The 38th Oba of Benin Kingdom, Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, has been reported to have joined his ancestors. The Palace formally announced his passing on today, Friday.
The monarch’s death was announced by the Iyase of Benin Kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe. This was a report that he had for long, been ill.
Oba Erediauwa succeeded his father, Oba Akenzua II, in a ceremony held in Benin City, on 23 March 1979. He was born in 1923 and before he was crowned as Oba, he was known as Prince Solomon, Aiseokhuoba, Igbinoghodua Akenzua.
Late Oba attended Edo College, Benin City, Government College, Ibadan then Yaba College, before going to King’s College, Cambridge to study Law and Administration. He joined the Eastern Nigeria Civil Service in 1957 as a District Officer, later moving to the Federal Civil Service where he retired as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health in 1973.
For a short period he was the regional representative of Gulf Oil. In 1975 he was appointed Commissioner for Finance in Bendel State during the Military Administration of Major-General George Agbazika Innih. Ascending to the throne as the 38th Oba of Benin on 23 March 1979.
During this period, he several times acted as a peacemaker between politicians. For example, he intervened in a dispute between Abia State governor Orji Uzor Kalu and Tony Anenih, Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party Board of Trustees, and resolved another face-off involving Anenih and former Edo State Governor, Lucky Igbinedion.
More recently, he tried to broker peace between the feuding members of Edo State House of Assembly. It would be recalled that his wife, Queen Esther died about a year ago.
Reacting to the demise of the Oba, the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole said: “Our hearts are heavy, laden with pains and grief, at the announcement of the passing on to glory of Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa of Benin, our highly revered Oba, a distinguished Edo numero uno, an accomplished Nigerian, a seasoned bureaucrat, quintessential unifier, unique personage and exemplary Omo N’Oba, whose reign brought distinction, immense class, finesse and integrity to traditional institution in Edo state and the country at large.
“His carriage comes with an élan that was peculiar with the reverence of royalty. His uncommon courage was symbolic of the can-do spirit of the Edo mind. His unity of purpose was not in doubt even as he used his revered position to promote constructive engagement amongst all shades of opinion and culture in Edo state. As a thorough-bred bureaucrat, rising to the pinnacle of his career as a Federal Permanent Secretary, he understood the dynamics and intricacies of governance. He was the alternative voice to the many voiceless in our society, calling government attention to issues of development and transparent governance, without minding whose ox is gored. He was brave, fearless, punchy and instructive in his verbal and written messages.
“To us at the Edo state Government, he was our strongest supporter; both in his uncommon faith in our ability and his readiness to offer uncommon advice to sharpen public discourse in our shared commitment to transform Edo state. It gladdens our heart, therefore, that our revered Oba was alive to witness the positive transformation of Edo state under his reign, and for standing with us through thick and thin in the course of making the Edo economy a treasure to behold. Being part of that eloquent history of transformation before his reunion with his ancestors gives us further reassurance that he will occupy a special pride of place in the hereafter.
“We are enveloped with a deep sense of nostalgia that our great Oba, a great-grandfather, grandfather, father, uncle and iconoclastic royal father of exemplary carriage and conduct, who sustained the dignity of the average Edo mind, has joined his ancestors. We are, however, encouraged by the fact that another great son of the Great Benin Kingdom, His Royal Highness, Edaiken N’Uselu, Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, who is already showing manifest quintessential attributes of his great father, will step into his father’s big shoes.
“Edo people will miss our iconoclastic royal father of the great Benin Kingdom. Nigerians and Nigeria will miss this great exemplar of a Royal Father, an Oba of distinction and integrity. Adieu until we meet to part no more.
“Oba gha to kpere, ise.” [myad]