Pomp as Otaru of Igarra marks 20 years on throne
By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Benin City
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It has been weeks of celebration in Igarra, headquarters of Akoko-Edo local government area of Edo State, as paramount ruler of the community, HRH, Oba Adeche Saiki II celebrated his 20 years on his forefathers’ throne last week.
The coronation anniversary came on the heels of the once-in-six-years Aba festival, which attracted over two million tourists to the hilly town of Igarra. The Aba festival is recognised as the sixth most indigenous festival in West Africa.
Oba Saiki II is the 21st Otaru of Igarra beginning from the 1st Otaru, Ariwo Ovejijo. Paramount rulers from neighbouring communities and other areas of the state, as well as politicians, members of the academia and private sector also added colour to the ceremony.
The Otaru used the occasion to draw government’s attention to areas needing development in the community, even as he commended current rehabilitation and construction of roads in the community.
He lamented that several past development policies for the area were abandoned by successive governments after Professor Ambrose Alli of defunct Bendel State, who he said, split Akoko-Edo local government area into three, which was gazetted and established a school of Industrial Technology, which never saw the light of the day.
He said: “I would have celebrated my 20 years on the throne on September 20, few days after Aba Festival celebrations. I ascended this throne on September 20, 1997. But because of Aba ceremony, I had to shift it to this day. By God’s grace and Igarra people’s support since I ascended the throne, I thanked God Almighty.
He has always been on my side. And if you were from Igarra, between then and now, you would have noticed that there have been tremendous peace and security, which have been reigning supreme in every part of Igarra. I thank the Lord for that, because it is not by my making. It is the making of the Almighty God. And He deserves to be praised for it and the wonders He has been doing through that rare opportunity.
“Twenty years on the throne, and Igarra is developing. But for now, we may consider it a slow development. And all we can say is that we should be patient. We have enough mineral resources in Igarra that anybody can come and explore. And I want to use this opportunity to appeal passionately to Edo State government to make use of the mineral resources that we have for the world to see. We have more than enough. I believe if government can develop it, certainly Igarra will develop faster than we expect.
“For instance, our roads are bad, though we appreciate the efforts being put in place. Government should come and help us, because when we have good roads and potable water to drink, we won’t be bothered about accidents and recourse to medical attention. For instance, the old Ojirami Dam we had during Gowon’s regime, which was meant to serve the entire Edo North, is no longer functioning to maximum capacity. It cannot even serve the whole of Akoko Edo, not talk of other local government areas in Edo North. Government should look into this for people’s benefits and see how the dam can be revitalised for the good of all.”
Some of the dignitaries, including the Olokpe of Okpe, HRH Eshomokhai Idogu III, who is currently chairman of Akoko-Edo Traditional Council, lauded Oba Saiki’s achievements for the 20 years he has been on the throne.
The first and only female palace chief so far, the Aviogana of Igarra land, Chief (Mrs.) Juliana Aiyesanmi Gege, described the 20-year reign of Saiki II as highly rewarding.
She eulogised the Otaru after Oshinoyi Ariwo Ovejijo for the uncommon peace, progress and tranquility, which Igarra clan has been enjoying. Also, the current acting chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Professor James Momoh, said Oba Saiki has been very supportive of every developmental initiative in the community.
“Igarra has really been very peaceful and orderly,” he said. “The growth I see in Igarra within this short time is tremendous. The town’s sons and daughters are doing their best and coming home because there is security. I believe and think this is in the nature of this Otaru. There was a time we all wanted to come to Igarra, but were afraid somebody would come to disturb us. But the growth I see in Igarra in the last 20 years is great. Otaru has always encouraged us to come home. We have started coming and to God be the glory, we have not had any incidence. I have been in the US for almost 40 years. The challenges in Igarra are still there. We don’t have enough investments. We have not taken advantage of the mineral resources in the place. There is so much wastage. The roads are damaged. We must check our final product-the marble.”
“Secondly, we the Igarra people must also support one another. It shouldn’t be I am the only one doing it. We must show concern for one another. We don’t work together enough. The task is not for only one person. I shouldn’t be the only one doing the work. Rather, it should be, ‘if I bring an opportunity, Igarra people should support me with it.’ If everybody sees the project as his, certainly we will all benefit from it. I am challenging everybody. There is opportunity, and the only way out is for us to collectively joins hands together. I have a foundation here for young people. I am also trying to develop a university programme through the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA). It is very significant to the community and we need everybody to take to it greater heights. We also need government presence. Government would also help us, when you and I are trying to make life better and great.”