Buhari, Atiku Praise Olu Of Warri Amid Colourful Coronation
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, lauded the new Olu of Warri, HRM Godfrey Ikenwoli Gbesimi Emiko and the Itsekiri nation for organising a befitting coronation ceremony that can be described as a national ceremony.
Buhari, who was represented at the coronation by the Secretary to Federal Government, Babachir David Lawal, congratulated the Itsekiri people for the peaceful transition and prayed that the new Olu of Warri’s reign would be peaceful, assuring that the Federal Government would equip the traditional institution, as it plays immense role in ensuring peace in the polity.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State was particularly pleased that the late Olu’s successor was produced within a short time without rancor, adding that it spoke volume about the harmony in Itsekiri land.
Meanwhile, the Oni of Ife, Oba of Benin, Obi of Owa and Orodje of Okpe took turns to felicitate with the Olu and shared pleasantries after the installation.
The famed rich cultural heritage of the Itsekiri people was at its best at the ceremony; time literally stood still at rustic Ode-Itsekiri, as a crowd of well
over 50, 000 people trooped into the small town to witness the historic event. It was a motley crowd of the young, old, men, women, Nigerians from other parts of the country and foreigners. In a way, it was like a gathering of the tribe.
Gaily dressed Itsekiri men and women in their colourful traditional attires came from far and near. While some came from far-flung places in Warri South, Warri South West and Warri North Local Councils, others came from different parts of the state and neighbouring Edo State. There were also guests from different parts of the country.
Located deep in the creeks and mangrove swamp of the resource rich, but impoverished Niger Delta region of the country, access to historic Ode-Itsekiri was only by canoe, boat, ferry and barge. Warri River, which leads to the venue of the ceremony, was jam-packed with many of them, carrying guests to and from the place.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has congratulated the new Olu of Warri, saying his choice as the 20th Olu of Warri, “venerates the totemic deep wisdom, courage and resourcefulness, which the Oluship throne is widely known for.”
In the spirit of celebration, some major roads at Ode-Itsekiri wore fresh asphalt coating in preparation for the ceremony. The locals made brisk business, selling different articles amidst the echoes of loud music. The town was no doubt in a party mood.
While some of the guests stood in the tents, others stood in the sun, which was tempered by the harmattan breeze. Others simply lazed away at the waterfront, following the proceeding in the loudspeakers, which could be heard everywhere in the town.
The new monarch, who assumed the title of Olu Ikenwoli, was crowned the monarch at exactly 2.10 pm by Olaraja of Jakpa amidst the booming of cannon shots, loud shout of acclaim by the teeming crowd.
The supreme traditional ruler of all Itsekiri people had arrived the Naval Base, Warri at about 10.18 am to witness a boat regatta, which was part of the numerous activities lined up for the coronation ceremony. He departed with his entourage of high chiefs in a special boat shortly after the boat races while other guests followed him.
For well over two hours after the monarch left, all traffic still led to Ode-Itsekiri with people anxious to witness the memorable ceremony. It was a long trek by thousands of people as vehicular movement was restricted to sailing points. The Warri-Sapele Road was closed from the Nigeria Port Authority office up to Esisi junction and was devoid of its usual hustle and bustle.
For security, a combined team of Navy, Army, Police and Civil Defence were on hand to provide watertight security. While some of the military personnel were on the land, others patrolled the creeks with gunboats during the duration of the ceremony and long after it was over.
Among eminent Nigerians, who attended the ceremony included the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwju Bola Ahmed, Former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Senator James Manager, Minster of State Ministry of Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu among other dignitaries.