About four decades of guarding a cultural heritage and pushing back the frontiers of development at the same time is no mean achievement. And many agree the late Oba Erediauwa never sweated it out doing that much for his people in the Benin Kingdom. It’s only natural he’s this glorious in his passage to join his ancestors—after a well spent 96 years.
Those who could appreciate the delicate medley of culture and development in the Oba can’t help talking about it. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, in his condolence message, said Erediauwa served as a cultural icon and spiritual guide of the rich Benin cultural heritage.
Since he ascended the throne in 1979, Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I was able to see growth and development catch on in one of Africa’s most enduring traditional cultures.
According to Edo’s Gov. Adams Oshiomole, Erediauwa’s reign brought distinction, immense class, finesse and integrity to traditional institution in Edo and Nigeria.
All the monarch did wasn’t just a fluke. Looking over his royal sojourn on earth, one would believe it was a plan well thought out on both sides: spiritual and secular. As Prince Solomon Akenzua, he made a deliberate launch into education: from the Edo College, Benin City to Government College, Ibadan, then Yaba College, before going to King’s College, Cambridge, to study law and administration.
He came back and joined the eastern Nigeria civil service in 1957 as a district officer, and later moved to the federal civil service where he retired as permanent secretary, ministry of health in 1973.
ALSO SEE: Oba Erediauwa pass on to glory
He was also the regional representative of Gulf Oil. In 1975 he was appointed commissioner for finance in Bendel, during the Military Administration of Major-General George Agbazika Innih. It was from there he ascended the throne of his forefathers.
So it’s understandable when Jonathan, ravished by the monarch’s refined persona, said “the late Oba Erediauwa was a modest, urbane, and rational monarch”.
Again, all the refinements were not just for the Oba himself. They formed the human aspect of the god-man overseeing the affairs of an ancient culture in a 21st-century world. Many discerning eyes were able to appreciate that. “The late Benin monarch radiated royalty, majesty, wisdom, intelligence and nationalism,” said former V.P Atiku Abubakar.
Other leaders would readily talk about him as a stabilising force and respected arbitrator who still held his own as one of the most respected traditional leaders in Nigeria. “He was an accomplished Nigerian, a seasoned bureaucrat, quintessential unifier, unique personage and exemplary Omo N’Oba,” said Oshiomole.
More governors, politicians, traditional rulers, and others have been generous with their condolences since the announcement of his passing away. They are appreciating the life and times of the 96-year-old monarch—and the loss, too.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in his letter of condolence, said the passing away of the traditional ruler is a great national loss. “Oba Erediauwa would always be remembered as one of the most outstanding traditional rulers of his era.”
But coming with all the appreciation is something else: a challenge for Crown Prince Eheneden. Such is not unexpected when you have an icon for a father. There are lots of catch-up to make, and a lot more legacies to build on. Buhari prayed God would grant the successor wisdom and courage to do all that.
Gov. Oshiomole, however, noted there’s nothing much to worry about. He said Edo is encouraged. “We have a crown prince who is already showing manifest quintessential attributes of his great father, will step into his father’s big shoes,” he said.