Welcoming our guests
In the name of the Almighty God, we welcome you all to this distinctively notable day in the annals of our rich heritage, and noble ancestry, as proud inheritors of the unique essence that has come to define our Iwere Kingdom. We would like to especially welcome His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, who is here represented by the Deputy Senate President. We recognise the distinguished presence of the governor of Kebbi state as well as the representative of the governor of Delta State and other traditional rulers present.
Eulogising Ogiame Ikenwoli
Your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, before proceeding any further, we would like to thank Almighty God for the life and reign of our predecessor, and most illustrious uncle, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli. In the course of his relatively brief reign, he was wholeheartedly committed to the cause of the sustained peace, growth and development of the Iwere Kingdom. His place of pride is definitely assured in the pantheon of Itsekiri monarchs and in the hearts and minds of all the Itsekiri sons and daughters. May he continue to rest in the Lord.
A glorious day
Fellow Itsekiris, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are confident that our ancestors are at this moment are smiling down on us, filled with pride and joy, as they see us ready and braced for the journey towards repositioning our dear Iwere Kingdom within the prevailing reality of today’s Nigeria, and the world at large. It is our prayer that in the end, we will be true worthy inheritors of their great sacrifice and faith in a strong progressive and united Iwere Kingdom.
We must express our profound gratitude to the proud Itsekiri sons and daughters who stood up to be counted when it appeared that the foundation of our collective patrimony was under threat. While it is not expedient them on this occasion, Chief Johnson, Chief Gabriel Awala, Chief Mene Brown, Chief Roland Oritsejafor, Chief CD Ikomi, Chief Edwin Olley, Chief Robinson Ariyo and Chief Eugene Ikomi needs to be specially recognised.
Interestingly, just before this precious moment in time, which has brought us to where we are today, that age-long tendency that has always sought to distort and abort our greatness, wanted to rear its ugly head. In an attempt to truncate our glory and restoration to our original God-given identity. Our Kingdom has experienced an unfortunate interregnum in our history. That lasted for 88 years, but because the Almighty God had reserved the importance that Itsekiri would be to the formation and the greatness of what would be a successful Nigeria, a force beyond all human reckoning, and comprehension, did the impossible and brought back this exalted throne, and with it a King Olu Ginuwa II to be witness to the beginning of a process of what would be an independent Nigeria.
This time however, God did not just intervene to truncate and destroy any disruptive blots, He ensured that the Itsekiri nation stood united and all Nigeria rallied behind Itsekiri to ensure that there was no division. We avow before you all today that we are not and were never offended at any point in time during the process that culminated in this day, that has seen me ascend to the throne of my fathers.
This is in every ramification, a very special day. One that has been predestined and divinely ordained by the Most High God. He and He alone could have determined that three months after our Idaniken began in May, Our coronation will take place today. The only Saturday in this year 2021 that occurs as the 21st day of the month. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, this unique August day is truly a day of the Almighty God, divine visitation to Iwere Kingdom. It is not just a divine visitation, it heralds a divine habitation.
There is no part of this that has been of my own doing. It was and remains God’s divine project. And as a result, the mischief, that some had intended, God has used it for good. Our Yoruba brothers have an expression. When the palace of the King burns down, it is because a more beautiful one wants to be erected in its place. The taboo that was done by the desecration of our most prized Crown Jewels, made a way for a more beautiful one fashioned by our own royal person while staying true to the inspiration of the one that came from Portugal way back in the 17th century.
New crowns added to the attire of the Olu of Warri
Before then, however, Olu Ginuwa the 1st brought a coral beaded crown from the source in Benin, and that crown adorned the heads of the first six Olus. Olu Atuwatse the 1st brought a pair of silver crowns that would adorn the heads of the next 14 Olus. By the special grace of God, we have the privilege to introduce a new pair of gold and silver crowns to the already rich and beautiful history of the attire of the Olu of Warri. And as the progression of our crown is symbolic for all to see, from Coral, to Silver and now Gold, so shall there be a spiritual, physical, social, and economic manifestation of the progress of our Kingdom and our people.
