Adibe Emenyonu writes on the recent reception organised by the Oba of Benin to celebrate Adams Oshiomhole's outstanding achievements as governor of Edo State for eight years.
There is no doubt that his eight years reign as governor of Edo State was eventful and colourful. This is because the man, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole met a state in complete comatose and had to begin afresh. His admirers are always quick to point out that the only legacies he met on ground were those left by Brigadier-General Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia and Prof. Ambrose Folorunsho Alli, both of blessed memory.
However, after administering the state for eight years, Benin City, the Edo State capital rose to become one of the beautiful cities in the country from the appellation, 'Ancient City of Benin'. Ditto other towns of the state were transformed through good road network and other infrastructure.
It was on this premise that the revered Oba of Benin Kingdom, HRM, Omo N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, Oba of Benin had to honour Oshiomhole for his outstanding achievements while in office.
It was for these reasons that the governors of Sokoto and Kebbi States, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu respectively, Chairman of THISDAY Group and Arise TV, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, business mogul, Capt. Hosa Okunbo (rtd), Minister of State Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, graced the occasion to witness the ceremony.
Also on hand were representative of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Senator Matthew Urhoghide; representative of Speaker, House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Dogara, Pally Iriase.
Traditional rulers were also not left out. The Otaru of Auchi, HRH Aliru Momoh Ikelebe III and other traditional rulers and the Otaru of Igarra, HRH Oba Emmanuel Adeche Saiki II. Also in attendance were lawmakers from the Edo State House of Assembly, the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, the Chief of Staff to Obaseki, Taiwo Akerele, among others.
Welcoming his guests to the colourful occasion that was graced by serving governors, captains of industry, and other dignitaries, Oba Ewuare II described the tenure of former governor Oshiomhole as eventful and an era that opened the way to socioeconomic development of the state.
According to the revered monarch, "a lot of encomiums have already been showered on the former governor but we felt we needed to host him at the palace ground for promoting the Edo culture and doing what past governors thought were impossible. He was committed to duty, achieved what past administrations could not achieve and showed great respect to the Benin Monarchy."
The Oba prayed for Oshiomhole and presented a special gift, a bronze bust of the former governor to him.
Bestowing the honour on Oshiomhole at the palace ground, Benin City, Oba Ewuare II said the event is like "icing on the cake" to express the people's gratitude to Oshiomhole for promoting the Benin traditional institution, culture and creating unity among the people of the state.
The Oba also noted that Oshiomhole demonstrated a strong will and capacity to transform the state in such a way that he made possible what past administrations in the state thought was impossible.
"For showing tremendous respect for the Benin Royal Family, traditional institution, and for your wonderful eight years performance, may the Almighty God and our ancestors continue to be with you," the Oba noted.
Speaking at the ceremony, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki who was accompanied by his wife, Betsy, thanked the Oba for what he described as "a unique event".
Speaking further, Obaseki said if he recollects, what the Oba did by honouring Oshiomhole has never happened before in Edo State, noting that "what your Royal Majesty done with this honour is to challenge me to say I am commanding you; maybe if you do better, I will also consider honouring you."
Obaseki said the lesson he drew from the ceremony was that there is always a reward for those who truly serve their people.
"From the citation, it is clear that Oshiomhole made a watershed in Nigerian politics. His coming into governance saw a new trajectory. One point not made in the citation is that he is the first political leader who stood out using politics to unite Edo people that today, we all speak as Edo people and not as Etsako, Esan or Owan.
"We have a lot to be grateful to him. Before I came, he made my job easier. He cleared the path. What I am doing is just to continue from where he stopped. I thanked Oshiomhole because he provided leadership that what we are doing today is just to thank him," Obaseki stated.
Responding, Oshiomhole expressed gratitude to the Oba for the honour done him, adding that though there are levels of gratitude, "what you have done is very surprising and I cannot express the joy because if I have accomplished anything, it is because I have a father who stood by me."
Oshiomhole added: "I am deeply touched with your prayers. When I was in trouble, the Benin Traditional Family stood by me. I can't fail to forget the very crucial role of Oba Erediauwa. I recall the role the Oba played when the State House of Assembly then tried to constitute an obstacle to development of the state in my first budget and Oba Erediauwa came to the rescue."
On the bronze gift which symbolised the royal honour, Oshiomhole said the gift was a summary of his life when he was young as he looked more handsome, but that with tear gas and falling on the streets of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt while protesting against governments inaction on workers' welfare, his look became distorted.
He thanked the Oba for the royal gift and described it as the summary of his life's struggle. He urged his successor to aspire to do more than he did and urged Edo people to be patient with the Obaseki-led administration.