I was about four years old in 1979 when He (HRH Prince Solomon Akenzua)Erediauwa as his traditional nomenclature.
While growing up, his handsome look, iconic mien and persona and epistemic sense of judgment were of great inspiration to me. I had prayed to meet him on a royal visit.
I had several privileged meetings were I escorted dignitaries to the revered Palace of the Oba, and I met him at a very close range.
Some of these visits were political and others were related to socio-cultural advocacy were Non-governmental organization based. By the grace of God and the ancestors on our land , on the 3rd of November 2008, I eventually made a had a royal courtesy call on the revered adorable Oba Erediauwa were I was the subject matter. As the Founder and President of the Benin National Congress, I had requested the Oba’s His Royal blessing over the first ever Benin National Summit aimed at proclaiming a set of pan-Benin aspirations as the Benin Agenda.
As an organization, various committees were constituted to take care of the substantive and logistical aspects of the event. articulate the template, encompassing the theme, topics, guest speakers, discussants, moderators, and post event communique anchor personalities. Finally, the Oba needed to be briefed and to make inputs and or bless the project.
On a glorious Day in the Palace of His Royal Majesty Omo’n’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Erediauwa, I was introduced by the Secretary of the Benin Traditional Council – Chief Osaro Idah. On hand with me on this remarkable visit was Dr. Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri MON, who had pledged to singlehandedly finance the program’s budget singlehandedly, fellow BNC members and executives were in attendance to add color to my presentation. After introductory formalities on our (visitors) side, I gave a comprehensive graphic report breakdown of our plans for the epochal summit.
Reading from a proposed summit budget I informed the Oba Monarch that the expenditures for the proposed summit will include as a – 3 days ceremonies, covering round trips for 11 invited guests from America and Europe, hotel reservations for 50 delegates representing Edo South Senatorial District, representatives of sociocultural, religious, professional, market and student groups; pre and post event publicity; souvenir highlighting the sordid state of our moats, our City and hinterlands and other expenses.
The substantive dimension of the summit would include: ; a comparative essay on our glorious past before the 1897 massacre, and systematic appropriation of our territories and mineral resources in favor of Ondo and Delta States;; the ‘EGIARU’ syndrome; and above all our paradigmatic responses to resolve these issues with the anticipated inputs from numerous guests and discussants.
I concluded my presentation by declaring that the proposed budget sum for the event was #13.1m Naira, and that the gentleman that accompanied me before the esteemed presence of His Majesty – Dr. Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri MON had pledged to singlehandedly undertake the sponsorship of the program; if the Oba endorses it by issuing a formal letter of approval, and that my bringing him to His Majesty was for him to affirm the assurances he gave to me and the BNC.
The Oba thereafter mandated two Chiefs – Chief Igho Osagie, and Chief Ize Iyamu to pray for us. He said it was a rare gesture for two Chiefs to pray for visitors, and that he made the order because of his level of joy and gratitude for the initiative; and that he was convinced that the proposed summit will ” mark a turning point in his age-long quest for the unity of the Benins”. He jokingly queried why I ran to Port Harcourt to meet Dr. Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri MON, without coming first to the Palace to hint him on my heartfelt thoughts on such a germane proposal, as I lay flat on the floor before His Majesty to explain my rationale for first going to Dr. Edebiri before going to the Oba’s Palace, the Oba personally rose in my defense “Ogha fu’we egbe re, tu we ne emwin Igho ghe rue idobo” translated to mean – (you wanted to save me the trouble of funding the project).
He thereafter requested his Chiefs to comment on the project, he particularly asked Chief Emovon – a former Minister to comment, but the Chief humbly declined comments. Other Chiefs took turns to salute our thoughtfulness and foresights behind the summit’s intelligentsia conceptualization.
Prince Edun Akenzua queried such a concept without consultation with Enigies, and that he was impressed however that the proposal appreciated the invaluable presence and inputs from Enigies. He advised that in future, inputs from Enigies would have been sought into the draft before tabling it before His Royal Majesty. Later, the former Minister offered to speak, the Oba jokingly cautioned him against resenting the idea. On his part, the Chief said his problem was not with the project, but with the organization floating it. He noted that the Benin National Congress was fond of carrying itself as though it is the apex group of the Benins.
The Oba interjected immediately, and said, Chief Emovon, do we have an apex Benin group???? yes , Your Majesty, he replied, the Benin Forum to be precise, Your Majesty. The Oba descended on him, is it not you and your cohorts that poorly steered the Benin Forum despite its lofty goals ? ??? I cautioned you previously against dissenting remark, now, see how you have exposed….. … …. He added that, in all his reading of BNC publications, he has never seen such alleged tendency, and that in actual fact, the BNC deserves commendations by the Palace for its astute vigilance, projection and defense on issues pertaining to the Benins and Edo at large.
He thereafter endorsed the project, and nominated Chief Osaro Idah to liaise with us to fine-tune arrangements for its success, and to facilitate his endorsement in writing to us.
Sadly, we never got that letter, and the event never came to being. At any rate, while that project may have been truncated due to coterie of special interests, there has been other event through the years and in the coming years that have sought to address and proffer solutions to the fundamental political, economic, social, geographical and cultural issues afflicting our people.
His reign was exceptionally laced with warmth, peace and edifying quest for unity.
Written by: Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo, President, Benin National Congress, 2nd May 2016.
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