The newly crowned Ogbelani of Illah kingdom, in Oshimili North LGA, Delta state, His Royal Majesty Obi Christopher Akazue Gbemudu II, has pledged to govern his people according to divine doctrines while assuring that his reign would be hallmarked with a return to the worship of God, in the proper and didactic ways which was practiced in the days of old.
Obi Christopher Akazue Gbemudu II gave this assurance in the wake of the colourful ceremony that heralded his coronation and the official presentation of Staff as the 34th Ogbeleani of Illah Kingdom, by the Delta state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who was represented by his deputy, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro, in Illah, on Tuesday, 8th November, 2016.
Like the Biblical Abraham who waited until the Lord gave him a son from his beloved wife Sarah in his old age, HRM Christopher Akazue Gbemudu II, the new Ogbelani of Illah and a devout Christian of the Catholic Faith, had to wait until the age of 90 years to be formally recognized and coronated as the Ogbelani of Illah kingdom, having already taken the Alor title in 1973.
He served as Palace Secretary to the Ogbelani in Council during the reigns of HRM Obi David Brown Godson Okonmah (1964 – 1992) and HRM Obi Egwuefune Chima (1992-1995). He was unanimously handed the Nne Allah (Traditional Staff of Office) as the Ogbelani of Illah kingdom on June 23, 2015, after 23 years of trials and perseverance as an Obi, since 1992 and the formal recognition and coronation by the Delta state government was finally performed on November 8, 2016.
Understandably, HRM Gbemudu II, whose father served in the prestigious position of Court Messenger ‘Court ma’ , in the colonial era and who himself expressed his joy and gratitude to God, who had kept him hale, hearty and alive to assume the historic crown of his forefathers, even as he thanked the Delta state government for finally endorsing his emergence, after over 23 years of waiting and assured that he would encourage his people to put the knowledge of God before everything else and to know God in all their endeavours.
Obi Akazue Gbemedu II said: “My reign shall uphold the tenets of our great and noble culture and traditions which would be sincerely applied for political and socio- economic development of Illah. I love my people and I will strive to ensure that they place the knowledge of God above all else”, he said.
The Ogbeleani of Illah kingdom then called on his people to support the Government and all duly constituted traditional institutions and authorities to ensure lasting peace in Illah.
In his comments, the Delta state Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, commended the people of Illah community for the smooth, peaceful and rancor free selection process that produced the new Ogbelani of Illah, even as he hailed them for their various self-help projects embarked upon over the years, adding that the people must strive to promote the integrity of the stool by according His Royal Majesty the respect and honour he truly deserves.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro, noted that Illah community is well known for its abundant production of rice and other crops, including fish and while calling on the sons and daughters of Illah community to take advantage of the various programmes of government particularly the Delta State Production and Processing support programme, PPSP, to improve on their production capacities, assuered them that their demands for better welfare and infrastructure facilities, would be addressed in due course.
His words: “As custodian of the tradition of your people, it is important that you do not in words or action, give cause to your subjects to doubt your ability to uphold the sanctity of their traditional norms. I sincerely appeal to you to imbibe the democratic virtues of dialogue and consultation in all your dealings with everyone that needs your attention”. The governor stated.
Earlier in his address, the President General of Illah Development Union of Nigeria (IDUN), Professor Lawrence Ikechukwu Ezemonye, pledged the willingness of Illah community to work harmoniously with the Government of Delta State, even as he appealed to Governor Okowa to assist Illah with the rehabilitation of Otu Illah road, the establishment of a Functional Skill Acquisition Centre, restoration of electricity at Illah, the rehabilitation of Asaba – Illah – Ebu road and the redemption of the promise to build a Sport Academy in honour of late Stephen Keshi at Illah.
In his remarks, Commodore Kenneth Nkem Gbemudu, the first son of the new Ogbelani of Illah Kingdom and also Director of Logistics, DLOG, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, said he felt fulfilled and gave all glory to God for the long life and good health which had seen his father accomplish this historic coronation, adding that they had waited patiently since 1992, to see this great day come to pass.
Commodore Gbemudu, who noted that Illah kingdom, was a central economic hub in Oshimili and Delta State given its proximity to the River Niger and its boundary status with Kogi and Edo states respectively, assured that the newly crowned Ogbelani possessed the requisite acumen and experience to leverage on these advantages with the government, even as he called on relevant stakeholders, rather than mischievous opportunist to join hands with the new paramount ruler to take Illah kingdom to greater heights.
The historic coronation ceremony was witnessed by the sons, daughters, grandchildren, in-laws and family members of HRM Akazue Gbemudu II, including Victor Gbemudu (Rtd.) Asst. Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs, who until his retirement in October 2015, was the Zonal Coordinator Zone ‘A’, Nigeria Customs Service and Michael Prince Chukwuemeka Gbemudu, popularly called ‘Holyman’, the third son of Obi Gbemudu II and a South African based Car dealer, who braved several flight delays, travel discomforts and electronic banking disappointments just to attend his father’s coronation.
Other distinguished guests were traditional rulers, including Obi David Azuka of Akwuku Igbo, Obi Daniel Ogbudo of Atuma Iga, Obi Ogbolu Mbanefo, the Ugoani of Okpanam and Obi Victor Awogu, the Atamaya of Ossomala, Princess Pat Ajuduah, member representing Oshimili North, DTHA, Hon. Uche Esenwa, Vice Chairman, Oshimili North, LGA, Mr. Sunny Aminaghan, an in-law to the Gbemudus, Chief Ogbuenyi Njoaguani Charles, who facilitated the coronation ceremony and Rtd Naval Officer Okwudishu, amongst others.