New Oba of Benin Begins His Reign



Eheneden Erediauwa, a former prince, ascends the throne of his father and forefathers in a colourful celebration witnessed by dignitaries from all over the country

BENIN was agog on Thursday, October 20, as Eheneden Erediauwa, a former prince, was crowned as the 40th Oba of Benin Kingdom. The new Oba received his staff office from Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, amidst jubilation, merriments and glamour which pervaded the occasion.

In line with the tradition, Erediauwa used the occasion to announce that he had chosen to be called Oba Emuare II and would be addressed as Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolopkolo, Oba Ewuare II, after Oba Ewuare I, who reigned in 1440 AD.

The monarch was crowned in the early hours of Thursday at the Usama palace before he proceeded on foot accompanied by a retinue of Benin chiefs, members of traditional societies and thousands of residents to the symbolic Omi River, where he was paddled through a bridge.

Oba Ewuare II later moved to the Urho-Okpota hall, amidst cheers, dancing and drumming from a surging crowd of guests and well-wishers, where he received the staff of office from Oshiomhole later in the afternoon.

Prominent among those who witnessed the event are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari; Governor Abiola Ajumobi of Oyo State; Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State. Others are prominent traditional rulers from across the 36 states, including Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife; Sa’ad Abubakar III, Sultan of Sokoto; Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano; Alfred Achebe, Obi of Onitsha; Yahaya Abubakar, Etsu Nupe and Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III, Otaru of Auchi,.

In his maiden address as the Oba of Benin, Ewuare said that the two-week coronation activities provided him the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the cultural ideals of the Benin Kingdom, which he said, would be sustained during his reign.

Thus, he promised to pay due attention to matters concerning the uplift of the Benin tradition, security, welfare of the people and palace reformation.

Besides, he said: “We shall carry out reforms in palace administration in order to be adequately responsive to our people’s sincere and deep longing for justice, equity and stability.

“We shall strive to ensure that conflicts are resolved between individuals, families and communities along the principles of social justice. We shall use cultural diplomacy as a veritable tool for the promotion of harmonious relationships with our neighbours far and near.”

The Oba said that having shrunk to one state from parts of Lagos, Asaba and even Dahomey, it was imperative to sustain the Benin Empire by promoting the language from one generation to the other, through its enshrinement in the school curricula.

He also said that to promote tourism, through arts and crafts, two special purpose vehicles – Benin Royal Dynasty Trust and Benin Royal Academy for the Performing Arts, in collaboration with the Benin Traditional Council, had already been established.

The new monarch, who paid glowing tributes to Oba Erediauwa, his late father and mother, described his father as the true symbol of the Benin cultural heritage, adding that he enjoyed and benefited from his father’s love more than anyone else.

Hence, in his honour, the new monarch announced the establishment of the Oba Erediauwa Annual Lecture Series, through the investment of N10m in a trust fund, saying that the proceeds would be used to support an annual and well researched ýoration on any subject in Benin history, public administration or Edo language.

Oba Ewuare II also bestowed a posthumous title of Iyoba on Ikuoyemwen Akenzua, his late mother, and lauded her efforts in teaching him to work hard in order to succeed.

He added, “I therefore stand before you as the 40th Oba of Benin, a direct descendant of Oranmiyan, the son of Oduduwa, whom the Benin people of that era knew as Ekaladeran, their self-exiled prince who later became ruler in Ile-Ife. The Benin people recognise Oduduwa and his origin but it is not our place to force this recognition on others outside our boundaries.

“The history of the world is a shared one and there will certainly be unexpected connections in the future. This is, thus, a time for unity and not divisiveness, a time for mutual respect, recognising that our wholeness as people is so much more than the sum of our parts.”

Thereafter, Oba Ewuare II unveiled his new royal crest as he also urged well-meaning Nigerians to contribute to the development of the state.

In his congratulatory message, President Buhari expressed confidence that he would build on the legacies of his later father, whom he described as a man of integrity.

Buhari said further: “We are gratified that with your meritorious service as ambassador to various nation and you sterling work in the oil and gas stand you out in fulfilling the obligation of your ancestor.

“All those who know you are convinced that you will discharge your responsibility with great wisdom and integrity that your great ancestors have always displayed.

“On behalf of the president and government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I congratulate you on this historic occasion and assure you of support, especially the Royal Dynasty Trust, for youth employment and poverty alleviation.”

Oshiomhole, who also made history as the first civilian governor to present a staff of office to an Oba of Benin, said that Oba Ewuare II emergence was a unifying factor among the different political divides in the state. He also pledged the support of the state government to ensure the continuous development of the state.

“I have no doubt that this kingdom will grow from strength to strength. We are fortunate to have a new Oba tutored in the finesse of royal tradition. My successor Godwin Obaseki has assured that he will do better than I did,” the governor said.

Oba Ewuare II was born October 20, 1953. He attended  the famous Edo College in Benin from 1965 to 1967. He later went to Immaculate Conception College between 1968 and 1970 before moving to England, where he obtained his Advanced Level General Certificate of Education from South Thames College, South-West London.

The monarch later graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Sociology from the University of Wales, UK. He also has a Master of Public Administration degree from Rutger University graduate school in New Jersey, United States. He was a graduate intern at the United Nations between 1981 and 1982 and is a member of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.

Like his father, the new Oba is a seasoned administrator and a diplomat in the Scandinavian region, Europe and Africa. He is well-travelled. He has served as Nigeria’s ambassador to the Kingdom of Sweden, with concurrent accreditation to Norway, Denmark and the Republic of Finland.

On July 21, 2008, he was appointed and sworn in as Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary of Nigeria to Italy.

While serving as the Nigerian ambassador to Angola and characteristic of the meaning of his first name, Eheneden, meaning Peace, he was instrumental to the reconciliation meeting between President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and other officers of the late Jonas Savimbi, Angolan rebel leader for several years.

The new Oba is also known for his business acumen with interest in oil and gas.

—  Oct 31, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT


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