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Oba Akenzua II
{1932AD-1978AD}
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Birth and Education
Prince Godfrey Edokpa- Orhogbuyunmwun Aiguobasinmwin Eweka was born on the 5th of April, 1899 at Irhirhi village in the late Orhumwense’s house. He was heir presumptive to the crown prince (heir Apparent) to the throne of Benin at a time that tried the soul of the Edos as their King’s life was hanging on the balance. His grand-father, Ovonramwen, the last independent King of Benin was deposed and deported to Calabar after the war of 1897 on 13th September 1897.

He was the only child of his mother, Queen Ariowa as the Benin custom did not permit a second birth to the mother of a would-be King. This is seen in the adage that “Omo Kpa r’ Ekpen bie”. His mother

hailed from Evbodobian village in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State. She did not live to see her son enthroned in 1933 as she passed away in 1926 but her body was embalmed at Evborubu village, according to custom until she was officially buried after the accession of her son as Oba of Benin in 1935. She was then proclaimed “IYOBA” (Oba’s Mother) The son built a house and raised monument to her memory at the entrance to Eguae-Iyoba. He also built a house at her village to commemorate her name.

His father, then Prince AIguobasinmwin Ovonramwen (Eweka II) was born by Queen Eghaghe who hailed from Uvbe village in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo state. She was of Egbede family. Her mother was the daughter of Chief Evbuomwan, the Enogie of Abavo. Her father was Osenugbe of Isi. She passed away peacefully on 18th February, 1933 after the passing away of her son Eweka II. She was buried by her grand-son Oba Akenzua II.

Oba Akenzua, father, Oba Eweka II was a bold and courageous person which earned him the appellation of Ovbiudu. He rebuilt the present palace after the ruin of the old palace after the Benin Expedition war of 1897, hence the appellation of “ Eweka N’ Ologbe”. The term became so appropriate in that it was Oba Eweka I, who started the second dynasty after the deposition of the last Ogiso and the coming of Oronmiyan, a grand-son of Ogiso Owodo from Ife where his father was on exile after being expelled from Benin through the evil machination of Esagho, the wife of Ogiso Owodo. It was Oba Ewedo who built the first palace after his victory over Ogiamen at battle of "Ekiokpagha" Oba Ewedo received the royal stool from Ogiamen and builds the present royal palace. The pantomimic re-enactment of this battle is now a part of the coronation ritual usually performed on the seventh day after a new Oba is crowned. It is in this light that one may venture to say that Ewedo really consolidated the position of Benin monarchy.

After the deportation of Oba Ovonramwen, the son, Eweka II retied to his mother’s sister Ediagbonya house at Ekhor to pursue farming to earn a living until he was called back to Benin by the consul, he was appointed District Head. He then resided in his grandmother’s house at Ogbe quarters.

At the demise of his father in exile in 1914, his accession was challenged and became a matter of debate. But for the wise judgment of the British Officials, on the strong evidence of some Benin Chiefs, the table would have turned in favour of Chief Agho Ogbedeoyo, the Obaseki of Benin, who had acted for the Oba during the Interregnum, 1897-1914. If this was the case, Oba Akenzua II would have terribly missed the crown.

Oba Akenzua II in his youth was place under the tutelage of his father’s friend Chief Ajayi, the Ovienrioba of Benin. Here he was groomed in the deposition and comportment of an Oba.

While still with the Chief, he was sent to the Benin Government School under the headmastership of late Mr. Okai a Ghanaian in 1907. He passed the then Standard Six in 1915. In 1918 he proceeded to king’s College, Lagos, where he studied and passed the then Junior Cambridge examination in 1921, which was the highest class attainable then in the college. Among his classmates at king’s College were the late Bishop A.W. Howells, Justice R. Ade Doherty and Dr Samuel Manuwa. His tutors included Mr. Earnest Ikoli and Mr. Charles James Smart who became a popular letter writer in Benin City before his death in 1966.

Oba Akenzua II distinguished himself as a brilliant scholar. He was a very keen sportsman; he was very good at cricket and football. After his accession to the throne, he took great delight at playing billiard. He had billiard table in his palace which he played most of the evenings with some Chiefs

Apart from his Western Education, he was very vast in the knowledge of Benin tradition, customs and culture. He was trained in Royalty obligations art of administration and component of an Oba. All these contributed immensely to his qualities, wisdom, virtue and forthrightness in his rule in the years of his reign.

Oba Akenzua II, visited England with his wife Queen Idada,

On his return from the college, he was appointed a transport clerk in the Benin Native Administration, and later transferred to his father’s palace as the Oba’s confidential secretary, in these posts; he acquired more knowledge of administration and human relationship.

In 1925, he was sent to Abeokuta to study Native Administration system under Sir Ademola II, the late Alake of Abeokuta. To put the knowledge so gained into practice and on his return to Benin, he was appointed the District Head of Eguaedaiken, although he had not been initiated into the Palace Society or installed the Ediaken. He was virtually in change of the area of Iyeke-Uselu. That is the whole of the area after and beyond Uselu up to Benin Divisional boundary with Ondo State, in matter of jurisdiction and administration. He performed his duty creditably and judiciously without blemish and earned praise of the Colonial Administration Officers and the admiration of all. He depicted the genuity of a born ruler. He was, in fact, well prepared to assume the Obaship of his people at the time he was called upon to put on the mantle of his forefathers as a great ruler

His Ascension
On The demise of his father Oba Eweka II, after a brief illness he was called upon to be initiated into the Iwebo palace Society only as entry to the rest society is of right after the installation, According to tradition, he had to perform the right of Odafen-Vbonoreguae, the Ukonniwebo, Edaiken and Iyanehien respectively before he was officially informed of the passing away of his father, although he was privy to it before then. After the announcement, he had to perform the rites of the burial ceremonies for fourteen days.

Before his installation he had to face a dramatic challenge, neither from his chiefs nor his brothers as in the cases of his father and grand-father, but his senior half sister, princess Ighiwiyisi. On the ground that she was the first born of their father and therefore devolved on her to succeed their father as the Oba of Benin.

After a protracted debate the Colonial Officers, the Benin Chiefs strongly protested against her claim that there was no precedence of a woman becoming the king of Benin. She further argued that in the event that she as a woman cannot reign as Oba, she should be granted the prerogative to nominate a substitute from any of her brothers. This her new tactics was equally rebuffed and proved to have had no precedence in the annals of Benin history as there had been on several occasions of seniors sisters of an Oba of Benin and no instance could be cited to support her claim several examples were cited such as the one most recent and that of princess Ayubini, the senior daughter of Oba Osemwende and senior sister to Oba Adolo. Finally, The Government upheld the points raised by the Edaiken Prince Godfrey Edokparhogbuyunmwun Eweka to succeed his father as the Oba of Benin. After going through the various stages and ceremonies he was crowned Oba Akenzua II, Oba of Benin on the 5th April, 1933, amidst unprecedented and tumultuous jubilation crowd in the history of Benin.

He was presented with the staff of office of First Class Chief by His Honour Lt. Governor Buchanam Smith. He also read the address or message from His Honour Sir Donald Cameron, the Governor of Nigeria.

The following was the message:
“I welcome the Oba-elect to the seat of his father, and of his fore fathers. I wish him well and i ask him to trust me and to heed what I am going to say. I am anxious-almost above all things in Nigeria to make a success of the policy of administering the people through their own chiefs, but my experience here and elsewhere make me doubt whether it will be possible to achieve this if we pursue the methods of the past. No sufficient attempt has been made in the past, I believe to teach and train the Chiefs in the very difficult “Art of Administration”. That is not our policy in the case of Administrative Officer. We train him in England before he came to the country at all, and we train him through many years before he is place in such a responsible position as that of resident.

