Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Perhaps for the first time in the history of Benin Kingdom, the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, yesterday visited the State House in Abuja, demanding the provision of infrastructure in Edo State.
The monarch who held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, also challenged the president to address brazen security challenges including human trafficking.
He also tasked him to assist the government of Edo State in establishing small scale industries in rural areas to curb rural-urban drift.
The monarch specifically tasked the president to complete the dualisation of Benin-Auchi road.
The monarch also implored the president to ensure that traditional rulers are assigned roles in the constitution in view of the laudable roles they play in their respective domains.
“Mr. President, what you are yet to do for us include the areas of more infrastructural development, security, human trafficking and to complete the Benin-Auchi road dualisation.
“Human trafficking incidents are not reducing. What 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 and medium scale cluster industries or establish factories in each local government area to reduce unemployment and prompt urban to rural migration in order to decongest the centre for a very holistic development in Edo State.
“We commend Your Excellency in the manner you have been handling security issues in the country. In Edo State, security issues seem to be multidimensional in addition to the prevailing criminal activities of cultist killings, kidnappings, among others.
“The activities of the so-called community development associations are crippling the economy of our state even 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 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 use this opportunity to appeal to your Excellency to kindly assist our state governor in dealing with the security challenges in the state.
A statement issued later by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said Buhari expressed delight on the stabilising roles that the monarch has been playing in the affairs of the country.
According to the statement, the president said Nigerians have reasons to be proud of the stabilising roles Benin chiefs have played from the colonial era to the current period, not only in the Delta region in the entire country.
It said Buhari singled out the role played by the immediate past Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa I, whom he described as his “back bone of support” when he was Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources while the late oba 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 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,” he was quoted as saying.
It further said Buhari praised the monarch’s late father for “stabilising that part of the country because of his firmness. I must also commend the immediate past Governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole for stabilising Edo State.”
The statement added that Ewuare’s delegation was made up of chiefs from other parts of Edo State, including the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, adding that the president commended His Royal Majesty for following the footsteps of his predecessor while reiterating 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, noting however, that this was probably the best way to preserve their neutrality.
“Your Royal Majesty, you are safe where you are,” the president added.
It also said the monarch in his remarks, commended the president for his handling of security matters in the country and urged the federal government to establish industries in the rural areas to curb unemployment, rural-urban migration and human trafficking.