Our Personality of the Week is His Royal Majesty, Barr. Ikechukwu Nkeobikwu Osedume I, the Obi of Igbodo Kingdom. He has in this interview expressed his mixed feelings on his thirteen years reign. He voiced out his good and bad times, but in all, asserted that the unfailing love his people have for him has been his strength.
May we know you sir?
I am His Royal Majesty, Barr. Ikechukwu Nkeobikwu Osedume I, the Obi of Igbodo kingdom.
Tell us about your early years sir?
Being the first son of my father, I was raised by someone else, according to our tradition. I was taken to Mr. D.D. Ogwonuwe, popularly known as Ativie. I was with him in Asaba before he died in the year 1992. At his demise, I was taken away from his house to stay with Chief L. O. Ogana, then the Ozar of Igbodo kingdom, in Benin, because our tradition forbids the crown prince to stay under the same roof with his father.
I had my primary education there in Benin, until chief Ogana retired and came back to Igbodo. Then, I went to Asaba to stay with Mr. Okwaje Matthew to continue my education. I was with him when my father died. Then, I was in Madonna University.
At the death of my father on the 11th of January 2007, I was enthroned the following day as the next king of Igbodo kingdom.
After my coronation, I went back to school to continue my education. Two years after, I was given the staff of office on April, 14th 2009, by the then Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan represented by his Deputy, Amos Utuama. I graduated from Madonna in the year 2010. The following year, I went to Aba in Abia State for my NYSC programme. My place of Primary Assignment (PPA) was the Local Government Council where I served as the Legal Adviser to the Council Chairman. I passed out in 2012 and came back to continue with my duty as the king. That was the same year, I lost my mother, Patience Ogbu popularly known as Adanwanyi. Later on, I went to Law school and in 2016, I was called to the Nigerian Bar.
Why is the title Osedume 1?
This is a new dynasty. My forefathers were the Iyekes. My late father was Iyeke III.
How many years have you been on the throne?
I am thirteen years on the throne now. The calculation is done the very day you are enthroned.
Your Majesty, Obi Osedume I, what has been your experience on the throne these thirteen years?
The thirteen years have so far been of mixed feelings. There have been the good times, the very good times, the bad times, and the very bad times. But, that is what leadership and the throne is all about. Even, life in general is not all rosy. The bible tells us that there is a time and a season for everything under the sun.
In all, I would say, the love of my people has held me strong. The trust, believe and confidence reposed in me have kept me going. Sometimes, some people may say unpalatable words and will be furious saying all manner of things when some laws and judgments do not go in their favour, or the way they had thought it would go. Some of these things really get me disturbed. But then, when I am sure that I never did that out of partiality, hatred or indiscriminate use of office, I summon courage to let their ill talks go off my mind.
Your Majesty, Obi Osedume I, can you give us instances sir, to illustrate the good and bad experiences?
Presently, there is someone going to the media to say I am partial and all sort of things. It makes me feel bad; having tried to be just in all I do and say, and someone is labeling me unjust and corrupt. The day I was enthroned, the only prayer I made to God was that He should help me never to be partial in my judgment I told Him to help me so that I don’t see white and call it black, or see red and call it purple. I know, I try as much as possible to maintain that, except I don’t have adequate information, and that is the confidence, the trust sincere people have on the throne.
As to the good times, I will say kingship comes with a lot of glory. It comes with authority, loyalty and submission. My coronation for instance was glorious. Even, the deputy governor then, Amos Utuama said since he had been attending coronations, he had never seen any as colourful and attended as Igbodo’s coronation. Even, some of my friends that came for the ceremony, were unable to get to the palace because of the mammoth crowd. It was a clear show of love from my people.
Also, when I traveled to the United States of America, Igbodo people over there gave me a royal welcome party. They even invited their friends from other tribes to join them in receiving their king. When I got to Dallas, it was party all night. It was really fun and glorious. I really felt honoured. I am happy on the throne because my people both at home and abroad made it so.
Your Majesty, Obi Osedume I, as a lawyer, can you practice in the law court, bearing in mind your position as a king?
It is improper to do so. Come to think of it, a king in the law court arguing cases with colleagues in front of a judge. But then, if one gets a job to play an advisory role, it is okay, if it poses no harm or disrespect to the throne.
It is good to know that kings cannot work under any firm as an employed staff. We are under the payroll of the government just like civil servants. However, we can own businesses of our own.
What advantage has your educational background and your exposure helped in ruling your people?
Education is indeed paramount for the growth of any individual and people. And I tell you, a good number of our present Delta state traditional rulers are well educated. Some are Engineers, Lawyers, Doctors (both in medicine and academics), and there are even professors. I say this because being the secretary of Delta State Traditional Rulers’ Council, I know the profile of other traditional rulers.
Being a lawyer, I know much is expected of me in presiding over issues, therefore I am careful when I do so. I am also able to let offenders know the weight of their crime and advise them to quickly settle with the aggrieved party before the matter gets to the court of law.
