An Urhobo King Seeking God’s Heart

Allison Abanum

Traditional ceremonies are often colourful, cheerful and all round jolly good fun, more so when it is centered around the King of the land who is the chief custodian of the culture and traditions of the land. It is a time when all the sons and daughters of a kingdom gather to acknowledge their roots and celebrate their heritage. One of such occasions was held recently in the magnificent kingdom of Umiaghwa-Abraka in Ethiope-East Local Government Area of Delta State, where the entire kingdom came out to honour its illustrious King, The Ovie of Umiaghwa-Abraka Kingdom His Royal Majesty, Lucky Ochuko Ararile, Awaeke 1. on his 12th year anniversary celebration on the throne as ruler of the kingdom.

The three-day event brought the entire kingdom to a standstill as invited guests came in from parts of the state not just because of the king as an institution but his person, having deligently served his country profoundly. His Royal Majesty, Lucky Ochuko Ararile, Awaeke 1 is a retired Air Vice Marshall (AVM). He was born in 1954 and served distinguishly for 35 years as a dedicated Air Force personnel. During the long service of the monarch in the Nigerian Air Force, he was part of the Peace Keeping Mission to Liberia, Sierra Leone and other parts of the world, he was particularly instrumental in restoring peace to the Niger Delta region. His military involvement in Chad, Liberia and Sierra Leone and at home largely served as the basis for his appointment as the pioneer Coordinator of the Federal Government’s Amnesty Programme for ex-militants. His subjects say he is not only a blessing to his community Abraka but indeed to Nigeria as a whole.

The first two days of the event saw the 5 royal houses in the Kingdom take turns to come pay homage to the King. displaying the beautiful array of their culture and traditions. They brought along gifts and greeted the king as if to acknowledge his supremacy as the traditions of the land provides. King Lucky Ochuko Ararile despite being a monarch had always displayed his love for God and the things of God. A strong baptist member, he always maintained the precepts of Christianity in his dealings and this occasion was not going to be an exception.

Distinguished guests from all works of life graced the grand finale to mark this landmark year on the throne and the guests included the Governor of Delta state who was ably represented and other top government functionaries. Also present were traditional rulers from all over the state most notably was His Royal Majesty King Michael Omeruo, the paramount ruler of Agbon Kingdom. He also is a strong member of the Baptist Church thereby cementing the notion that The king clearly values those with good relationship with God.

The Kings made sure to display their admirable Christian inclinations as they sang songs of worship to God almighty both in the English and in the native Uhrobo dialect. Upon taking the stage to address the vast crowd present, the King made sure to touch on pressing issues facing the kingdom, State and Nation at large. Particularly addressing the negative happenings in Okuama where on the 14th of March 2024 a bloodbath had ensued gruesomely claiming the lives of four senior officers and 12 soldiers of the Nigerian Army, and the subsequent invasion and shutdown of activities in the area by the army as they seek to fish out the perpetrators of the act.

Being a retired Armed forces veteran himself, The King pleaded passionately lending his voice to the already echo of stakeholders demanding an end to the military exercise in Okuama to enable the natives of Okuama and its adjoining communities to return home to resume their normal life in the aftermath of the March 14 bloodbath. He unequivocally stated that the Army knows what to do in their bid to get the killers of their men. He passionately made it clear that the Urhobo people are warm and hospitable folks and that they are not violent neither are they killers. Speaking on his authority as a king and a custodian of the culture and traditions of Urhobo land he authoritatively made a defense for his people stating that they should not be termed vile names such as killers as it is never in the nature or culture of the Uhrobos to commit such atrocities and therefore the Army should halt their excessive aggression in the area which has practically shut down the entire community and its neighbors preventing innocent people from going about their normal businesses and causing untold hardships that will take a long time to recover from

Further admonishing the army to leave the task of fishing out the perpetrators to the Nigerian Police as the incident falls within its jurisdiction and not the full blown military exercise ongoing in Okuama. He further weighed into the discussion of empowering the police enough to be able to handle situations as this effectively. He admonished the army to use the right mediums to go after the enemies that carried out the act rather than punish the innocent many for the sins of an unruly few with shady ambitions. He further encouraged the people especially the youths to law abiding and less moved to rebel against government security institutions or any way feel that they are more powerful or can deliver justice better. No one should take matters into their own hands

The Monarch also delved into issues concerning the Nigerian economy and pleaded with all Nigerians to patient with the President Bola Tinubu-led administration as he is adamant that the president is on the right track to change the fortunes of Nigerians especially as immense hardship is wreaking havoc on Nigerians all over the country. He also pleaded for patience as he could relate to daunting task the administration is facing and he is very optimistic about the successes of the moves made thus far. He declared that no good breakthrough comes without discomfort and echoed that in the nearest future Nigerians would be grateful for the strides the president and his team a making in other the make Nigeria a better place.

The 12th anniversary celebration of His Royal Majesty, Lucky Ochuko Ararile’s reign was as colourful as it was exciting. The full culture of the Wonderful Oria- Abraka land was fully on display with dances, cheers, drinks and food was made available and modestly taken especially the drinks as the king upheld his strong faith in God and his beliefs for modesty and decency. The king and guests were of course present in church to given Thanksgiving of praises and this further shows the kind of kingdom he is running, one that pays attention to the things of God as they even organized general prayers by all citizens annually for the growth, protection and development of the kingdom. It indeed an excellent time of celebration, long live His Royal Majesty, Lucky Ochuko Ararile 1, Long live Umiaghwa-Abraka Kingdom, Delta state and indeed Nigeria.

Allison Abanum writes from Yenagoa.

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