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THE EVOLUTION OF OGIESHIP OR KINGSHIP INSTITUTION IN EDO SOCIETY AND THE RISE OF OGISO IGODO 40.B.C -16 A.D

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The Ogieship or Kingship institution of the Bini’s is a natural evolution from Odionwere system. The arrival of migrants with new ideas of government coupled with the growth and merger of villages into larger communities, created new problem which the Odionwere system could not effectively solved in the isolation of the independent villages. This necessitated the coming together of the Edionwere in adjoining and merging communities for meetings to deliberate and find solution to problems of common interest. In this way, the council of Edionwere or Iko- Edionwere was instituted as a new feature of the Odionwere system.

It is from the Iko-.Edionwere that the Ogieship or kingship evolved. Headship or leadership of the Iko-Edionwere was not based strictly on seniority or age. This was because some of Edionwere were not willing to surrender their communities’ independence and subordinate themselves to higher authority. The leadership of the Iko-Edionwere was therefore open to contest and Edionwere vied for leadership position. This created opportunities for people with leadership qualities and strength of character to pursue higher political ambition. Such situation was bound to favour younger people especially as the oldest person tended to be senile. And the young ones in the Iko- Edionwere would be very active and dynamic.

This kind of situation was to develop in Evbuoto community where Igodo emerged from, imposed himself as Ogieship institution in about 40 B.C. A cough epidemic which decimated the old people of Ivboto area of Evbuoto created the opportunity for the young men to take up leadership position in Ivbioto. This enabled Igodo to become the Odionwere of Ivbioto at the young age of about forty years and to take his seat in the Iko-Edionwere or council of Edionwere of Evbuoto.His relavely younger age, leadership experience in the various age grades of Ivbioto and wisdom put him at a great advantage over the older Edionwere. His excellent contributions and judgement made his opinions to be respected and accepted in decision making at Iko- Edionwere. As a result he stated to be consulted by other Edionwere.

But what enabled him achieve dominative and leadership of the Iko_Edionwere, was Igodo’s introduction and use of patronage. According to O.S.B.Omoregie when an Elephant was killed in Okhorho forest by the blacksmiths of Eyanugie, Igodo ordered that the Elephant meat to be shared among all the communities of Evbuoto. This particular patronage has never been known to have happened before. .As a result, his influence and popularity grew among many of the people who lived in the communities of Evbuoto. They came to start regarding him as a “God sent person” and some even started likening him to God, Hence he was describe thus “O ye vbe Ogie ne o rre Iso” meaning that “he is like someone sent from the sky”. It is from this description that the title “Ogie or Ogiso was derived, and this became his title and that of the successive ruler before the Eweka dynasty was founded in 1200 A.D

A lot of people and communities including older Edionwere became attracted to Igodo and submitted to his rule. It was from among this people that he got a band of royal followers and dedicated fighters which he was to use in enforcing his authority and will. He made some of these followers his servant or massagers known as Odibo-Ogiso. He sent them out from time to time to deliver gift to the Edionwere who accepted his authority reciprocated by sending gifts through the Odibo-Ogiso.IN this way the area under his authority continued to expand outside Evbuoto community. At the end of his reign, his area of jurisdiction was spreading towards Ovia and Orionmwon rivers in the west and east of Benin respectively. He named the area under his rule Igodomigodo meaning towns of towns because it was merger of many towns and villages.

This new form of political administration was not accepted by all the communities and Edionwere in the area. Igodo’s new authority and title created friction with some of the Edionwere, who saw the new system as a violation of established tradition. Even in the ivbioto community where he had been born and raised, his rule was opposed by some people. Rather than fight in Ivbioto, he moved his abode to his mother’s village of Ugbekun where he was accepted by all. As a skillful iron smith, he was able to arm his followers and train them in archery and wrestling which he had also learnt in his youth. He then started using this armed band to frighten his opponents especially Eyanugie. Oregbeni, Evbuorhiarhia, Uselu and Ugbowo who declared open hostility. But when they refused to be frightened, he employed persuation and patronage before these communities submitted to his rule. Only Udo refused to submit, beause he failed to settle in Udo, which was his great grand father’s home. Other people who could not endure his rule migrated elsewhere.

Igodo still tried to maintain the Iko-Edionwere, but in a subordinate position. This constituted his council of state. There were five core members known as Edionisen or five elders. They constituted another council. The administration of some of the distant territories was put under his sons Ikhimwin was sent to Evbo-Ikhimwin in Esan. Ighile to Ughelli in Urhoboland and Obo to Oboro-Uku in Iboland. His first son,  Odion died before he could be sent out to rule in the distant areas, and his son Ere succeded his  grandfather Ogiso Igodo.

Igodo greatly encourage craft works (especially iron smiting, carving, weaving, pottery and aesthetic designs) as well as agriculture and trade. He brought the people under monarchial to foster this felling of unity or ones among the people
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