On the other hand we have in the past taken the Chiefs quite untrained and quite uninstructed in methods of administration according to civilised standard, and left him to work out his own salvation as best he could with the minimum of interference and guidance from Resident or other senior Administrative Officer, I believe this to be a dangerous position from which no possible good can come; especially in these days when the people can express themselves and their grievances when all the acts of Government, including those of the Native Administration are quite properly, open to public criticism, and when it is no longer possible to rely on fear and superstition in administering subject people. It is my sole desire, I repeat to make a real success of the policy of Native Administration but I fear, as the words I have used in the foregoing remarks must disclose, that if some better methods of training and guidance of the Chiefs in the art of administration are not introduced, Native Administration through the Chiefs cannot endure in modern society in which we all now have to live in Nigeria and most eventually crumble and fade away.”

Early Assignments and Problems
His first year in office was concentrated in acquainting him with the practical role of an Oba and the intricacies of Benin traditional law and customs. He engaged himself with the rehabilitation of the palace to meet the modern treads of the society. He under took renovation of the palace which hitherto instill awe and fear in the minds of people, particularly visitors, who attempt to visit the palace. It was most difficult then to have an audience with the Oba as there were large empty court yards before the real occupied parts of the palace where traditional, common office was created where the Oba could receive visitors and discuss freely with them, He also created a special reception room for august visitor’s to the palace.

The walls abounding the large enclosed courts gave way to large expanse of open court yard with forming a fence it were, to mark the extent of the Palace.
In 1934 the Oba attended the opening ceremony of the Yaba Higher College Lagos. He was accorded rousing royal reception by the Edo Community in Lagos in particular and all sundries in Lagos and environs. On his return journey, he called at Abeokuta to pay a courtesy visit to the Alake of Abeokuta, Oba Ademola II. Tumultuous crowd lined his route to cheer him. He was received with great jubilation by Oba Ademola and the Egba people. Other inhabitants of Egbaland were not left out .The Edo speaking people figured prominently in the reception and turned out gaily dressed to pay obeisance to their Lord and king.

The same year (1934), there was the great Forest Reserve dispute between the colonial Administrator and the Benin people. There follow a long dialogue which resulted in the establishment of the Benin Native Authority Forest Department under a British Forest Officer with the late Ranger Adams Obasogie Ekuawe at the head of the field staff.

At the end of two years of the accession to the throne he created his immediate three junior brothers Enogie; Uwaifiokun Eweka, the Enogie of Obagie, Ogiesoba Eweka, Enogie of Aideyannoba and Iyi Eweka , the Enogie of Oghada. He also initiated after few years of his reign other hereditary titles of Obarayi-Edo on Chief Ogiemudia Obaseki, Chief Johnson Francis .O. Akpata, the Aihie-Oba of Benin, and Arala of Benin on Chief Sunmola Omo Lawal Osula. He also made the Osula of Benin and Obaseki Titles hereditary.

In 1935 Earl of Plymouth visited Benin City. He was given a Royal reception by the Oba and the people of Benin. The same year, the Benin people joined other people of the British Empire in the celebration of King George v’s Silver jubilee of his reign over the Empire it was marked by great fanfare.

On the invitation of Mr. Hunt, the commissioner, he went to Enugu to discuss state matters with him. The reorganization of Benin Native Administration was carried out after in the year.

Appointment of district heads which began with the occupation of Benin by the british for effective running of the administrative machinery in Benin division was abolished in 1936. The district heads helped in the adjudication of minor cases, supervision and collection between the people, the Oba and the colonial officers.

This event, acting as an educating factor to cast aside the yoke of titular masters, the people of Uzebu Quarters revolted or rebelled against  their overlord and titular master the Ezomo of Benin. Prior to that time, they were regarded as Evien Ezomo. The people contended that they would no longer remain sub-servant to any servant of the Oba of as Ezomo is one of the Evien Oba. They would rather wish to be directly that of the Oba. This was later settled and their wish upheld.

Later in the same year, there was general dissatisfaction over the introduction of water Rate3 based on tenement basis to which the oba alleged to have given assent without consultation with his chiefs and people. It was alleged that the owner of the house is not the owner of the land on which he build. This led to great dispute and open confrontation of the people and chiefs of Benin with the Oba of Benin. The people was led by the then Iyase, Chief Okoro Ottun and the then Oshodin, ex Forest Renger Erebor with the late Mr. H.O. Uwaifo as the secretary to the agitators. Several petitions were written and threats offered by the people to dethrone the Oba by the agitators.

The dispute led to an enquiry which resulted in the division of the City into twenty-four wards for easy consultation and administration. In continuation of the agitation there was a formidable move to depose the Oba but for the early intervention of the chief commissioner, the Olu of warri and other prominent Yoruba Obas, the matter was amicably settled leading to the setting up of Iguobaziro in 1940.

In 1947, the Benin Taxpayers Association was formed with the principal aim to compel the Oba to confer the Iyase title on a literate person. They alleged that the Oba has announced earlier, the abolition of the title at an extra-ordinary meeting of the council and to substitute the title of Obadeyanedo as published in the Nigeria Daily Times of November 8, 1947, and which read as follows:

“ I have abolished the title of Iyase. Although I have abolished now and for all times, this most coveted title, but I do not propose to alter the political set up of Benin. I have substituted, therefore, a new title to be known and called OBADEYANEDO. In other words, I have re-christened the title of Iyase, now and forever, for the sake of peace and tranquility of this most ancient and historic kingdom. By this memorable and remarkable act of mine, the title of Iyase now has been declared and defined EGIE-OGHIONOBA now and forever”

The Association threatened to have the Oba deposed, if he failed to yield to her demand by resuscitating the title of Iyase and to confer it on a literate person of the people’s choice. The Association persisted through petitions and demonstration and the British Office, the Resident, brought pressure to bear on the Oba that the title should be resuscitated.

As a follow-up, the Government appointed Mr. Bourne an Administrative Office, to compile progress report on Benin which he did after going round the wards and the Districts. The report was acceptable to the Oba, as the Oba alleged that Mr. Bourne did not see anything good in Native tradition or custom.
After a protracted debate the Oba conferred the title of Iyase on Chief Idehen, the then Ihaza of Benin. He was an illiterate person. This further infuriated the Taxpayers Association to further action by forwarding a protect letter to the Oba dated 11th February, 1948, for his action and demanded that they should be given the privilege to nominate a literate candidate for the post.

While the dispute was going on; a new royalist body sprang up This was “THE EDO YOUNG PEOPLE’S PARTY” This body wrote a counter  protest letter dated 15th  April, 1948 to the Resident and the Oba of Benin under the heading “PROTEST AGAINST THE ATTITUDE TO UPSET BENIN LAWS AND CUSTOMS” and as follows:

“We the Edo young people’s party, beg to forward the following PROTEST against what we deem detrimental to the progress of this ancient City of Benin for your kind consideration and immediate action”

Whereas, the British Rule in Africa as a whole and in Nigeria in particular, is to preserve the native Laws and customs in native states of which Benin is in the lead, we the Edo young people’s party  view with grave concern in consonance with other youths of this ancient City of Benin, the attitude of certain section of the community who styled herself as “ The Benin Community Taxpayers Association”

(1) “That the said Association forms an insignificant fraction of the total taxpayers in Benin;      

(2) That the said Association’s plan to set aside the native laws and customs in Benin is detrimental to progress and destruction of British principle in Nigeria (i.e to preserve Native Laws and Custom), in that.

