Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The people of Idjerhe in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State are still basking in the euphoria of the successful installation of a veteran journalist, Monday Obukowho Whiskey, as the Udurhie I (King). He was presented with a staff of office in Jesse, headquarters of the community.
He emerged king of the second largest community in Urhobo with over 40 towns and villages, after a marathon process of selection by the kingmakers. There had been succession crisis since Edward Igho Otadaferua, Erhiekevwe I, whose reign lasted 12 years, joined his ancestors in 2018.
The coronation of Udurhie I may have ended the crisis among the various contenders from the ruling houses of Idjerhe Central, Oyonbru and Boboroku.
The Unuevworo of Idjerhe Central, one of the ruling houses, Chief Emmanuel Umukoro, called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and security agencies to arrest plot by some persons to cause breach of peace He noted that all the ruling houses screened and selected Udurhie I as the new Idjerhe King in line with the gazette and tradition of the people.
He said the only viable option left for his opponents was to embrace peace and seek forgiveness for their alleged inimical actions to embarrass the people of the kingdom: “The king has emerged and it is in the person of King Monday Whiskey, Udurhie I, Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom.
“Monday Whiskey was picked because of equity. The Idjerhe kingdom has produced two kings before and these two kings came from Idjerhe Central, hence we zoned the kingship to Oyonbru where Monday Whiskey is from for equity sake. He has been installed as a king and a king forever. Nobody can remove him from that position.”
The Unugbrogodo of Oyonbru sub-clan, Chief William Atiti, debunked claims that he was unqualified to crown a new king, insisting that it was clearly within his prerogative, as the most senior Unugbrogodo (kingmaker) of Idjerhe to crown a new king following the demise of the reigning one. He cautioned against unguarded statements aimed at tarnishing the image of prominent people in Idjerhe:
“What we did, everybody was there. All the chiefs from Central, Boboroku and Oyonbru were there when we did the installation. It wasn’t hidden. Our respected politicians were there.
“We have told the chairman and written to the state government to call them to order because they want to cause anarchy in our land. And we do not want bloodshed. Everyone here has to be very careful with them.”
Presenting the staff of office to the new king, Governor Okowa urged him to unite all his subjects to ensure a peaceful reign. Represented by his deputy, Kingsley Otuaro, he advised the people to support their king to succeed.
The new monarch, who had his first and second degrees in Mass Communication, is currently a PhD student of the Delta State University, Abraka. He was also one-time Special Adviser (Media), to the pioneer chairman of the Delta State Oil Producing Development Areas Commission (DESOPADEC), Chief Wellington Okrika.
Until his emergence as king, he was media coordinator, Host Communities of Nigeria (HOSCON). He was a former South-South Editor of the National Daily. He became the second journalist and editor to have emerged traditional ruler in the state after Obi Chukwunnwike Charles Anyasi III, the Obi of Idumuje-Unor, Aniocha North Local Government, who was a journalist with the defunct Concord.
Udurhie promised to use his present position to unite all sons and daughters of Idjerhe as well as attract development to the community: “I feel delighted. For the past two years, it has not been easy. This is the second largest kingdom in Urhobo land and as a result of that, we want to pursue every other thing as if there is no tomorrow.
“We want to pursue education, economic empowerment, political empowerment like never before. We have the people and the population, so we also think that we should have the development.
“This government of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has developed this kingdom. We are, just like Oliver Twist, asking for more. We still have many roads that need government’s attention.”
The state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), described the emergence of the new Idjerhe monarch as a good thing to have happened to the union. A statement by the chairman, Michael Ikeogwu and secretary, Patrick Ochei, said Whiskey’s emergence was gladdening “because we are sure of excellent leadership from him which will continue to be a thing of joy to the media constituency.
“We want to commend the Idjerhe Kingdom for the peaceful process of selection that has placed the right person on the saddle; and of course the Delta State Government for doing the needful.
“Monday Whiskey is a monarch to trust and rely on based on his track records in the media industry, his experience and capacity to dispense justice in the most honest manner.”