The Optics Of The Warri Coronation And Matters Arising By Richard Omigie

The pomp and circumstances that attended the coronation of the 21st Olu Of Warri are still reverberating around the world.

The decision to comprehensively cover the event beginning with the colourful boat regatta that accompanied the Olu designate from mainland Warri to the Itsekiri ancestral homestead of Ode Itsekiri, an idyllic island nestled in the creeks amid dense mangrove forests was brilliant.

Images of the coronation were streamed live globally thereby exponentially exposing the richness of the Itsekiri culture to a captive global audience.

The aspects of coronation rites that were open to public view though largely symbolic were pregnant with profound significance. This Olu it turns out, is said to be one of if not the youngest Olu to ascend the throne at 37 years old, a millennial no doubt.

This fact is reflected in the innovations he introduced to the coronation and the upscaling of the event into choreographed spectacle. The reenactment of the event when Ijijen the 2nd Olu of Warri formally accepted the voluntary surrender of sovereignty by the aboriginal people of Ode Itsekiri by their erstwhile leader named Itsekiri was an innovation of the new Olu.

The majestic royal procession/parade from the Ode Itsekiri Palace to the coronation venue was another creative innovation of the millennial Olu. Then when the youthful monarch gave his speech, he astounded his immediate and global audience with the profundity and insightfulness of his thoughts. That speech immediately qualifies as one of the greatest speeches of our time and announced the arrival of a great philosopher king.

It is instructive that on the same day that this great event was taking place, in far away Kano State the installation of an inaugural Emir for one of 5 balkanised portions of what used to be the Kano Emirate was also taking place.

An event that on it’s own ought to have been seen for what it truly represented, the celebration of the pettiness of political vendetta. That event even had to be propped up with the wedding of the president’s son to the Emir’s daughter on the same day for it to rise to the level of a significant event.

Even then, it was the Warri Coronation that captured the fascination of Nigerians and indeed the world on that day.

What, however, discerning observers of the intrigue that led up to the coronation of Omoba Tsola Emiko was not so much the absence of Ayiri Emami, the suspended Ologbotsere of Warri, but his inconsequential presence in the entourage of the Sultan of Sokoto to the wedding/installation of the 2nd class Emir in Bichi a suburb of Kano.

Granted that the suspended chief would not have been welcome at the coronation event given his well-known opposition to the emergence of Prince Tsola Emiko, but to be seen as a minion in the entourage of the Sultan made for very pathetic optics. If he was not suspended at the time, the opprobrium of the optics might have rubbed off on the entire Itsekiri nation. Thankfully the greater audience rating of the Warri Coronation over the wedding/ installation event ensured that the Itsekiri nation was not embarrassed.

The question of what point was the suspended Itsekiri chief trying to make by being a conspicuous appendage to the Sultan’s entourage is begging for answers.

Could it be that he was seeking the help of the ruling Fulani establishment in his battle against the popular will of his people to enthrone Prince Tsola Emiko as Olu of Warri? Whatever his motive, it would appear that the universal acclamation that followed the spectacular coronation has obliterated any chance of it ever gaining traction.

The sensible thing for him to do now is to find a way to get into the good graces of the Itsekiri people and monarch. This will entail a lot of humble pie eating but then again, he needs a healthy dose of humility. Some misguided chiefs who initially toed his line have found their way back into favour with the new Olu, Ayiri Emami should find a way to do the same, instead of engaging in comical yet macabre optics that ridicule the Itsekiri people who the rest of Nigeria have come to acknowledge as a most sophisticated ethnicity.

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