Before a capacity crowd of friends, relatives and well wishers, Prince Godfrey Ikenwoli Emiko was yesterday crowned Ogiame Ikenwole 1, the 20th Olu of Warri, Delta State.
At exactly 2.14pm, the head of the Ologbotsere family, who is also the Olara-Aja of Jakpa, Pa Higgson Oporokun, placed the 404-year-old diamond crown, first worn by Dom Domingos in 1411 on the head of the new Olu in Ode-Itsekiri (Big Warri).
The crowning followed three months of mourning of the passage of his predecessor and elder brother, Ogiame Atuwatse II.
Prior to his public crowning yesterday, the new Olu had gone through a series of traditional rites within the premises of the old Ode-Itsekiri palace, such as splitting of firewood, paddling of canoe and fetching of water, all of which are his last symbolic manual labour as a human being.
Thereafter, he picked his throne name, Ikenwole 1, from an array of sceptres, including those of departed Olus and new ones, a task he performed blindfolded.
After he had been crowned and greeted as Olu of Warri by the crowd, he promised a new era of peace and development in his domain and the state in general.
He thanked all the guests for honouring the Itsekiri nation with their presence and wished them a safe return back home.
“I am for you all and you are all for me and we hope this bond of friendship will grow stronger in the years ahead,” he said.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State congratulated the new royal father and admonished him to sustain the gains already achieved in peace building in Warri.
This, the governor said, was necessary for investors to continue to have confidence to put their money in the city.
He was confident that the new king would fit perfectly into the shoes left behind by his predecessor.
Speaking on behalf of the Olu Advisory Council, the Ojomo of Warri, Chief Yahaya Kpesu, thanked the royal family for its cooperation with the advisory council, which made the selection and the eventual crowning go smoothly.
The occasion, which drew Itsekiri sons and daughters from across the world, was graced by several power brokers from both the political, social and business worlds.
Among those at the event were President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Dr David Lawal, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, former Delta State governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Senator James Manager and Senator Ighoyota Amori.
Also in attendance were the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi; Emir of Zaria; Oba of Benin, who was represented by the Iyasere of Benin Chief Sam Igbe; the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnayelugo Alfred Achebe; the King of Nembe, Edmond Daokuru and King Jaja from Opobo.
There were also top traditional rulers from Delta State, including the Dein of Agbor, Benjamin Ikechuku, Keagborekuzi I; Obi of Owa, HRM Efeizomor; Pere of Ogulagha, Agbounu I and the Orodje of Okpe, HRM Felix Mujakperuo and the Owhorode of Olomu were also present at the special day of the new Olu of Warri.
Governor Okowa and his processor, Uduaghan paid glowing tribute to the leadership qualities of the new Olu of Warri.
The duo spoke separately shortly after the coronation.
Okowa said of him, “he is a peaceful, loving and worthy successor (to the late Olu) and he is also a seasoned businessman.”
Dr Uduaghan said, “The ceremony is one of the greatest for any Itsekiri person. The most important thing for the Itsekiri people and the binding force is the crown.
“The new monarch was born into royalty and he was properly groomed to be a king. That is a big advantage that he has because he knows everything about Itsekiri culture, tradition and the challenges. He is being in it and he was born into it and by God’s grace he will pilot.
“He is a very cool man, who is deeply understanding person, who analyses issues very sensibly and most importantly, he carries people along. From our interactions, he is somebody who’s inclusive.”
The Obi of Onitsha expressed confidence that the reign of Ogiame Ikenwoli would bring peace, progress and development to the kingdom while the Ooni described the coronation of Ogiame Ikenwoli as a new dawn.
“What is important to me,” he said, “is peace and cooperation between the two kingdoms and the entire country.”
Former vice President Atiku Abubakar, congratulated the new Olu on his coronation saying, his ascension to the throne as the 20th Olu of Warri, “venerates the totemic deep wisdom, courage and resourcefulness which the Oluship throne is widely acknowledged for.”