Brigadier Abubakar Waziri
Being an address by Brigadier Abubakar Waziri, pse. Military Administrator of Bendel State of Nigeria on the occasion of the Coronation Prince Solomon Igbinoghodua Aisiokuoba Akenzua, the Edaiken Uselu, as the Oba of Benin on Friday, 23rd March, 1979.
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IT Is for me a mark of honour and privilege to join the Royal family of Benin and the Edo people in welcoming, on behalf of the Government and the entire people of Bendel State the representative of the Head of State and other eminent personalities from all works of life and from all over the world, to this ancient city of Benin, on this historic occasion of coronation of Prince Solornon Igbinoghodua Aisiokuoba Akenzua, the Edaiken of Uselu, as the Oba of Benin.

The mammoth crowd before me is the testimony of the fact that all roads, indeed, lead to Benin City today. The coronation ceremony is the culmination of traditional events marking the accession of the new Oba to the throne of this ancients Kingdom of Benin. I therefore gladly say: Welcome to you all first to Benin City and to this ceremony. This is a unique occasion. The very ultimate of the Benin tradition is on display. This is also a rare occasion. The last of its kind was about forty-five years ago and those who have the opportunity of watching the event of today, must count themselves blessed.

The Obaship in Benin dates frorn about 900 A.D. according to the celebrated authority on Benin history, Dr. Chief J. U. Egharevba,
D. Litt. (Honoris Cause), the Binis migrated many centuries ago from Egypt, stopping briefly in the Sudan and at Ife from whence they came to the present settlement. Up to 900 A.D. the people were ruled by Kings who were commonly known as Ogisos. By a process of evolution, the Benin, Kingdom was founded in 900 A.D., with. Oranmiyan as the first Oba.

The Kingdom was at its peak in the immediate years before Western European adventurers came into this part of the world in the 15th century. The records left behind by those Europeans and our oral traditions portray the gradual evolution of the civilization of the people

Prince Solomon Akenzua
Prince Solomon Akenzua
of Benin who are popularly known as the Edos.; Something of an unfortunate incident interrupted this process of growth for a while. I refer of course, to the Benin Massacre of 1897, and the subsequent deportation of Oba Ovonramwen to Calabar where he died.

What befell Oba Ovonramwen was typical of the fate of other potentates of the l9th century, who dared to stem the tide of the advance of imperialism. The colonialists at the time sought to reserve for themselves a monopoly in the trade of palm produce and ivory for which this area was famous. To that end, the imperial trading nation imposed an administration on the peoples of the coastal areas and the hinterland, which produced and handled these commodities. Oba Ovonramwen likes his colleagues Chief Nana of Ebrohimi and King Jaja of Opobo, saw that administration as an affront to his independence and as an erosion of his powers. Naturally, the Oba resisted and he was, in consequence, dethroned and deported by sheer force of arms.

The struggle for the independence of the nation began in the time of such potentates from who, no doubt, a later generation of political leaders drew inspiration and encouragement to continue the unfinished business which, in its consummation, has brought about nationhood. The memory of Oba Ovonramwen must be revered and his name written in letters of gold I the register of the heroes of this nation.

The fall of Ovonramwen had however, some unexpected welcome consequences in the expedition that led to his downfall, rich works art were plundered and carted overseas where they are now jealously preserved in museums some European countries. The time has come for these treasures of heritage to be recovered. By forcible exportation of this art work which depicts the Benin art are culture at their best, the Fame Benin tradition was concretised European countries. The rich cultural heritage thus became a household word, not only within this country but throughout the countries of the world which are represented has today in all their diversity.

The Benin Kingship regained foothold when, in 1914, the grandfather of the now Oba came to the throne of Benin. His title was Eweka II. He was himself the eldest son of Oba Ovonramwen and in that capacity, the Edaiken of Uselu. Oba Eweka, Oba Akenzua II, forbearers of the Present Oba added respect to the place of Oba in the Benin tradition.

