By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday expressed delight with the stabilising roles that the Eweka Dynasty of Benin Kingdom had been playing in the affairs of the country.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja, said Buhari stated this when he received the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II at the State House.
According to the president, Nigerians have reasons to be proud of the stabilising roles Benin chiefs played right from the colonial era to the current period, not only in the Delta region but the entire country.
He singled out the role of the immediate past Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa I, whom he described as his “back bone of support”.
In the late 1970’s when Buhari was a Federal Commissioner of Petroleum Resources, the late Oba was a Federal Permanent Secretary.
“I cannot hold back my emotions, talking about my relationship with your predecessor.
“After General Murtala Mohammed was assassinated, I was moved from the North-East as governor to Ministry of Petroleum. Your father was then Permanent Secretary.
“My relationship with him was very strong. I have lost count of the number of visits to his palace as Oba,” he said.
Buhari praised the late Oba for “stabilising that part of the country because of his firmness. I must also commend the immediate past governor, Adams Oshiomhole for stabilising Edo State.”
The President commended Ewuare II for following the footsteps of his predecessor while reiterating his support for the traditional institution.
“I know and respect the traditional institution. I try as much as possible to understand why the authors of our Constitution kept silent about their role,” he said.
He, however, noted that this was probably the best way to preserve their neutrality.
He said: “Your Royal Majesty, you are safe where you are.’’
In his remarks, Oba Ewuare II, who commended the President for his handling of security matters in the country, urged the Federal Government to establish industries in the rural areas to curb unemployment, rural-urban migration and human trafficking.
Oba Ewuare’s delegation was made up of chiefs from other parts of Edo, including the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Oba Ewuare’s visit to Abuja and the Presidential Villa was the first after his coronation in October 2016. (NAN)