Posted by News Express | 10 April 2021 | 628 times
The congratulatory message of President Muhammadu to Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko as the Olu of Warri-designate, may have brought a spontaneous political solution needed to calm the brewing tension over his selection process, reports FESTUS AKANBI
With President Muhammadu Buhari’s endorsement of the selection of the Olu of Warri-designate, on Tuesday, it is obvious that the coast is clear for the new monarch to ascend the throne of his forebears. The calculation is that the President would have consulted with the Delta State Government before extending its congratulatory message to Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko.
Emiko will be the 21st Olu of Warri and will be crowned after a 90-day seclusion during which he will be schooled in the culture and tradition of the Itsekiri people and kingship protocols. The President’s congratulatory message eventually put official seal to the choice of Emiko, who has distinguished himself in the private sector of the Nigerian economy.
His selection on Monday had drawn protests from some of the principal actors in the Olu of Warri contest. And as the rite of passage for the demised Olu of Warri, HRM Ogiame Ikenwoli Atuwatse 11 continues in the entire Itsekiri land, the reality is that the social and religious activities in the entire three local governments where Itsekiri people are domiciled will no longer remain the same.
Itsekiri people live mainly in the Warri South, Warri North and Warri South West local government areas of Delta State.
The Ceremonies Begin
The ceremony that took place in Itsekiri land on Monday were in two folds- The commencement of the transition ritual in honour of the demised Ikenwoli, and the presentation of his successor, Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko to the public before the latter proceeded on a 90-day seclusion.
A visit to the ancient town of Warri on Tuesday showed that although people were going about their normal activities, the palace was getting set to receive a new occupier, after the mandatory process of seclusion and other traditional rites. At Ajamimogha and other adjourning streets in front of the palace, traditional rites were visible with white cloth being used to cordon off some of these streets.
In spite of the brewing controversy over his choice, people described the Olu-designate, who was educated in Nigeria and abroad, as a man with a large heart, imbued with conflict resolution potential that he garnered from his extensive working experience.
The Man Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko
He was born on April 2, 1984 to Prince Godwin Toritseju Emiko, the late Ogiame Ikenwoli Atuwatse 11 and Gladys Durorike Emiko in Warri, Delta State. Utieyinoritsetsola attended the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Primary School and Adesanoye College, Offa, Kwara State between 1995 and 2001. His search for knowledge took him abroad when he was admitted into Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, United State of America (USA), where he obtained Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and Political Science, while minoring in History and Economics between 2002 and 2006.
Not done with schooling, the Olu-designate went further to earn a Masters of Science degree in Management from Case Western Reserve University in 2007 and returned to Nigeria for his NYSC in 2008. He served in the Public Affairs Department of the National Petroleum Investment Management Service (NAPIMS), among other experiences in the private sector and entrepreneurship.
His search for better offer and bigger responsibilities took him to Shell Nigeria between 2009 and 2010, where he worked as an officer at Shell Nigeria Closed Pension Fund Administrator (SNCFPA) and Government Relations. Between 2010 and 2012, he worked with Sahara Energy. Determined to carve a niche as an employer of labour, Emiko set up two promising organisations, -Noble Nigerian Ltd and Coral Curator Ltd. He is also a director, Ocean Marine Security Ltd and directors, Gulf of Guinea Ltd and Vessel link Nig Ltd.
In 2014, he married Ivie Okunbo, the daughter of billionaire Capt. Idahosa Okunbor. The Olu of Warri-Designate is also described as a goal getter, who loves traveling, hiking, swimming, kayaking, football, basketball and American Football. With Itsekiri’s blood flowing in him, it is not a surprise that he is a keen follower of history and he enjoys movies. He is a practising Christian.
Buhari’s Message, a Game Changer
In his message, which was contained in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President also commiserated with the Itsekiri people on the demise of their monarch, Ogiame Ikenwoli Atuwatse 11, which was formally announced on Monday.
Adesina quoted the President as calling for reconciliation after a race for the throne, noting that peradventure any dissension exists, such should be resolved through due process.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari sends sincere greetings to the Itsekiri nation on the announcement of a new Olu of Warri, as pronounced by the Iyatsere of Warri Kingdom.
“The President also condoles with the Itsekiris on the passage of the immediate past Olu, His Royal Majesty Ogiame Ikenwoli, which was equally formally announced.
“President Buhari prays that the Olu-designate, Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, will have a peaceful reign, signposted by massive development of Itsekiri land.
“He counsels love and reconciliation after a pulsating race for the throne, noting that peradventure any dissension exists, such should be resolved through due process.
“As the Itsekiri nation mourns their departed Olu for three months, President Buhari prays godly comfort for them, and a smooth ascendancy for the incoming monarch.”
Watchers of the unfolding drama said the President’s statement has challenged the Itsekiris home and abroad to come together and resolve whatever differences that could mar the succession process.
Bone of Contention
Problem started when a leading title holder in the kingdom, the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Ayiri Emami, had contested the selection process. It was gathered that Emami, who headed the Olu Advisory Council and Ojoye-Isan before his suspension, is mulling a legal challenge. Sources said the Emami-led Ojoye-Isan, a council of five high-ranking chiefs, disqualified Prince Emiko because his mother is not of Bini or Itsekiri ethnic groups, in line with extant edict. His mother is a Yoruba from Ogun State.
But, the Ginuwa I Ruling House, under the Olori-Ebi, insisted on the candidate. However, with the President’s endorsement, it is obvious the coast is clear for Emiko.
The Rites of Passage for the Demised Olu
Announcing the demise of the former Olu of Warri, the Iyatsere of Warri Kingdom and acting Chairman of Olu’s Advisory Council, Chief Johnson Atserunleghe, at a traditional ceremony in Ode Itsekiri, the homestead of the Itsekiri stated that there would be no celebrations in Warri Kingdom for the next three months. He stated this while declaring a period of mourning in the kingdom, as a part of activities to grieve the passing of the Warri monarch.
“There shall be no merrymaking of any kind anywhere in Iwere land. All Itsekiri sons and daughters must tie their wrappers upside down during the duration,” Atserunleghe said.
The announcement was immediately opposed by the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Ayiri Emami, who contended that there had been a breach of law.
The Kingdom of Warri (Warri Kingdom) or Iwere Kingdom (1480-1848) was part of the Nigerian traditional states based in the city of Warri in Delta State. The Olu or Ogiame (King) of Warri now only rules the Itsekiri people living in the town of Warri in the Delta State of Nigeria as a traditional leader.
According to Bini and Itsekiri histories, Olu Ginuwa, a prince of Benin Kingdom founded the Warri kingdom about 1480. In the 15th century, it was visited by Portuguese missionaries. At the beginning of the 17th century, a son of the reigning Olu was sent to Portugal and returned with a Portuguese wife. Their son Antonio Domingo was Olu of Warri in the 1640s. Olu Erejuwa, who reigned from about 1720 to 1800, expanded the kingdom politically and commercially, using the Portuguese to further its independence of Bini and to establish control over a wider area.
Later Warri served as the base for Portuguese and Dutch slave traders. Warri became a more important port city during the late 19th century, when it became a centre for the palm oil trade and other major items such as rubber, palm products, cocoa, groundnuts, hides, and skins. Warri was established as a provincial headquarters by the British in the early 20th century. (THISDAY)
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