It’s a new dawn for Eleme kingdom in Rivers state as the new chief of the kingdom is adjudged the choice of the people. Writes GODWIN EGBA.
An age-long Bible dictum says, “When a righteous king is on the throne, the people rejoice.’’ This is what is playing out in Eleme Kingdom of Rivers state which has been bestowed with a new king, His Royal Majesty, Dr Philip Osaro Obele, Oneh- Eleme XI.
His ship hit for sailing on July 10, 2019 with the full backing and support of the Rivers state governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike, Eleme Council of Chiefs, women and youth leaders.
The new king
King Obele is a graduate of Political Science, retired college principal and a man who had sat at the feet of past Eleme kings and Councils of Chiefs as secretary among other traditional responsibilities in his Chumu-Aleto community.
He is said to be well knowledgeable and backed with the wisdom of piloting the ship of traditional chieftaincy institution. Despite insignificant opposition and discontent among some Eleme individuals, a wide consultation with Eleme kinsmen, traditional rulers and chiefs shows that they cast their lot for Obele with conviction that he is an incubator of vision and foresight that distinguish leaders of substance.
The modest and unassuming Obele has demonstrated that he did not come from the moon to his father’s land; therefore, he knows the geographical, social-economic space and the people very well like his palms to rule over Eleme land, playing host to Nigeria’s premier Onne oil and gas free zone with over 200 multinationals on ground operating.
Others include a world class Indorama–Eleme petrochemicals and fertiliser plant, (train1), Nigeria’s premier Port-Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Notore Chemicals and Fertiliser Company, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Onne and INTELS Nigeria Limited, among others.
It is however a curious paradox that the land and its people are in deep poverty despite these companies. They are bereft of the desired modern community corporate social responsibilities expected from these organisations. Because of this, the people are on their knees looking up to someone that would bring them out of the brink of backwardness.
Consequently, the new Eleme King hit the ground running with a resolve to tackle poverty, unemployment agitation, intractable cult activities, kidnapping and brazen robbery as well as chieftaincy crises. What is more baffling is that Eleme as an economic engine room of the country has prominent men in business and political class within the government either as commissioners, ministers, law makers at the National Assembly, yet the kingdom had always been at the receiving end.
Against this background of backwardness, the present Nigeria Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ambassador Orji Nyimenuate Ngofa, an Aleto-Eleme born, in his recent goodwill message on the 50th birthday celebration of an Eleme business Mogul, Dr Appolus Chu, identified poor leadership, greedy and self-serving political leadership as the bane of development in modern day Eleme.
However, as a grass-root Eleme man, the king is not unaware of the existence of the hydra-headed problems on his shoulders. Therefore, the continuous robust and interaction with ‘who is who’ in his camp would not thread on the path of intransigence which is why he has covenanted to rule Eleme people in the fear of God with his agenda anchored on equity, justice, peace and accountability to the people without fear or favour.
Other chiefs attest to his credibility
Vouching for the capacity of the new leadership, the humble and respected chief of Ewuu-Aleto community, Chief Joseph Oluji said, “King Obele is eminently qualified for the throne considering his antecedents as secretary to Eleme Council of Chiefs during the reign of late king Ngei from Alesa-Eleme and Late King Samuel Oluka Ejire from Agbonchia, his immediate predecessor who died on December 6th, 2018 at the age of 89 years.”
Oluji further attested that, “King Obele had ruled as Chief of his Chumu with eleven sub-communities, Oneh-Eh Nchia with six communities. His is an embodiment of peace, loyalty, faithful and God-fearing in all his doing as such for him to be unanimously chosen by chiefs from the Eleme 10 clans and endorsed by Rivers state government did not come to me and others as a surprise.
“Even before the late King Ejire was finally buried, there were some few persons who had started scheming and lobbying underground but the voice of the wise men across the 10 Eleme traditional clans prevailed in favour of the sitting King Obele which was why Governor Wike hastened his coronation to avoid a looming crises,” Oluji noted.
Blueprint investigation revealed that what added impetus to the choice of Obele as the people’s bride was that the sitting Royal Highness, Emere Chief Godwin Bebe Okpabi of Ogale Nchia-Eleme willingly and honourably stood by Obele with no conditions attached and that boosted an overwhelm supports from all and sundry.
A cross-section of public analysts who spoke with Blueprint noted that considering the economic importance of Eleme to Nigeria and the international business community, it would require a person with strong content of character, fertile idea and vision capable of propelling socio-economic development, enabling environment for peace, unity and security to thrive in order to uplift the growth of the land and its people and attract more investors.
An Eleme high chief who chose to remain anonymous said, “Our new king didn’t come from the moon; he knows the problems of Eleme land. These are issues that bother on security challenges where cultism, brazen robbery hold sway with youth unemployment and socio-economic well beings of the people. He may not have the magic wand to overcome these challenges overnight but, success is a journey, not a destination,” he said.
Investigation shows that since the enthronement of King Obele, industrial and commercial businesses operations are not in any form of terror. Further checks revealed that the king is receiving the support of his other community chiefs, youth leaders, local government council authority and the combined security agencies which include the army and the police.
The student body too
The king repeated his pledge recently when a student group from the University of Port-Harcourt under the auspices of ‘Honourable House of Elites’ paid him a courtesy visit to present him with an award as the most humble and peaceful royal majesty in the state.
King Obele, who described his present position as divine, expressed his appreciation to the student body for finding him worthy of the honour, promising to continue to pilot the affairs of the people with wisdom and fear of God.
While admonishing the students he said, “Be good ambassadors and influence the society positively and also uphold values that would promote peace, unity and development which I am committed in my capacity to actualise for Eleme people and the society at large.”
The king also acknowledged that the university had produced a lot of eminent personalities and political leaders in today’s society and prayed for them to be studious and graduate with flying colours that would pave way for their leadership positions in future.
He was honoured with an award by the students in recognition of his peaceful and humble disposition since he ascended the throne as Eleme king.
They encouraged the king to keep doing the good work and also called on all Eleme people to co-operate with the current traditional institution to move Eleme forward.
One unique quality being exhibited by king Obele according to Blueprint investigation is that his style of leadership is to let his people especially the youths understand that they should not use or resort to violence but dialogue to get whatever they deserve collectively.
According to some of his members in council, “Eleme is experiencing a new dawn of kingship resting on the shoulders of a pragmatic elite who like King Solomon always seeks the face of God to rule his people without fear or favour.
“But if he allows selfish and sycophants to influence his day-to-day action and decision, he is sure of crashing along the way. He should be a bridge builder without maintaining any enemy camp or individuals; be honest, transparent and accountable to the Eleme people and society at large,” the chiefs stated.