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Oba of Benin visits Ooni of Ife

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His Royal Majesty Uku Akpolopolo Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin Kingdom, was first scheduled to meet with His Imperial Majesty the Ooni of Ife, the Arole Oduduwa Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi II at Oodua Palace in Ile-Ife on April 27, 2018 by 3 p.m. All arrangements for the visit had been made, but at the last moment, the historical visit to the Source of Oodua was shifted to April 28, 2018 by 10 a.m.

The visit, which was Oba of Benin’s continuation of his “thank you” visits to the domains of kings that graced his coronation, finally took place exactly 37 years after the immediate past Oba of Benin Oba Erediauwa last met with the late Ooni Okunade Sijuade in Ife. However, it was Oba Ewuare II’s first visit to the Source of Oduduwa since he ascended the throne.

Expectedly, the meeting of the Oduduwa nephews was not only glamorous, but was a massive and admirable display of the rich cultures of Benin and Yoruba kingdoms. It was a carnival Ife people would not forget in a hurry. Early that morning, the Ooni deployed some of his palace chiefs to a strategic location in Ife town to welcome Oba of Benin and his large entourage. As if this was not enough, at the entrance of Oodua Palace, there were music and cultural displays in anticipation of the visit. These went on until the Oba and his entourage arrived, after which Ooni Palace messengers made their appearance.

The similarity in the cultural display by Benin and Ife cultural troupes was a clear attestation to the fact that these two peoples truly have a lot in common.

Prominent traditional rulers present at the occasion alongside notable Ife indigenes that joined the Ooni to receive Oba Ewuare II and his entourage were, the Orangun of Ila, Oba Wahab Oyedotun, Alara of Ilaramoko Ekiti and Obasewa of Ife, Chief John Odeyemi.

Others were, Alhaji Isola Awotorebo, who was one time Minister of Water Resources, Senator Segun Bamigbetan Baju, a former Ambassador to Cuba and Hon. Rotimi Makinde, as well as a host of other dignitaries.

In his opening remarks, Oba Ewuare II, said: “I feel very much at home here. I pray that the spirit of our father, Oranmiyan will always be with you, as you manage this very sacred throne of Oduduwa admirably.”

Oba Ewuare II went further to speak on the security challenges facing the country, illegal migration and human trafficking, kidnapping and armed banditry, saying all these are as a result of the country’s porous borders, especially in the Northeast Region. He said his visit to Ile-Ife, the Source, was to foster a better understanding between Benin and Ife kingdoms, while emphasising the bonding factor between Ile-Ife and Benin people, which he said was Oranmiyan, the progenitor of Obas of Benin Kingdom.

In his response, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi II said: “If not for time, I would have loved for us to visit the place Oranmiyan was buried. He was world’s foremost hunter and that’s what this artifact I will be presenting to you represents, Your Majesty. Oranmiyan was a Prince of Ile-Ife, who became the first king of Benin. He went from there to become the first king of Oyo and returned to become the sixth king of Ile-Ife, where he eventually lived, died and was buried.

“This visit will be used to solidify our relationship. Ife will continue to protect what belongs to us as people of similar heritage. I thank you for keeping Benin culture and tradition intact. Without culture, we can’t grow as a nation.”

On the issue of security raised by Oba Ewuare, the Ooni enjoined royal fathers in the country to do all within their powers to assist all political office holders, especially political leaders, to tackle security challenges in the country. He said community policing should be one of the options to be employed, as it will afford traditional rulers a prominent role that will enable them use their subjects to monitor security issues in their domains.

Thereafter, the two monarchs visited a place known in Ile-Ife as “Orun Oba Ado,” the burial ground of some Benin Obas until 200 years back, when the practice was stopped. The place is now a heritage site. Both kings paid homage to souls of the departed Obas. Prayers were offered for the guidance and protection of the two kings during the visit.

Later that day, the Ooni led his guest and his entourage to Government House in Osogbo to pay a courtesy visit to Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who hosted them to a dinner reception.

At the Government House, Oba Ewuare II emphasised the importance of promoting peaceful coexistence among Nigerians, as that is the panacea for harmony in the country.

He said: “I want you to mobilise your colleagues in the Nigerian Governors Forum to address the issue of insecurity in the country and do something to stop the unwarranted killings in Benue, Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Edo and other parts of the country. Nigerians cherish their comfort and peaceful environment so much, thus we are charging those at the helm of affairs to do everything humanly possible to guarantee peace for Nigerians. It is unfortunate this type of thing is going on in our land. We would want something to be done about this situation as soon as possible.”

Ooni Ogunwusi expressed delight at the Benin monarch’s visit, saying it was an affirmation that Yoruba people would continue to be united. He said the visit demonstrated the love, unity and cohesion between the people of Benin and the whole of Yoruba-speaking states in Nigeria.

Governor Aregbesola, in his response, said efforts were in top gear to tackle security menace in the country. He described the gruesome killings in some parts of the country as criminal and acts of lawlessness, which were beyond the issues of farmers/herdsmen clashes or disagreements. The governor said the wanton killings were recently discussed at the last National Executive Council meeting held in Abuja. He assured that the killings by supposed herdsmen would soon be a thing of the past.

Later that evening, Oba Ewuare II and his entourage departed Osogbo for Benin City at the conclusion of the one-day visit.


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