President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the Itsekiri nation to reconcile after the announcement of a new Olu of Warri-designate.
Buhari, in a message to the Itsekiri by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, prayed for a peaceful reign under Olu of Warri-designate, Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko.
“President Muhammadu Buhari sends sincere greetings to the Itsekiri nation on the announcement of a new Olu of Warri, as pronounced by the Iyatsere of Warri Kingdom.
“The President also condoles with the Itsekiris on the passage of the immediate past Olu, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, which was equally formally announced.
“President Buhari prays that the Olu-designate, Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, will have a peaceful reign, signposted by massive development of Itsekiri land.
“He counsels love and reconciliation after a pulsating race for the throne, noting that peradventure any dissension exists, such should be resolved through due process.
“As the Itsekiri nation mourns their departed Olu for three months, President Buhari prays godly comfort for them, and a smooth ascendancy for the incoming monarch,” the statement said.
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The suspended Ologbotsere of Warri, Chief Ayiri Emami, yesterday explained that his opposition to the emergence of Prince Emiko as Olu-elect was because of the failure of the Ruling House to adhere to due process.
He said he was not eyeing the position and described the Olu-elect as his friend.
He said: “I have no personal problem with Tsola Emiko. He is very close to me. All I said is that he must follow the tradition and custom. I will not dance to the gallery.”
Emami spoke on Arise TV monitored in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
He said: “The oracle has the final say, but it is after the due process. What is the due process? It is the process conducted by the Ologbotsere.”
He added that only the Olu has the power to suspend him or remove him as Ologbotsere.
Itsekiri Leaders of Thought (ILOT) secretary Sunny Amorighoye Mene criticised Emami’s opposition. He told The Nation the Itsekiri body was desirous of a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
“There is nothing like Prime Minister in Warri Kingdom. There is one Olu (monarch) and chiefs appointed by him. All chiefs have only three functions in Itsekiri: Uko Olu (Olu’s messenger), who like the name implies are Olu’s emissaries; Aya-Olu (Olu’s maidens) because they take care of the Olu; and finally they are the Olu’s advisers.
“Beyond the above, they do not have any other function. There is No 2, 3 or any other number. We have Ogiame and Aja (that is the people). The people own the Olu and he owns the people. The word Prime Minister is not in the Itsekiri language; it is alien to our people and nobody can act in place of the Olu. The Ologbotsere is the most senior chief. It is important to make these clarifications because I keep seeing people referring to Prime Minister. No, it does not exist in our kingdom.”
The President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr Amaju Pinnick, urged Emami to give peace a chance. He congratulated the Olu-elect.
He added that the Itsekiri had in the past settled crisis as a united family.
“He (Chief Ayiri Emami) knows the process can never ever be reversed. It is not possible. The process is fixated on crowning Prince Tsola Emiko in three months’ time. And by God’s grace, nothing will stop it.
“The edict was put together by people with various persuasions and interests. We are not going to go into that. The Constitution of Nigeria is superior to that edict.
“You (Chief Ayiri Emami) have paid your dues in Iwere land. I am appealing to you not to allow yourself to be used by those hiding under you.
“This is not the Itsekiri that I know. Everything we do, we do it within the confines of the Aghofen (Palace Family) and it ends there.
“We had 20 Olus and Four Ologbotseres. What does that tell you? Of the four Ologbotseres, only one has crowned the Olu. What has happened? Nothing! And nothing will happen in three months’ time.”