In this interview exclusively with GbaramatuVoice marking his fourteen years on the throne, His Royal Majesty, Elder (Capt.) King Joseph Ijawperebo Timiyan (JP), the Paramount Ruler and the Ebenanaowei of Ogulagha kingdom expressed excitement, saying that in his reign was the first time since the great Ogulagha existed for a governor and also a serving Vice President to visit the kingdom. He however tasked multinational oil companies to do the needful in the area, while he appealed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to consider Ogulagha for commissionership.
14 years on the throne, how has the journey been?
Thank you very much. I am His Royal Majesty, Elder (Capt.) King Joseph Ijawperebo Timiyan (JP), the Paramount Ruler and the Ebenanaowei of Ogulagha kingdom. The journey so far is very good; very, very good. All of you know that a king does not have challenges. What people call challenges are foreseen events that the king had already foreseen before they happen. So, the king never takes anything as challenges; he takes everything as blessings and maybe corrective measures. So, I think the journey is a smooth one and very good one.
Your Majesty, in these fourteen years, you have enjoyed tremendous support from people, particularly the chiefs, how did you achieve it?
It’s wonderful. In fact the chiefs are wonderful. They are supportive, and before a king can confer chieftaincy titles on individuals in the kingdom, they have already performed beyond reasonable doubt. Before a king can confer chieftaincy titles on deserving subjects that means they are capable of moving the kingdom forward and also support the king in his administration. So, I think all the chiefs are very good, they are all brilliant, they are all civilized, and you know nowadays you cannot confer chieftaincy titles on deserving sons and daughters that are not civilized, that are not exposed and that cannot organize themselves very well. So, those few ones that become chiefs, I think they are nice, they are supportive and they are very good.
As a ruler what are the challenges facing your kingdom (Ogulagha), now that Shell is not active as before and what do you think the government can do about it?
Challenges from Shell? Well, that means you are talking in generality? In Ogulagha Kingdom, Shell has a terminal here, and before now we did not have Shell offices in the entire kingdom, especially in all the communities in the kingdom. But when you talk about global, maybe, Niger Delta of course, the offices that were in Warri are no more; some of them are in Port Harcourt and Lagos. I think there are agitations from the Niger Delta people, and also if you look very well, in the senate, a lot of bills are there to return these offices to Warri, especially close to the operational area. And also personally I have sent delegations to Abuja for the public hearing, to make sure that these offices that were transferred to other cities will come back to Warri and so that it will be close to our people for businesses and other community interactions.
What will you say is your greatest joy in the past fourteen years, your greatest achievement in terms of physical development or peaceful co-existence among your people and neighbouring communities?
Before I ascended this throne, there were a lot of crisis, kingdom to kingdom, court cases and I think by God’s grace we are managing them. You see one important thing about a king and what makes a king different from the political leaders is the wisdom that God has given to them. Politicians always talk about challenges but you will never see a true king talking about challenges because he is born to see those things and they are not strange to him, they are not things that just come up un-expectedly.
If you don’t have the royal blood, you cannot be a king, and for you to have a royal blood that means you can withstand any forces, forces cannot overcome you, because you are born to face those forces.
The most interesting thing is that everybody cannot be a king, once you are born to rule and ones you are born as a king you never experience challenges, you take those things as corrective measures; whether they are right or wrong, it is your duty to manage them, the ability to manage them proves you as a king, you never retaliate when people offend you because if you retaliate, you become a politician.
What you have to do in that wisdom as a king is to make sure you prove them wrong without even talking to them, for them to apportion blame to themselves. That’s what makes you a king. So it makes a different between leadership. People can call us leaders but we are not leaders, we are rulers. Whether you are a governor, minister or commissioner, all are subject to one king, and the king is a ruler, so without that wisdom from God, you cannot be a ruler, so that makes us effective in our administration.
Before now people look kingship as they are traditional rulers, they serve their forefathers, the deities and so on, we are paramount rulers, especially as the name implies ‘Ebenanaowei’ means the owner of the kingdom. Although, we have different kinds of kingship in Ijaw-land: some are kings to the deity and some are kings to their forefathers, but mine is different from those ones. Mine says, the name as it implies ‘Ebenanaowei’ means the owner and we want to call God Almighty we say the owner of the world and we become the owner of the small place we rule. That means we are administrators, we solve problems as God does in heaven over us. That is what we do on earth. We are not limited to traditional matters. Even political matters, we can handle them perfectly and give good advice so that peace will reign in our communities and kingdom. Once there is peace in a community and kingdom, there is peace in the state, there is peace in Nigeria at large. The key to peace is in our hands, and once we can exhibit that perfectly, then there is no problem in Nigeria, there is no problem in the state.
Shell per say as a company and, or, any other multinational oil companies, I think by God’s grace it will be normalized. There is no way you can be operating in a particular place whereas you are faraway in another place carrying out administrative functions from there, making the people that supposed to interact with you to travel a distance. It is not done anywhere. God will touch their heart. Even the SPDC, Chevron, and any other company. The government will look into it because they control about 60% of the oil companies. They have a lot of contributions. I think things will be normal by God’s grace.
Talking about the government, just recently, the state governor in company of the Vice President of Nigeria came to commission a road project in your kingdom. Are you satisfied with the level of development and government presence in your kingdom?
Yes, I am satisfied because it was the first time. It was the first time since the great Ogulagha existed for a governor and also a serving Vice President to visit the kingdom. When I say it’s the first time, actually it’s the first time. Ogulagha as a kingdom contributes a lot to this country we are. We have the CLP, the loading point, we have the terminal (Forcados Terminal), the gathering point, we have a lot of estuaries, and we have a lot of flow stations spread over all the communities in the kingdom.
It is only Ogulagha kingdom that can boast that we have oil companies in all the communities, but in some other kingdoms you may see only one or two communities having oil. But in Ogulagha kingdom, in all the communities, including the ones that are not recognized by the government, there is oil there. We are just naturally blessed.
From 1971 to date, I am telling you categorically that we have not seen government presence, that is about infrastructural projects, nothing, even the government to come and see the area is also negative. That means what you are talking about was the first and I know it won’t be the last, for a serving governor in this Delta state (from Bendel to Delta) to visit my kingdom and also a vice president for that matter. It is something we need to put on records; and commissioning a project that is wonderful and marvelous.
But when you think of what we produce and our contribution, we will tell you it is not enough, but at least, it is a starting. Till today, we have not gotten a commissioner from our kingdom, commissioner to the exco of the government. From the beginning till today, that is also lapses, because the money that they always sit to talk about on how to distribute them, my people are not there. If not this kind of Godly governor that we have that thinks about everybody, even though your man is not represented, will think about you, we may not have anything, because everybody in politics said, a winner takes all, that’s the game they are playing. But we are so lucky that the godly man is there, even you are not there he will still give you something, if not, if it’s by argument and anything, we cannot get anything. Because our people are not there, from the beginning, from Bendel to Delta to today, we have not gotten any commissioner.
I’m using this medium to appeal to the state government. It’s not too late, commissioners can be two years, let him (Governor Okowa) also pick some of our people. We have qualified hands. In fact our sons and daughters, I think are the most educated people. Most of them got their PhD from abroad from the best universities you can think of. If you need those capable hands we have them, but we don’t have the opportunity. And we play politics in a way that we always follow the ruling party. Everybody knows that Ogulagha kingdom is 100% PDP. So, let them think of us. It is very important, and also we need more projects. Thank you.
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