  1. The part played by the Association in the present Iyase tangle is an attempt to ruin Native Laws and customs
  2. Withdrawal or expulsion of the five Chiefs from the present Council at the request of this Association without just cause is an attempt to set the hands of the clock back in the working machinery of the Benin Laws and Customs as this is based on personal hatred and grievances”

We the Edo young people’s party therefore unanimously resolved:

  1. That the actions on the Benin community protest in all matters relating to changes in Benin should be suspended pending proper investigation and report of well constituted Board of inquiry who shall delve into the present crisis in Benin at the instance of the Nigerians.
  2. That before any person is initiated or made the Iyase of Benin at least seven or more candidates should be present, not only by one body or Union but by the various Unions, council, Wards, etc, and properly voted for at a poll of which entry shall be by tax receipt. This would only be the case should the Native Laws and Customs be set aside. Whoever shall there and then be so elected should be subject to take oath of allegiance to the state and the people not on the Bible or Quran, but on the gods of our father before installation into office
  3. That the expulsion of the five Chiefs from the Council at the request of the Benin Taxpayers Association is unconstitutional and undemocratic. If there is anything wrong with the present council, it should be dissolved and s new one set up with a very sound constitution. These five chiefs should not be victimized, except it can be authoritatively proved beyond doubt that these chiefs are responsible for its failure. If not, they should be made to remain.
  4. The City Council should be reinstated in place of the present Ikoredo as the former is a fuller representative of the commoners. It is in the City council that the free sentiments of all is voiced out and discussed at large. This will go to solve the never-ending agitation in Benin. If and when the City Council reinstated she should be given the power of subordinate authority.
  5. That a draft constitution of the new principle so be adopted by the general public in matters relating to chieftaincies, council, jurisdictions in Native Laws and Customs in vogue should be put up and approved by all.
  6. That matters of general concern should not be discussed by one union alone and its decision solely and wholly taken as final by the authorities, but should be discussed by the various unions and decision is taken by the Authorities as all are taxpayers and they should be interested in matters affecting their destiny.
  7. That in view of the above, we earnestly implore the authorities  for careful consideration and immediate step be taken in this our humble protect as free citizens and taxpayers of this ancient City of Benin.

we have the honour to be,

sir,

your, Obedient Servant

For and on behalf of the Edo young people’s party,

(sgd) J. O EDOMWONYi
Secretary

(sgd) D. E. WWAIFO
President

(sgd) ??????
Treasurer

(sgd) C. Y. I. LEGEMAH
Financial Secretary

OBA APPROVAL OF HON. G.I. OBASEKI AS IYASE
On the receipt of the above letter by the Resident, it was alleged that he remarked to Hon. Gaius Obaseki that “if the letter could get support that “you are finished” This led to the hush meeting of Ikoredo to get the Oba to approve their nominee. At the meeting the Oba stated, resulting from the pressure brought to bear upon him by the Resident, Mr. Pender, to approve the people’s choice of an Iyase. The Oba in approving the people’s choice stated inter alia:
“But men are as the time is as they say, and for that reason. I allow the people to appoint the Iyase”

The Reformed Ogboni fraternity member seized the opportunity of their leader being appointed the Iyase to dominate the Benin political life, molestation, victimization and oppression of non-members devastated Benin Division.

In 1950 march, a new political party sprang up to the rescue of the Oba from the grips of the Ogboni dominated Council. A meeting was held at the fort by this new group called “Out Edo” to counter the excesses of the ill-motivated activities of the so-called Taxpayers Association cum Ogboni. Several of Otue Edo members were arrested and detained in the Benin prison under the pretext that the meeting was an unlawful assembly as the members carried banners of which one read Gaius must go. Nevertheless, the members of Out Edo wer4e undaunted and continued to wax strong numerically. In March, 1951 another group-BENIN ACTION GROUP sprang up to mobilise with the Otu Edo and latter formed ally to fight the evil forces of the Ogboni when chief Awolowo formed his Action Group party and at a conference held at Owo to which both the Ogboni and the Benin Action Group sent delegates, Honourable G.I.Obaseki was said to have been elected Vice President.This news angered the Benin Action Group and later merged with the Otu-Edo. Towards the end of the year when Ogboni activists like the late Messrs Obaze and Iyare with others went to Iyekeorhionmwon to molest the people, riot started and soon spread over the whole Division like wild fire. Several houses and lives were destroyed in the wake of the riot.

On the invitation of the Queen, Elizabeth II, of England the Oba Akenzua II, visited England with his wife Queen Idada, the Ohan of the harem on October 5, 1950

In December 1951, Regional and Local Council Elections were held under Adult Suffrage. The Otu-Edo swept the poll with hundred percent victory. This seemed to have silenced the Ogboni cum Action Group for a while.

On the 5th of February, 1956, Queen Elizabeth II of England visited Nigeria and had a stopover at the Benin Airport where she was received by Oba Akenzua II, the Resident and other dignitaries from all over the kingdom and outside the kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II and Oba Akenzua II

HIS ACHIEVEMENTS
In Oba Akenzua Its relentless efforts to regain the lost glory of his Kingdom, his late grand-father, Oba Ovonramwen’s coral regalia were returned to him in 1937 from the British Museum by the government, at a colourful ceremony in the open field, where the New Nigeria Bank now stands, in front of the Oba’s Palace amidst tumultuous crowd and with great jubilation. In expression of his joy, the Oba sang: “Obi-gbeni, sagele manyo etc.” which was loudly re-echoed by all.

Oba Akenzua II had courage, ability and patience to surmount all trials and intrigues of his reign. He worked relentlessly to find solutions between the British rule and culture of his people. He was forceful and dynamic in the advancement plans for the welfare of the nation as a whole. He was awarded the Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (C.M.G.) by the British Queen. He was also, after the Nigeria Independence, awarded the Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (C.F.R.N.) and he was appointed justice of Peace (J.P.).

With the fall of the tree at Emotan shrine in 1951, there was great indignation that the fall was due to evil machination of the enemies of progress and peace in the realm It was known that an expatriate working for the French Company known as M. Gualin, used a winch on the tree few days before it was blown down by storm. The tree was at the site of a royalist called Emotan who gave cover to Prince Ogun that enabled him gain the crown from his usurping brother, Uwaifiokun. Ogun later reigned as Oba Ewuare. On her death, the Oba deified her and ordered that on all occasion celebrations, homage should be paid to her.

To perpetuate the memory of the woman and to keep the tradition going, Oba Akenzua II caused a statue of Emotan to be erected it the site, and it, was unveiled by him on 11th March, 1954.

MIDWEST (BENDEL) STATE MOVEMENT
Further kindled by the motion in the Benin Divisional Council, moved by Councilor Osadolo Edomwonyi in 1953, praying The Nigerian Constitutional Conference going on in London to include on the agenda, the creation of a separate State/Region. for Benin—Delta Provinces, The Oba. Akenzua II convened general meeting of the people of the two provinces at his palace in Benin City on 1 8th September, 1953 in which he delivered the following opening address:—

“It gives me pleasure to meet you all this morning. By your attendance at this meeting, you have shown your keen interest in the affairs of the people of this area. The only subject for discussion this morning is the creation of Benin/Delta State. It is a very interesting subject because it is national. The first thing it is expected to do this morning is to find out whether or not all members present welcome the idea of the people of Benin—Delta Province living together as kith and kin in one separate State of their own. lf all agree, that this idea is a good one, the next thing is to decide on the line if action to be taken to bring this proposal into effect. I know that you will like the idea because all the people of Benin-Delta Province want to get freedom, not only from the white man but from foreign African nation, But ¡f there are any in this assembly who do not think it is advisable that a demand for a Benin-Delta State should be made, it will be the duty of the majority or minority as the case may be, who are in favour of the creation of Benin-Delta State to persuade those who may hold different views to join their forces individually and collectively with the rest of the members of this meeting.

