• Your father was my backbone, Buhari tells monarch
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare ll, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to help Edo tackling the spate of insecurity in the state.
Although the monarch commended president Buhari’s effort in tackling insecurity in the country, he said Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, is overwhelmed.
This was even as he called on relevant authorities to reflect on the roles played by the traditional institution in the Constitution
The Benin monarch, who made his position known yesterday, when he visited president Buhari at Aso Rock, in Abuja, said it is sad that traditional rulers who play stabilising and developmental roles, particularly at the grassroots, are not captured in the country’s law books.
In an address made available to newsmen after a closed-door meeting with the president, the Oba of Benin said traditional institution in Nigeria is ready to support government’s efforts to strengthen the unity and development of the nation.
“In Edo state, security issues seemed to be multi-dimensional.
“In addition to the prevailing criminal activities of cultist killings and kidnappings, activities of the so-called community development associations are crippling the economy of our state even much more.
“The Benin traditional authority has been relentlessly tackling the menace of community development associations that earned for themselves the disreputable name of community destructive associations. These networks of groups attack and are systematically destroying the normative and value system of our society and heritage. Their evil practices scare investors away.
“Our governor and the people of Edo state need more support from the federal government to effectively and decisively tackle the security challenges in our state.
“May I seize this opportunity to appeal to Your Excellency, to kindly assist our state governor, in dealing with the security challenges in the state.”
The Benin monarch also seized the opportunity of the visit to draw the attention of the president to some development issues in Edo which need urgent attention.
He called for the completion of the Benin-Auchi Road dualisation project, provision of tight security as well as curtailing human trafficking activities in the state.
“Mr. President, what you are yet to do for us includes the areas of more infrastructure development, security, human trafficking and to complete Benin-Auchi Road dualisation.
“Human trafficking incidents are not reducing and what non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are doing is merely palliative and, at best, scratching the surface. Some NGOs may even be in business for themselves.
“The federal government needs to assist Edo state to develop low-to-medium scale cluster industries or establish factories in each local government, to reduce unemployment and prompt urban to rural migration, to decongest the centre, for a holistic development in the state.
“Finally, traditional rulers in the country play stabilising and developmental roles in the country particularly when there is crisis brewing at the grassroots. It is sad that the role of traditional rulers is yet to be reflected in the constitution of the country. Nigeria is a country strongly rooted in cultural blues and norms.
“May I seize this opportunity to reassure government that traditional institutions will be used to strengthen the unity and development of Nigeria. The traditional institution will encourage Nigerians to go on with one Nigeria.
“We intend to continue to use culture to foster Nigeria image both in Nigeria and in the comity of nations.”
The Oba was accompanied to the Presidential Villa by members of the traditional and political class in Edo, including the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John OdigieOyegun.
In his response, president Buhari recalled how the monarch’s father, late Oba Erediauwa I, was his “back bone of support” when he was federal commissioner of Petroleum Resources and the late monarch was a federal permanent secretary.
“I cannot hold back my emotions, talking about my relationship with your predecessor.
“After General Murtala Mohammed was assassinated, I was moved from the North East, as governor, to the Ministry of Petroleum.
“Your father was then permanent secretary.
“My relationship with him was very strong. I have lost count of the number of visits to his palace as Oba,” the president said.
Buhari also praised the late Oba for “stabilising that part of the country because of his firmness.
“I must also commend the immediate past governor, Adams Oshiomhole, for stabilising Edo state.”
Welcoming Oba Ewuare’s delegation, the president commended the monarch for following the footsteps of his predecessor and reitaerated his support for the traditional institution.
“I know and respect the traditional institution. I try as much as possible to understand why the authors of our constitution kept silent about their role,” he said, and noted that this was probably the best way to preserve their neutrality.
“Your Royal Majesty, you are safe where you are,” the president added.
He expressed delight with the stabilising roles the Eweka Dynasty of Benin Kingdom has been playing in the affairs of the country.
The president said Nigerians have reasons to be proud of the stabilising roles Benin chiefs had played right from the colonial era to the current period, not only in the Delta region but the entire country.