Oba Ewuare II: TROMPCOM shouldn’t be hijacked for selfish interest
When the Amanayabor Twon Brass of Bayelsa State, HRM Alfred Diete-Spiff paid a personal visit to His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II in his Palace on August 15, 2017, no one ever imagined that his visit would become a subject of controversy.
As has been the practice in Benin for so many centuries, the Oba of Benin has respect for everyone, especially fellow traditional rulers of King Alfred Diete-Spiff’s status.
Consequently, the Oba of Benin willingly received King Diete-Spiff, even at the shortest notice and without prior knowledge of why he was visiting. This was done against the usual protocols observed in the Oba Palace.Traditionally, every visitor to the palace must first make known his or her reason(s) for the visit before such a person is allowed to meet the Oba.
But this tradition was altered in King Diete-Spiff’s case, because palace officials felt that a man of his status cannot be frivolous.When King Diete-Spiff invariably met with Oba Ewuare II, he introduced two organisations to the latter. The first matter he tabled was that of the body of Traditional Rulers in Oil, Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCOM). The second was that of another body he called the Host Communities of Oil Producing States of Nigeria (HOSTCON).
According to King Diete-Spiff, the two bodies were formed to help address problems posed by activities of oil exploration and gas flaring in these areas, with the view of helping to bring succour to affected communities and people.
The Amanayabor Twon Brass told the Oba that he, King Diete-Spiff, was a patron to the two bodies. He also informed the Benin monarch that TROMPCOM’s chairmanship was rotational after two years, pointing out that it was now Edo State’s turn to hold the position.
He, therefore, pleaded with the Benin monarch to kindly honour the body, by accepting to be the next TROMPCOM chairman. At that meeting, King Diete-Spiff sounded as if he was speaking for himself. First, he said he had to come personally to plead with the Oba of Benin. Second, he promised to come back to the Oba with a formal letter appointing him the chairman of the body at a later date.
The Oba of Benin, being a diplomat, who knows the difference between verbal and formal communication, responded to King Spiff’s request very carefully. So, he neither accepted nor declined the offer made by King Spiff nominating him as chairman of TROMPCOM.
Rather, the Oba, in principle, asked for a formal letter from TROMPCOM before he would formally accept the position.Oba Ewuare II was, therefore, not surprised, that in less than 48 hours after King Diete-Spiff’s visit to his palace, the offer was challenged by Owong Dr. Effiong Bassey of Akwa-Ibom State in a media report in which he claimed to be the legitimate TROMPCOM chairman. Owong Dr. Effiong Bassey went a step further to say that Oba Ewuare II was not a financial member of TROMPCOM and had never attended their meeting. He further stated that the leadership of TROMPCOM did not approve nor send King Spiff on any errand to Benin palace, saying: “King Spiff acted on his own.”
This, the Oba and entire Benin Kingdom found to be quite amusing, as well as a calculated attempt to denigrate the exalted throne and revered Benin monarch.Be that as it may, the question that readily comes to mind is why would a person of King Spiff’s status and calibre embark on such a mission without the National Executives of TROMPCOM’s approval? What is, the motive(s) behind Amanayabor Twon Brass trying to mislead the Oba of Benin or trying to conscript him into becoming TROMPCOM chairman without due consultation with other members of the body?
Anyway, the Oba of Benin, as the traditional and spiritual leader of Benin people can never be party to such an unholy act or controversy.In accordance with his nature, tradition and duties, part of the Oba’s daily functions is resolution of disputes among warring parties. And this is one of the reasons he is addressed as “Uku Akpolokpolo.” The Oba of Benin can, therefore, not be misled by anyone. Moreover, the Oba of Benin is not interested in a body, where people struggle for leadership and behave like politicians.
From the above, it is very clear to every discerning mind, why the aim and objectives of TROMPCOM are yet to be realised after several years of being in existence. Despite the establishment of this body over the years, the people in the oil, mineral producing areas, especially the Niger Delta region, are still grappling with underdevelopment, lack of basic amenities and infrastructure, such as good roads, potable water, healthcare facilities and electricity, among others.
To all intents and purposes, the reasons for establishing TROMPCOM is very good, but over the years, the body has been hijacked by those that do not believe in its philosophy and goals. Investigations have revealed that the traditional rulers, who are now laying claim to TROMPCOM, were not among its founding members.
The Traditional Prime Minister of Gbaramattu Kingdom in Delta State, High Chief Wellington Okrika said: “The decision to establish TROMPCOM started in 1994 and finally gave birth to the defunct Oil, Mineral Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC).“It was the late Oba of Benin, alongside other traditional rulers that spearheaded its establishment. That was why the immediate past Oba of Benin became the Patron of TROMPCOM.”
Chief Okrika, therefore, wondered, “Why some younger traditional rulers from the region are trying to obliterate facts and change the structure of TROMPCOM.”The traditional Prime Minister of Gbaramattu Kingdom said he is ready to confront anybody with facts, as the records that led to TROMPCOM’s establishment are still available for interested persons to verify.
He advised those trying to embarrass the current Oba of Benin or denigrate the exalted Benin throne to desist from such act and retrace their steps. He pointed out that the Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo is supreme to many of those laying claim to the patronship or of TROMPCOM chairmanship.
This fact was corroborated by HRM King Pere S.P. Luke Kalariame VIII, the Pere of Akungbone-Mien Kingdom of Delta State, when he said: “TROMPCOM members regarded Oba Erediauwa of blessed memory as the Grand Patron. The late Oba was also a mentor to almost all the kings, who are members of TROMPCOM.”
The traditional Prime Minister of Gbaramattu Kingdom stressed: “This is why many concerned citizens and stakeholders are clamouring for the restructuring of TROMPCOM in order for it to accommodate all interest groups, irrespective of their financial status or ethnic background.
“If the aim of TROMPCOM is truly to be realised and bring the much-need succour to the people in the oil, mineral producing states in Nigeria, membership of TROMPCOM ought to be automatic and not tied to other extraneous considerations. TROMPCOM must not be seen to be hijacked by certain individuals or groups for their selfish or personal interest.”
• Agbama is the Chief Press Secretary to Oba of Benin
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