Royal Ripples: Chief Ayiri vs Itsekiri Nation

By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, JP.

I must say without any ambiguity that my friend and former Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Ayiri Emami, has lost out in his bid to single handedly install the 21st Olu of Warri, for the Itsekiri people.

I read Barrister Jesutega Onokpasa’s masterpiece on the subject matter, and I nodded in truism that there can never be a bastard or illegitimate child in Nigeria, talk more of a free born Crown Prince of Iwere Land.

Jesutega while dwelling on the supremacy of our federal constitution, compared to a mere Edict, captured the exact state of affairs in Itsekiri nation, and emphasised the potency of the grundnorm, the supreme law of the land far and above a mere Edict which Ayiri relied upon to ignorantly declare a bonafide Nigerian and a Prince of Itsekiri as illegitimate son and unfit to ascend the throne of his ancestors. The Edict is essentially gross inconsequential and also repugnant to natural justice and good conscience.

I almost called my friend, Chief Ayiri Emami, but on a second thought something struck my reasoning; “Ayiri will not take your calls at this time.” Yea, he is such a guy, sometimes highhanded and at another time extremely proud to a fault.

I had a brief interface with Ayiri during the days of DELTA UNITED FOR TONY OBUH and later renamed DELTA UNITED FOR APC. In all of these, Ayiri will take a critical look at you, twist his mouth and roar like a Lion, not minding the status of person standing before him. He was that brave, occasionally irrational and always autocratic.

This time, he went extra mile to want to hoodwink the entire Itsekiri people cum Iwere land to accept a junk Edict. He invoked a section of an Edict, not better than a mere piece of paper, to bastardize a royal Prince, Tsola Emiko, now the Omoba of Itsekiri Nation. Congratulations, His Royal Majesty, HRM Designate.

The last time I checked, Ayiri had no royal blood in him, and cannot now decide the future of a royal Prince and heir apparent to the ancient Olu Crown. There is this common thinking among rich people, they think money can do everything for them. If that is true, why can’t they buy DEATH with money? They get sick unto death while their billions of dollars or Naira stares at them in the face.

The Oluship project is not the same as mobilising political thugs to rig elections. It is far beyond political rascality and ability to deploy area boys for the attainment of certain social or political objectives. That’s why it is said: “The pen is mightier than the word,” meaning – the Pen is a more effective tool of communication and a more sophisticated apparatus of leadership than violence or thuggery. Thugs are relevant within their locality and easily fades away but a pen pusher is a global citizen.

The office of Ologbotsere is prominent and next to the Olu, in hierarchy as the leader of the Olu Advisory Council. The occupier of this office must be seen to be responsible, a visionary personality, not a deviant, not a power drunk and never an autocratic leader. The office is not higher that that of a crown prince or Olu Designate. Caution must therefore be taken when exaggerating the office of Ologbotsere, because he becomes the subject of the Omoba once he ascends the throne of his forefathers.

An Ologbotsere can be stripped of his title and position whenever the need arises. And Ayiri has been stripped of his position as the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom. A little bit of caution would have saved him from this monumental embarrassment. He can still make amend by simply accepting the realty on ground, pay homage to the Olu Designate.

Going to Court for legal battles is not the best option, because the inconsequential Edict must be weighed against the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, as well as other subsisting laws and precedents. The vexed Edit must of a necessity be relegated to the dustbin of traditional history. It must be destroyed and set ablaze, for it negates the spirit and letter of our nation’s constitution, which abhors anything called “bastard child” or “illegitimate child.”

There is no bastard or illegitimate child in Nigeria, or what some Christians referred to as the Bondwoman or strange-woman’s child or children. Our federal constitution forbids it. It is not biblical as well. The Abraham family where the story of Sarah and her maid emanated can not be validated because God provided water for the boy child and his mother when they were sent away. God blessed them and made positive pronouncements upon his generation, survived them in the desert and till date. Infact, it was Sarah who lured her husband, Abraham to do the act.

Furthermore, there is no illegitimate child in the new testament. As Christians, we are all freeborn and joint heir with Christ. We are the Apple of God’s eyes, a peculiar people and a chosen generation. Olu Atuwatse II, Tsola’s father was a devoted Christian. Christ settled it when he requested that any man without sin should be the first to cast the stone against the harlot, a certain woman. They all walked away, Christ did not find one saint among the mob. Nobody can give life, only God can.

King Solomon’s mother was not the first wife of King David. David killed her husband to have Solomon’s mother for a wife, because of her beauty. The first wife of King David is not the mother of King Solomon. Therefore, it will be unscriptural and anti Nigeria Constitution to call any human being “illegitimate” or “a bastard,” by virtue of the circumstances of his or her birth. It does not exist. Jesus did not die for nothing, he died to reconcile us to God, no matter the degree of our sins. How dare you refer to a star prince as illegitimate and not qualify to ascend the throne of his fathers!

Nearly 98 per cent of our Pastors, Bishops and Rev Fathers are products of polygamous families. They never denied their biological half brothers and sisters after repentance and in their normal life or spiritual calling as servants or Priests in the Lord’s vineyard. This is to say that those standing on the pretentious altar of holiness to discredit others by virtue of their birth, do so for selfish personal interests.

Chief Ayiri is fully aware that we do not have illegitimate or bastard children in our society by virtue of his position as a traditionalist; not in Nigeria, not in Africa, talk more of a Prince who have been enjoying royal privileges in his father’s palace, raised as a heir apparent to the throne. Those who crafted the obnoxious Edict must take it back to the coven. The stuff is dead and buried, and must not be mentioned again in relation to the choice of OMOBA in Itsekiri Nation or any ethnic nationality in Nigeria, and in total compliance with our federal Constitution.

In all of these, I salute the sagacity of Ayiri Emami, at least, for doggedly fighting his way to become the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, even though his influence was short lived. It’s over now, and he must realise that there comes a time when you take stock and take proactive decisions. Time is ripe for him to accept the reality on ground and stop issuing embarrassing press statements that may further tarnish his already fractured image.

It is therefore safe to assert that Ayiri and his associates will not win this war, they must retreat and surrender for the reputation and dignity of the ancient Itsekiri Crown. This is not partisan politics where money dictates actions and inactions of political actors and the political system. Royal business differs a great deal from all other socioeconomic and political endeavours. It can never be win win all the time, you win some and loss some. Ayiri cannot win this battle, NEVER!

President Mohammadu Buhari has expressed his condolences to the Itsekiri nation and have also recognised the Olu Designate in the person of Prince Tsola Emiko. Ayiri being an APC chieftain and a self acclaimed Buharist, must not contradict the position of his political leader and President, in this matter. The deal has been sealed by the Presidency and the rest is now history. Bravo to Itsekiri Nation and to the OMOBA, HRM Designate, Prince Tsola Emiko.

I urge my brother and friend, Chief Ayiri Emami, the former Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, to join the moving train of the Itsekiri Nation, for the good of all, and for the reputation of the ancient Itsekiri Crown.

Let there be peace in Itsekiri nation, peace in Delta State.

I so submit.

6th April, 2021.

About the writer: Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, is a Justice of the Peace in Delta State, a Barrister st Law, human rights activist and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

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