Exposure is another aspect that is helping me to take my community to a better height. I have travelled to so many places. And each time I travel I come back to see how I can make my community have the beautiful and comfortable things I see over there, so that my people will also have a taste of my sweet experience.
Your Majesty, Obi Osedume I, one would say you studied Law in preparedness for the throne
Not at all. I initially did not want to study law. I wanted to be an engineer. But the experience I had where I stayed in Benin made me have a change of mind. There was a police station directly opposite us and a hotel beside us. I used to see how some unruly police officers manhandled prisoners and compelled them to give them their daughters to sleep with before granting them bail. It is a huge crime committed on top of a crime. Again, when the police detained a person, they wouldn’t want to hear from any person at all. But then, a lawyer would walk in there and come out with the person. So, I kept wondering what powers lawyers have to send shivers down the spine of police officers. That was what kindled my interest for Law which started developing and I finally had to switch over to Law.
Igbodo has quite a number of prominent sons and daughters. How have you used this as an opportunity to move the community forward?
Well, I won’t dispute the fact that God has been favourable to us and some of our children are doing quite well. I am also happy with the fact that they have not forgotten home, their root. If you look around, you will see their various contributions so far, to move the community forward. We have borehole at Ndobu put in place by some persons. Some of our roads have been tarred, we now have an ATM machine courtesy of Union Bank and our son, Joe Mbulu, who works with them, and Chris Ubani who raised the structure for it. Also of recent, we have been able to have our Divisional Police Station.
There was a shootout in Ilabor along the Express sometime ago, and we consequently had a meeting to beef up the security of the community. After the meeting, we spoke to the Commissioner of Police (CP) and told him that we needed a Divisional Police Station in Igbodo. He told us that if we are able to secure a building for it, he was ready to grant our request. Immediately, we swung into action; donations coming from our sons and daughters, and under a month, the building was raised and equipped. The Commissioner was speechless when we informed him that the building was ready. He said he never thought we could raise the building so fast, because he had approved such for some communities and for over three years, nothing was done to that effect. So, he came and commissioned it for us.
Your Majesty, Obi Osedume I, what are your words for these individuals moving the community forward?
I appreciate their good works and I always pray for them. Also, our elders, the Izuani also put them in prayers. For those who are not yet contributing like others, I am appealing to them to think about their community, their root. No matter how good you are outside, if you do not give attention to your home, then you’ve missed it. Charity, they say, begins at home. We encourage all hands to be on deck, because there is a lot of work to be done. If they don’t know how to channel their wealth for the good of the people of Igbodo, they should seek advice from the palace.
Is the famous Isaiah camp which brought Igbodo to prominence in the 60s still in existence? And is Igbodo still known for sweet wine?
Yes, Isaiah camp is still in existence, though not as famous as it used to be. But it still has the sweet wine it has always been known for, and Igbodo in general also still produces and sells sweet wine. People still come down here to buy from us and sell in other communities.
But then, palm wine is one of our numerous products. Igbodo is known for a lot of agricultural produce. We are the food basket of Delta state. For instance, in the East where I schooled, Igbodo is known for tomatoes. We also have corn in a very large quantity. People come as far as from Port Harcourt to buy maize from us. During maize season, our people sell a minimum of two thousand bags of corn in a day. Trucks loaded with corn leave Igbodo each day until the season is over. The more they sell, the more it keeps coming from the farm. Traders from Ebonyi, Imo, Enugu and other states are always coming here to buy corn.
We also have yams in abundance, whatever quantity you need.
Your Majesty, Obi Osedume I, what are your plans in influencing the government to make Igbodo an agricultural hub?
We have been appealing to the government to harness agricultural produce for the benefit of all Deltans. We need factories to process these produce to packaged finished products that can be sold everywhere in Delta state, the country, and even to our children in Diaspora. It will boost the economy of the state. We have cried out to them, and are waiting for their response.
It will also encourage our people to go more into farming, because they know that their produce will always be bought no matter the quantity.
Why not call on well-to-do sons and daughters of Igbodo to invest in this area?
Well, when it comes to business, every individual has his or her area of interest. I cannot make them invest in an area they are not specialized or have interest in.
Another thing is the policy. One or two persons once indicated interest. They even talked about bringing in foreign partners. But, the government’s policy on that scared them away. So, even if the government doesn’t want to be involved, we are also appealing to them to make the policy conducive for those who are interested to do so.
What is your vision for Igbodo in the next 13 years?
I want Igbodo to be much better than it was in the last years. I want it to be a famous community both in Nigeria and abroad. Part of my vision for Igbodo is for it to have the presence of the State Government, that is, for it to be an economic hub attracting the presence of foreigners.
Your birthday is coming up soon, how big do we expect it to be?
My birthday comes up on the 8th of May. Well, it is paramount for me to state at this moment that it is going to be on a low key, following the directives of the state and federal government not to have a crowded party or celebration, as a measure of tackling the coronavirus. It is important for me as a leader to lead by example. More so, I need to keep myself safe and my people as well, so that this COVID-19 will not be found in our community. It is truly a deadly virus.
Do you think the COVID-19 has taught us any lesson?