Lifting the curse by Olu Erejuwa II
While not seeking to reopen old wounds, it is pertinent to recall the fact that, following the great injustice meted out to Olu Erejuwa the 2nd, he visited his Royal Majesty, Oba Akenzua the 2nd and recounted his ordeal. In a reaction, a curse was placed on the land by both of them. It is not recorded that Olu Erejuwa the 2nd reversed the curse over the land. Neither is it recorded that Oba Akenzua the 2nd did the same. Most probably, the issue was never revisited. As a firm believer in the intricate interconnectedness between the spiritual and the manifestation in the physical, it is our firm belief that the matter needs to be addressed.
Today, in our capacity as the Olu, we hereby avow. As the spiritual, cultural, political and traditional ruler of this land, Ogiame Atuwatse III, the 21st Olu of Warri, the first son of Olu Atuwatse the 2nd, the grandson, and direct descendant of Olu Erejuwa the 2nd, who was offended on this throne, I hereby reverse the curse placed. In its place. I release forgiveness and healing to the federal government of Nigeria, whose might was used to propagate that offence. And I decree unprecedented and uncommon peace, prosperity, progress and development upon this land.
I bring down the Government of Heaven onto this land and I direct it to flow as a force that can neither be sabotaged, slowed, nor stopped. It goes out as a strong ripple effect emanating from this Kingdom to the rest of the Niger Delta, to the rest of the Nigerian nation and even the African continent. Africa has always been shaped like a gun with Nigeria as its trigger; today that gun has been fired, and full restoration comes out of the barrel. This land begins to yield its riches to us. All that has been hidden hitherto come to the surface. And the world shall marvel as to how we have defied projected economic trends. This time around we shall be the ones to chart the course of our own destiny. And now as Itsekiri is restored to its original identity as one of blessing, we decree because Itsekiri is blessed, Nigeria is blessed. Because Itsekiri is blessed, Africa is blessed.
Clarion call on Itsekiris, well-wishers and admirers
Now that the foundation has been addressed, it’s time to put out a clarion call. We therefore call upon and welcome back, all sons and daughters of Iwere Kingdom, that are dispersed in the diaspora, in Nigeria, in Africa and the rest of the world. All sons and daughters of Iwere Kingdom who identifies as Itsekiri by your father, mother, grandfather and grandmother. We welcome you all. Come with your expertise, your network, your ideas and resources to join us in repositioning this Kingdom.
We also invite our well-wishers and admirers who count it all joy to be identified and associated with us, either by marriage, business ties or residents. We extend especially towards our neighbours; our Ijaw, Urhobos and Ilaje neighbours a hand of invitation to peace and development. As it is not our desire to prosper in isolation; we desire that our neighbours prosper also. We recognise that peace and prosperity is a shared one built on righteousness and justice which is the motto of this our reign and the foundation upon which God’s throne is built.
At this point, we make bold to say that our emergence is not simply the feeling of a role; we will be redefining the essence of the throne of the Olu of Warri. While we have every intention to lead as led by the Lord Himself, we implore all of us to renew our mind and our way of thinking, so that nothing especially internally hinders us from getting into our desired glorious destination. We should be ready to let go of the old ways that have not encouraged us to advance and not allow sentiments to keep us bound.
New crests launched
To launch this new renascence today, you would have noticed the crests that had been released. We have taken the time, based on the information available to rebrand our forebears in such a way that they define their own unique identity, reign and destiny. As a people, so proud of their royal heritage, it is our expectation that in these 20 crests, we will be able to further add to the pride and richness of our historical and cultural identity.