I quite realize that each member of this meeting will proudly do his duty for the glory of his father land I am very certain that this matter cannot be in better hands than yours and I trust that inside and outside this meeting each member will pull his weight in this national struggle. I am sure all of you will agree that at this critical time when all the nations of this country, called Nigeria. are fighting hard to assert their national status, it will be unwise for Benin-Delta Province to do nothing about asserting its own.

There is no reason whatsoever why the people of Benin Delta Province should be complacent. If other nations of old Nigeria will not be satisfied to pick the crumbs that fall from the master’s table for their meals, why should Benin-Delta Province? The argument that Benin-Delta Province is small and financially weak is nonsense; this kind of argument being used only by those who do not want to be dominated, are to dimidiate and overshadow others. The time has come when the people of Benin-Delta Province should rise as one man and speak with one loud and great voice to demand the creation of a separate Benin-Delta State. By right, Benin-Delta people are entitled to exist and should exist as one people

Other principal reasons why there should be a Benin Delta State are:

(a) The London Conference which has amended Nigeria Constitution has agreed that the unity of old Nigeria can only be maintained by the type of REGIONALIZAIION it has recommended.
(b) There are bigger opportunities than at present for all the clans and/or ethnic groups which made, or should make up Benin-Delta Province to flourish in one separate State.
(c) The Benin-Delta Province is naturally favourably placed unlike some of the other Regions, with regard to ports for export and import of goods.
(d) Benin-Delta State when created can quite comfortably trade with outside world as in old days without touching the territories of any Region of old Nigeria should any embargo be imposed upon her.
e) Benin-Delta State, when created, can, if necessary open more ports in addition to her four existing pcrts to advantage on her own territories.
(f) Benin-Delta Province is abundantly rich in land and sea resources.
Ii) Britain has no right to put together a number of different Sovereign Nations of this country to form one country and a number to form another and so on and so forth, when she cannot make one country Out of these diverse nations which have formed old Nigeria Benin Delta Province was a Sovereign nation before the occupation of this country by British Government. That is why Britain cannot annex it to Yoruba State. For these and many other reasons, the 3enin-Delta Province should be free from the yoke of the Yoruba State.

A few years ago, a prominent citizen moved at a provincial meeting of this area the creation of Benin-Delta State and the motion, seconded, was carried. At the Western House of Assembly meeting at Ibadan, the demand for the creation of Benin-Delta State also was made by one natural ruler of this area. So you can see that the idea of the creation of Benin Delta State is not a new one. If Lagos is happy to be freed from the Western Region, there is no reason why Benin- Delta people should not be happy to be freed from the Western Region too.

“If Lawyers and Doctors are to make a State, there are guile a number of them in this area. IF natural wealth alone makes a State, there is abundance of it in this area. If modern houses, motor roads, streams, rivers, businessmen and women, cinemas, factories and so on are to make a State, I say all these abound in thís area. Why then should the national status of Benin-Delta Province not be declared and asserted now? According to the statements of political leaders appearing in Nigerian newspapers, the London Conference on the Nigerian Constitutional Reform as decided that Benin-Delta Province which calls THE MIDWEST should be separated from the Western Region. Even, if the London Conference on the Nigerian Constitutional Reform has not so decided, the people of Benin-Delta Province are sensible enough to know their right and the need to live together because they had similarly and prosperously lived together for centuries.

It will be a national calamity to the Benin-Delta Province to annex it to any other Region. This calamity should be averted by all means. God has made the Benin-Delta Province as one strong link to connect the Eastern chain with the Western chain and it is our bounding duty to make this strong link very strong now so that coming generation may not blame us. The divide and rule policy of the British Government. had done much harm to the national solidarity of Benin-Delta Province in the past but as God now wants things to be what they were before the advent of the British Government, that is, the Yoruba State for the Yorubas and Benin-Delta State for the “BENDELITES”, that is the inhabitants of the Benin-Delta Province, steps should now be taken without any further delay or fear to move the British Government to repair the damage they have done by restoring the national status of Benin-Delta Province before they transfer power back to the Nigerians from whom they have taken it.”

The Oba’s speech was followed by “A RESOLUTLON” moved by Mr. J I. G. Onyia and as follows:
Whereas we believe, after mature deliberations that Nigeria is a large country made up of a conglomeration of nations, that in order to ensure an enduring peace, harmony and tranquility for its diverse communities, it has become obvious that in Nigeria. Federal or Unitary the interest of Benin-Delta Province can be best protected if the Benin-Delta Province is created a separate State.
Whereas to be real, Federalism or Unitralism must mean a delimitation of the present Regional boundaries, i.e. dividing the whole country into such units as will remove the possibility of one State lording it (or riding rough shod) over another.

Whereas we believe in a closely knit Federation if Federal system is adopted in Nigeria that gives defined powers to the States and the residual powers to the centre or Federal Government.

And whereas the HUMAN RIGHTS CHARTER OF TIIE UNITED
NATION guarantees to all peoples the world over the right to face association.
Be it resolved, and it is hereby resolved that:
1. We (the peoples of Benin-Delta Province) in a conference holding at Benin City this l8th day of September, ¡n the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty-three, demand as of right an immediate creation of a separate State for the peoples of Benin-Delta Province.
2. This resolution should guide our delegates attending the Nigerian Constitution Conference to be held in January 1954.
3. Copies of this Resolution be dispatched to
(a) Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of state for the Colonies.
(b) The Chief Secretary to the Nigerian Government.
(c) The Ministry of Local Government, Western Region.
(d) The Lieutenant Governor.
(e) The Press.

The Oba strongly believed in the creation of more States in Nigeria to bring the government closer to the people. In view of this belief, Oba Akenzua II toured all important towns and Villages in the two provinces campaigning for joint effort to make his dream of a separate State for Benin/Delta a reality.

The Oba Akenzua II’s speech to the Western House of chiefs meeting on 20/10/53, in support of the above, he delivered the following address:

It is a pleasure to announce to this house the formation of a new national political party in the Benin/Delta Provinces, called the Benin/Delta Peoples Party. Like the Oni’s action Group the B.D.P.P, is out to fight by all constitutional means for the solidarity and creation of the Benin/Delta State.

The attitude of this party towards other political parties in this country and elsewhere will be friendly and any political party which befriends it and supports it in its struggle for the creation of the Benin/Delta. State may be sure it has ever one million peoples in this country as friends. The Benin/Delta Peoples Party will declare and assert the national status of the Benin/Delta State in a Federal or Unitary Nigeria, and in this respect it believes that all peoples of goodwill everywhere will give it their full support.

The Benin/Delta State is blessed with intellectual giants like its neighbour the Yoruba. State commonly called the Western Region who can, run a State of their own in fact some of these intellectual giants actually are helping now to place the Yoruba State on its legs. Although no nation really can be independent now-a-days but you will agree. I think that the Benin/Delta State, as a nation in a Federal or Unitary Nigeria, can succeed very well without being tied to the apron string of the Yoruba State. It is no self praise to say that the political consciousness of this country during the last ten years has been aroused by the nationalists of the Benin/Delta State such as the political leader number one and the labour leader number one who hail or trace their origin from the Benin/Delta State. The political activities of these great leaders are well known.