Of course, it has. The lesson is that this life cannot be bought with money. It is beyond wealth and personality; those who have aircrafts are not flying anymore, those who have flashy and expensive cars have them parked in their garage because they can’t go anywhere with them, those who have costly wares and jeweler cannot wear them out. The only thing everyone is thinking about now is how to eat and how to survive. It is now crystal clear; someone owns this life, hence, we should not joke with it.
It is also an eye-opener to our government to improve on our health sector, and indeed other sectors. A 27year old girl who had heart problem and had her visa ready to travel abroad for surgical operation, died few days ago, having waited in vain for the borders to reopen. COVID-19 is a wakeup call for everyone, and I sincerely pray we learn from it.
What is His Royal Majesty doing to sensitize his people on the issue of the COVID-19
Well, we have done a lot in that direction. Before the lockdown, on the 1st of April, I embarked on community sensitization, moving from one Quarters to another. I told them what’s on ground, how dangerous the virus is, the preventive measures and what the government is doing to curb the spread of the virus. The video clips are on facebook.
Initially, I restricted my people from going to the farm and even banned traders from the market, until the Local Government Chairman said traders could trade but in school premises to observe social distancing. we therefore split it into three villages to a primary school.
Are there palliatives from the government and individuals to cushion the effect of the lockdown?
The State Government has sent in palliative which we have received and shared, though we still ask for more. Aside the government, we have also received packages from the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Mr. Uduaghan, Chief Chuks Ogbu, Hon. Victor Nwokolo, and Dr. Mrs. Isioma Okobah, and Chief Ika Etumuse. She brought in 250 face masks and some food items to be distributed among the people of Igbodo.
Can you tell us how helpful Dr. Mrs. Isioma Okobah has been so far?
She doesn’t shy away from responsibilities. She has been so helpful and supportive. During December periods, she organizes free medical outreach, which a lot of people have really benefitted from. She is a man in a woman form.
What about Victor Nwokolo?
He is like an angel God sent to us. He is generous to a fault. But, his weakness is that he doesn’t like people to herald his praise when he gives. He is a quiet giver. Hence, a lot of people accuse him of being stingy and a miser. There are countless number of persons he has bettered their lives and would tell them not to say it out. He has also contributed a lot to Igbodo and Ịka constituency. He is a rare gem.
What are your prayers for them and others?
I pray God to continue to bless them and protect them wherever they are. As for Hon. Nwokolo, I pray for him to be given a fourth tenure ticket.
Do you have anything to say about the Governor of Delta State?
Well, he is a man of adorable quality. His outstanding leadership is being felt all over the state. He is a worthy Ịka son, and we of Igbodo have a special tie with him. He is a Chief in Igbodo. In fact, he got his first chieftaincy title in Igbodo. It was my late father who gave him Ekueme. He donated the first transformer we have here in Igbodo, and did the wiring also. That was a long time ago. He promised to tar the palace road for us during his campaign, and he kept to his promise when he won the election in his first term. He has also done so many projects here, including renovation of schools. Our relationship with him has been very good for long time and still continues.
May God bless him for all he has done for us . My prayer for him is that God should take him to the very peak of his desire and aspiration in life.
What is your advice to the youths?
My advice for them is to get engaged meaningfully. Even if one does not go to school, he or she can learn skills and contribute meaningfully to his or her family and to the society at large. Farming also is another option, which is very lucrative for committed and hardworking ones. The problem these days is the inordinate quest for riches. People want to get rich overnight; build mansions, and drive big cars. But, life is actually more than that. Peace of mind matters a lot. Our youths should understand that.
Also, parents who advise their children to tow the wrong path because of money, are only being greedy and envious of neighbors or friends whose children are well to do. Unfortunately, they sometimes lose their children in their process. So, parents have good role to play in all of these.
Your Majesty, Obi Osedume I, how come you are this simple, relating with everyone easily?
Life itself is simple. It is God that enthrones and gives positions. So, we have to tread with humility. I never went for any competition to become the king, it’s divine, so I have no reason to be proud.
Also, simplicity has always been a part of me. During my secondary school and university days, most people didn’t know who I was, because I wanted to be able to relate freely with the people around me. Even, when I went to serve, I made sure those in the Council had no clue about who I was. When people get to know me as a king, they will not be able to relate with me freely, and everything will as a result become boring to me. I want to live a free and happy life, so I need to be humble.
Who are your role models?
I pick my mentors as I grow. Also, I like to keep it to myself and learn whatever I want to learn from them. Mentorship comes with trust and trust can be broken anytime. So, I prefer keeping it to myself.
What’s your favorite food, sir?
My favorite food is swallow with vegetable soup.
How do you relax, Your Majesty, Obi Osedume I?
I watch football. I love it so much.
How do you marry traditional practices with Christianity?
I know there is a place in the Bible where it is stated, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Tradition has always been there, and Christianity has also become part of us. We cannot throw anyone away. Also, the palace is for everyone; Christians and non-Christians alike.
Thank you Your Majesty, Obi Osedume I, for your time
The pleasure is mine.