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Celebrating Obaseki: The Champion of Workers' Rights
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We have maintained that when an organization looses focus and is bereft of ideas on what to do, it resorts to doing everything. That is where the loss of one genuine purpose invariably leads to the pursuit of a dozen pseudo purposes.

That exactly is where Governor Godwin Enogheghase Obaseki is, at this point.

From the very inception of the current administration in Edo State, Obaseki has been at war with himself.

In what is clearly a hide and seek game, Obaseki has done everything to drag the highly revered Monarch, His Imperial Majesty, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin into the murky waters of Nigerian politics, without success.

The red ink on his inauguration papers had hardly dried when he embarked on what clearly looks like stealing by trick on the issue of the repatriation of the Benin artifacts.

We shall attempt to summarize some of the bold missteps of Obaseki in this regard.

In 2021, the then Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the expected repatriation of stolen Benin artifacts from Germany and the United Kingdom, following successful negotiations between both governments and representatives of the Benin Palace.

In the same year, Oba Ewuare ll proclaimed the dreams and designs of a Benin Royal Museum, opposite the Palace by his father, Oba Erediauwa of blessed memory, with Governor Godwin Obaseki in agreement.

In spite of the foregoing, Governor Godwin Obaseki secretly registered Legacy Restoration Trust with a non-indigene as Chairman of his Board of Trustees, to amongst others, coordinate the return and supervise the use of the repatriated Benin artifacts at a different location determined and being built by Obaseki as Edo Museum of West Africa Arts (EMOWAA). This is the former site of the Benin Central Hospital now demolished.

Oba Ewuare ll showed his resentment at Obaseki’s attempt to usurp the powers of the Palace in a BBC Report in 2022: “We were never a party to this concept of LRT, or any other privately constituted group formed in Nigeria to negotiate the return of our artifacts. It is baffling to discover that such a group was incorporated in Nigeria without the knowledge or representation of the Royal Court of Benin”.

At this point, Obaseki declared full-scale war by sealing off the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre proposed by the Oba to temporarily warehouse the Benin artifacts before the completion of the Benin Royal Museum. The center is now a shadow of itself with overgrown bushes and trees.


Obaseki scaled up his war by instructing the Ministry of Lands not to approve any design for the Benin Royal Museum or any other such building at the proposed site of the Benin Royal Museum.

Obaseki’s war with the palace is being waged on multi-dimensional fronts.

For lack of adequate space, we shall attempt to look at the latest of these diabolical designs.

Suddenly, he realizes the need to promote his divide and rule system of administration, all in an attempt to whittle down the powers of Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin.

Obaseki met with selected Enigie in Edo South in Government House, led by Professor Greg Akenzua, the Enogie of Evbuobanosa and Abudu, to agree on the mode of implementation of the 1979 Edict (Traditional Rulers and Chieftaincy Law).

By the interpretation of Obaseki and Akenzua, the law grants Enigie independence from the Oba of Benin in the seven (7) Local Government Areas of Edo South.

The allocation to the Enigie, hitherto tied to the Palace of the Oba, must now be withdrawn from the Oba and paid directly to them by the State Government.

By this, Obaseki has taken it upon himself to grant financial autonomy to the Enigie – an action that is both legislative and executive.

Obaseki did not stop there. He proceeded to brainwash the Enigie that they are now under the State Government and not the Oba of Benin.

Essentially, they can only be disciplined, enthroned and dethroned by the State Government. The Enigie have thus been emboldened.

Outraged by the behaviour of the Enigie, Oba Ewuare II reprimanded Professor Greg Akenzua and Edomwonyi Iduoze, the Enigie of Evbuobanosa and Egbaen respectively, for leading government orchestrated rebellion against the palace. They were suspended.

The Enigie dragged the Oba to court for suspending them, arguing that it is only the governor that can suspend them.

When the news of this outrage came out, a storm of indignation burst forth. Benin sons and daughters at home and in The Diaspora stood solidly behind their monarch. They were solidly against the idea of the balkanization of the Benin Kingdom for Obaseki’s personal interest.


