Dignitaries from all walks of life yesterday converged on Benin City, the Edo State capital, to witness the coronation of the 40th Oba of Benin.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the colourful ceremony witnessed by the leading traditional rulers and political leaders across the country.
Former Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, received his staff of office as Oba Ewuare II.
Oba Ewuare was crowned at about 2.am on Thursday at the Usama Palace by the Usama N’ Ihinron otherwise known as the Edion headed by Chief Oliha.
After Oba Ewuare II was crowned, he used a white handkerchief to cover his mouth as it is customary, before Chief Ihama presented him to the gathering.
He was presented to the people at the Usama Palace but the name was kept secret until it was announced shortly before he got the staff of office from Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who along with Governor-elect Godwin Obaseki, paid the traditional homage to the Oba, by kneeling down and raising their right hands up.
Other members of the Usama N’ Ihinron are Chiefs Edohen, Ezomo, Ero, Eholo N’ Ire, Oloton and Edaiken.
Usama Palace was the first palace built by Prince Oronmiyan before Oba Ewedo moved the palace to the present location in the 15th century.
In line with tradition, Oba Ewuare II had to follow the ancient path as did Oba Ewedo to ascend the throne.
Oba Ewuare II left Usama Palace at about1:30pm dressed in full regalia made of coral beads with the crown on his head.
Before he left Usama, a He-goat was slaughtered at the gate while Chief Ihama, accompanied by Chief Leteman poured libation to pray to the ancestors.
He was held by Chief Osa and Chief Osuan, two Chiefs whose ancestors were twin brothers that escorted Prince Oromiyan from Uhe (Ife).
At the Palace of Chief Oloton, Oba Ewuare II stopped to pay homage and performed some rites.
He also stopped at the Iwehen N’ Ewaise shrine for some rituals and rites before proceeding to cross the River Omi Oteghele.
Amidst shouts of joy by the crowd, Oba Ewuare II crossed the river and met 92 years old Chief Samson Edogun who had assembled a mock army to fight any enemies of the Oba that would attempted to stop the Oba from reaching Urhokpota.
Oba Ewuare II arrived Urhokpota hall at about 3:30pm where the ceremonial coronation was performed by the Usama N’ Ihinron and the name publicly announced.
It was Chief Oliha that told the gathering the new name after conferring with the Oba.
Vice President Osinbajo, who read the president’s address, described the late Oba Erediauwa as one of the most principled and forthright Nigerians he ever met.
President Buhari said: “Your Royal majesty in the history of the Benin People is not just a source of pride to the Edos but to Nigerians and indeed African people because it is a tradition of resistance to the colonial oppression to egalitarianism and superior administration.
“This ceremony is not just for pageantry and fun fare. Indeed your walk through the kingdom to this place of your coronation is a source of obligation of privilege and protecting the personal and communal right of the people and promoting their wellbeing.
“We are gratified that with your meritorious service as ambassador to various nations 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.”
Governor Adams Oshiomhole recalled how the late Oba Erediauwa helped him to succeed as a governor.
Oshiomhole stated it was through the counsel of the late Erediauwa that helped him to develop the state especially in the construction of the six-lane Airport road.
He said Oba Ewuare had got the right tutelage to step into the shoes of his father.
“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.”