There are mixed feelings among the Itsekiri people in Warri, Delta State, and those in the Diaspora, as all roads lead to Ode-Itsekiri (Big Warri), ahead of the naming of a new Olu (monarch) for Warri Kingdom.
Although the invitation for the event was sent under the guise of a special convention of the ethnic group, there were, however, strong indications that it is for the formal announcement of the transition of Ogiame Atuwatse II, who reportedly died in a Lagos hospital a fortnight ago.
“The announcement of Ogiame Atuwatse II will also pave the way for the emergence of his successor,” a reliable traditional source told The Nation.
The Nation gathered that the Itsekiri people, who occupy the oil-rich Warri area of Delta state, hold their monarch in very high esteem.
The Olu is said to be a rallying point and unifying factor for the small, but very influential people, and the selection process is very important for them.
Already, as earlier reported, Prince Godfrey Ikenwoli Emiko (aka Abiloye) may have emerged as the successor to his elder sibling, after the son of the late Olu, Prince Tsola Emiko, was disqualified on the ground of his maternal lineage.
“His (Prince Tsola) mother is not from the two tribes that can be the mother of Olu; only princes born of Itsekiri or Edo mothers are qualified,” a source said.
As a result, it was gathered that the race was narrowed down to Prince Ikenwoli and his half brother, Prince Ebiyemi Emiko, a former staff of Chevron Nigeria Limited.
Prince Ebiyemi (Yemi), however, denied nursing an ambition for the highly exalted stool, even as he feigned ignorance of its vacancy.
Speaking in a telephone chat to correct what he termed “some misrepresentations”, he explained: “I have no interest whatsoever in being the Olu of Warri; not now or in the future. My interests are in other areas. But I am committed to the growth and unity of the kingdom.”
In the same vein, Prince Yemi affirmed his qualification, saying: “I am a full-blooded Itsekiri; my mother was not an Isoko, but an Itsekiri woman from Ekurede-Itsekiri, where she was buried and she was née Agbeyegbe.”
Meanwhile, sources close to the first son of the late Warri monarch, Primce Tsola, told our reporter that he is under intense pressure to challenge the decision of the Itsekiri kingmakers.
“The young prince is being inundated by people around him and those who are claiming to love him more than he loved himself. They want him to go to court to stop the process because they feel that it is his right to succeed his father.
“But from his body language and what he has said so far, he doesn’t seem to be interested, because he has been telling everybody that he is bounded by the decision of his elders and leaders of the land,” the source added.