Isekhure’s suspension: Dr. Agoro appeals for extreme care, restraint

Chief Nosakhare Isekhure

The Owa Tapa of Itapa-Ijeshaland, Dr. Olapade Agoro, has said because of his ancestral lineage with the Bini people, he is compelled to appeal to Oba Ewuare II, to exercise extreme care and restraint in the handling of the current face-off between the Chief Priest of Benin Kingdom, Chief NosakhareIsekure, and Benin Traditional Council.

He said the stage this crisis has got to, most people, especially the chiefs who want to be in the good books of the Oba would never be able to tell him the truth. Dr. Agoro is, however, quick to point out that he is not in any way trying to tell the Oba what to do or how to run his domain, but due to the delicate nature of the position of the Chief Priest of Benin Kingdom, this issue has to be handled with utmost care and caution.

Dr. Agoro explained that the reason this crisis is particularly worrisome is the fact that it has never been known in the Benin history, where an Oba tried to discipline his Chief Priest publicly. “Benin has one of the most preserved tradition and culture in black Africa. In Benin, there are over 200 Orishas (deities), the Isekhure, as it were, supervises all the deities. The Oba as a matter of fact does not personally appease the Orishas or deities. This is part of the duties of the Chief Priest. It has never been known in the history of Benin that I know very well, where you have an acting Chief Priest. As it is also well known in our tradition, there is no title like second in rank to an Oba as the Oba is absolute, and nobody is second in rank to him. The Oba is the head of all chiefs; the chiefs can assist an Oba, but they can never become an Oba. The Oba is therefore referred to as an agent of the Almighty God on earth (Orisa). So, the present arrogance, insensitivity and high-handedness on display are absolutely unnecessary.

“There is no need digging into to the pros and cons of what led to the disagreement between the Chief Priest and the Benin Traditional Council or the Oba. Whatsoever is the disagreement, as far as I am concerned, there would have been a way to resolve this matter without it getting to the public the way it has. Now that the Oba has suspended the Chief Priest, is he indirectly saying that he has suspended the tradition of ritual offering of the Benin people? The Oba, reverting the position of the Chief Priest to the Ihama position created since 1255AD, is it the best way to go in resolving a delicate matter like this? Let us not delude ourselves; nobody can take the position of the Chief Priest of Benin Kingdom, especially when the position is hereditary.

“I am appealing to both sides in this disagreement; let them forget about the year the position of Isekhure was created by Oba Ewado of Benin. The institution of Obaship is basically the institution of appeasing the gods, which is ritual. If there are no rituals there is nothing called Oba, the Obas, as expected get to their thrones through the means of ritual performance. Hence, the role or position of the Chief Priest of the Kingdom cannot be trivialized. No Oba of Benin can become an Oba of Benin unless he performs all the required rituals. In view of the foregoing, I am appealing very seriously for the Isekhure and the Oba to bury the hatchet and move forward in the overall interest of the Benin people and the great Benin kingdom. My advice therefore, is for the Isekhure to immediately find a way of reaching out to the Oba, as the Oba is never expected to go and beg Isekhure. All well-meaning Benin people must move now to get this matter settled once and for all.

The Chiefs that are presently benefiting and enjoying this conflict should be very careful and exercise restraint, and help to make peace. As Benin Kingdom is bigger than each and every one of them, they come as Chiefs and go, the Benin Kingdom remains. I am therefore seizing this opportunity to appeal to Ogigidigan Oba Ewuare II, to please forgive Isekhure no matter the level of Isekhure’s infractions. Just because of the survival of the great Kingdom, which God in his wisdom has fostered on him. I must say that the people urging the Oba to discipline Isekhure do not mean well for the Benin Kingdom. With this experience, I am sure, Isekhure would have learned his lesson and know where to draw his lines, as he can never become the Oba of Benin. The Oba remains the Oba.”

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