Our Personality of the Week in this week’s edition is no other than the revered monarch of Owa kingdom, HRM, Dr. Emmanuel O. Efeizomor II, the Obi of Owa, OON, JP, Chairman, Delta State Traditional Rulers Council and Visitor, Calvary Polytechnic Owa-Oyibu
The revered monarch was born into the family of Obi Efeizomor I, 80 years ago. He is the firstson of a large family, born at Iyenua, across the Niger. From there, he was brought down to Asaba, where he lived with the Odita family and started his academic sojourn. Moving from there, he came down to Owa until the death of his father in 1953. The octogenarian was trained by so many hands. After the death of his father, he was taken to Sapele where he attended Abot Primary School and later Abot College, all in Sapele.
After spending some time in Sapele, his sojourning continued as he moved to Baptist High School, Port Harcourt.
He is happily married to Queen Victoria Efeizomor, the Alasi Obi of Owa, and they are blessed with so many children of both genders who are all doing well in their various fields of endeavour.
In this personality interview, HRM reveals that he ascended the throne at the age of 21, September 6, 1959 precisely. Speaking on the perceived clannish leanings by some Ika people, he said he is of the opinion that we are one, stating that the leanings are inherent in semantics and thoughts of people who are after personal gains.
He reveals that he sees no difference between Owa and Agbor, especially as his close friends are from Agbor. The Mosheri, late Chief Imudia, Prof. Obika, Late Sir S.P.O. Ebie amongst others were mentioned by him as some of his closest friends. Buttressing his point further, he said that he married an Agbor woman, and concluded that the perceived clannish leanings boil down to human relations.
The Obi categorically stated that the relationship between Owa and Agbor people is solid. He also asserted that the “big shots” in Ika Land do not have or create dichotomy.
Speaking on the clamour of Ika South People to produce the next House of Representatives member which in turn strengthens the dichotomy between both local governments, HRM pointed out that once upon a time, all appointments came from Agbor during the time of Ika National Council. He said the issue of political appointments or election depends on the credibility of the candidate or appointee.
Reacting to questions on the wide spread Fulani herdsmen crises; he decried the issue as an unfortunate dimension in the history of the nation. He said the issue of herdsmen became amplified in the last five to six years.
Going down memory lane, the Monarch said cattle rearers six years ago used small sticks as their instrument, not AK 47 as it is the case now. Quoting Margaret Thatcher, he said “anybody who willingly takes the life of another has no right over his own”. He therefore asserted that if the herdsmen continue taking the lives of people, then they have lost the right to theirs.
The Obi noted that there are fortunate and unfortunate dimensions in life philosophically, stating that Nigerians are at the moment experiencing the unfortunate dimension. He reasoned that since the people have no weapons to defend themselves, they should be more vigilant and united to withstand the intruders, and not let political sentiments divide them.
He went further to suggest that if the youths stop the trends of travelling out, there will be enough man power and strength to withstand the invaders. He said they have put various measures in place to checkmate such occurrences in Ika Land, through series of meetings with residents, including non indigenes, and maintained that Owa People are living in peace with one another including visitors.
The Obi expressed gratitude to God for the privilege of Owa Kingdom producing a Governor, saying that such a privilege is difficult to come by and stated that it is the duty of every Ika man to give the governor maximum support to ensure the two terms of the governor are achieved. He noted that Ika South should give their maximum support, so that their actions can be reciprocated when it’s their turn.
He said it is not just Owa that produced the governor, but rather, it is Ika, Delta North and Delta State at large, that produced the governor. He said it is a joint effort, which will be reciprocated in the future.
On the administration of the governor, so far, he said it has not been as good for the state in the past as is the case now, despite the lean resources available. He categorically stated that Delta State has achieved and done more in the last three years than it had in the last 8 years. The impact of government is felt in all nooks and crannies of the State, as positive changes experienced by the people in all areas of the State. He further declared that going by their indices everywhere, especially in terms of road construction, renovation of schools, the SMART Agenda under which the YAGEP Programme is raising independent youths, and said the government has done well, and is still doing well.
