THE Oba’s palace, Benin City, recently announced that His Royal Majesty, Omo n’Oba n’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Erediauwa I, the revered Oba of Benin, has joined his ancestors.
Distinguished in everything—royalty, learning, professional and cultural accomplishments and experiences, Oba Erediauwa I was easily one of the most respected royal fathers in Africa. In Nigeria, his name struck awe, respect and reference in the minds of all right-thinking and decent people. This was by reason of the fact that he sedulously distanced himself from the antics of unscrupulous moneybags, from dirty politics and from the filthy lucre associated with it. He was unswervingly serious-minded, being imbued with supernatural wisdom, finesse and royal etiquette.
Born on Friday, June 22, 1923, Oba Erediauwa I was the 38th Oba of Benin and the traditional ruler of Edo people in Edo State. He was, before ascending the throne of his fathers, known and addressed by the awe-inspiring name of Prince Solomon Aiseokhuoba Igbinoghodua Akenzua, the erudite son of Oba Akenzua II, whom he succeeded on Friday, March 23, 1979.
Oba Erediauwa I attended Government College, Ibadan from 1939-1945 and Yaba College, in Lagos, before proceeding to England, where he attended the famous King’s College, Cambridge, where he read Law and Administration. On his return to Nigeria, the then Prince Solomon Akenzua joined the Eastern Nigeria Civil Service (1957) as a District Officer (D.O.).
He later moved to the Federal Civil Service, where he retired as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, in 1973. For a while, he was the regional representative of Gulf Oil. In view of his unsullied and unimpeachable character, he was, in 1975, appointed Commissioner for Finance, Bendel State, in the military administration of Major-General George Agbazika Innih.
His Royal Majesty, Omo n’Oba n’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa I, was, indeed, such a royal father, recognized as such nationally and internationally by everybody, including all the traditional rulers (the Onogies) of Edo State, all of whom made their obeisance to him in recognition of his being the super- arching Royal Majesty. An inimitable pacifist, the Oba acted on several times as a peacemaker between several of his subjects. For example, he successfully poured oil on troubled waters in the altercation between Tony Anenih, the then Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party, and Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, the then Governor of Abia State, just like he ironed out the differences between Tony Anenih and the then Governor Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State. Just before his passing on, he tried to normalize the acrimonious intra-party relations in the Edo State House of Assembly. During his reign, Benin arts and culture flourished such as were showcased during his 30th anniversary in 2009, when numerous performances of traditional music and dances, including an arts exhibition and food fair entertained the people.
Succeeded by many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, among whom is the erudite, intelligent and amiable Crown Prince, Ambassador Eheneden Erediauwa, who has since been installed as the Edaiken N’Uselu of Benin Kingdom, having undertaken the compulsory trek of about four kilometres to the Oba’s Palace, and his initiation into the Royal Palace Chamber in conformity with Benin customs and tradition, necessary preparatory steps to his ascension to the throne of his father’s as the Oba of Benin.
May the soul of Omo n’Oba n’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Erediauwa I, the great Oba of Benin, a quintessential royal father, a pathfinder par excellence, a man of peace and unimpeachable character, a man of letters and of international renown, a revered father of Edo State, a notable Nigerian who enjoyed the respect of all and sundry regardless of political affiliations, rest in perfect peace. Amen.