History was made in the ancient kingdom of Benin on October 20 when the erstwhile Edaiken N’Uselu, Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, ascended the throne of his forefathers as the 40th Oba of Benin. He assumed the name, Ewuare N’Ogidigan II, bringing back memories of his illustrious ancestor and predecessor on the throne, Ewuare I, who reigned between 1440 and 1473.
The coronation was the climax of a ten-day long programme of activities which heralded his ascension to the throne. It was an opportunity, once again, for the Binis and their many sons and daughters all over the world to reaffirm their loyalty to their rich history and culture which are celebrated all over the world.
The current Benin Ruling House, which started with the emergence of Oranmiyan, with his son, Eweka I, succeeding him, is one of the longest and unbroken ruling dynasties in the world. Its many unique adventures and achievements are captured in history and have continued to inspire its proud people and an appreciative world.
We join the rest of the nation and, indeed, the world in congratulating the new Oba of Benin, the government and entire people of Edo State on the successful conclusion of the ascension rites, which ended with a thanksgiving service on Sunday, October 23, at the Holy Arousa Church in Benin.
Outgoing Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, presented the Staff of Office to the revered Oba of Benin. That aspect of the ceremony attested to the interplay of powers between the traditional institution and the modern state, and the seamless transmission of power to the new Oba.
His Royal Majesty, Ewuare II, has been well groomed for the high office which he occupies today. The Benin royal system is hinged on the doctrine of primogeniture, so, he was well aware from birth of the special role which destiny bestowed on him. Nothing was spared by his great predecessors in office, his grandfather, Oba Akenzua II and his father, Oba Erediauwa, in preparing him for this critical role.
The new Oba attended Edo College and Immaculate Conception College, Benin, for his secondary school education. He also trained in some of the best institutions abroad. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Cardiff in the UK and a Masters degree in Public Administration from Rutgers Graduate University, New Jersey in the USA.
After his formal education, the new Oba served as an intern at the United Nations before returning to the country to work with the foreign affairs parastatal, the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). He also worked with the Board of Directors of the Integrated Data Service, a Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) where he served as a member. He has also served as Adviser on Socio-Economic Development to his home state government of Edo.
His grooming for office continued with his service in the diplomatic service where he served the nation with distinction. He was appointed Ambassador in 1997 and posted to Sweden with concurrent accreditation to the Scandinavian countries of Finland and Denmark. That was in the Abacha era when the country was burdened with a pariah status in the comity of nations. The Omo N’Oba saw an opportunity to use his unique pedigree and access to advocate for a country badly in need of friends.
Little wonder then, that the Olusegun Obasanjo government that came shortly after deemed it proper to retain his services as Ambassador to Angola. He continued in his service to fatherland in the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua who appointed him as Ambassador to Italy with concurrent accreditation to The Vatican and Albania in 2007. It was a rich and expansive tour of duty which yielded many gains for the country, the benefits of which the country is still reaping today.
Now, it is time for Oba Ewuare II to fulfill his unique destiny. Watchers of Benin royalty will easily appreciate the critical role it has been playing in harnessing the fortunes and perpetuating the culture of the Binis worldwide. It has also kept the people well reminded of their deep and longstanding associations with other historical sons and daughters of the kingdom spread beyond the frontiers of the present Edo State and Nigeria.
Ewuare II has assured all at his coronation of his desire to sustain the legacy of peace which his late father and eminent predecessor in office, Oba Erediauwa, left for him and the kingdom. His ascension is expected to witness the rapid industrialisation of the ancient kingdom and the entire state. This has been one challenge that has dogged many administrations in the state.
We wish Oba Ewuare the Second, a prosperous reign on the throne of his ancestors.