Obaseki and his co-travelers suddenly realize that they are embarked on the path of self-destruct.

In their panic measures, they must quickly embark on telling lies even from the pit of hell. They say Obaseki had no hand on their going to court. Afterall, Obaseki is also a defendant in their suit.

Who the gods want to kill, they first make mad. Besides, the Bible makes it abundantly clear, “God uses the most foolish things to confound the wise”(1 Corinthians 1:27). Even before firing the first salvo, Obaseki and his co-travelers have become unbelievably naive and incoherent.

Otherwise, why would Obaseki and his co-travelers want a case in which Obaseki is a defendant withdrawn and brought to him for settlement? Let him keep denying. For all we know, the more he denies, the more he gets implicated.

And what gives Obaseki the right to believe that he can sit in judgment, in his rented apartment, in a case involving His Imperial Majesty? What a raw audacity!

Obaseki is not done yet. He is still fighting like a wounded lion, and we hear that there’s no stopping him until the palace of the Oba is totally desecrated. For instance, our source says that he is planning the imminent ban of the Okaighele, an age-long institution created by the great Obas of Benin and a potent instrument of administration in the palace. That may be Obaseki’s very albatross! In this war of attrition against the Palace, it is instructive that Obaseki is using what the Oba has to fight the Oba.

It bears repeating that the artifacts in question were the properties of the Palace. A bulk of them was carted away from the Palace during the Benin invasion of 1897 under the reign of Oba Ovonramwen No’ Gbaisi.

It has taken this long and years of intense negotiations for reason to begin to prevail on the looters to bend backwards to start repatriating some of the artifacts.

In the reckoning of people of goodwill, it makes sense to expect these artifacts to be returned to the Palace from where they were removed. That is simply what Oba Ewuare II is saying.

But in the twisted minds of Obaseki and his cohorts, dangerous manoeuvre must be embarked upon to divert the artifacts and expropriating same to themselves.

If this is not stealing by trick, what is it? Take a look again at Section 41(9) of Nigeria’s Criminal Code and see what the law says about reaping where you did not sow!

Again, in Benin Kingdom, Dukedoms are creations of the Oba and the Dukes (Enigie) are appointees of the Oba.

This is one area where His Imperial Majesty, Oba Erediawa, was most benevolent. He created many Dukedoms and sent his brothers to be his eyes in those Dukedoms.


In the turn of events, these are the same people that Obaseki has brainwashed and put on his front line in the fight against the Oba.

Luckily, the Oba cannot be swayed into doing wrong. Otherwise, he might begin to think twice about doing good. It might begin to appear like pocketing a small snake out of kindness, and one would soon find that there are limits to kindness!

To us, the Benin Monarch is untouchable. Like the British Monarch, he does no wrong. History is replete with the fact that those who touch him invariably have their fingers burnt. Afterall, he is God’s representative on earth.

Some governors are known to have existed peacefully with their Monarchs. Yet, with others, it has been a cat and rat race all through.

The reasons for the latter should be a good subject for further investigation.

Meanwhile, we work on a hypothesis which sees the towering image of the monarchs as a potential threat to politicians. The reaction of such governors is, in this light, seen as a defense mechanism.

The monarchs are the hubs around which the generality of the citizenry must revolve. At the slightest opposition, attacking the king is like reaching for the moon; and if you miss, you get at the stars.

On balance, jaw-jaw is better than war-war. Why can’t we live together?

In any case, there is no escaping the inevitable conclusion that there is life after Service. In the end, nobody will be credited with the number of institutions he pulled down or the number souls he destroyed. Rather, people will be judged by the improvement they brought to humanity while their tenures lasted.

We make bold to say that Edo is not Kano. In the particular case of the Benin Kingdom, we have come a long way from 1897 when virtually everything was possible. Banishment today can only be likened to a chicken – it comes home to roost!

No shaking!

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