Future plans for the Kingdom
At this juncture, I want to speak directly to the youths of not just Iwere Kingdom but the entire Niger Delta. We have heard the narrative several times as to how the Niger Delta is blessed in terms of resources. The truth, however, we must look beyond oil and gas, and channel our energy in the right direction towards endeavours that will result in added value across the board. What we have are our culture and our identity and we must use these as an instrument to influence the minds of our youths for their own development in ways that are completely devoid of partisan politics.
We will look to honour our women. We will encourage them, build them up, and support them in realising their inestimable potentials. As we do this, we will also see the multiplier effects in the collective development of our people. We will ensure that our women both old and young are honoured and respected not only by words but in actual cultural practice. We will look to actively seek the opinion and counsel of our women, and opportunities that avail themselves to the Itsekiri nation will be used to empower our women to enable them to contribute their substance to the growth and development of an Itsekiri nation.
So I say to our women today, you will no longer be invisible. I want to begin by formally honouring the two most important women in my life today. Interestingly enough, as God has ordained it, one is a beautiful young lady of an Edo heritage, and the other is a gracious woman of Yoruba heritage. One addresses the past, while the other addresses the present, as well as the future. But as we have come to understand, time is a river. Things are intertwined. Just like the complicated fabric that is the Itsekiri nation.
By the special grace of God, I am the first Olu of Warri in well over two centuries, whose mother is alive and well, to witness him sit on the throne. In the same time span, even longer, I am the first eldest son of an Olu to ascend the throne. None of these is taking for granted. It is the perfect will and purpose of the Almighty God to make it so. Where we have unofficially addressed the mother of the Olu as Iyi Olu, simply because she happened to be his mother; I hereby officially and formally bestow the honour on my mother. You shall no longer be referred to as Olori Atuwatse the 2nd but Iyi Olu Atuwatse the 3rd. And blessed are you amongst mother in the earth.
Inevitably, in addressing the present and future, we cannot but consider where we are coming from. Since the arrival of Prince Ginuwa from Benin, it is not on record that any Olu has married a Benin woman nor has any Olu been on record to have been born of a Benin woman. I distinguish between Benin and Edo for obvious reasons. Yet again, I stand before you as the first Olu in five centuries to be married to a Benin woman. In many ways, it is as though today this monarchy has come full circle.
And on this note, let me share a personal story of my recently departed father-in-law, Captain Idahosa Okunbor. He was witness to a prophetic word and he himself, unbeknownst to him, played the role of a prophet. Raised by his grandmother, in his much younger years, she would say out loud after a long tedious day “the suffering is too much. In my next life, I will come back inside the Palace”.
On the day we paid the bride price in Benin, my father-in-law said to me, as he finally placed his daughter into my hands. I named her Ivie Uhunoma roughly translated you don’t abuse precious beads. Ivie belongs to the Palace and I am entrusting her into your Palace. The words of his grandmother and indeed his own words were inspired and honoured by Heaven and today the full manifestation has come to pass. To my beautiful, loving and supportive wife, I hereby officially and formally bestow the honour upon you. You shall no longer be referred to as Princess Ivie Emiko but as Olori Atuwatse the 3rd and long may we both reign.
Dedicating Itsekiri and the throne to God
As glorious as today is, our future is even more glorious because we have the blessing and backing of the Almighty God and with this backing comes boundaries. Whatever knowledge in the form of our centuries-old heritage or whatever resource in form of our abundant natural and mineral wealth, that God has given us, we will neither boast in nor depend on them but rather, we will depend on God Himself, who has given us these things, and it is in doing what God says to us, how we follow His instructions, that we will move mightily in dominion, power and authority.
And upon this revelation shall be the bedrock and cornerstone of our reign. The earth belongs to God, this throne belongs to God, this King belongs to God. And so, we boldly declare that the Kingdom of Warri has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and forever.
I thank you all for coming to celebrate with us today and wish you Godspeed as you return to your various destinations.
God bless Iwereland
God bless all our neighbours
God bless Delta State
God Bless Nigeria
God bless Africa
Dosangbaran (let it be well with you all)