Nembe is no doubt the most organised kingdom in Bayelsa State. The kingdom predates the colonial era and the birth of Nigeria as a country. The Nembe kingdom was famous for their bravery and courage in dealing with the colonial masters including confronting them with their war canoes.
Apart from their rich history, the Nembe people have one of the most revered traditional stools in the state known as the Mingi and occupied by the Amayanabo. There is something unique about the kings that sit on the Mingi throne. They radiate eminence and exude uncommon personality. They are distinguished royal breeds with unequaled records in scholarship, public service, politics and culture.
The current and the 12th Mingi, His Eminence, King Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru, a one-time Petroleum Minister, has attained excellence in academics; distinguished himself in his career and paid all his dues in public service before sitting on the exalted throne. He also doubles as the Chairman of the South-South Traditional Rulers Council. Little wonder, he is loved and respected by his people.
In fact, Nembe has no place for miscreants, thugs and illiterates in their council of chiefs known as the Amayanabo-in-Council. Chiefs are elected from the 14 traditionally recognised group of chieftaincy houses. Nobody, outside the 14 War Canoe Chieftaincy Houses, goes to Nembe to take a chieftaincy title. It is not awarded to the highest bidder.
Their chiefs are successful individuals. Among them are captains of industries, academics, excellent politicians, retired army generals, consultants, contractors and businessmen. They speak impeccable English Language but for the love of their culture, they conduct most of their traditional ceremonies in Nembe dialect.
For instance, the making of a chief in Nembe is done in the local dialect. Recently, four distinguished sons of Nembe were elevated to the position of chiefs. Two of them, Chief Benjamin Ben-Dikuro and Chief Joel Robert were from the Kulo-Koko group of houses while Chief Thomas Kuku and Chief Tonye Ojoko were from the Amain and Amange-Ojoko groups of houses. They were elected and screened to occupy vacant chieftaincy stools following death of their former occupants from the affected houses.
The installation ceremony was colourful. Chiefs in their full regalia and paraphernalia of offices were on parade. The various regalia, flowing garments of multiple colours, competed for space. Sons and daughters from Nembe including their political office holders abandoned their businesses in the city to witness the ceremony.
Canopies were mounted in a semi-circular venue and the chiefs-elect sat according to their houses. At the centre was a special platform created for the Amayanabo and the head Chiefs. The presence of the Amayanabo was felt and all in attendance stood in reverence.
The king with his queen walked in his majesty led by palace servants into the venue. He was hailed by his subjects. Praise singers, women of odes, were his forerunners. The sun blazed but it had no effect on the Amayanabo and his queen as they were protected by a mighty umbrella carried diligently by male servants. A big bell suspended on a well-carved piece of wood, a symbol of his presence, announced the grand arrival of the king.
The king took his position among the head Chiefs. A priest offered prayers and the event kicked off. In his opening remarks, the Alternate Chairman of the Chief Council, Navy Capt. Walter Feghabo-Amain (retd) described the event as epoch-making. He said apart from the installation of the Chiefs, the Amayanabo would for the first time recognise traditional rulers of satellite towns.
Feghabo, a former Military Administrator of Ebonyi and Delta states said a grand ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of King Daukoru, the occupant of the oldest stool in Bayelsa, would soon hold in Nembe. “We are proud of what we have”, he said.
After the opening remarks, the centre of the venue was cleared for colorfully-dressed praise singers. They sang and some elegant chiefs stood and danced to their rhythms in the admiration of the king. Canons boomed at the background and a lawyer, Mr. Bright Ereware, was invited to administer oaths of office on the chiefs-elect.
The elected chiefs stood before their king and took their oaths. They were chalked on their foreheads by the Amayanabo who handed each of them an umbrella. It was a painstaking and a thorough process. All of them deceived equal treatment from their king. All the installed chiefs went round and shook hands with their old colleagues seated under various canopies.
Then it was time for the traditional rulers, the Amadabos, of various satellite towns to present themselves to the king for recognition and certification. They received their certificates from the king who also festooned royal beads round their wrists.
But the king has some words for the installed chiefs and recognised traditional rulers. He appealed to them not to be headstrong and aloof from their people because of oil money. He asked them to use their connections to bring development instead of division in their various domains.
He asked the new chiefs to place the interest of their people ahead of their personal interests. He said the chiefs should be happy for being worthy and qualified to replace the dead ones. He reminded them of the implications of failing to discharge their responsibilities adding that their actions were being monitored in the spirit.
He reeled out some of the challenges of the community including lack of electricity and asked the new leaders to assist the old ones in realising the needs of the people. He spoke on the controversies surrounding the Nembe creek flow station and asked his people to fight hard to regain “what is rightfully theirs”.
He said: “Remember the oath of office you have taken. It is important because it is a service to the humanity. There are certain things you should not do in the interests of the community”.
Also one of newly installed leader, Chief Ojoko said he owed his allegiance to the Mingi stool and the kingdom. He said: “We owe allegiance to the Mingi and the kingdom. We are supposed to work for the welfare of the kingdom.
“We are the leaders and whatever the kingdom requires of us we are are supposed to be available for the kingdom. So I offer myself for the kingdom. So, I am here to serve and to lead. I am here for everybody”.
The traditional rulers, who received their certificate of recognition from the king were His Highnesses Ebi Howells, Amadabo of Etiema; Gelegukuma Apiri, Amadabo of Elepa; Kemmer Igbeta, Amadabo of Nembe Creek; Okiri Saw, Amadabo of Ibo; Ebi Eluke III, Amadabo of Kiminimi; Ebi Ombuyai VII, Amanabo of Igbeta-Ewoama and Ebi Renner, Amadabo of Okokiri.
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