In order to assess correctly the ability of the people of the Benin/Delta State, one should remember that the Self-government for Nigeria in 1956 motion which led to the recent London Conference on the Nigerian Constitution reform was moved by a Benin-Delta man. I have great faith on a strong separate Benin-Delta State in a Federal or Unitary Nigeria; I believe that it is possible to create the Benin/Delta State even, if the North and the East do not agree to break into small States.

The fact is the Benin-Delta People’s Party will not allow the Benin/Delta State to be annexed to the Yoruba State whether the North and the East are broken into small States or not. In a Federal or Unitary Nigeria within, or even without, the British Common wealth, the Benin/Delta State has nothing to fear about the size of the North or East.

The B.D.P.P is not demanding the creation of the Benin/Delta State because the West ís seceding from the, federation on account of the Lagos separation from the west but the demand for the creation of the Benin/Delta State is made because it is incongruous to merge the Benin/Delta State, with the Yoruba State.

Although the Benin/Delta province reluctantly remains to the present as an administrative unit in what is now called the Western Region it cannot remain so in a self-governing and/or independent Nigeria. The B.D.P.P. has made up its mind to demand and will demand the right of the Benin’/ Delta State, It may be a tough fight but it will be fought to its logical conclusion. This issue is not between the Yoruba State and the Benin/Delta State at all. It is between the British Government and the Benin/Delta State, so that the question of becoming the stooges of any government in Nigeria. ¡n order that the wishes of the Benin/Delta State may be sympathetically considered does not arise. In the Benin/Delta State there is and will be freedom and life more abundant for all without any hardship.

With your permission, Mr. President, I wish to read the contents of this. little pamphlet, the title of which is the “Opening address delivered by Oba of Benin to general meeting of the people of Benin/Delta Province at Benin City on 18,19/53”; this pamphlet also contains the resolution unanimously passed  at that meeting.

In conclusion, I appeal to all people of goodwill to give their full sympathy to the wishes of the Benin/Delta State. The Benn/Delta State may be likened to a certain ration in Europe which can riot be crushed because of the economic and political security of Europe so that, by recognizing the national status of the Benin/Delta State, the government of Nigeria will not only be laying a solid foundation for the unity of Nigeria but will be carrying out their obligation which has been made abundantly clear when their leaders and/or agents have declared again and again without bitterness since their return from the London Conference on the Nigeria Constitution that they are not opposed to the creation of the Benin/Delta State. The Benin/Delta State is economically strong to maintain its governor, ministers and so on as British Guiana, whose population is less than half the population of its own This is not romantic but to think it is will be a poor judgment.

And now let appeal through the President of this house to Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to lead the Benin/DeIta State out of bondage into which their predecessors have dragged it. The decision of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to free the Benin/ Delta State from this unfortunate bondage before they surrender the reins of Government will be regarded, like the decision to separate Lagos from the Western Region, as a very wise one

Howbeit, the General De Gaulle of the Benin/Delta State themselves also will look into this matter without bitterness. Thank you.” AKENZUA II

Oba Akenzua II was a Minister of State in the then Western House in 1955, and a member of the Western House of Chiefs from 1959 to 1963, before the creation of Midwest Region (Bendel State). The Oba hosted the conference of Western Obas and Chiefs in August 1942, and again in 1958. Several of such conferences were held elsewhere in the Region. In all these meetings, the Oba did not hide his feelings and desire for a separate Region/State for the people of Benin/Delta Province.

The Oba in his address to the Benin Conference of the Midwest Movement held at the Benin Conference (Exhibition Centre) hall on the 5th  and 6th  of May. 1962. Stated and as follow:

“Mr. Chairman, Chiefs, Honourable Ministers, Members Ladies and Gentlemen. On behalf of myself and the entire people of Benin, I welcome you to this Historic assembly of the Midwest State movement. I consider it historic in the face of the task before us and the unfortunate misunderstanding that has tended to divide our people in recent months.

t is very wise indeed that this conference should be called today. Now that the stage is set for the creation of the Midwest (State) Region within the Federation of Nigeria, it is very essential that all political differences should be cleared in order that we all may enter into this new Region in perfect peace and harmony. I firmly believe that this Conference can solve any problem that may face it.

My appeal to you therefore is to remember that you are all one. Being one, these minor differences should not be allowed to develop to such a limit as to be able to undermine that enviable oneness which has been our heritage. We the people of Benin and Delta provinces can very readily trace our ancestry to one family. As paterfamilias I Call upon you all my beloved people to come forward and tackle all your problems on the strength of that bond of oneness which was bestowed on you by your great ancestors; for unity is strength.

We must not recriminate now, we must now think of the Midwest first and ourselves last at this hour of our liberation. We must bear in mind that our reward for this fight for freedom does not lie on what benefit any individual may derive personally now; the reward lies on the prosperity and freedom of the future generations of the Midwest.

The issue of the creation of the Midwest Region is above politics. The issue has also passed controversial stage ever since those heroic words from the mouth of our devoted Midwesterner were uttered in the Federal Parliament about a year ago urging that the creation of the Mid-West Region should not be later than March of this year of grace.

May I mind you that the people of the Mid-West had very glorious arid great history before the advent of the British.

We must arrest the destruction of our heritage. In the proposed region I envisaged a happy and progressive society we will all love. But I must warn, Mr. Chairman, that henceforth we should desist from mixing this legitimate demand of ours with party politics. For the benefit of those who do not know the origin of the agitation, as early as 1952 I summoned all chiefs and people from Benin, Ishan, Afenmai, Aboh, Isoko, Warri, Western ljaw, Asaba, and Urhobo to a confererice at Egwashi-Uku where we decided to have what we called then a Central State.

Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to bore the conference with a long speech. But I want to leave you to go on with the conference in the hope that after this appeal of mine, you will all work in the true spirit of brotherly love. I pray to God and our great ancestors to give you people all the wisdom you so vitally need in order to achieve everlasting peace and understanding, bearing in mind that Mid-Westerners must not be hewers of wood and drawers of water.

Long live the Mid-West Region. She is marching on to safety in the red sea with the Pharos close at her heels. History obviously is repeating itself.

I congratulate our Moses and all our political leaders of the Mid-West at home and abroad who have fought and are still fighting so gallantly for the creation of the Mid-West Region

In passing may I say that the initiative if the Western Legislature in passing a resolution ¡n 1955, praying the Queen to create the Mid-West Region is significant because that remarkable resolution of 1955 which up to this day has not been rescinded entirely now knocks the bottom off the new theory, now being propounded in certain quarters that the demand for the creation of the Mid-West Region is aimed at killing a particular political party or disintegrating a particular tribal group.

And now, may I conclude that the future of this proposed new Mid-West Region is very bright there should be no fear about that at all. The Mid-West is very rich in intellectual giants and natural resources. And there is plenty of room in it for any political party to prove its mettle.
I wish the conference successful deliberations.
God bless you all.
Sign. AKENZUA II
Oba of Benin.

In 1962, The Oba saw to it that the referendum for self determination to have a separate State created was a success. The Oba’s personal tour to the various places in the proposed State before the ‘referendum yielded overwhelming “YES VOTE” for the ‘creation of the Mid- West (Bendel) State.

MOTION FOR THE CREATION OF MID-WEST STATE
On 9th August, 1963, the Mid-West (Bendel) Region was created on the adoption of a motion sponsored by the then Prime Minister Sir Alhaji Abubaka Tatawa Balewa, of blessed memory, in the National Assembly of both houses of representatives and the Senate, amidst thunderous applause and great jubilation of the Bendelites and admirers, and to great amazement and sorrow of all decadent elements who worked against its creation.

