Goodluck Jonathan, state governors, chieftains of the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) and other top government officials received a
rude shock in the ancient city of Benin on Saturday when the Oba of
Benin, Omo N’Oba Erediauwa, declined to receive the president who was
visiting his palace.
president had arrived the Edo State capital for the grand rally of the
state PDP ahead the July 14 governorship election and had been received
at the Benin Airport earlier by Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
thereafter, proceeded to the monarch’s palace, but on taking his seat
next to the oba’s throne, he was made to wait for about 15 minutes
before a palace official announced to his delegation and the Bini chiefs
that were also seated that the royal father would not be seeing him
because of circumstances beyond his control.
the monarch’s official added that the usual palace formalities would
still be observed in the absence of the monarch, including prayers for
the president and the distribution of cola nuts.
to him, “because of circumstances beyond his control, the Oba cannot
receive the president, but the normal procedures of prayer for our guest
will still be carried out.”
Jonathan, who was apparently taken aback by the announcement, looked
calm as he simply lowered his gaze even as the palace official invited
the most senior chief present to offer the prayers.
the prayers, the palace official, again, announced that even though the
Oba would not see the president in public, he would be willing to
receive him alone in another section of the palace.
was not immediately clear whether President Jonathan, who had removed
his cap in line with Bini tradition to wait for the Oba, later met the
royal father alone despite security requirement which would have been
against the president being alone outside the close monitoring of his
though, the palace did not reveal the reason for the monarch’s decision
not to publicly welcome President Jonathan, sources in the palace
volunteered that the traditional ruler was merely adhering to the
dictates of the ‘gods’ who had made it impossible for him to appear in
public to receive the president at that particular time.
those with the president in the palace, were Vice President Namadi
Sambo, Governors Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Idris Wada (Kogi) and
Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa); top government officials and PDP chieftains,
led by the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, as well as former
Acting National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje.
speaking at the rally later in Ogbe Stadium Benin, President Jonathan,
particularly, thanked the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, who
he referred to as a “power traditional chief,” and other traditional
rulers who came to the stadium to give the PDP their royal blessings.
me appreciate other traditional rulers that are here with us with the
Esama of Benin for coming to give us the royal blessing,” he said.
thanked the people of Edo State for their massive support for him
before the last presidential election and assured that he would fulfil
the promises he made to them during the campaign.
specifically referred to a previous incident where the Oba of Benin
refused to see former Minister of State for Works who was on official
visit to Edo State on the grounds that government had done nothing about
the poor state of roads in the state.
to him, “before my election, one of my ministers, incidentally your own
son, who was the Minister of State for Works, came to visit the Oba of
Benin and the Oba said he didn’t want to see him because the roads are
got back to me and when I came for the campaign, I told the Oba, ‘don’t
worry. After the election, my minister will come back.’ Luckily, the
(present) Minister of Works is from Edo State.
last time the Minister of Works came to Edo State, when he went back, I
asked him, ‘did the Oba receive you?’ He said, ‘yes, Oba even promised
to send the president a gift.’
me assure you, my good brothers and sisters from Edo State, that we
will continue to keep faith with our electoral promises.”
Jonathan remarked that he has used the first year of his administration
to plan and strategise, but that government was now moving on.
urging the people to vote for the PDP candidate, Major General Charles
Airhiavbere, he pointed out that the “PDP is the dominant party. As long
as you mobilise and vote, PDP will win.”
State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Dan Orbih,
in his welcome speech, thanked President Jonathan for the “great
transformation work of his administration in Nigeria,” just as he
commended him for the Universal Basic Education (UBE) projects being
executed in the state.
described the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state as
hypocrites who failed to practice what they preached, just as he thanked
the president for being a true party man by coming to demonstrate his
support for the Edo PDP and for the party’s candidate.
The state PDP, however, in an official statement, denied that the monarch did not receive the president.
said members of the ACN in the state had gone to town, shortly after
President Jonathan’s visit to the Oba of Benin, before attending the PDP
governorship rally, to spread what it described as “an untrue, wicked,
mischievous and malicious lie” that the Benin monarch shunned the
president and his entourage.
state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Matthew Urhoghide, in the
statement issued on Saturday in Benin City, added that “at the palace,
Oba Erediauwa, who, for reasons that the royal palace may explain at a
later date, could not have a formal and open reception for the visiting
president, most courteously invited the president to his inner sanctum
where they both had a special meeting.
Oba’s invitation of President Jonathan into his very highly restricted
bedchamber should have been seen for what it really is — a special
meeting, the content and attendance of which was restricted only to the
many non-Benin sons and daughters, in the history of the palace of the
Oba of Benin, can claim to have been received in the special section
where President Jonathan had audience with His Royal Majesty.
who spread the wicked lie do our royal father grave wrong because Oba
Erediauwa is reputed to be seeped in the observance of protocol,
courtesy and decorum. A few weeks ago, he warmly received, Vice
President Namadi Sambo and his entourage who were in Benin for the same
reason as President Jonathan and paid a courtesy visit on him.”
Edo PDP further said, “it is unthinkable that some people would claim
that our revered royal father would openly refuse to see the President
of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Those who spin this lie should stop
for a minute to think of the damage such malicious lie would do to the
image of the Benin Traditional Council.
Edo PDP cannot think of any twisted advantage they calculate to win from the lie.
are sure that the royal palace of the Oba of Benin will, at the
appropriate time, officially correct this anomaly so that the good
people of Edo State will be better informed.”