Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State has reiterated his commitment to continually respect the Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare II, just as he vowed not to relent in his effort to get approval for his private meeting with the Oba.
Obaseki has also given order to government functionaries that no one, whether in government or acting independently should engage in “disrespectful exchanges” with Oba Ewuare II, over stolen artefacts.
The governor disclosed his position in a public notice signed on Monday July 12, 2021 by the Secretary to the Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq.
Mr. Obaseki’s reaction is a response to a widely televised statement by the Oba Ewuare II, where he asked the Federal Government to take custody of the Benin Court Arts that Germany Government has promised to repatriate from 2022.
Ewaure’s statement is believed to have been informed by the decision of Edo State Government to build a world-class “transformational” ‘Edo Museum of West African Arts in Benin City to house the Bronzes and woodworks upon their return.
But the monarch however would want the works to be kept in his proposed’ Benin Royal Museum’, instead of the Edo Museum, proposed by the state government.
The statement dismissed fears of any disagreement between the state governor and the Oba, adding that Governor Obaseki will maintain his immense respect for the monarch.
“The attention of the Edo State Government (EDSG) has been drawn to the widely publicised media statement issued by the Palace of His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II.
“The Governor of Edo State, His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has displayed and will continue to display immense respect for our traditional institutions and therefore will continue to make effort to secure a private audience with His Royal Majesty to discuss his concerns.
“The Governor has consequently ordered that on no account should anyone, whether in government or acting independently, engage in disrespectful exchanges and/or altercation with our revered Royal Majesty and the Benin Royal Palace,” the statement added.
The government statement added that its position appears to have created the impression that there is a major conflict between its interests and that of the Oba, regarding the ‘laudable national milestone of having our highly valued artefacts returned home to Nigeria.’
“The Government of Edo State and the Governor have always acted transparently and in consonance with existing Federal and State laws in all matters relating to the proposed return of the artefacts and monuments.
“The actions of the government thus far on this issue have been driven by selfless, patriotic considerations and in the best interest of Edo State and Edo people,” the statement added.
Governor Obaseki also expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed and other officials of the federal government “for their patriotic and tireless efforts that have brought us to the verge of this eagerly anticipated achievement which has remained elusive for over a century.”