The Western Nigeria Government with indignation and without notice set all Bendelites in her service packing overnight to Benin City, most probably with ill motive to frustrate them as they might not find houses and offices to accommodate them as the situation was not in the least expected or planned for as it was sudden.

Dr. D C. Osadebey was appointed the Administrator; Chief H. Omo. Osagie, the lyase of Benin and Mr. Otobo were appointed Deputy Administrators. These able Administrators soon set the machinery of Government to work successfully even in the face of odds of housing and finance. Till now (2018), the Western Government has not found it fit and equitable to share the assets of the then Western Region.

In March 1964 General Election was held into the Midwestern House of Assembly. The first meeting of the house was opened on 9th March 1964, with fanfare in the presence of great mammoth of people from, all walks of life and all parts of the Federation. Chief, Dr. D.C. Osadebey became the first premier; Chief S.J. Mariere was appointed the first Governor; the Chief H. Omo. Osagie, the Iyase of Benin became the Minister for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. The Oba of Benin, Akenzua II became the President of the House of Chiefs from 1964 to 15th January, 1966 when the Army took over the government. The Oba in addition was appointed a Minister without portfolio and a member of the Executive Council from 1964 to 1975. The Oba was again appointed the Chairman of the State Council of Traditional Rulers, 1966 to 1970. He was also the Chairman of the Benin Traditional Council after the abolition of the Benin Divisional Council in 1976. He was also appointed the Chancellor of Ahmadu BelIo University, Zaria from 7th March 1966 to 1971 when he resigned.

Oba Akenzua II was conferred with the Doctorate Degree LL.D. (Causa) on the 19th May 1966 by the University of The Ahmadu Bello Zaria. Before Nigeria independence he was awarded knight Commander of Saint Michael and Saint George (C.M.G.)by the British Queen; and after independence, the President of the Federation of Nigeria awarded him Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (C.F.R.N.) and Justice of Peace (LP.).

Oba Akenzua II was soft spoken and well comported in conformation with his office of a natural ruler. He exhibited dignity and exerted authority over his people. He worked relentlessly for the peace love, unity, and progress of his people. Oba Akenzua II as referred to as Iso N’Orho and Osanobua N’Agbon. He was a promoter of the Nigerian culture. As a personified God on earth, he was an embodiment of peace, tranquility, and tolerance. He settles disputes with utmost dispatch, justice, fair-play and impartiality. He was unruffled even in face of disloyalty of some decedent elements in his domain. He was very calm and saber even when he was angered. His words were laws to his people and all who revered him He welcome Administrative reforms and as well identified himself with the policies and aspirations of the government for the unification of the entire nation. He played the role of a father and Elder States man. His fatherly disposition was devoid of politics and he enjoyed the honour and respect of all people of goodwill. He participated actively in Nigeria’s constitutional development. His love for all was demonstrated by his efforts to promote unity, peace and stability in Nigeria. As an Oba, he was cool and collective and was never ruffled even when aggrieved. He was a real embodiment of dignity and authority, even in times and in face of all odds, among all people.

HIS LOVE FOR EDUCATION
THE Oba Akenzua’s love for and ¡interest in Education and for the progress of his people to measure up with other Nigerians, he sponsored the establishment of Edo’ College, Benin City in 1935 under the proprietorship of the Benin Native Authority. He gave land freely towards this program. The College was opened in 1936 under the principalship of Mr. B. D. Coker, a Ghanaian and former headmaster of the Benin Government School, Benin City. The School was later taken over by the State Government. The original site is now occupied by Idia Secondary Girls School while the Edo College moved to a new and larger site along Murtala .Muhammed Way, Benin City.

His love for education and the great premium he placed on Western Education, he saw to it that all his children got maximum training in modern «education  as much as their intellect and ability could carry them.
The Roman Catholic Fathers approached the Oba for land for the establishment of a Secondary School which the Oba gladly gave. The immaculate Conception College was then established and opened in 1943. Today, an assembly hall stands in the Oba’s name to commemorate his name, with his name boldly inscribed in front of the hall in the campus of the institution.

That the Portuguese Missionaries ever established churches in Benin during the reign of Oba Esigiein the fourteenth century could have been regarded as a tale told in the night, but for the revival of the worship of God all the old site of one of these churches, by Oba Akenzua II. The Oba built what could be called a. Cathedral at Akpakpava Street and named ARUOSA under a native priest — OHENOSA in 1945. He ordered a Bini catechism and Bible to be written and used at the .Aruosa in the pattern of that of the Roman Catholic Mission but based on Benin beliefs. In place of Biblical Saints, Benin demi-gods are mentioned. The Church ends all her prayers in God’s holy name instead of that of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic Mission also was granted land and permission to establish and run the Saint Philomena Catholic Hospital for the welfare of mothers and humanity in general in 1944.

Chief A. O. Airewele established first a secondary school with commercial bias and later in 1947 changed it to Western Boys’ High School on a land given him by the Oba. In 1960 to give room for expansion the school was moved to lkpeba Hill (Oregbeni), and in 1975 changed its name to Airewele High School.
In 1954, the Eghosa Grammar School was established, first as Anglican Grammar School until 1975, on a site formerly given to one Enaruwa for a Commercial School which he later transferred to Mr. Osazee Okpogie, from whom the Anglican Mission acquired it.

In 1949, the Benin Government School which was the genesis of educational institution in Benin City was transferred to the Benin Native Authority and became known as Benin Divisional Authority School I until it was demolished by Ogbemudia’s Administration to give way for a modern Library.

A split occurred in the Benin Baptist Mission over ownership of its schools and polygamist not allowed to take of the Lord’s Supper in 1940. The members on the side of the American Missionaries were given land in Ogbe quarters for its own school and church. The Mission later acquired land at the Ring Road where the Central Baptist Church now stands. The School was first opened at a temporal site along Akpakpava Road and later at Ogbe under the Headmastership of Mr. Osadolo Edomwonyi with Miss Walden as the Lady Manager. The faction of Benin indegens became known as United Benin Baptist Mission with Reverend S. I. Usuanlele as its spiritual leader.

To keep perpetual the knowledge and history of the past of his people from which posterity could learn and draw inspiration from our past history and culture, the Oba initiated the establishment of the Benin Museum under Chief Doctor Jacob U. Egharevba as the Curator. To the Museum, he contributed generously and in no small measure several antiquities. Many people of goodwill also donated to the growth of the Museum. The Federal Government has taken over the management of the museum under trained curators and under the Department of Antiquities. A befitting building in the heart of the City has been erected to house the Museum.

On 23rd    April, 1965, during the debate on (1965—66) Appropriation Bill, the Author Hon. Edoniwonyi in his contribution had this to say

“On this issue of antiquity, I would like to call the attention of the Government to the Museum in Benin City. Now that Benin is the Headquarters of the Mid-West Region (Bendel State), I think it is high time that the Government consider it fit to build a Museum befitting the status of that ancient City and of the Mid-West Region (Bendel State). Benin City is often a centre of focus to all eminent visitors to Nigeria, it being the first City in Nigeria and noted for its art of brass and woodwork. Many of these works of art were carried away during the Benin Expedition in 1897 and by the Portuguese during the slave trade. Most of these good works of the ancient City of Benin are now to be found in Museums in Portugal, England, America and in other large cities in the world I will therefore appeal to the Minister of Education to see that most of these important arts of Benin in particular and of Nigeria as a whole, are brought from various places to Nigeria, either by way of negotiation or by way of purchase. When they are returned to Nigeria, I would very much like a good place to be found for them in the museum which I hope that in due course the Federal Government will undertake to build.