The monarch in an advice, said people should be interested in the awareness created by the State; the inculcation of responsibility to the youths, rather than personal gains. He argued that the testimonies of Libya returnees confirm that the SMART Agenda of the governor which gives room for job creation is the way to go.
He affirmed the relative peace being experienced in all areas of Owa Kingdom, and attributed it to the fact that he lives in the midst of his people, works with the people, walks round the villages, supervises road projects, visits his farms and family members. He said his impact and presence is felt by the people, and he is always there to assist and encourage education.
The relationship and respect between him and his colleagues is mutual, so, the sense of arrogance does not come into play.
Being an academician, and the visitor to Calvary Polytechnic, Owa-Oyibu, he said, he made land available when the proprietor of the school, Engr. Okwokenye from Owa-Alero indicated interest to establish the institution in Owa-Oyibu. The people, according to him were willing to cooperate with him because they know the importance of education. He said he championed the course of enlightening the people on the good fortune education can bring to them, which led to a quick acceptance in providing the land. He revealed his joy with the school being in Owa-Oyibu, opining that the school is growing by the day. Giving his opinion on traditional rulers going into politics, he said community administration is distinct from politics. He however opined that the same way politics is about development using political apparatus, community apparatus is used by traditional rulers for community development as well. He said though both apparatus meets at some point, they are different.
He said the approach of traditional rulers towards community development may be slow, but it is consistent in yielding results, while that of political approach might be speedy, but it is prone to accidents.
HRM, further highlighting the differences, said traditional rulers can rule up to 50 years or more, while politicians have time constraints. In conclusion, he said they do not advocate for traditional rulers going into politics, but rather be with the people, understand their needs, and remain the conduit pipe, the government gets to the people.
He pointed out that there is a level of synchronization between both arms, because they need each other. He said the current administration in the state has a lot of respect for traditional rulers, hence he gives a listening ear to their plights and there is a common ground for development.
Shedding light into the effects of modernization on Ika culture and traditions in terms of naming, he said the issue has been on ground overtime. He pointed out that most people bearing English names such as James is a sign of ego, whereas native names such as Chukwuma, Chukwuemeke, play not just psyche roles in the lives of people, but also in their lifestyles.
Citing Mr. Godwin Emefiele of Central Bank Governor whom he said did not change his name as a point of reference; he said our native names are a pointer to our roots and also an instrument of promoting culture. He called on the people to support and promote the cultures of the land by giving their children Ika names, which depict their culture. He said people shouldn’t be ashamed of who they are. Alluding the similarities between Igbo and Ika names, he said the people should have the courage to stand their ground where they belong and promote their own culture before other people’s culture.
On the cause for the gradual decline of Ika language speakers amongst present day teeming youths of Ika extraction, he said some persons derive pleasure in not giving their children Ika names or teaching them the language, stating that in future, such pleasure will catch up with them. He said those who are not able to speak their language (Ika), or train their children to speak it are at fault and not the government. He stated that an average Yoruba man cannot afford not to speak his language, likewise an Hausa or an Igbo man, because they are proud of their language and heritage. He warned that those who derive pleasure in not teaching their children their mother tongue will face the shame in the future. He said change begins with us; hence we must all be involved in propagating and promoting Ika language.
His Royal Majesty frowned at the issue of human trafficking, and condemned the act, saying that those involved should be made to face life imprisonment, and if possible, death by hanging. He said it is a war that must be waged by all, irrespective of origin, saying that human trafficking in this modern day is the worst crime that can be committed.
When asked on how he feels attaining 80years of age, he said he is of the opinion that life begins at 80. He disclosed that he is hale and hearty, strong as ever, and looks forward to celebrating his 90th birthday.
He asserted that he has carried Owa, Ika land, and Delta State higher than he met them, and he will be remembered for that. He enjoined all Ika sons and daughters to join hands to make Ika land “our London”.
