"If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbour, even though he lives in the wood, the world would make a beaten footpath to his doorstep." -Tai Solarin
Sunday, September 6, 2009 saw the people of Owa kingdom in Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State, rolling out drums in celebration of the Golden Jubilee coronation anniversary of their great monarch, His Royal Majesty, Dr. Emmanuel Onyike Efeizomor II, JP, OON, the Obi of Owa kingdom.
As would be expected, people from all walks of life, comprising the Owa people themselves, captains of industries, politicians, distinguished scholars as well as friends and well wishers of HRM and Owa people both at home and in diaspora, have been trooping into the king?s palace at Owa-Oyibu to pay homage to the monarch who, all agree, is imbued with uncommon qualities that have translated into great excellence.
The weeklong event which began with a christian crusade at the Royal Palace Ground, Owa-Oyibu, featured fascinating activities like performances by dance troupes, paying of homage by Owa chiefs, conferment of chieftaincy titles on deserving personalities, visit by the Nigerian?s Vice President, Dr. GoodLuk Jonathan, cutting of anniversary cake and the launching of a book titled "Ndiowa and their Monarch." Other exciting activities include the delivery of a lecture on "opportunities and Challenges for Developing Owa Clan for the 21st century" by Prof. Eric Eboh of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, to be supported by distinguished discussants and eminent scholars as well as the visit of the Sultan of Sokoto and other prominent traditional rulers, among other activities. The events would culminate in a thanksgiving service at Saint Andrews Anglican Church, Owa-Oyibu on September 13, 2009.
There is no doubt that Obi Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor has, in the last 71 years of his life and 50 years of his reign on the ancient throne of Owa recorded achievements unlikely to be equaled in the annals of monarchy in the country. It is against this backdrop, that the razzmatazz that has greeted this year?s anniversary celebrations can be appreciated.
The septuagenarian was born on the 10th day of March, 1938. At his early age, he resisted the temptation of being carried away by the exuberance and false euphoria that often characterize such age, which saw him surmounting all odds and attaining great height. At the age of 21, precisely on the 6th of September 1959, Dr. Efeizomor II ascended the throne as the 17th Obi of Owa kingdom. In a country where most traditional rulers see their installation as an excuse to abandon academic pursuit, his ascension to the throne even whetted his appetite for education which he pursued both within and beyond the shores of Nigeria. He studied in Sapele, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Britain and the United States of America, USA, thus becoming the first Owa Monarch to study overseas.
Dr. Efeizomor?s track record is replete with appointments into so many positions of responsibility, in obvious recognition of his sterling qualities. He was a member, Western Regional House of Chiefs, 1967-1963; member, Mid-West Leaders of Thought, 1960-1970; member, Bendel State Traditional Rulers Council, 1967-1991; member, Edo/Delta States Delegation to several Norlhern States of Nigeria, 1971 to date; Director, Nigeria Cocoa Board from January to December 1979, Chairman, Ika and Asaba Divisioal Income Tax Review Tribunal, 1961-1963, Chairman, Ika Police Community Relations Committee, 1967-1992; Chairman, Ika Divisional Education Board, Bendel State, 1973-1975 and chairman, Ika MAMSER Implementation Committee, 1987-1992.
He also served as Grand Patron, Bendel East Cultural Association in 1988 and was appointed Grand Patron of Owa Patriotic Union in 1959, the position he still holds till date. In 1977, Obi Efeizomor II was listed in African Year Book "Who is Who." Between 2002 2006, he was the chairman Delta State Traditional Rulers Council. In recognition of his outstanding services to the nation, President Umaru Musa Yar?Adua in 2008 conferred on him the prestigious national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger, OON.
Dr. Efeizomor?s passion for education needs a re-iteration. Besides pursuing his education to the extent of bagging higher degrees, the king equally built a library which is today accessible to the general public, free of charge. In the build-up to the celebrations, the chairman of Owa Stakeholders Forum, Hon. Justice (Chief) S.A. Ehiwarior (rtd) held an interactive session with some newsmen at the royal palace, Owa-Oyibu, during which a distinguished scholar, Prof. Okobiah of Delta State University Abraka was quick to draw attention to the above feat. According to the professor, "Obi Dr. Efeizomor?s love for education is so high that he is the only known king today who has built a library in his palace, not minding that there is a public library very close to the palace. I hope mediamen will take note of this unique man, in a unique way, in a unique period, for a unique kingdom."
We could not agree more with Prof Okobiah?s observation, as we cannot but extol the monarch?s exemplary virtues as well as well-wishers who have been inundating the media with congratulatory messages are full of praises and prayers for the Obi?s many more years on the throne to enable him record more enviable achievements. This is equally our prayer.
Equally important, are the lessons other traditional rulers in the country should learn from the lifestyle of the His Royal Majesty. Nigeria is today bedeviled by a myriad of problems ranging from the falling standard of education, poverty, hunger, corruption, leadership failure, poor healthcare delivery system, diseases gender discrimination, to religious, ethnic and political crises. Monarchs and by extension other eminent personalities, should identify some of these societal malaise and address them to the best of their ability, the same way Obi Efeizomor is already making significant contributions in the area of education as evidenced by his establishment of a well-stocked library in his palace. That is the only way the nation?s wheel could be turned off the present track of underdevelopment.