Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State says the coronation of Oba of Benin on Thursday is historic as it will be the first time an elected governor and an indigene of the State will perform the formality of presenting the staff of office to His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin, explaining that only military administrators and foreigners had done so in the past.
Speaking while receiving the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright at the Government House, on Wednesday, Governor Oshiomhole said, “Before this Oba, the other Obas but one, I believe Oba Akenzua, was the one who had to be presented the staff of office, according to him, by the Queen of England a couple of years ago in 1933.
Since then, I think the next Oba was crowned in 1979, and then Nigeria was already an independent country and the state was under military rule and the staff of office was presented by a military governor.
Thursday will be the first time that an elected governor will have the pleasure, and somebody from Edo State, to formally present the staff of office to His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin.”
He said, “I’m sure you probably already know that this is one of the very few states, particularly in the Southern part of Nigeria where the issue of the paramount traditional ruler is not in dispute, where the chairman of the council of traditional rulers and chiefs is permanent and is the Oba of Benin, whereas in some states, particularly in the West, they rotate, and there are issues as to who comes before the other. Every Edo person, including those who may not be directly under the Kingdom geographically, we all see the Oba as our paramount traditional ruler, which is why we have declared a public holiday for tomorrow (Thursday), because every Edo person regardless of his location in the state has some strong positive sentiments about the coronation ceremony. So, I want to thank you for taking time out, for travelling all the way to participate and to observe the coronation ceremony. We are very grateful.”
According to Oshiomhole, “We are also keen on how we can deepen and strengthen relations particularly in the sphere of economic areas between the United Kingdom and Edo State Government. I think we are all clear that the challenge of government, whether federal or state, will have to focus more and more on how we can become less dependent on oil revenue by creating the necessary enabling environment to attract investors.
“We believe that given the unique geographical location of Edo State and the resourcefulness and creativity of our people, very hardworking people, and a state that has the least out of school population in the Niger Delta region, we have a very educated labour force, obviously we have suitable land for agricultural purposes, we have the highest deposit of gas in addition to oil minerals and a number of solid minerals including gold, limestones, etcetera, but we think that the lesson of the current challenge is to emphasize less about these natural endowments and begin to think more in terms of how we can make the right investments and structure our manpower development in a way that we can boast more of the quality of our human capital as the key driver of our economic growth and development so that when investors come, they will find an enabling environment with a ready workforce that is employable, that is trainable and re-trainable to be able to drive the wheel of industry. So, it will be our pleasure to be able to see how we can explore areas and attract investors from the United Kingdom. I want to welcome you again to Edo State.”
Earlier, Mr. Arkwright, who was accompanied on the visit by his spouse, Mrs Tricia Arkwright, said he was in the state on behalf of her Majesty the Queen of England and the British Government for the coronation ceremony of the Oba of Benin.
He said: “This is the very first time I am visiting this state in Nigeria with my wife, Tricia. So, it is a particular pleasure for me to be here. I am here for two main reasons: I am here for the coronation of the new Oba of Benin, His Majesty, tomorrow (Thursday), and I am very much looking forward to the ceremony and to give the greetings of the British Government and Her Majesty, the Queen, to the new Oba of Benin.”
The British envoy continued, “I am here as well to speak with you (Gov. Oshiomhole) and to congratulate you as you come to the end of your mandate as Governor in Edo State which I am told is the heartbeat of Nigeria. I am so grateful to meet the beating heart of the heartbeat of Nigeria and to congratulate you, Comrade Governor on the excellent achievements that you have launched out for the past eight years in a difficult period for Nigeria.
“So, I want to hear more about the successes. I want to hear more about how the United Kingdom can continue to support and help Edo State. And in particular, I am interested in some of the business opportunities that British companies may be able to find by coming here and investing here and creating employment opportunities and jobs here in Edo State.”