How pope resolved rift between Igbinedion and Oba Erediauwa
Oba Rufus Olarewaju Ajayi Ogidi Olu Obagbaja Arolagbade II, Oba of Gbomina Ekiti, who was taking refuge at the Oba’s Palace in Benin, when the incident occurred, narrated to Palace Watch what transpired that very night.
He said: “The first thing most chiefs and commoners must realise is that nobody is bigger than the throne of his people. And this is why a man with such a towering status and credential as Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, prostrated himself, when greeting the current Ooni of Ife, Oba Babatunde Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, while on a courtesy visit to the Ooni’s palace. What this action simply means is that no matter how big or great one is, you cannot be bigger than the throne of your ancestors.
“Chief Nosakhare Isekhure has no other option than to respect the Oba. He must henceforth realise he is not serving the current Oba, but the throne of the Benin Kingdom. I understand that in Benin, the title of Isekhure is hereditary from father to son. If I were him, I would contact prominent Obas and traditional rulers in Nigeria, and even the Queen of England to intervene in this matter to help me placate the Oba, so that this matter can be resolved once and for all.
“Igbinedion is a very wise man. If I should tell you the extent to which he went, when he had similar problem, you won’t believe it. Igbinedion went to the Catholic Pope in Rome to help him intervene in the matter. He made this move, when nobody in Nigeria was ready to assist him in resolving the matter. So, the former Catholic Pope called the late Oba Erediauwa on phone and said, “Please, I know that Chief Igbinedion would have wronged you, but no matter what happened, forgive him.” Of course, the Oba would not open his mouth to tell everybody what happened. So, they systematically and traditionally restored Chief Igbinedion to the palace in the dead of the night, when nobody was watching and would know what was happening. And Igbinedion knelt down before Oba Erediauwa and everything was settled. I was a life witness to this incident.
“Now, the incident that drove me to take refuge in the Oba of Benin’s palace as a young prince then, and made me witness such goes thus: I was a lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Delta State University. At that time, there was a very big problem between the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ovie Igun and I. He was bent on getting me out of the university system, over allegations that amounted to no criminality under any known law. Of course, what I did was to challenge him, by staging a one-man protest. Not only that, I also dragged him before the then AIG in Zone 5, Benin. I equally petition the House of Assembly as to the reasons he could not take certain actions and why he was pursuing some actions unrelentingly.
Expectedly, the Vice-Chancellor, who was a little bit autocratic, did not take this kindly. At this stage, he felt he could use my being a Yoruba man against me in Delta State, by saying, why should this Yoruba boy come to Delta State to cause some problems? Chase him away. At this stage, I ran to my father as a prince and pleaded with him to meet with the late Oba Erediauwa in his Palace in Benin City. That was how the Oba accommodated me in his palace for 13 days. The Oba immediately sent a letter to the V.C. saying, “I have seen so…so person, who is a lecturer in your university. He has told me so…so thing. Please, make sure nothing happens to him. Also, make sure he is not sacked or disgraced. However, if anything would happen to him, refer back to me, since I have intervened in this matter.”
“It was at this period that I was with the Oba in the Benin palace, when the matter was completely resolved. It was during this time that Chief Igbinedion was brought before the late Oba Erediauwa in the dead of the night to apologise, and his disagreement with the Palace was resolved, and that was how he warmed his way back into the Oba’s heart. Did you hear of anybody settling the matter in Nigeria? No.
“As you might be aware, it is a taboo to arrange a meeting between an Oba and his subject or subjects. My advice, therefore, is for Isekhure to do the needful and get this matter behind him.”