The Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, is dead. His death was officially made public on Friday, April 29, 2016 in Benin City, the ancient city of Edo State.
Investigations from sources at the palace, however, revealed that though the royal father died since last year, 2015, his death was officially declared on Friday as that is the tradition in making the death of traditional rulers know to the public.
The monarch’s death was announced by the Iyase of Benin Kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe. Prior to his death, the traditional ruler of Benin Kingdom in Edo State was reported to have been battling with an unknown illness, which resulted to his death last year but was hidden from the prying eyes of the public.
He was the 38th monarch ruling Benin Kingdom from the early days of colonialism. He was born in 1923. Formerly known as Prince Solomon Akenzua, Oba Erediauwa’s current full title until his death was His Royal Majesty Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I.
Oba Erediawua took on the title and duties as traditional head of state and rightful heir of the extinct Benin Empire when he was crowned, succeeding his father, Oba Akenzua II, in a ceremony held in Benin City, Nigeria, on 23 March 1979.
Before being crowned he was known as Prince Solomon, Aiseokhuoba, Igbinoghodua Akenzua. He attended Government College, Ibadan (1939–1945), then Yaba College, before going to King’s College, Cambridge to study law and administration.
He joined the Eastern Nigeria Civil Service in 1957 as a district officer, later moving to the Federal Civil Service where he retired as permanent secretary, Ministry of Health in 1973. For a short period he was the regional representative of Gulf Oil. In 1975, he was appointed commissioner for Finance in Bendel State during the military administration of Major-General George Agbazika Innih.
Ascending to the throne on 23 March 1979, Erediauwa celebrated his 30th anniversary in 2009. During this period, he several times, acted as a peacemaker between politicians. For example, he intervened in a dispute between Abia State governor Orji Uzor Kalu and Tony Anenih, chairman of the People’s Democratic Party Board of Trustees, and resolved another face-off involving Anenih and former Edo State governor, Lucky Igbinedion.
In a statement, Adams Oshiomohle, Edo State governor, described his death as painful and shocking.
He said he was an accomplished Nigerian, a seasoned bureaucrat, quintessential unifier, unique personage and exemplary monarch whose reign brought distinction, immense class, finesse and integrity to traditional institution in Edo State.
According to him, “His carriage comes with an élan that was peculiar with the reverence of royalty. His uncommon courage was symbolic of the can-do spirit of the Edo mind. His unity of purpose was not in doubt even as he used his revered position to promote constructive engagement amongst all shades of opinion and culture in Edo state.
“As a thorough-bred bureaucrat, rising to the pinnacle of his career as a federal permanent secretary, he understood the dynamics and intricacies of governance. He was the alternative voice to the many voiceless in our society, calling government attention to issues of development and transparent governance, without minding whose ox is gored. He was brave, fearless, punchy and instructive in his verbal and written messages”.
“To us at the Edo State government, he was our strongest supporter; both in his uncommon faith in our ability and his readiness to offer uncommon advice to sharpen public discourse in our shared commitment to transform Edo State.
“It gladdens our heart, therefore, that our revered Oba was alive to witness the positive transformation of Edo State under his reign, and for standing with us through thick and thin in the course of making the Edo economy a treasure to behold. Being part of that eloquent history of transformation before his reunion with his ancestors gives us further reassurance that he will occupy a special pride of place in the hereafter”.