By Simon Ebegbulem
THE Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom, Prince Ehenede Erediauwa and traditional chiefs from the palace of the Oba of Benin, led by the Iyase (Prime Minister) of Benin Kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe, yesterday declared that the Oba of Benin has not endorsed candidates for elections, contrary to the earlier claim that the Oba had endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid through the Crown Prince sometime last year.
While reacting to recent comments of endorsement of presidential candidates by some top palace chiefs, the palace also disclosed that the Oba has not mandated any of his chiefs to make any political statement on his behalf ahead of the forthcoming Presidential elections.
In a statement signed by the Secretary of the Benin Traditional Council, Frank Irabor, the Crown Prince stated that his visit to President Goodluck Jonathan last year was misconstrued by politicians as an endorsement for President Jonathan by the Oba, warning some media that have been running adverts which indicated that the Oba had endorsed President Jonathan to desist from it henceforth.
The Crown Prince explained that the Oba sent him to Abuja last year to visit President Jonathan due to the earlier insinuation that the Oba did not like the President and did not support his administration. “As a result of these negative reports and comments from some quarters that the Omo’N Oba then deemed it fit to send his eldest son, the Crown Prince to carry the message to Mr President and to let him know that the Omo N’Oba supports and prays for him.
The Crown Prince made it clear that Omo’Noba’s support and prayer for Jonathan as president of Nigeria should not be misconstrued as support for election purposes.
“The reference some politicians want to keep making in the electronic and print media to a remark in the message the Crown Prince conveyed from his father to the press at the villa which states that ‘President Jonathan will be given the opportunity to continue his good works’ is being totally and mischievously misconstrued.
“The Omo N’Oba’s prayer came to pass by way of Mr President being nominated as presidential candidate of his party. The Oba of Benin is a non-partisan traditional ruler who treats all politicians equally and always praying for all those who are into partisan politics and other ventures.”
“That well thought out and applauded message of Omo N’Oba, through the Crown Prince to Mr President is being politically manipulated by some self-serving politicians in order to gain upper hand in soliciting for votes. The public should take note that the Crown Prince being a seasoned diplomat, did not make the mistake of mentioning any political party in the message.
“Rather, the message was personal to Mr President. The Crown Prince has totally frowned on the use of his visit as directed by his father to Mr President for political campaign votes and all those involved should please desist from it. Non-partisan in politics has been the posture of Benin monarchy from the time when political activities started in Nigeria” it stated.
The Iyase of Benin and other palace chiefs addressed journalists on the issue yesterday at the palace. Iyase lamented that “it was surprising that the visit of the Crown Prince to the Presidency several months ago, which was meant to express/pledge the
support/ loyalty of the Benin monarch and his people to the president’s government, is thus being unscrupulously used by overzealous politicians to whip up sentiments and boost support of the people for their party in Edo South senatorial district.
“The Oba palace as well as its chiefs, seriously consider this somewhat image tarnishing development vis-à-vis the Oba Palace and should out rightly be discouraged by those politicians concerned.