the information may be more revealing than expected and aid in solving the sociocultural impasse.
Furthermore, the Oba’s resorting to self-help by using his contacts to invite the military on the day of the coronation as alleged by the people of Olodiama is condemnable.
We stated the above because there should be more civil ways of seeking redress and venting one’s anger. Part of this options may include but not limited to seeking redress in a competent court of law.
To the Edo state governor, Mr. Godwin Obseki, GbaramatuVoice is compelled to remind you that as the governor of Edo state, you have sworn to protect the lives and property of all no matter how highly or lowly placed the person may be.
We discovered a gap in your handling of the whole impasse as you were not completely fatherly in your actions and directives. Your call for the arrest and prosecution of the Pere in your effort to please one section of the state or a group of people was in bad taste and toxic.
To illustrate our above position, this was a man you visited as the Pere-to-be during your election campaign, sort his blessings and support and now you have turned 360 degrees to deny his existence as well as calling for his arrest. Such, we observed should not be coming from the person that occupies the exalted position of the office of the state Governor.
We may also use this medium to suggest that you make out time to cross check the facts as presented by the people of Olodiama kingdom where they explained that what they did was neither an abomination nor sacrilegious as it is based on tradition backed by history.
On the allegation as speculated in some quarters that it is not the chieftaincy tussle but land and the Deep Seaport project sited by the federal government within the Olodiama kingdom that is fueling this tussle, it is our views that you use your good office to look into the matter in order to find a lasting solution to it.
To the people of Olodiama, it is our advice that you stay committed to the peace process, be law abiding and get not involved in any activity that will be inimical to the nascent peace as experienced in the area.