Obaseki is being misled
OpenLife Nigeria reports that His Royal Majesty, Ọmọ N’oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolor, Ọba Ewuare II, Oba of Benin, has called for prayers for Governor Godwin Obaseki, the executive governor of Edo State.
The call for prayers by the Oba stems from his belief that the governor is being misled on the lingering issue of artifacts repatriation.
The Oba made the call when he granted audience to Arise TV crew in Benin. The Royal Majesty is of the strong belief that advisers around governor Obaseki are not advising him well in view of the governor’s determination to go ahead with his plans to keep returned artifacts outside the Oba’s Palace.
“Prayers,” therefore, is what governor Obaseki needs at the moment to think right, the Oba said emphatically.
The call, nonetheless, is coming less than 12 hours when a group, known as African Ancestral Spiritual Ministry (Great Queen Idia Eyes) has planned a protest rally against the actions of governor Obaseki in Berlin, Germany on Saturday, July 10.
The group says the move by governor Obaseki to constitute a body, charged with the responsibility of receiving and warehousing the stolen artifacts, upon return from European countries, is a wrong step that must be corrected immediately.
They reckon that tradition demands that such treasures must be in the custody of Oba Ewuare 11, who, on his own, has mapped out plans for a museum with the Palace.
The group, in a notice of action “organized” by Dr Oguname, has urged “All true sons and daughters of Benin kingdom should at this event to resist the second invasion of the Benin kingdom,” stressing that on Saturday, July 10,
“All roads lead to Berlin, Germany,” for the protest rally against governor Obaseki’s line of actions.
Speaking during the interview, the Oba said:
“If the governor is here now, I will remind him what we discussed,” he said, indirectly referring to his disagreement with the governor’s line of action.
Earlier, the Oba, in a narrative which was published in OpenLife on June 17 said he has confided in the international community especially countries in possession of the stolen artifacts about his plan for a museum.
According to the story, a letter dated 10th March 2021 signed by Mr. Dennis I. Osaretin, executive assistant to Oba Ewuare II on legal & corporate affairs, was directed to all foreign missions and embassies in Nigeria, the European Union Commission Office, the British Museum, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Information and Culture and the Director-General, National Museum Commission.
In the letter, Oba Ewuare II claimed that he is “from time immemorial, the sole authority and custodian of Benin traditional law and custom” and for that reason “all Edo traditional and cultural rites, citizen interests and proprietary rights over collective intellectual property as well as landed, movable, non-moveable property within the premises of the Palace of the Oba” are vested in him.
Same with “dealings in any artifact of historical, ancestral, spiritual, cultural or native religious rites’ of significance and value, pertaining to the great Benin kingdom and her heritage,” also vested solely in him or persons or groups so delegated by him.
In response, Governor Obaseki, in a 14th May 2021 letter he personally signed and addressed to Oba Ewuare II, said there has been “ A body made up of curators of major European museums and representative of the palace of the Oba of Benin” that had been meeting for over a decade without much success until he became governor.
Upon interrogation, Obaseki said he discovered that three main problems were inhibiting progress in the effort to return the artifacts. The first, according to the governor, has to do with the lack of advanced museum storage and display infrastructure in Benin. “Having had these works in their custody for almost a century, the international museums argued that artifacts of this importance need to be stored in an environment that possess adequate climatic controls regulating the humidity, temperature and other conditions, as well as advanced security systems that operate on a 24/7 basis.
To preserve these artifacts, they argue that this infrastructure does not exist in Nigeria today, and are expensive to build and maintain.”
To respond to this challenge, governor Obaseki decided to launch the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) project which he said, “will provide a comprehensive, world-class set of infrastructure for the storage, research and display of objects not just for Benin artifacts, but for artifacts and art from all West Africa spanning the influence of Great Benin empire.”
However, this submission by governor Obaseki does not seem to be convincing enough to the Palace.