From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, CFR, has formally received the Most Outstanding Traditional Ruler’s Arts and Culture award, courtesy of the Federal Government.
The Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Samuela Isopi, was among guests when the award plaque was formally handed over to Oba at the weekend in his palace in Benin City.
The Oba’s eldest daughter, Princess Ikuoyemwen Aimiuwu Ewuare, accompanied by some Benin Palace Chiefs, had received the award on behalf of the Oba in Abuja.
Recall that the Federal Government, through the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), was the sole custodian of all the materials and other cultural collections used during the FESTAC hosted in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977.
During her earlier visit to the palace, the Director-General of CBAAC, Oluwabunmi Ayobami Amao, said she has carefully followed the track record of Oba Ewuare II whose impact is not only felt in Nigeria but internationally in upholding the values and traditions of the Benin Kingdom over the years.
Isopi’s presence at the Palace in Benin City at the weekend, raised the stakes with a profound impression that appealed to the public imagination.
Addressing the Benin throne, the EU Ambassador, Isopi, said that the visit to the Oba palace is, among others, to establish contact with the sub-national government (Edo State) and the Oba of Benin in the area of cooperation.
“I am very grateful to be in Edo State, which is very unique in Nigeria and beyond; also, for its very rich history and rich culture.
“We are very much impressed with what we have seen about the results that our joint actions have received.
“I thank you and reaffirm to you, our commitment and our thoughts to all Edo people”, she said.
The Oba while sharing his personal experience during his diplomatic sojourn to Europe and America, rued the plights of undocumented African migrants in Europe and America.
He harped on the need for a follow up in the prevention of human trafficking and irregular migration, which he noted has scaled down judging by the available data, through sensitization.
He, therefore, called on the international and local partners, particularly parents to be on guard and assist survivors of human trafficking to defend their rights for proper reintegration into the society.
Besides, the Benin monarch highlighted the role the Benin throne and Edo State government played in addressing the menace, which he said operates like drugs cartels, saying “it is a work in progress”.