I noticed that few years ago that there were soil tests carried out somewhere in the City at a. museum site. Now the keeper or the workers in the museum, to the best of my knowledge are being maintained or cared for by the Divisional Council I am appealing to the Minister of Education and to the Federal Government to please take up the control and management of the museum in Benin City and improve on the standard. A building should also be erected.
With these, I support”

In 1958, the Oba once again exhibited his magnanimity in granting land at Ugbowo to one time tailor, Mr. Ezenwan to build a Secondary Grammar School, irrespective of his tribe as an eastern Ibo. This School was formerly known as Edo Boys’ High School and now known as Adolo College after the takeover by the State Government.

The Roman Catholic Mission in order to boost the training of females in post—primary school which hitherto has been neglected and regarded by the Binis as undesirable, approached the Oba of Benin for land which he gave freely for the establishment of Saint Maria Gorretti Girls’ Grammar School It was built and opened in 1959. -

Bishop Enoyeogiere Edokpolo in 1961 acquired land from the Oba for the building of a Secondary Mixed School with Commercial bias. The School is now known as Edokpolo Grammar School.
The same year, the Anglican Mission was granted land freely by the Oba for the establishment of the Anglican Girls’ Grammar School (Adesuwa Grammar School).

When Bendel State was created, there was little or no facility for Midwesterners for higher education in Nigeria. The few who could afford University Education had to look up to oversea Universities for admission. The first civilian Government under Dr. Osadebe, the only Premier of the State approached the Oba for land for the establishment of a University which the Oba gave freely at Ugbowo. The Military Governor, Dr. Osaigbovo  Ogbemudia developed the land, build the University and the University Teaching Hospital. It was opened in 1972. Initially, it was started at the old campus of Benin/Delta and later Mariere College in 1971 along Ekehuan Road as School of Technology.

Governor Ogbemudia also caused to the establishing of Headmasters’ Institute in the same campus on Ekehuan Road for the training of headmasters for National Certificate in Education. In 1973, the Federal Government established the Federal Government Girls’ College in Benin City to correct the imbalance in the education of boys and girls in, the State. It was established to get good standard of morality and discipline among girls, and to raise the standard of education of girls which had hitherto being neglected.

DEVELOPMENTS
Oba AKENZUA Il’s glorious reign 1933 — 1978 could be regarded as the golden age of the nation particularly of the then Bendel State. It witnessed great and unprecedented advancement, progress and expansion in the general development and industrial revolution in particular. It is a general belief that Oba Akenzua I was reincarnated in him as the development had no parallel in the history of Benin, except in the expansion of the City during the reign of Oba Aenzua I about 1713— 1739, when the City refuse dump was Ahor Village about 18 kilometers from the City centre, now in Orhionmwon Local Government Area In the then Bendel state

Oba Akenzua II was a unique symbol of peace, harmony, progress and equality of all races and tribes within his domain of authority. He believed in honest labour in that less than a year of his ascension he ordered his courtiers not to rely solely on benevolent gifts and homage paid to and through them as courtiers and Oba’s emissaries, but to go about their own honest labour to earn a living for themselves and their dependants, rather than linger around the Palace waiting for, manna to fail down from heaven, as the practice was in the past.

The old traditional practice of living on the grace and benevolence of others in the name of the Oba would not enhance the good image and prestige of the Oba in the modern civilized world. The Oba saw that the old order had changed and yielded place to new. The Oba’s advice to his chiefs and courtiers led to mass invasion of farmlands in Benin, as those affected by the advice traced their way to their villages and hamlets to fend for themselves and their families. This led to great green revolution, not only for the production of food crops but most essentially for cash crops like cocoa and rubber. Today, it could be seen that every inch of Benin soil is covered almost indiscriminately with para rubber trees. With modern development of the towns and Villages, these are being forced to give way for expansion.

Before Oba Akenzua II came to the throne of Benin, the use of Benin land and its resources were free exclusively only to the indigenes but restricted to non-Binis to utilize these facilities only on payment of annual rent. Land rents and palm produce rents were collected from non-Binis up till 1953, when the Oba Akenzua II abolished it through the Benin Divisional Council on the motion sponsored y Councilor Osadolo Edomwonyi.

In 1954, he gave directives that land should be given without restrictions to all Nigeria who wish to build houses on Benin soil as such action would augur well for development and expansion of the City. True to prediction, as it could be termed led to the love and harmony that exist today among the various peoples inhabiting the land. This land great weight to the overwhelming support the people all over the old Bendel State gave during the plebiscite for the creation of the Bendel State out of the old Western Region of Nigeria and the unprecedented expansion of Benin City and the Bendel State as a whole.

Prior to his reign, the development of the City was almost confined to within the City wall — the moat. Places like Urubi, Uselu, Oliha, Ogida. Uzebu, Osuan, Ogiamien, and Uhummwun-Idummwun Quarters were mere hamlets and only existed in names. All these places opened up as if by magic, expanded and developed with great bounds far beyond the moat and now form part of the City.

The East Circular Roads, New Benin, West Circular Roads, Adesogbe, Airport Road, Sapele Road (Etete, Ivbioto, Evborhiarhia, etc.), Oka, Ugbeku Ikpoba, Oregbeni (Ikpoba Hill) areas and beyond have transformed into and merged with the City.

Apart from dwelling houses, commercial and industrial establishments and sprung up to boost the economic life of Benin. The reign of Oba Akenzua II saw giant revolution in industrial projects. The (Bendel State Government) now split into Edo and Delta states was in the forefront in the race. The Government established the Bendel Glass Factory at Ughelli; Textile Mill at Asaba; Ukpilla Cement Factory; Bendel Brewery. Benin City; Farm Settlement over the State; Cattle Ranch, Agbede; Rubber Research Institute, Iyanomo: Rubber Processing Factory, lkpoba.. etc., and Federal Government Iron and steel Industry, Alaja., etc. These industrial projects not only help to provide employment for the teeming population, but also help to boost the economic and commercial life of the people. The products iron these factories greatly supplement the import requirements of not only of the Bendel State, but also of the Federation as a whole.

In addition to Government establishments, private individuals also established industries like the tyre retreading factory by Ribway Group of Companies; Plastic industry with the late Honourable Festus Okotie Eboh as the forerunner while others followed in the wake; Iced Fish were introduced into the market to improve the protein contents of our food, and to supplement the smoked fish from the riverine areas of the State. Chief Ibru, an illustrious son of the State paved the way for others to follow in this trade. Today, there are several warehouses for storage and sale of this commodity. There is now a special market, called “YANGA MARKET” noted for the sale of fresh fish directly from the riverine areas; other types of fresh meat are also available here. It is situated along Oba Market Road by the moat towards lJzebu Quarters.

Poultry Farms have sprung up nearly in every home and farms for the supply of eggs and table birds. The Government has also joined in the trade under its Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and in more advanced scale under Owena River Basin Authority which also breed pigs and turkeys.

Before Oba Akenzua II came to the throne, houses were built with mud excavated from the earth. But with the advent of cement production at Ewekoro of Ogun State, Nkalagu of Anambra State and Ukpilla in Bendel State to supplement the imported ones from oversea, building with moulded cement blocks started and have completely eliminated the use of mud. Today, there are all over the State cement moulding enterprise becoming a lucrative business.

In the absence and lack of knowledge of the use of cement in the past, the Colonial Officials introduced the use of burnt bricks which were difficult to produce and scarce to obtain. It was too costly for the private sectors and low wage earners to afford in building houses before the introduction of cement blocks in building houses. Houses are now better constructed and modern buildings are springing up it every corner in the State.

