July 16, 2024

Edo South Enigie Supports Gov Obaseki’s Stand On Okaigheles

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Edo South Enigie Supports Gov Obaseki’s Stand On Okaigheles
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By Simeon OSAJIE

The Association of Enigie, Edo South Senatorial District of Edo State has supported the decision of Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Edo State Governor over the ban of Okaegheles in the senatorial district.

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In a statement signed by Prof. Gregory I. Akenzua, Prof. Aduwa Ogiegbaen and HRH. Edomwonyi Iduoze Ogiegbaen for the Association of Enigie and made available to newsmen stated that the need to curb the excesses of the Okaegheles is one that should elicit the support of all right thinking citizens. “There is no room for indifference on this matter, or the making of political capital out of it. We call on all decent people of our land, to play our respective roles, to put an end to what has become the brigandage of the youth under Okaegheles, in desecration of our cherished tradition,” the Enigie added.

According to the Enigie, “We recall that it is because the excesses of the so-called Community Development Associations (CDAs) had reached such an alarming proportion, that their ban was greeted with such popular acclaim, when His Royal Majesty, Oba of Benin, Ewuare II in his Coronation Address about 8 years ago, pronounced the ban of Community Development Associations (CDAs). This was followed by and given legal backing by the enactment of the Private Property Protection Law by Edo State Government.

“This ban on Community Development Associations (CDAs) is what paved way for the reemergence to prominence of Okaegheles as the Head of the Youth Age Grade in Benin Traditional System. Ordinarily the Eghele Group is made up of matured youth, not old enough to be Elders, but strong enough to attend to the needs of society for manual public works like road maintenance and other diverse assignments they may be called upon to perform by the Elders.

“Whereas the Community Development Associations (CDAs) were groups of young men who banded themselves together and often derived their claimed legitimacy from being registered with the Ministry of Youths and Social Development, the Okaeghele was an appointee of the Elders, headed by the Odionwere.

“Having derived his authority from the Elders, the Okaeghele (Head of the Youths) was strictly supposed to be under the control and supervision of the Elders. Unfortunately, in a matter of a relatively short period of time, this has turned out not to be the case.”

Going further, the Enigie added, “With the immense resources derivable from sale of Community land at their disposal, Okaegheles and their supporters, like the Community Development Associations (CDAs) of old, have become a law unto themselves. It has become a case of the tail wagging the dog. Okaegheles now decide policy, and sometime choose who should be Odionwere and who should not. They corrupt the corruptible, and put at their beck and call Lawyers, Policemen, Soldiers, other Security Agents and Palace Functionaries who are amenable to being corrupted. Above all, to maintain their hold, they acquire sophisticated firearms, create their army of armed thugs and find solace and strength in membership of secret cults with local and national spread, which they put to use as they deem fit. Little wonder, the wanton needless taking of lives that is now the order of the day in Edo Land. They dispose of huge parcels of land cheaply, and sometimes in exchange for cars and invariably end up living lavishly, building hotels, vast Estates, promoting and funding cult rivalry.

“Invariably, as available land is not inexhaustible, they (Okaegheles) start to resell land earlier disposed of, and instigate boundary disputes between Communities that before now had lived in peace and good neighbourliness.

“In this sordid tale, the Elders in the Community lose control and often play along to crumbs and out of fear in self preservation.

“Beside the terrible consequences for our society’s values, flowing from Okaegheles presenting themselves as role models for emulation by the upcoming generations, another dimension of concern is the planlessness that has emerged in the development of new areas, as urbanization spreads into rural areas in Edo State. Contrary to the well planned system of road network, for which our ancestors received accolades from time immemorial, today, new areas are characterized by narrow roads that cannot accommodate two vehicles driving side by side, roads that come to abrupt ends, Cities with no provision of land for public schools, markets, playground, parks or cemeteries. In the planiessness and land grabbing that define the role of the Okaeghele, every piece and parcel of Community land is available for sale, to fill their private pockets.

“Perhaps the greatest threat to society is the perchance of the Okaegleles to resort to violence in their intolerance of opposition to their nefarious activities, which they even feel empowered enough to take on Law Enforcement Agencies like the Police and Soldiers.

“It is with all of the above in mind that we can understand the reaction of the Governor of Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki, following the last Edo State Security Council meeting, wherein the decision was taken to ban the position of Okaegheles in our society.

“Initially we observe that there were shared concerns over the excesses of Okaegheles between the Government and the Palace of the Oba of Benin, as was the case when Community Development Associations (CDAs) were banned. But this was until those who seek to politicize all issues went to work.”

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