A new era beckons…
Meet the man who will be crowned Olu of Warri tomorrow
In a way, providence may have preserved the Olu of Warri throne Godfrey Abiloye Ikenwoli Emiko. It was learnt that shortly before his father, Erejuwa II, the former Olu of Warri died in 1986, he had chosen Ikenwoli of all his sons to succeed him. But Ikenwoli who was at the time a two hundred level student at the University of Benin, was deemed not suitable because the guideline then required that anybody aspiring to be the Olu of Warri must be a university graduate. So, the immediate past Olu of Warri, Ikenwoli’s elder brother who had since graduated, was made the Olu of Warri.
According to reports, rather than be upset that his father’s desire for him to succeed him after his death in 1987 was not heeded by the Olu’s advisory council, the Olu designate bore no malice and worked amicably with Ogiame Atuwatse II until his demise on September 3, 2015. When the kingmakers met at various times to deliberate on who would be selected to replace the deceased Olu, it was gathered that all the kingmakers were unanimous that Ikenwoli should be made the Olu because of his peaceful and meticulous nature. He had waited for 28 years for the crown he narrowly missed in 1987. Even his brothers believe there is something mysterious about the Olu-designate that marvels many.
“Somebody who was groomed by Erejuwa II, and eventually was not chosen and he was never bitter throughout the 28 years. In fact when some of my other brothers were unhappy he was the one encouraging us to say Atuwatse is our elder brother we need to work with him to give him all the support. How any anyone will do that? He is a man of peace and prayer because that was how he was able to stay without bitterness. There is something mysterious about him and you can see 28 years after the thing came back to him effortlessly. All the meetings we have been holding about succession he did not interfere, he didn’t call anybody one day to lobby – he stayed away until we have concluded and said it was him. We now sent for him and ask him if he will accept to serve the people of this kingdom and he said ‘yes’, otherwise he never interfered. The Olu’s position is not what you aspire to, no, this is an institution that is sacrosanct, and we do not aspire to it. When the family sees the quality; they come to you and say please come and serve the people,” his brother Yemi Emiko said.
Born in 1955 to His Royal Majesty late Gbesimi Emiko, Ogiame Erejuwa 11, the Olu-designate is next only to the late Olu of Warri, Godwin. He attended the University of Benin where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1987.
He had his early education at St. John Primary school now Ikengbuwa Primary School, Ajamimogha, Warri before proceeding to the prestigious Hussey College Warri and then Adesola High School, Ibadan where his father had some properties and finally Kokori Grammar School in Ethiope Council area of Delta for his secondary education.
He is married to Mrs. Mary Ikenwoli Emiko (Nee Omaghomi) and has three children, two boys and a girl. His father is said to have thoroughly schooled him in the tradition, culture, majestic practices and encumbrances of the throne.
The popularity of Ikenwoli, is said to be tied to his promise to alternate his residency at the Palace at Ode Itsekiri and the ultra modern palace in Ajamimogha, Warri, this is to nip the growing view that Ode-itsekiri is a mere ceremonial site which is often forgotten after a new monarch is buried there and a new one installed.
He is a man who champions the cause of the Iteskiri people, for instance, as Chairman of HOSTCOM, Itsekiri chapter, he took the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC) to court for spending funds meant for the development of Itsekiri communities in the alleged building of police stations and barracks including renovating a popular recreation Club in Warri, insisting that these were public service organization not meant to serve Itsekiri people alone and won the case with an unsatisfactory judgment.
He therefore went to the appellate court to seek further justice to get the appropriate judgment. The case is still pending at the appeal court till date. However, Itsekiri people have appealed to the new Olu to bring back the alleged “lost Glory of the Itsekiri nation”.
Rev. (Dr) Stephen Gbejero, a popular Warri-based evangelist, wants the new Olu to prioritise peace and security so that enabling environment could be created for investors who would in turn create jobs for the youths.
“Ikenwoli is a man of destiny, humility, and has the fear of God. He is not stubborn and will not refuse good advice from men of God like him to achieve the needed peace and development in Iwereland”.
He also tasked the new Olu to resolve the crisis in oil rich Ugborodo community, and to improve the relationship with itsekiri and their neighbours, particularly the Urhobo and the Ijaw.
The Itsekiri have also charged the Olu to raise the status of Ode-Itsekiri from a historical burial ground of late Olus to a World Heritage Site recognised by UNESCO.
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