Building materials are now in abundance. These are mostly galvanized iron sheets which was almost the exclusive right of the rich and affluent. Expanded metals iron rods, wire gauge and nettings and iron bars of various sizes have flooded the market. People now engage in welding to provide protector for doors and windows against thieves, and construction of iron beds and other material. They are to be found in several places especially associated with road side mechanics. Many of them are employed by both the Government and Companies especially those dealing with motor vehicles.

The then Bendel State was booming with trade so that one can hardly travel out of the State to get essential needs of life, except for large quantities to supplement the states provision- Store are opened in every nooks and corners even, from 6 am. to 9 pm daily to enable the people to obtain their needs. The Bendel State as a whole and Benin City in particular has become fertile ground for traders from other States of the Federation.

During the Colonial era, there was only one Catering Rest House in the reservation area which was the exclusive right of expatriate. But during the reign of Oba Akenzua II many catering rest houses (Hotels) sprang up to meet the needs of tourists and the inhabitants. The most ¡important of these in the City are Emotan., Bendel Motel Plara, Central Palace, Palm Royal, Basula, Noruwa. etc.

The expansion of the City makes it almost impossible to define with exactitude the boundary or limit of the City and nearly all other towns in Bendel State. The streets were widened and tarred; giant drainage system is being undertaken by both the State and Local Governments. Previously, there was no electricity, but today, houses and streets are supplied with electricity. the State Government established Rural Electrification board to supply light to the rural areas of the State while the National Electricity Power Authority takes care of the large towns. Prior to his reign, pipe-borne water was in adequate supply in the City as there was only one source and one reservoir to meet the need of the people. Water supply was then supplemented with water fetched by individuals from lkpoba and Ogba, streams. With the creation of the then Bendel state there were several other sources of water supply to the City. Several bore-holes and water tanks was built at various strategic places to take care of the water needs of the people. Among these are those at Iyaro, Ugbowo, lkpoba. Hill, East Circular, and the lkpoba Dam project started by the State Government., in his reign.

Hitherto  his reign, aero-planes  were unknown to many who had never traveled out of Benin, until airport was built in Benin City and planes started to arrive and take off regularly to ease travelling  in and out of the State.

Timber industry was formerly the exclusive privilege of expatriates and their agents. During Oba Akenzua II’s reign, it became that of the generality of the people. In addition, to the old African Timber and Plywood Company Sawmill at Sapele, sawmills became established by the natives to take over the arduous task of pit sawmilling.

1950 saw great Rubber and Timber booms in the State. Abura timber became the king of the woods in place of Iroko and Mahogany ‘FIGURE’. Money lost its value that certain contractors used currency notes as cigarette, “Money is no problem’ became the slogan in the State.

The Ogbe Stadium was built by the Benin Divisional Council and later taken over by Governor Ogbemudia’s regime in 1968 and he renovated it and brought it up to such an enviable standard that today it becomes a pattern for other States to copy.. Governor Ogbemudia’s Government raised the standard of sports in the State by the establishment of Physical Education College at Afuze for the training of young boys and girls in the various fields of sports. This has contributed immensely to the success of the Bendel State in the field of sports.

First, in the development of markets, was the rebuilding of Aghado market on Akpakpava Street in Benin City with a unique structure It was re—opened by Oba Akenzua II in 1971, January 17 to replace the former one built and opened on l7th January, 1917.

More modern markets were built to meet the needs of the teeming population. Prominent among them were the Edo Market on Upper Mission Road opened by Oba Akenzua II; the Uwa Market behind the Nigerian Television Station; the Osa Market at Sakpoba/Second East Circular Roads junction; the Ogiso (New) Market or the Second East Circular Read; Oliha Market (new defunct) and Ogida Market on the Textile Mill Read.

Radio and Television came into use in the State and flocked the markets, and invaded every home in the towns and villages. Record, changers and stereo came to replace the old gramophones which were mechanically operated by hand winding.

To meet with the commercial needs of the people, the Bendel State Government established a Brewery for the distillation of Crystal Larger beer on lkpoba Hill along Benin/Agbor Road. Along the same road and by the side of the Bendel Brewery is the Guinness Nigeria Limited brewery for the distillation of Guinness Stout and Harp Lager Beer. Along Benin-Sapele Road, are the Coca-cola, Sprite, Crest, Bitter Lemon and other soft drinks brewery. On this road is the brewery for Canada Dry products established by Chief Gabriel Ighinedion, the Esama of Benin.

Several motor companies were established in addition to the old ones of Niger Motors; Joe Alien Limited: C.F.A.O. and S.C.O.A. companies which were in operation before .1933 when Oba Akenzua II ascended the throne. Such other companies came into Operation as a. result of greater demand for means of transport brought about by development arising from the creation of the Bendel state. These are numerous and prominent among which are Mid-Motors by Chief Gabriel Igbinedion; Union Trading Company; Mandilas Company; WATECO; Leventis Motors; BEWAC Motor Company; RUTAM and several others.

Along with these great advancement in the development came several printing houses and book-stores. The Government Printing Press came instantaneously with the creation of the State; Ribway Printing Press; The Ethiope Publishing Company established by the Government of the State and myriads of others flocked the towns, principally the State Headquarters, Benin City, to ease the demand for printing and publishing books. The Nigerian Observer was in the forefront of these printing houses and the publishes the Daily, Sunday and Sporting Group of Newspapers and several others too number to mention

Traffic jam has become a great menace in Benin City, Warri, etc. as a result of influx of motor vehicles as a result of the increased demand to facilitate movement of goods and people in pursuit of business since the creation of the State. The situation was undreamt of before the creation of the State. To avert incessant accidents as the traffic position was getting out of control by the Police, traffic lights are now mounted at strategic road junctions in the Cities, and where not yet installed and at school gates and the highways, Traffic .Wardens are posted to control the flow of traffic. This device - has eased greatly the number of accidents principally in the Cities.

Prior to Oba Akenzua II’s reign, there were no banking facilities. Now several Banks have been established and opened in the State Capital and other towns in the State. These came about the meet the fast and advancing commercial life of the people. Among these is the first bank of Nigeria. formerly known as British West African Bank; the National Bank; the African Continental Bank; The United Bank for Africa; the New Nigeria Bank, the Union Bank formerly known as Barclays Bank; the Co-operative Bank; the Federal Mortgage Bank; the International Bank: and the Central Bank: which have helped greatly, the industrial advancement and commercial enterprises in the State.

Several Oil Prospecting Companies have invaded the State process for oil (Petroleum Products). As a result of the acclivities and success of these companies, the State oil has placed the Country on the world map as oil producing country. Warri is popularly known now as the oil City.

Several recreational centres was abound all over the then Bendel State. In addition to the first and old Olowu Cinema house there were several others cited in various localities to provide relaxation for the people. To mention a few, there are the Emotan Cinema, the Olympia Cinema at Sapele; the Regent Cinema; the Atlantic Cinema in Benin City and many more elsewhere in the State.

The Ogba Zoo established by the Government, the Ekae Amusement Park established by Sunday Omoregie Iyamu provide attractions to tourists and inhabitants of Benin. The Zoo provides different types of animal and birds of various attractions.

When Oba Akenzua II passed away to the great beyond in 1978 the whole world mourn him for he has lift behind foot prints on the sands of time. He left for his Son, Oba Erediauwa an enviable heritage unprecedented in the annals of Benin history. The Edos will ever live to remember him as a father, builder and great ruler.

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