Prince Yemi Emiko, a younger brother of the immediate past Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli, and an uncle to the Olu-designate, Omoba Tsola Emiko, spoke on the intricate issues that influenced the selection of the new Olu.
Describe the process involved in the selection of the Olu-designate, Omoba Tsola Emiko, who would be crowned Olu of Warri today?
Male descendants of the last three Olus meet to select one of them as the next Olu. The sons of the immediate past Olu are given priority, but where they are found unsuitable, other members of this group are considered. So, Omoba Tsola emerged by majority aggregation. The next step is to take him to the Ginuwa I Ruling House, then to the Olu’s Advisory Council- the kingmakers- who thereafter present him to the people in a general assembly.
Give us an idea of the kingmakers that selected the Olu-designate?
There are originally five of them, led by the Iyatsere, who is number two in ranking. Two were absent for whatever reasons. The other three were there, together with other members, whom the law allows the most senior chief in attendance to co-opt into the council through a doctrine of necessity.
Three out of the five original members were Iyatsere, Uwangue, and Ojomo.
Why was Tsola Emiko chosen?
He was the most qualified- stable character, strong mental capacity, clear understanding of the sensitivities of our people, deep, calculated thought processes, and skillful analytical mind on kingdom matters. There was simply no serious competition around him this time around.
What should the Warri Kingdom expect from his reign?
The kingdom should expect a straightforward, kind-hearted, and sincere king, who will put the people first at all times. No one individual or group of persons would be able to put this king under their belt. He will build on what His Majesty, the late Ikenwoli did in terms of building bridges across all divides in our communities and with our neighbours. He will also focus on most people issues, including training, education and job creation for the young people, economic empowerment, community development, and expanding the frontiers of our people in a massive way. Warri Kingdom cannot be sitting on black gold and yet the people languish in abject poverty. These, indeed, would be the guiding principles of his reign. We have had discussions around these issues several times.
What should people also expect on this day of the coronation?
Pomp and pageantry! Itsekiri are known for their beautiful women and coronation day will be another great opportunity to display this unique tradition and culture of our people. The event will begin with a boat regatta on the Warri River for about one hour or so. Then the Olu- designate will proceed to Ode-Itsekiri in a brilliant formation of a boat armada. It will be a memorable sight to behold
Who are the eminent personalities expected to grace the occasion?
We expect a gathering of who-is-who in Nigeria, including the vice president, ministers, governors, members of the National Assembly, first-class traditional rulers across Nigeria, members of the diplomatic corps, international guests, and Itsekiri from all over the world.
Some Itsekiri people say the Tsola Emiko’s maternal link to Yoruba land makes him unsuitable to be Olu-designate. How true is this?
No true-born Itsekiri person can say this. We are Itsekiri; we are Yoruba people. Itsekiri people have been in Warri as an offshoot of Ijebu, Ikale, even a wave from Ilaje, long before Ginuwa 1 came from Benin to establish a kingdom here. It was a mere system of government that is monarchical that he brought from Benin. So, I don’t know where you got that from. At any rate, the Bini say Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race, is from Benin, and that his real name is Ekhaladeran or Izoduwa. The Yoruba say no, wait a minute, that the founder of Benin Kingdom is Oranmiyan, son of Oduduwa, who left Ife for Benin. So, what are we saying here?
Give us an idea how the various court cases instituted by the Ologbotsere and the son of the late Olu of Warri Ogiame Ikenwoli could affect the coronation of the Olu-designate?
The court cases will have zero effect on the coronation. These are things that are not only traditional but profoundly octotus. There is no restraining order whatsoever on us. God Almighty has by Himself chosen this king for us.
People said there was an uneasy calm in Warri Kingdom ahead of the coronation. Do you share this view?
You need to define for me what uneasy calm means. The people are happy and jubilating that my family has given them the king 98 per cent of the people clamoured for.
What just happened in Warri is our own equivalent of ‘EndSARS protests.’ We are thankful to God it did not degenerate into violence and breakdown of law and order. The people wanted a clean break from the old ways, a system they have grown to be very suspicious of.
Go and study the British monarchy and tell me what led to the watering down of the powers of their king. Dig into the causes of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ or what some call ‘the bloodless revolution’ and see how in 1688, a Catholic King James II was deposed and replaced with his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her Dutch husband.
This incident took away absolute powers of the King or Queen and changed how England has been governed since, giving more powers to the people through the parliament.
Times have changed, and if you don’t listen to the people, you end up biting your fingers in regret. My family is grateful to the Itsekiri people that the crown is still with us; that Emiko remains the king.
I understand the Olu-designate would wear a new crown different from his predecessors. Is this because the former crown was (is) missing?
The Olu’s crown is never old or new; it remains in a state of agelessness. He will be crowned with the Itsekiri crown.
Before 1620, our kings were crowned with beaded crowns. But Dom Domingos, who became Atuwatse I, returned from
Portugal, upon graduation from the Cuimbra University, with a pair of silver crowns given to him by the King of Portugal, one of them studded with diamond stones. Those crowns are well over 510 years in perpetuity.
Our Olu remains the only king in the whole of Africa, apart from the King of Ethiopia, the last of which was Emperor Haile Selassie, who wears proper crowns in the real sense of that word. We are very proud of this distinction.