The Obi revealed that he is driven by the fact that whatever he cannot get at the moment he forgets about, because God doesn’t want him to have it.
Speaking of his likes and dislikes, he said he dislikes liars, and likes truthful people who are social and easy going.
In an advice, the youths who flee the country to make quick money, he said that foundation, value and objectives in life are very important, calling on the youths; the youths to have within the family rank or the society, role models they wish to pattern their lives after. He disclosed that the craze for wealth should not be our modus operandi, but rather, patience should be exercised as one thing leads to another. He admonished them to be creative and hardworking. He said they should know what they want in life, by having a sense of direction. He advised that the youths should not be in haste to make it in life. He said they ought to take life easy, and not be in a rush, adding that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step.
He observed that it is ironical for at a man who is just starting life, to rent a flat, when in the past a man and his wife usually starts life in a one bedroom apartment. He appealed that negative ambition be discarded and support should be given to those who have positive ambition.
He affirmed that Ika People should be their brother’s keeper, while he called on those who are in position to help others to help them, stressing that those who can employ other people should do so in order to create opportunities for others to excel.
Talking about successful Ika sons and daughters who fail to establish industries in their hometown, while they establish industries in other States, he made reference to the consequences of the Biafran war. He disclosed that many people who established businesses and accumulated properties in other places, apart from their hometown, lost their businesses and properties. He stressed that in more recent times, people have witnessed how long it took the government to ameliorate tensions and prevent the mass exodus of non-Northerners from the North.
Thus, he said those who fail to invest in their home-town, need to be advised to retrace their steps. He reasoned that if the industrialists of Delta North extraction can transfer only ten percent of their outside investments back home, Delta North will become like Lagos, the region will become ‘saturated’ with industries, hospitals, hotels and so on.
He called on Ika sons and daughters to come and build housing estates, bring in industries to develop the land. He disclosed that there are individuals who have private schools and other businesses in Delta North, such as Calvary Polytechnic and Ika Weekly Newspaper respectively. He opined that these institutions and establishments will reduce our dependence on the government for socio-economic development.
Giving his opinion on the unity between both kingdoms in Ika land, he stressed that the Governor has already started uniting them, while mentioning some notable projects in Agbor to include; the Technical College which has been given a facelift; the successful completion of massive road construction projects across Agbor as an entity in the last three years, compared to the status quo as at 8 years ago. He affirmed that these are signs of development and togetherness (unity).
In furtherance, he said when examined, the relationship between Governor Okowa and an average Agbor man, shows that the Governor has more reliable friends in Agbor than in Owa, reiterating that he has no room for sectionalism.
Cross examining the consequences of disunity of both kingdoms to the Governor, he averred that the population of Owa and Agbor in terms of electoral benefits, when compared to the entire Delta State is insignificant. Thus, he said the people have to agree, come together and work towards one course.
He asserted that other political aspirants vying for big positions should collapse their interests for the time being, and see Ika Land as a political party, so that Governor Okowa can have the united mandate of all Ika people. According to him, united we stand, divided we fall.
Disclosing his relationship with the Dein of Agbor, Dr. Benjamin Keagborkwuzi I, he said they are very good friends who have taken their friendship further into brotherhood. He recalled that the Dein was present during the Traditional Rulers Council Meeting held at Owa-Oyibu recently, explaining that that goes to show the level of friendship they share. He said they are on the best of terms, reiterating that they are brothers who cannot stand to see anyone talk ill of the other in their presence.
In his final words, he said Ika people should work together and muster the courage to sit and deliberate on issues when the going gets difficult. He said the goal is unity, hence we should be our brother’s keeper.
As all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, the Obi revealed that he plays music and dances to old school songs in the comfort of his home for relaxation. He also loves reading.
The octogenarian disclosed that he is not selective in his eating habit as he eats everything, especially Ika delicacies such as Ofe Osen, Ofe Ujuju, and the rest.
Above all, the revered Monarch preached the peace and unity of Ika land.