Replaces father who was murdered by his Fulani herdsmen abductors
Gov Okowa, others rally support for new Delta monarch
By PAUL OSUYI
DRESSED in a sprawling immaculate white vestment, enhanced by ornamentation of royal beads, he walked down the staircase of the one-storey building within the palace in majestic gait. He momentarily stood to acknowledge obeisance from his subjects who trooped after him in royal armada shouting Nnayi (our father).
Enters the new Obi (King) of Ubulu-Uku Kingdom, Obi Chukwuka Noah Akaeze I. He carried himself with majestic reverence as he made public appearances at Ogwuashi-Uku where he met with other traditional rulers in Aniocha South council, and Asaba where Governor Ifeanyi Okowa received him and his royal entourage, during a courtesy call.
Upon the young shoulders of the 17-year-old monarch have been thrust the enormous responsibility of protecting and preserving the culture, customs and traditions of his people.
As the crowned prince and heir apparent to the throne, Obi Akaeze I was destined to rule over the people of Ubulu-Uku Kingdom which practices the principle of primogeniture in ascending the royal stool, but nobody thought that the royal responsibility would commence at his present age.
Circumstances threw him up, following the sudden death of his father, Obi Akaeze Edward Ofulue III in the hands of mean kidnappers who desecrated the tradition by abducting him and subsequently pumping hot lead into his body in the bushes around Umunede in Ika North-East Local Government Area of the state.
While Obi Akaeze I is probably the youngest king to be crowned in the history of the kingdom founded by Ezemu who, incidentally was the first Obi, his father, late Obi Ofulue III’s reign was probably the shortest, ruling the agrarian community for just about nine years before his sacrilegious death.
In recent history, Obi Ofulue I died at 75 after ruling the kingdom for 35 years. His successor, Obi Ofulue II reigned for 42 years and died at 82. Obi Ofulue III was crowned in December, 2006 and celebrated his ninth year anniversary on the throne last December before his hostag-takers struck on January 5, 2016 while his corpse was found on January 21.
Just like his father, Obi Akaeze I knew his place in the scheme of things as he carried about his majestic aura on the day he was formally presented to the people of the kingdom, and later to the council of traditional rulers in Aniocha South Local Government Area before paying a courtesy call on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
He had this quiet mien but his presence commanded reverence as he projects confidence and courage. He smiled momentarily with a sense of a man who thinks deep before making conclusions.
Pressed to speak on his ascension to the throne after the meeting with Aniocha South monarchs, Obi Akaeze I portrayed a reserved nature that is akin to royalty as he prayed for God’s grace and mercy in leading the kingdom.
“During this time of grieving, I am just trying to take everything slow, and God is with us. He will grant us the mercy we need and the grace to carry on during this difficult period. I know that He will protect Ubulu-Uku and give her success in Jesus name,” he had prayed as an ardent Christian which his father was before he joined his ancestors.
The young monarch also thanked Governor Okowa for his show of solidarity since the death of Obi Ofolue III and sued for its sustenance as he goes back to the United Kingdom to complete his education.
“I just want to thank you for your support to the family and to the people of Ubulu-Uku. I heard that after the death of my father, you came to the palace to show solidarity. It is my hope that this support will continue as I depart to the UK to continue my education,” he said.
Governor Okowa who congratulated the monarch on his ascension to the throne, assured the young king of his administration’s support for his educational pursuits, expressing hope that his exposure outside the country would be of immense benefit to the kingdom when he returns home.
Okowa said it was very sad to receive the king and his entourage considering the fact that the “events that led to the death of your father are still fresh in our hearts. But I’m glad that you were able to make it to the country to be crowned. It is a time of pain mixed with joy, and I thank God for the people who have moved beyond the pain to install a new king.”
According to the governor, “We are very mindful of the fact that you will need to return home to continue with
your education. It is also glad to know that a regent has been appointed to stand in for you at the time you are out. need to return home to continue with
“In everything, we want to encourage you and realise that as you study, you have a people back home that you administer their tradition and customs. We expect that while the people of Ubulu-Uku Kingdom continue to pray for you and your family, you will be in continued remembrance of the fact that you have a people back home to preside over their affairs as their royal father.
“We will do the best we can to be supportive of your family because we know that these are difficult times and looking at the young family, we are going to put processes in place to ensure that we give effective support to your education, and that will be communicated to your family in no distant time.
“I do hope that the papers from Ubulu-Uku Kingdom will go through the appropriate channel so that it can be processed for documentation at the state so that all the rights accruable to you from the local council will be effected as soon as possible.”
At 17, Obi Akaeze I is one of the youngest traditional rulers in the country but his tender age is not a barrier to effective ruling the kingdom, according to the Obi of Atuma-Iga Kingdom, Obi Chukwuka Daniel Ogbodo who was a guest during the presentation ceremony.
