It would appear to me that Edo State is set to witness positive developments in all sectors with two very significant and propitiously divine happenings occurring at almost the same time. First is the emergence of Godwin Obaseki, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the September 28 governorship election in the state, being declared winner of the election and, therefore, governor-elect. He takes office on November 12, this year. The second, no less significant event, is the ascension to the ancient throne of Benin Kingdom by His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II whose coronation on October 20 attracted worldwide attention and admiration. These two eminent personalities have set agenda for themselves, lofty goals which they hope to achieve; Obaseki in the next four years of his first tenure and Oba Ewuare II during his reign.
Oba Ewuare II said at his coronation he would initiate cultural renaissance that would focus on tourism production through arts and crafts by establishing the Benin Royal Trust and Benin Royal Academy for Performing Arts. He promised to carry out reforms in palace administration ‘’in order to adequately respond to the peoples’ sincere and deep-longing for justice, equity and stability’’. Oba Ewuare said he would establish Oba Erediauwa Annual Lecture series for which N10million has been set aside for the propagation of Benin history and culture. He added that he would partner with the state government to attract domestic and international resources for the establishment of clusters of agro-based industries in each of the seven local government areas of Benin Kingdom. The Oba noted that the transformation of Gelegele into an export processing zone for agro-allied industries would remain one of his major projects with the support of the Federal Government.
But of more significance is the Oba’s choice of name. He chose EWUARE after his great grand-father who ruled in the 15th century. He was known as Ogidigan (The Great). A magician and warrior, it was under his reign that the Portuguese first had contact with the kingdom. He expanded the kingdom, fortified the city against external aggression by building the moat, conquered 201 villages and introduced many festivals. History regards Oba Ewuare I as the greatest in Benin Kingdom as it was during his reign that many tribes such as the Itsekiri, the Urhobo and others left Benin for their new settlements. That the new monarch opted to be called Oba Ewuare II to replicate the good deeds of his great grand-father portends a glorious reign characterised by positive developments not only in Benin Kingdom but in Edo State as a whole.
Like Oba Ewuare II who has a mentor in Oba Ewuare I, Godwin Obaseki has a mentor in Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, out-going governor of the state. When Governor Obaseki assumes office in less than three weeks, he will take over an Edo State which, taken from decay by the Oshiomhole administration, has awakened and witnessed a high level of infrastructural renaissance in road, health, education, transportation, environment, urban renewal and beautification, agriculture, electricity, water and sanitation, industrialisation and manpower development. He has, therefore, set for himself the goal of sustaining the achievements of the present administration of which he has been part for almost eight years. Obaseki has pledged to improve on Oshiomhole’s bequeath by creating 200,000 jobs during his tenure, especially in agriculture and industries. He has also pledged to continue to meet government monthly financial obligation to civil servants and pensioners as and when due.
There is no doubt that a collaborative effort between the in-coming government of Godwin Obaseki and HRM Oba Ewuare II will yield abundant dividend for the people of Edo state both in political governance and in culture and traditional administration. However, for this synergy to bear desired fruits certain aspects of our lives must witness drastic changes. For example, the government and the Benin palace would do well to look into land administration in the Kingdom with a view to streamlining traditional or customary acquisition and dealing in land in our various communities. Despite the provisions of the Land Use Act, Community Development Associations have constituted nuisance to land owners and developers, leading to conflicts and bloodshed in many areas. A situation where a piece of land is sold to more than one person leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The Obaseki administration should also resuscitate and strengthen the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) as well as Edo State Traffic Management Agency (EDSTMA). This will ensure that our state, especially the state capital, Benin City, and its citizens are saved from the embarrassment of wading through chaotic traffic as is presently experienced.
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Oba EwuareI are both reputed to have shown commendable courage and sagacity in the discharge of their functions as political and traditional leaders. Both stepped on toes, many of them big and mighty toes, in order to protect the interest of the vast majority of our people. There is no gainsaying the fact that leadership is about the people and all those who find themselves in positions of leadership, be it political or traditional, must seek to advance and protect the weak against the rich and mighty. There is, however, no doubt that both Godwin Obaseki and Oba Ewuare II have both been sufficiently tutored well not to disappoint Edo people. While the Oba will replicate the glorious days of his great grand-father, ObaEwuare I, Godwin Obaseki will consolidate and expand the frontiers of development left behind by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.