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Oba Erediauwa
{March 23,1979-2016}
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When the young prince was born June 22,1923 . His father Oba Akenzua II presented the new baby to his father Eweka II, who lifted the baby up and smiled. "You Agho! (Chief Agho Ogbedeoyo, the Obaseki Of Benin, who had acted as the Oba during the interregnum, 1897-1914), You again, you have passed through this route. You have reincarnated to become an Oba. An Oba indeed". Eweka proclaimed him an Oba: you will be Solomon - wise as King Solomon. The Lord will be your pillar and strength - (Igbinoghodua) but nobody should dare cause or invite your wrath - (Aiseokhuoba). As a young Prince and heir apparent Oba Erediauwa was known as Prince Solomon, Aiseokhuoba, Igbinoghodua Akenzua until he was crowned Oba on March 23, 1979. Never by the use of those names be identified except by the title, Omo N'Oba Erediauwa, Oba of Benin. Those circumstantial names are now archival materials. Reincarnation is in the beliefs of the Binis. This can happen in any circumstance depending on the life aspiration of the deceased whose prayers might be answered if he so
desired to become a King in his next world. Although this is beyond human comprehension, nevertheless, the traditional belief is that a man may have an opportunity to reincarnate for as much as seven times after which he fizzles out. By this belief, Prince Solomon is a reincarnation of the desperate Agho Obaseki!

Erediauwa had the throne as his cradle. Apart from the usual traditional palace tutorials which begin at birth, he went to Government School, Benin after which he proceeded to Government College, Ibadan in 1939 and obtained with flying colours - his London Matriculations which qualified him to gain admission into Yaba College in 1945. After the completion of his course at Yaba, he was admitted into King's College, Cambridge to study Law and Administration. He returned to Nigeria to join the Eastern Nigeria Civil Service as a District Officer (D.O.) in 1957. He transferred his services to the Federal Civil Service and rose to the position of Permanent Secretary.

He retired from the service as a Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health in 1973 and became the regional representative of Gulf Oil Company. He was appointed Commissioner for Finance in the Military Administration of Major-General Innih in 1975. His early retirement from the service was to have time to expose him fully to the intricacies of the administrative challenges that would confront him in the performance of his duties as Oba of Benin. His father, Akenzua II was Secretary to Eweka II, his father. This made him to have a first hand knowledge of traditional issues that arose from the Native Administration. The political turbulence that confronted Akenzua II due to the exposure of the new elites to participatory Native Administration in the 40s and introduction of party politics in the 50s could only have been surmounted by a ruler of Akenzua's experience, patience, courage and subtle diplomacy.

In his time, traditional rulers could be members of political parties; even form parties. Akenzua II was in the forefront of the creation of the Midwest State. He formed a political party for this purpose - Benin-Delta Peoples' Party in 1953. Otu-Edo was formed to defend his person against the political onslaught of the Ogboni/Action Group under the leadership of Eguobase Gaius Obaseki, the ninth child of Agho Obaseki. Inspite of the unconfirmed relationship as a result of circumstances of reincarnation, Akenzua and Gaius Obaseki were never the best of friends.

The present Oba Erediauwa witnessed the rule of the army, formation of political parties several times over since he ascended the throne in 1979. Although, it would seem he is insulated from partisan politics not many would accept this as a solution to the numerous political and party problems that confront the people today. He welcomes and blesses all aspirants that call on him. Even then the tone and length of his prayers are misinterpreted in varied partisan ways. But the Oba usually put his foot down never to be intimidated.

Erediauwa N'Oba had used his kingly office to influence the welfare and the fortunes of his people. He is an unmoving pivot around which the life of his subjects revolve. Over the years, he had discharged his responsibilities with much worldly wisdom and with dauntless courage. Men and kings must be judged in the testing moments of their lives. His refusal to succumb to the administrative tantrums to change his stance on the vague urges of the military proved that he rated the welfare of his people far above his personal sentiments or pride even more above his interest. How best, can one describe the odious ordeal of the immediate past if not governed by love and respect for his tradition and culture. Since his ascension to the ancient throne he had given effective leadership to his subjects. On his coronation day, he pledged to unite all Edo-speaking people including those in diaspora. His main focus was to re-establish the great Edo culture and tradition in line with acceptable norms of a modern society.

Soon after his ascension to the throne, he appointed Late Justice S.O. Ighodaro as the Iyase of Benin. Justice Ighodaro was the first Benin graduate and lawyer who became Minister of Justice and Attorney-General in Awolowo's Action Group government of Western Region in the First Republic. After his demise, West Erhabor though also late succeeded him as Iyase. Chief Samuel Igbe a retired Police Commissioner is the present Iyase of Benin. The Iyase according to Benin custom is the head of Eghaevho N'Ore (town chiefs). The position of an Iyase is that of the Prime Minister who is the spokesman of the Binis before the Oba. The Oba usually honours a worthy subject or citizen with the title of Iyase whenever the need arises.

Apart from the Iyase, a position that is open to all indigenes of worth, the Oba had created titles to honour some of his prominent subjects drawn from various backgrounds. Some of the titles are hereditary, some are achieved and some are pronounced to commemorate specific events in accordance with the Oba's political, or social perspectives. Only the Oba possesses the rights and privileges to create and confer titles on his subjects. The titles are certainly not for sale to non-indigenes mainly because of the traditional and cultural roles of the titles. Chiefs are selectively distributed into the palace societies of Iwebo, Ibiwe, Ihogbe, Egaevbo N'ore, Eghaevbo N'ogbe. The seven king makers - Uzamas, include the Edaiken - the heir apparent. Their titles are also hereditary. There are also the dukes-direct blood relations of the Oba who preside over their dukedoms. These titles are hereditary too. Some of the traditional deity priests who take care of state shrines across the kingdom also enjoy hereditary roles. The Oba definitely sits over a complex machinery of state that makes him political, spiritual and social leader of his people. Without the Oba, the machinery of state grinds to a halt. You can never banish, exile or dethrone an Oba of Benin. When an Oba joins his ancestors who are also presumed to be a part of the machinery of state, his oldest son - Edaiken (heir apparent) steps in and continues from where his father stopped.

One of the most respected Africa monarch. An author, writer, advocate of peace and co-existance. His high educational background help being to light the correct history of  Edo people and the ancient Benin kingdom, one of Africa oldest kingdom.

When he was crowned as the 38th Oba of Benin, Erediauwa was just about 56 years old. Today he is in his 90s, still waxing strong, alert and sensitive to issues that affect his kingdom. His mind is sound, never entangled in the briars of detail. All through his reign, he had demonstrated inflexible integrity, regal mannerisms that tie him to the souls of the ordinary folks. Oba gha to Okepre Ise
!

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