“A king does not rule the kingdom alone, there are several chiefs who will rule with him, they will be there to correct him. I came on board in 1994 when I was 25 years old. I was in school but people around me helped me, guided me and I think they will do the same thing here,” he revealed.
He said the people of Ubulu-Uku have only fulfilled tradition by the installation of Obi Akaeze I after the death of his father, Ofulue III whom he described as a “very close friend.”
A prominent indigene of the town and the President-General of Ubulu- Uku Development Council (UDC), Comrade Jones Ofunne, who could not conceal his joy, told Saturday Sun that the town was agog on the day Akaeze I was crowned.
“The town is agog in victory song that at the end of the day, we have a king, we are happy and we thank God for what is happening today. In our place, a king does not die, somebody is on the throne now as you can see,” Ofunne stated.
He noted that the monarch’s young tender age was not going to be a barrier in presiding over the affairs of the kingdom, stressing that the new king is loved by all in the community.
“The new king has a lot of advantage because there is an expression of love, very huge expression of love from the community towards him and he has a retinue of very wise people around him which he is going to tap from their wisdom. He is lucky and he is going to do well by the special grace of God,” he submitted.
Secretary of the palace, Chief Joseph Obazei revealed that Akaeze’s installation fulfilled the custom and traditional requirements of enthroning a new king in Ubulu-Uku Kingdom, saying that the young monarch would continue from where his father stopped.
“This event is wonderful in our time, this is a young man who was not even looking up to this position because his father was young and vibrant. Unfortunately, that sad event occurred. So he has now been thrust upon the throne, he is taking up the mantle of his father.
“Ubulu-Uku people are happy, very happy that we have somebody who has taken up the throne. In our own parlance, we say the king never dies. When it appears that there is no king, there is already a king, that is what has just happened.
“Now the Obi is here and he can tell his people what they are expected to do. In fact, by our tradition, you can wake up in the morning and discover that the heir apparent is sitting on the throne and giving commands which must be obeyed.
“That will tell you that something happened in the night and that something has happened now. This young man has taken the stool of his father, he can begin to give direction to the town,” Obazei said.
The palace scribe advised the people of Ubulu-Uku to remain peaceful despite “that something terrible happened to us but that should not put us off, we should brace up and continue with our lives because nothing happens without the consent of God. For that reason, we should all brace up and continue to live our lives.”
Buttressing the fact that the people’s traditions were fulfilled prior to the installation of the new king, the Regent of the town, Prince Anthony Ofulue insisted that the kingmakers performed the necessary rites for the emergence of Akaeze I.
“Whatever we do is in consonance with our ancient tradition as Ubulu-Uku people. People do not tell us how to install our king. We install our king, we are the kingmakers. There has been a pattern and it is that pattern we are following,” he said.
While maintaining that there were crises surrounding the ascension of the throne, Prince Ofulue told Saturday Sun that as the Regent, he would ensure that the kingdom will continue to function efficiently as it used to be, as the new king goes back to the United Kingdom to complete his studies.
“There is no problem to his ascension because he has been defined as the next king. He had just returned from the UK, so we are doing everything so that he can go back for his studies,” he added.
Reacting to his ascension, the member representing Aniocha/ Oshimili Federal constituency at the House of Representatives, Mrs. Amaechi Mrakpor said the young king carries the carriage of his father, noting that she has no doubt that Obi Akaeze I would be successful.
“Kings are really born because I am amazed at his strength at just 17 years old. If you watch the new king, Obi Akaeze I, you will see the carriage of the father, very calm. I think he has been able to pass on the virtues of good Christian life to his children. I don’t have any doubt that he will keep the legacy of the father,” she said.
Also Mr. Joseph Mordi, another indigene, while praying God to grant the community the wisdom to overcome the grief occasioned by the death of Ofolue III, implored the new king to follow the stead of his father
Meanwhile, the chairman of Aniocha South Local Government Area, Mr. Isaac Anwuzia, has assured that his administration would take the necessary steps to gazette the position of the king.
“Now, the people of Ubulu-Uku after grieving over their late king have been able to install a new Obi. It is my duty to introduce him to the existing traditional institution in Aniocha South which we have done. He has met his colleagues and they have blessed him.
“There are other procedures we must follow in order to gazette the position but we cannot do that without doing this, we are taking it step-by-step. As the chairman of Aniocha South, I will play my part, I know that up there, they are waiting to do theirs.
“We will do it and follow it step by step. The traditional rulers said they would summon another meeting, I will be monitoring to see that they summon it very soon. I have already told them that the Obi may not be available but the regent that is looking after the throne will be available,” Anwuzia said.
As the young king who is a British citizen, born of a Senegalese mother, goes back to school, it is the earnest hope of the people of Ubulu-Uku Kingdom that there will not be any crisis in the near future. This is coming against the background that the kingdom appears not to be too fixated on the cultural practice that the queen mother must be a native of the town.