Chief Dan Orbih, state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is always at his comic best playing the clown. For the umpteenth time, he demonstrated his uncanny love for the ribald while seizing upon the spat between the Comrade Governor, Adams Eric Oshiomhole and Ekpen Erediauwa, son of the Benin monarch, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba of Benin, to demonstrate that he is in the wrong tuff leading a political party. On several television channels, the usually ebullient politician appeared very pensive in the middle of a press briefing which he organized in a futile attempt to weep up ethnic emotions. As if he was bent on driving home the point that he woke up from the wrong side of the bed over a supposedly troubling matter of immense public interest, he paused, covered his face with both palms of his hands and made a choking sound as if he was genuinely crying. Even as some of his allies would swear by Erebus that he shared a tear or two, a few more, sitting behind, had difficulty trying not to look real bemused. But his performance was a class act capable of turning Nollywood greats green with envy.
Orbih had gathered media hounds for a quick briefing he classified to be of urgent public importance, particularly to the Binis, the most populous ethnic group in the state. The issue was the alleged seizure, by Comrade Adams Eric Oshiomhole, of a piece of land purported owed by the prince, allegedly acquired from federal government. The seizure, Orbih lamented, is an unprecedented gross sacrilege against the royalty and every Benin person, home or abroad, a reason for which he felt obliged to pronounced a political Fatwah on the governor. For peace to reign, he gave a seven-day ultimatum, within which Oshiomhole must retrace his step, release the piece of land to the prince and tender an unreserved apology to the monarchy. Else, all political appointees, working in the governor’s administration in whatever capacity will do the needful. He left more unsaid. However, what he left unsaid was not lost even to the simpleton-he was pushing for the possibility that both the Royal Court and the entire Benin people would pronounce the governor, an enemy of the Oba. The ignoble title is classed “Oghionba” in the ancient city and environs. The implication is dire but not too far to seek.
Orbih’s drama was just one in the plethora of acts lined up, ostensibly to highlight and possibly accentuate the opposition, PDP’s perceived thawed relationship between the Comrade Governor and the Benin Royal Court. As part of the plan, agents of the party took it upon themselves to play upon a seeming simmering relationship among royal palace high chiefs. The party supporters among the chiefs found the right excuse when they called a press conference to rile Chief David Edebiri, Esogban of Benin, for daring to declare that given the marginalization of Edo south senatorial district in maaters of appointment, Benin people will not vote again for president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. A few among them went the extra length of claiming that beyond being guilty of verbal haemorrhage, the Esogban misrepresented the monarchy they claimed already endorsed the president. They gleefully pointed to the visit of the heir apparent, Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, to Aso Rock as a smoking gun evidence. But their claim, which went awry even before the invited press men penned the story for publication. Once more, they acted in sync with their national colleagues whose every move against General Mohammad Buhari, APC presidential flag bearer, has not only be countered productive but made him more popular.
Yet, not done with merely leaving royal chiefs to tango, some executive members of the PDP, led by the very pious(?) Pastor Izeh-Iyamu, decided to push their luck too far by taking the create-a-wedge-between-the-Oba-and-Oshiomhole-or-APC to both the palace, home of the very apolitical monarch and Holy Aruosa, the temple where he worships. Unfortunately, like their earlier acts by proxy, Iyamu, et al, missed the point, this time, by the longest margin imaginable. It did not take long before the faux pas blew in their faces. It came from the most unlikely quarters-the royal house itself.
On Thursday, March 5, the highly respected Prince Edun Akenzua, the Enogie of Obasuwa, doubles as the younger brother of the Oba, served the first notice. In a press conference he called to expressed the displeasure of the royal house over the pettiness of the actors for attempting to bring the royalty to disrepute, a clearly angry Prince Akenzua expressed open disgust with regards to Orbih’s clownish tears on television, wondering why he could be more Catholic than the Pope. He also could not fathom why the party chieftain forgot to show same emotion when the same Prince Ekpen was publicly slapped. He noted that the drama, an attempt to politicise an inside matter, was absolutely uncalled for, particularly as it was not beyond what the royal house could sort out without fuss, more so that the governor had given his word to discuss the issue with the monarch. His words:
“People are politicising the issue of Ekpen Erediauwa and the land. We have a way of resolving such issues. I saw Dan Orbih weeping on the table. That was very comical. How can he be more Catholic than the Pope?…This same nephew of mine was assaulted when he was caretaker chairman. I did not see Orbih weep then that they have assaulted the Oba’s son.”
If Prince Edun was miffed over the development, Crown Prince Eheneden, who did not find it funny that some self serving palace chiefs were lapping on his visit to the president to make political statements with intent to gaining upper hand in wooing voters for their party and candidate, was livid. He however, cautioned them to desist from further dragging the royal house into political mud, reminding them that the Oba remains very apolitical.
“The Oba of Benin is a non-partisan traditional ruler who treats all politicians equally and always pray for all those who are into politics and other ventures.”
But Prince Edun was less charitable when he took more swipes at those who attempted to subject the royal house to the indignity of political mudslinging. While reiterating the freedom the royal house granted everyone, royal family, chiefs, et al, to “enrol with or belong” to any political party, he however, reminded the chiefs in particular, of the need for decorum, part of which is respect for seniority in the royal court. In a full page advertorial placed in the Vanguard newspapers of March 6, 2015, the prince pointed accusing fingers at Chiefs Amos Osunbor and Nosakhare Isekhure, Eson and Isekhure of Benin respectively, for not showing respect to Chief David Edebiri, Esongban of Benin, who, by royal hierarchy, is their senior.
“However, that freedom of speech does not extend to a chief or member of the Royal Court to publicly and derisively criticize his colleague like the Eson did to Esogban particularly when the Esogban is senior to him in hierarchy of chiefs.”
While Eson questioned the temerity of the Esongban to state that Benin people will not vote for Jonathan, Isekhure was unambiguous in declaring that the Esongban goofed because the Oba has already endorsed the president, a reason for which the Esogban should not be taken seriously by anyone.
Prince Edun’s words for Izeh-Iyamu for taking politics to the Oba’s palace and place of worship was even more acerbic. “The Aruosa Cathedral, re-established by my father in 1949 or so, is a heritage of Benin, just as the monarchy and Rolls Royce are to the British. Benin will not allow it to be desecrated. Invading the Holy Aruosa Cathedral as Pastor Izeh-Iyamu’s team did on Friday and palace earlier, shows how desperate they are to capture the royal institution. Whatever they do, Benis home and in the diaspora will resist any agent the enemies of Benin may employ to demystify Great Benin.”
Ostensibly, the gambit employed by Orbih, Izeh-Iyamu and PDP, to wreck political havoc on the Comrade Governor and his party, APC, backfired once more. Did I hear somebody laughing out loud?

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