• Tony Igele

Oba Ewuare II Acceptance Speech

We are going to miss Oshiomhole because he has done very well for Edo State. No doubt, you have said it all, that your successor will do as much as possible to try and fill your own big shoes that you will be leaving behind, thank you for letting the world know that I am already filling my father’s shoes and I hope the governor-elect will do his best to fill your shoes”, the new Oba of Benin said. Our heritage, our pride “Today marks the end of activities described by custom and tradition for my ascension to the revered throne of this ancient kingdom. I accept with faith and humility the destiny which ordained that henceforth I shall be the embodiment and the expression of culture and aspirations and history of our people. As the principal actor in the event of several months that led to this position, I have had the unique opportunity to reflect on the values and essence of our historical continuum. What royalty represents to our people is justice, peace and unity.

These ideals shall be reawakened and be sustained in the dispensation that will soon unfold. The time-tested, rancour free succession process bequeathed to us in our customs and tradition is a great tribute to the far-sightedness and wisdom of our fore-fathers and our people. This collective achievement is a veritable proof of our ability to manage our own affairs. It makes us very proud of our heritage. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me begin by paying deserved tribute to my illustrious father, Omo N’oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, CFR, who joined his ancestors after 37 years of glorious reign. With all due modesty, I must admit that as a son and heir, that I enjoyed and benefited from his fatherly love and wisdom more than anyone else. His visionary leadership, courage and dedication to our cultural heritage ensured that the legacies of several century was preserved.

He was a true symbol of our cultural identity. Throughout his reign, his palace was a warm and welcome home for all who had need for good counsel, guidance and material assistance. Traditional rulers from far and near consulted him for clarity on touchy issues. Or to resolve a vast range of socio-cultural problems. Ethnicity, religion and social status were no barriers to reaching him for advise and support. He was a good and caring father to us all. He led our common cause with dignity, tact and wisdom. In the community of royalty, he was exemplary and hence he was revered throughout this kingdom and beyond. Though for him, our culture and tradition was his priority but he was open to new ideas and respectful of progress made through social and scientific innovations. Time constraint will not allow me to give full account of all my father’s achievement or the benefit his reign brought to Benin Kingdom, our state, our country and indeed, humanity.

“I hope this will provide an opportunity to strengthen contacts and build linkages and will compliment and enhance excellent bilateral relationships that already exist between our countries. We shall uphold and maintain the principle of neutrality and none partisanship in political party activities. While our people remain free to play politics in the political party of their choice, we shall, however, continue to pray for and always support the right kind of political leaders who will safeguard the welfare of our people, provide for their basic needs and who will accord due recognition to the traditional institution. We will initiate a cultural renaissance that will focus on tourism promotion, through arts and craft.

To drive this initiative, we have already established two purpose vehicles, namely the Benin Royal Family Trust, in collaboration with the Benin Traditional Council established an office in Igun, Iguewon quarters to enhance the productivity of the bronze casters. The Benin Royal Academy for performing arts will train youths and develop their talents. They will reach out to international choreographers in different parts of the world for the purpose of transforming Benin dance into an international brand. Through this initiatives, we hope to attract tourism to our land and provide jobs for our teeming youths. We shall also support efforts to build partnership and seek international assistance for the restoration of Benin monuments including the revival of the creative and artistic talents of the Binis, which are already globally acknowledged through our rich artefacts.

“It is pertinent at this point to express our deep concern about poverty and the rise in crime and juvenile delinquency in our society. The problem is both a consequence, and it is aggravated by wild spread youth unemployment. The solution will require a well-articulated and structured youth development and empowerment programmes with the active support of government at all levels. We should partner with government to attract domestic and international resources for the establishment of clusters of agro-based industries in each of our seven Local Government Areas.

In this regard, the transformation of Gelegele into an export processing zone. Agro-allied industries shall remain one of our major projects in the state. With the support of the Federal Government, we shall join forces with government at all levels and other well-meaning individuals in pursuing poverty alleviation strategies which will be driven by the Royal Dynasty Trust. We will also partner with relevant government agencies to pursue programmes for the preservation of our forest endowment. To this end, we will establish a prize for the local government in Edo state that is best in annual tree planting competitions.

Today is an important day for us. It marks a turning point in our lives. We will, therefore, do two important things to mark this day. First, to honour the memory of our illustrious father. We establish today Oba Erediauwa Annual Lecture series. For this, the sum of N10million will be invested in a Trust Fund and the proceeds will be used to support an annual well-researched work on any subject in Benin history, public administration or Edo language.

Secondly, we will unveil a new crest which states my motto, meaning no reward without industry. Finally, we appreciate your presence here today especially those who have supported us in various ways. We remain grateful to the multitude of people who line the roads everywhere we passed and all those who worked tirelessly to the success of this event. The show of support and affection for me, in particular, each time I step out of any out door traditional activity since I was initiated into Ewebo up till now has been very amazing.”

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