There have been speculations that the revered Oba of Benin, Omo N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I is in conversation with his ancestors. This has brought about palpable anxiety in Edo State in the last few weeks.
However, in a swift reaction, the Traditional Council has dismissed the rumour that the Monarch has passed on, stating that it was mere speculation that had been on for over six months and lacked truth.
Were the Oba to have passed on, the Benin Traditional Council is the only body to make the announcement after three months.
The Secretary to the council, Mr. Frank Irabor, explained that it was the responsibility of the council to issue a formal statement, if such a development occurs.
Although the spokesperson did not specify whether or not the Oba was hale and hearty, he said that the inability of President Goodluck Jonathan to see the monarch when he recently visited the palace, should not give credence to his rumoured conversation with his ancestors.
Palace sources however confirmed to THISDAY last night that the 91 year old Benin Monarch had been sick for a couple of weeks now.
The source said: “You will notice that when President Goodluck Jonathan came to Benin last week on campaign and visited the palace, the monarch was not available to receive him. Jonathan was received in the palace by the Oba’s chiefs.”
Erediauwa who is in his 35th year as Oba of Benin is a strong supporter of Jonathan. He once advised the President to shun all distractions and remain focused with his transformation agenda, while endorsing him for a second term.
After a meeting with Jonathan in the Presidential Villa by a team led by the Oba’s son, Erediauwa stated that he had been following the Jonathan administration with keen interest.
“I have been praying fervently that the president would succeed and even surpass the expectations of many, bearing the distractions and disturbances in some parts of the country.” he said.
The Oba subsequently endorsed Jonathan for a second term and invited him over to Benin “in the shortest possible time for special blessings.”
This traditional ruler of the Edo people was crowned the 39th Oba of Benin and head of the traditional state of Benin, on 23 March 1979. He was formerly Prince Solomon Akenzua.
The monarch attended Government College, Ibadan (1939–1945), the then Yaba College, Lagos, 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, before joining 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 the former Bendel State during the Military Administration of Major-General George Agbazika Innih.
He is the 39th Oba of the dynasty. He celebrated his 30th anniversary on the throne in 2009 amidst pomp and tradition.
The only major challenge Oba Erediauwa has faced so far during his reign was his suspension by the former military administrator of Edo State, Navy Captain Commodore Anthony Onyearugbulum, in 1998. He tried to make the chairmanship of the council of Obas in Edo State a rotational position, an action seen by many as an affront to the king of the ancient Benin Kingdom. Erediauwa resisted this which led to the dispute with the government.