Government should do away with tribal, religious biases
— Obi Alekwe II of Mbiri Kingdom, Ika North East LGA, Delta State
Mbiri is a kingdom in the Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State, and lies off the Benin-Asaba-Onitsha highway. It is an agrarian community, with an estimated population of about 50, 000 industrious and courageous people, many of who are engaged in subsistence farming.
Originally known and called Nimbiri or Ebirim, meaning ‘Let me live’ or ‘I live,’ the kingdom is not the Mbiri found in Kenya, East Africa. The kingdom’s progenitor is known as Airen, a prince of Ogiso from Bini (Benin) Empire. He founded the town around 45 BC. Its neighbours include Emuhu and Boji Boji Agbor in South, Igbodo and Umunede in the East, Ewohimi, Oligie and Ekpun in the West.
A king known as Obi oversees the kingdom, and succession is by hereditary. The ruling king’s first son usually ascends the throne upon the old king’s passage. Hence, His Royal Majesty, Obi (Dr.) Ifeanyichukwu Alekwe II (JP), ascended the throne 42 years ago.
He is so enamoured with his Christian faith that he uses every occasion to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to his subjects. His faith is so deeply rooted in the Lord’s teaching that he believes that, when his subjects seek God and His righteousness, He will touch the heart of people in government to bring development to the kingdom.
A member of Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers, Obi Alekwe, a member of the Cherubim and Seraphim faith waxes stronger by the day. At the recent celebration of the town’s union — Mbiri Progressive Union (MPU) Day in Lagos, His Majesty left his domain in Mbiri to join his subjects in Lagos to observe the day.
At the event, he danced with his subjects to both Christian and native songs rendered by the Osondi Owendi Cultural Troupe, and thereafter signed the constitution of the Lagos branch of the Union.
Speaking with The Guardian, the amiable king said: “I danced so joyously with my people because my throne was established by the Lord. I danced with my people because there was joy in heaven, as I felicitated with them.”
On the importance of Mbiri Day celebration in Lagos, the monarch said the day marked a turning point in the history of Mbiri Kingdom and indigenes. “This is an epochal time for Mbiri Kingdom, because this attitude towards socio-economic development as exhibited by Mbiri indigenes in Lagos is a product of unity,” he explained.
“It is happening for the first time and is a clarion call to all Mbiri people to join their kith and kin. That is the importance of putting my signature on the constitution of Mbiri Progressive Union, Lagos.
“What we are witnessing today has taken a long time to come. By appending my signature to the constitution, it has become a working document and gives backing to the union and the kingdom. Anybody that does not associate with the union and its activities, especially as it concerns Mbiri Kingdom’s development, such person or persons are enemies of development and progress. As such, whatever he or she wants to do in the kingdom will not be approved, until there is a clearance from the union.”
Convinced that with the event, God had made Mbiri Kingdom great, Obi Alekwe said the coincidence of Mbiri Day in Lagos with Nigeria’s 57th Independence anniversary celebration was symbolic, and that the emphasis was on unity of Mbiri Kingdom, just as he urged Nigerians to live in unity with one another.
Basking in the euphoria of joy, following the grand reception given to him by his subjects and the union’s proposed plans, the monarch used the occasion to donate a parcel of land to the union to build a befitting headquarters of the union back in the kingdom.
This gesture created a rapturous frenzy among the indigenes that filled the auditorium to capacity. It was, indeed, an admixture of joy and love among a people and their king. And in their response, financial donations for the development of the land promptly poured in with the union’s patron, Pastor Larry Maghori setting the stage with the sum of N4m.
On the call for secession, quit notices and agitations in some parts of the country, the monarch sued for peace and unity in the land, saying, “God did not make a mistake in creating Nigeria. In Mbiri, there is co-existence among all ethnic nationalities that are resident in the kingdom.
“This should be replicated in other parts of the country. Living peacefully and loving one another is of utmost priority in Mbiri Kingdom. We should put aside religiosity, ethnicity, and tribalism; we should strive as people to be one country that we are originally designed by God to be. My daughters are married to Igbos; my sisters are married to Hausa, Ijaw, Urhobo and Yoruba. So, who are we fighting as in-laws?
“For us, there is no segregation. Whether you are Christian or Muslim, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Itsekiri, we see everybody as one, and this has been responsible for the peace we have enjoyed since 42 years of my assumption as Obi of Mbiri Kingdom. For instance, my daughters are married to Igbos, and I have sisters married to other tribes.”
While urging agitators to stop call for secession, he did not hesitate to call on government to ensure and entrench equal opportunity, justice and fundamental human rights to all. He urged Federal Government to call agitators and those against to a round table.
“Government and its functionaries should do away with tribal and religious bias to be able to work for peace and progress of a united country. If you are a religious man, you should eschew it because what we need in the country is peace. What Nigeria needs is a continuous search for the right expertise and skills that would entrench development,” the monarch said.
Speaking on his ascension to the throne, Obi Alekwe said he had no choice but return from the United States of America to occupy the throne vacated after his father’s passage. He explained that the ascension was not immediate, as it took him 16 years before he took the crown.
According to him, tradition and Christianity were in apparent collision course. He had taken up pastoral duties at Cherubim & Seraphim and was posted to Akwete in Abia State at the time.
He noted that it was difficult to leave the pulpit for the throne, and it would have also amounted to a great abomination not to take the throne, as tradition apparently conflicted with his deeply rooted Christian faith. But the church came to his rescue and stood by him during this time.
“The church, Cherubim and Seraphim from across the nation encouraged me and came to Mbiri Kingdom to pray for me on the day of my coronation. I was advised to be mindful of the deep traditional things in light of the Christian faith, so that I would not go against God’s Word.”
The monarch affirmed that under his reign, Mbiri Kingdom has witnessed some strides in the area of infrastructure. This includes establishment of Command Secondary School by the Defence Headquarters in Mbiri and a Vocational Centre by the Federal Government.
“But my greatest joy is that my people are giving their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ en mass. I believe if they continue, this will bring the much-needed development to Mbiri, as they fully come to the knowledge of God,” he said.
Asked how he unwinds, the king said he has no free time. “I am into farming. I don’t have spare time. I have to work hard and be a good example to my people. I teach my people through my attitude to work. So, I teach them the value of hard work.”
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