From Tony John, Port, Harcourt
Saturday, April 3, 2021, was a historic day, as the people of Bille Kingdom in Degema Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State transited to a long-awaited new dawn.
The new dawn was the coronation of His Royal Majesty, King Igbikingeri Ngowari Cornelius Herbert, as the Amayanabo of Ancient Bille Kingdom, after 11 years of epic search.
Daily Sun gathered that the throne was not hereditary. After the exit of the former king, the seat was thrown open. At least 10 persons were said to have indicated interest. After the screening, three persons emerged.
However, to the natives, the process that produced the current king was divine. They said no vote was cast. Rather, the person that picked the calabash that contained the title automatically became the king.
The event attracted Bille’s sons and daughters from different parts of the country and in diaspora.
At the event, Herbert noted that the focus of the 21st century Amayanabo would be a three-point agenda on the sustainable development of Bille Kingdom. He said this would be achieved through maintenance of the integrity of the immediate domain of the kingdom, cultural re-orientation and empowered leadership.
He said: “My reign shall be noted for creating a conducive environment for the individual and pursuit of happiness, as well as fostering peace, enlightenment and freedom that will culminate in sustainable development of Bille Kingdom.
“I shall tenaciously maintain the rich cultural heritage of the Bille people with due regard to the religious plurality of our contemporary society”.
King Herbert further appealed to Bille people to be law-abiding, as the benefits were enormous.
The Amayanabo pledged his utmost loyalty, commitment and dedication to Bille Kingdom: “I promise to be a humble servant-leader. I shall rule Bille Kingdom within the ambits of our conventions and with constant commitment and dedication to the will of God”.
The special guest of honour and governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike, described the emergence of the Amayanabo as historic and urged communities and kingdoms to see Bille as worthy of emulation.
The governor, who was represented by the former deputy speaker, House of Representatives, Austin Okpara, condemned the idea of endless mitigation in court for the stool. He stressed the continuous need for peace in the kingdom.
“Governor Wike has asked that I should inform your majesty and the entire kingdom of Bille that Kalabari road is ongoing and the first phase awarded; that I should assure Bille people that it will be connected in the second phrase.
“His Excellency has asked that I should inform your majesty, the communities and corporate bodies doing business here that you should not just allow the government take all the responsibilities; corporate bodies should cooperate with the communities and the government to ensure that you keep to your corporate social responsibilities of ensuring the development of Bille Kingdom,” Okpara said.
One of the natives of the land, Mrs. Onimi Sampson, expressed joy, describing the new kingship as an act of God.
She said: “Well, it is an amazing thing to this kingdom. Personally, I am so happy; it has been so long since we had a king and, today, God has made it for us to have a king in our kingdom.
“It is historic; for 11 years, we didn’t have a king. So, when this king was chosen, there was so much joy. I pray for the Almighty God to give him wisdom to rule us. God should give him the grace to stand firm and do what he was called for.”
He expressed optimism that Bille would experience transformation, development and peace, which the kingdom has yearned for, as the new king ascends the throne.
“With this king now, I believe that Bille Kingdom will be opened for development in terms of business and influx of companies.
“For now, the eyes of Bille Kingdom will be opened with the new king.”