The choice of the new Oba, which came soon after the traditional rites of his late father, Oba Eredieuwa Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo followed the decision of the Benin kingmakers, especially, the Iyase, (traditional prime minister) and Edo state government to have a worthy successor to the throne. Unlike the long drawn battle for succession, which often marks the naming of successors to the throne in other climes, his emergence was not contested.
Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa , a career diplomat, becomes the new Oba of Benin.
After a very successful career as Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Norway and Angola, Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa is now about to head one of the country’s most very notable kingdoms. He has been approved as the new Oba of Benin by the Edo State Government.
As he climbs the throne of his forefathers in a vital cultural ceremony soon, making him the 39th Oba of Benin, in the lineage of his great grandfather, Oba Ovonranwen N’Ogbaisi, who was sacked by the British forces in 1897, when the ancient kingdom was invaded and its cultural treasures forcefully looted, the new Oba becomes the official custodian of the much culture of the Edo people.
Already, all over Nigeria, those who could recall his leadership qualities during his career service and as an international businessman, commend his patience and the zeal to learn and imbibe the sterling qualities of a good king throughout the reign of his late father.
Two things make the Benin throne interesting. One is that the Benin monarchy is hereditary, unlike what obtains in other kingdoms. Secondly, the power house in Benin City is the Oba’s palace, with over a century old of well-preserved history and relics. Sculptural bronze casts, brass works, stone pieces and relics of all kinds, comprising plaques and other forms of art, depicting the land’s history, greets any first time visitor. Major events in the history of the land are also richly preserved in mural sculptures displayed on the walls and panel doors of the Oba’s palace in Benin.
The journey to the coveted throne began recently when the new Crown Prince was formally installed, amid pomp and pageantry, as the Edaiken of Uselu, immediately after going through some traditional rites.
The excitement was expected following keen interest of the people in the throne and the occupier. As the Edaiken of Uselu, it shows that the Crown Prince had completed most of the vital rite before ascending the throne, including staying in Uselu, his temporary abode for 90 days.
His entry into Benin recently attracted a large crowd of people, who trooped out to see him. Shops and other business outlets were shut as a mark of honour and solidarity with the Crown Prince. The Oba Market and some streets as well as roads to some traditional shrines, were cordoned off by security personnel and manned by colorfully-dressed palace chiefs.
Politicians and top government officials, led by Gov. Adams Oshiomhole, defied the scorching sun to await the arrival of the Crown Prince, whose convoy, including top Benin Chiefs and combined security team, arrived from his private residence in Benin to the palace. Clad in white and red traditional regalia with a pair of dark glasses, Erediauwa, immediately, on arrival, had a brief consultation with the palace chiefs.
Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, born 1953, was a former Nigerian Ambassador to Norway and Angola. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Sociology from the University of Wales. He is a member of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs. Since 1987, he had been active in leading positions within the Nigerian business community, especially, the gas and oil industry.
An excited Eheneden, who was full of gratitude to God and the Benin people, described his journey to the throne as a God-given mission. While reeling out his plans for the kingdom, he said his dream was to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the people as well as attract more development to Benin Kingdom.
Benin history shows that Oba Ewuare was the 13th Oba of Benin, who ruled the kingdom from 1440-1473, and during his rsign, the Benin kingdom conquered Idah in Kogi State, Owo and Akure and some parts of Western Igboland. Ewuare, a shrewd magician who was regarded as a semi-divine monarch, gave Benin City the look of an imperial metropolis.
Similarly, Oba Esigie, 16th Oba of the kingdom (1504-1550), according to history, could field 20,000 warriors in one day. Esigie, in an effort to spread Christianity in his realm sent Ohen Okun, the Olokun priest to the king of Portugal as an ambassador to ask him to send priests to Benin to teach him and his people about the Christian faith. He was also reported to have built churches in the city and this inclused the Holy Arosa Cathedral which still stands in Benin till date. The Oba and the King of Portugal exchanged valuable gifts and a Portuguese Ambassador was accredited to Benin.
Others historical Benin monarchs include Oba Orhogbua, 1550; Akengboi; Oreoghenen; Ewuakpe; Ozuere; Akenzua; Eresonyen; Obanosa; Erediauwa Osemwede; Ogbebor; Odinovba Adolor; Aiguobasinmwin Eweka II; Godfrey Akoro Eweka Akenzua
The 38th Oba Erediauwa, (1978-2016), like his father, was an accomplished administrator, who used his wealth of experience to rule the people. He was educated in England’s prestigious Cambridge University, as a historian and a lawyer, and as an astute administrator, he rose to the top of both Regional and Federal Civil Service, he worked with, and also advised the former Federal Military Heads of State and some former civilian government officials.
Meanwhile, as the Crown Prince undergoes some rites with the kingmakers, in preparedness for the task ahead, residents of Benin and perhaps Edo people in Diaspora, are full of expectations about the reign of the new Oba in the ancient city.
Bini people, known for their art and rich cultural heritage, also expect the new monarch to sustain the glamour that the late Oba Akenzua and his father, Omo n’ Oba Erediauwa brought to the throne of Benin. For now, it is a new dawn for the people.