THE Edo state capital of Benin played host to eminent personalities as the Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba Ewuare 11 celebrated the second anniversary of his coronation and the launch of a book on the Benin Monarchy titled An Anthology of Benin History.
At the ceremony which was graced by two former Heads of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, President Goodluck Jonathan, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad III and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and a host of others, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated the determination of his administration to encourage and ensure that traditional institution continues to evolve with time while preserving their rich cultural heritage.
Buhari who was represented by Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr. Boss Mustapha said that traditional rulers must continue to build bridges as is being exemplified by the very good and outstanding relationship that exists between the Sultanate and the people of Benin people.
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He said: “They should continue to build bridges of love and mutual respect across the country, they must continue to stay abreast of changes in a digital world while jealously guiding and protecting the core social values, customs, and traditions that distinguish our respective people.
The president said that Benin kingdom is a role model for other ethnic kingdoms and societies to follow, adding that the story of Nigeria will not be complete without the contributions of historical Benin.
He said: “The key areas that demand our passion are the preservation of our languages and the teaching of our history in schools. These should not be compromised.”
Noting that traditional rulers have a vital role to play in the forthcoming general elections, he urged to sensitise the people on the need to eschew violence and hate speeches, preach the message of peace and harmony, development, elimination of the use of drugs and substances, security and economic prosperity.
According to him, all these messages, if combined, will help to downplay or completely remove the negative messages of violence, ethnicity and religious intolerance and differences.
He continued: “We must also ask our citizens to resist money politics that can lead to under development in the long run. This administration will continue to deliver on our change mantra to provide security, fight corruption and improve the economy for the betterment of all Nigerians.
“You as traditional rulers have a herculean task to continue to instill an enduring part of our heritage as custodians of culture and tradition expectedly, our traditional rulers are closely linked with the grassroots and so understand the problems of our people more intimately. In our search for peace, orderliness and stability in our society, the traditional institutions must remain a veritable instrument in this regards”, the President said.
He pledged the federal government’s unflinching support and cooperation towards uplifting and sustaining the country traditional institutions and preserving their norms and culture and traditions to the unification of the entire country.
As one of the oldest in Nigeria, dating back to 1280, Buhari said that the tradition chain has been passed down from one generation to another to the present.
“Let me use this opportunity to congratulate the Oba and his council of chiefs for this feat of preserving our cultures, values and ethics. Indeed, Benin kingdom is a role model for other ethnic kingdoms and societies to follow.
“Today, we are not just here to celebrate the second anniversary of our beloved Oba, but to also make a public presentation of a similar compendium entitled the Benin Monarchy; An Anthology of Benin History to mark this historic event. This compendium I undoubtedly know that it will showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Benin people and the great Benin kingdom.
“My personal interactions and relationship with the Benin Kingdom and its monarchy has shown that they are not just unique from the perspective of ecstatic but also as a driver of redefinition, regeneration and repositioning of the glory and essence of their kingdom”, the President said, adding that “the Benins have brought this same virtue to play at the national level.”
Buoyed by the large turn out of people, Oba Ewuare II expressed gratitude to his subjects for the love and support they extended to him in the past two years, noting that he was using economic, diplomatic method as well as art and culture to empower the people.
He commended the hard work of members of Board and contributors to the book, describing the book as “a great tribute to a great culture and a great people”.
For the executive producer of the book, Capt. Hosa Okunbo, the book is no doubt “a compendium of history, a fusion of the past and present”, adding “the book is a gift to our generation, an expose of some very deep things”.
Earlier, Chairman of the occasion and former Head of State, Dr. Yakubu Gowon, said one of the tragedies of Africa is that our story has always been told by others from their perspectives and for their own purposes, adding that the result is that much of the narrative about our continent has been but a distorted picture.
“I consider the book an aesthetic masterpiece and a treasure trove of unequalled insight into the history of the great Benin Kingdom. It is not just a piece of intellectual exertion worthy of high commendation, it presents to the rest of us a palpable challenge: a challenge to look back at the richness of our heritage and engender therefrom, a process of regeneration of those values and ideals that can only trigger the birth of new, progressive, people-centred, excellence-driven communities, nations, a new Africa!”, he said.
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