Penultimate Wednesday, 2nd September, the Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare took time out to appeal to political gladiators in the Edo election to temper their utterances with caution. He counselled against violence and political lethal vibrations, which have taken Edo political temperature to a boiling point. The Oba, typical of his training and career, engaged in diplomatic finesse, as he chronicled Edo’s political odyssey stating why peace should reign in the build-up to the Edo election, now four days away. His debonaire outlook, typifies the grandeur and veneration with which the Benin Monarchy has come to be appreciated. His delivery, extemporaneously, captured the fulcrum of what seems to be politics of desperation by the political actors, who have turned Edo state to petals of blood. Oba Ewuare, the second, has this uncanny style to deliver his punches, in a jocular manner, and has a way to rub them in to achieve maximum impact. As a consumate diplomat, with a cosmopolitan orientation imbued with subliminal humility, what he desires to see is a state that is in the news for the right reasons. Happenings in Edo have caused him and the state sleepless nights.
Oba Ewuare, is not given to frivolities. He cuts the picture of a Royal Majesty that fits the throne of his ancestors. He represents the congeniality of a throne that has survived centuries of attack, tribulations and resistance. Even at a time that the British feasted on the throne, the Benin Kingdom, remains unbowed. It is a kingdom that has survived betrayal, back-stabbing, capriciousness, intolerance, banishment, and deliberate chicanery. When people thought it would buckle, it came out stronger, retaining its suzerainty and modernising its culture and tradition to suit civilisation. Under Governor Obaseki, traditional institutions have been relegated to the background, even when we know they play very significant roles in the affairs of the state. Aside from helping to add content and character to the security architecture of any state, traditional rulers have continued to sustain our cultural heritage and ingenuity to keep our profound history intact.
When the Oba of Benin spoke, he deployed uncommon wisdom and diplomatese. He was brutally frank about the processes that threw up Governor Obaseki in 2016. But what now appears confounding, is how the political differences assumed a frankeistein monster all of a sudden. The dimension of the squabbles is what worries the revered Oba. Governor Obaseki does not respect tradition nor believe in their capacity to contribute to his security architecture. If he respects the throne, he would have availed himself the opportunity of the Oba’s presence to mediate between him and Oshiomhole. At one of such instances, when Oshiomhole heeded the Oba’s call, and emissaries were sent to Governor Obaseki, he chose golf and not the throne. His disdain for the throne explains why he invited the Ooni of Ife to Benin, without the courtesy of allowing him extend fraternities to his counterpart, the Oba of Benin. It also expains why Obaseki reportedly reached out to former President Obasanjo to intervene between him and business mogul, Captain Idahosa Okunbo. If Obaseki were to be a man of peace, he would have utilised the opportunity of the throne and several other thrones in the state, to mediate between him and his benefactor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
If by accident of history or happenstance Godwin Obaseki is re-elected, tougher days await the Benin monarchy. Aside from trying to balkanise the Kingdom, his silence on the attempt to create a kingdom in Gelegele part of Edo state is an arrow, subterraneanly shot for reasons not unconnected to effort to decimate the monarchy. Added to this is Godwin Obaseki’s romance with the Ogiamen family, who claims to be the aborigines, and have repeatedly put the palace at harm’s way through needless litigations and sundry other acts. The latest endorsement of Obaseki’s re-election by the Ogiamen family further strengthens this conspiracy theory.
Besides, when the ancient walls of the palace were observing wear and tear, the Oba, I reliably gathered, had to reach out to Governor Obaseki, if he would be kind enough to help protect and restore sanity and safe the palace walls from capitulating. Designs were made, costs were allotted. The Governor readily agreed to help recover the palace walls. Yearly budgets were made, but nothing was captured to reflect the readiness of the government to intervene. When it was becoming embarrassing to the Oba that the inner buildings were getting exposed to public eyes, and rats, rodents and goats were almost taking over the palace ground, he had to personally reach out to distinguished sons and daughters of Benin descent, to rescue the palace. The Governor completely ignored the project.
The present beautiful walls of the palace is the outcome of that clarion call. The project which is almost concluded, has not only beautified the palace ground, it has helped to arrest the dilapidation of the ancient walls to retain their traditional and historical ingenuity. I remember in 2009 when Oba Erediauwa had to personally write to the Edo Assembly over the state of roads in Benin City and elsewhere, in the wake of the frustrations Oshiomhole suffered in a PDP dominated Assembly. Or when Oshiomhole was to expand the airport road, and some people had complained it would affect the ancient palace walls. Oba Erediauwa gladly consented to the expansion and stated that if the walls would be affected, it would only lead to more beauty. As a King reputed for his wits, he had quipped that modernisation had caught up with the ancient walls, and the walls have given way for a brand new look.
Godwin obaseki is undoubtedly not conversant with Benin tradition and the veneration which the Oba is accorded, this is why he wears black outfits each time he has opportunity to meet with the Oba. Only recently we saw him wearing a different colour. Black coloured outfits are generally not allowed within the precinct of the Palace. White, which represents purity, is often the preferred colour. Despite his origin, Godwin’s cousin, Dr. Pedro Obaseki, had mocked Godwin’s inability to speak the Benin language fluently in reference to his diaspora status. It also explains why Godwin Obaseki would make promise to the Oba, dribbled him until he ended up dribbling himself. Despite his failure to honour his promise to build the palace walls, the Oba rallied round others to make that a reality. Any Benin blood that does not understand the pride, aplomb, pageantry, veneration and respect which the Oba commands, has two things lacking; either he is a foreigner, or one who refuses to learn the tradition when growing up. Both applies to Godwin Obaseki. It further deepens the conspiracy that Godwin Obaseki wants to extract a pound of flesh from the monarchy. A Palace Chief, Victor Ekhator was frustrated out of his nomination into Niger Delta Development Commission covertly by Godwin Obaseki, ditto for Dr. Pius Odubu, former Deputy Governor, and business mogul, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo has been at loggerheads with the Governor.
Captain Hosa’s story is one that raises concerns about the rationale or motive behind Godwin Obaseki’s attempt to pull him down. A proud and thorough-bred Benin son, conversant with its rich history and respect which the monarchy commands, Hosa, is humility personified. An Obaseki second term, would be an accident foretold. He would not only unleash mayhem and anger on all imaginary enemies and bare his fangs like no other, he would pull every straw to balkanise the Benin Monarchy just to rub it in that he is indeed “the Chief Security Officer”. His political opponents would be required to obtain visas before entering Edo state. He would become Lord of the manor, a wounded bull in a China shop, ready to demolish anything in sight. This is why all reasonable Edo sons and daughters must rally round and on Saturday this week, come out to rescue Edo state from the octopoidal grip of a Governor who has since become an intemperate Commander with his faltering Deputy.