It is fitting on this occasion remember the late Oba Akenzua. He struck a balance between stable and progress, tradition and modernity. We remember him for role of father—figure to all the people who are resident in the State and beyond, and for his treatment of them in a most equitable way regardless of their place of origin. The record of his achievement enviable

He was a Minister of State in the old Western House in 19558, Member of the Western House of Chiefs from 1958 to 1963; President of the Midwestern House of Chiefs from 1964 to J966: Member of the Executive Council of the Government of the former Midwestern State from 1966 to 1975; Chairman of the State Council of Traditional Rulers from 1966 to the time of his call to join his ancestors;
Chairman of the Benin Traditional Council; and Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University from 1966 to 1971.

For his many dimensional contributions to the development of his people and Nigeria, Oba Akenzua II received the following honours and decorations:
(a) Justice of the Peace;
(b) Knighrhood of the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George;
(c) Commander of the Federal Republc of Nigeria; and
(d) LL.D.(ABU, Honoris Causa).

Of Oba Akenzua II, His Excellency Lt.-General Olusegun Obasanjo, Head of the Federal Military Government, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has aptly spoken in glowing terms in his message of condolence.

He said, and I quote him in part:
“We all can seek solace in the good and full life Oba Akenzua II lived by contributing to the political development of this nation and his epitomizing those qualities we expect from our leaders — he they politicians or traditional rulers”.

The eldest son of the late Oba Akenzua II. Solomon Akenzua, is today making history. His ascending the throne is a fulfilment. He was born in Benin City on 22nd June, 1923. He attended Edo College, Benin City; Government College, Ibadan; The Higher College, Yaba and the University of Cambridge. He served in the Federal Civil Service where he rose to the high office of Permanent Secretary, from which position he retired voluntarily in 1973. Soon after, he became the Resident Representative of the Gulf Oil Nigeria Limited. At the inception of the new administration in the country, he was appointed the State Commissioner for Finance in October, 1975, a post which he relinquished in 1976.

Our new Oba has all the attributes of a veteran and seasoned administrator for a modern Oba. He is well prepared for the task, drawing as he would on his own background, sound training and experience, as well as the inspiration from his late illustrious father. Today, the Prince has become the Oba, and joins the Council of Traditional Rulers.

Our Traditional Rulers constitute the rallying points for effective administration in this country: They live with the people at the grassroots, and it is their place to win the co-operation of the people towards achieving the success of Government endeavours. The tone of everything in their domains is largely to be determined b the personalities of the traditional rulers. They must therefore bear themselves in such a way as to win the respect of their subjects treat them alike and cultivate mutual understanding among them. He must see himself as the personification of unity in the community. It is in such an atmosphere that peace, tranquillity and progress can thrive. Traditional rulership is an important institution in black Africa, and came with it heavy responsibilities which traditional rulers in this country should not fail the nation in discharging.

Referring to Your Highness, the Oba of Benin let me mention that the City occupies a unique position in the State. It is both the State capital and the seat of your authority. It is the hub of many activities, social, political and economic which bring about, in their wake, their own complex problems. One of these derives from the multi-ethnicity of those that now live in Benin City and environs. In a situation where the City has become a melting pot for diverse customs and traditions, the need for a harmonious relationship among the various ethnic groups cannot be overemphasized. Your Highness will need all the tact and patience you can command to foster mutual understanding and respect among these groups. I know your Highness will be equal to the task.

I am confident that, like your father, you will co-operate with government as partners in progress in the endeavour to maintain peace and stability in the State, to accelerate the pace of social and economic development, and to improve the general welfare of the people of the State as a whole. Your Highness should he assured that government, on its part, would he forthcoming at all times.

On behalf of myself the Government and peoples of the Bendel State, I wish you a long, peaceful and prosperous reign.
Thank you.

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Benin kingdom copy right