Ohindase stool, presently occupied by His Royal Highness, Stephen Eneika Bamidele Bello is one of the earliest and very important traditional stools in Egbira Opete land. He has occupied the stool for the last forty five years.
Long before the white men came in contact and culturally clashed with the people, the stool of Ohindase had been instituted, playing traditional roles with the other clan heads, collectively and individually to see to the wellbeing of their different domains in the old traditional Ebgira Opete.
Even Islam which existence in the land predated Christianity and Colonialism still met traditional stools like that of the Ohindase of Okengwe. This was when traditional rulers in collaboration with prominent elders and sages ran the Ebira traditional system on gerontocracy and communal platforms. Peripheral was not the role of Ohindase at that time. Himself and other Egbira traditional icons like Opata, Arimo, Ozigizig of Obehira and a host of others resisted the new colonial government. But they suffered heavy sanctions defending the old system which philosophies they understood, cherished and wanted to defend
How did Ohindase stool come into being? According to Ohindase historians, the stool was established by a man called Arichoko through his grand father. Arichoko was from Avi in the present Okengwe, Okene LGA while his maternal father hailed from Upopo Uvete clan in the present Adavi Local Government Area
In those ancient days, first male born children, according to Egbira tradition would usually live with maternal grand parents. Therefore, Ovivi Arichoko had to grow under the tutelage and mentorship of his Upopo Uvete grandparents. Under his grandfather’s guidance and directive, Arichoko and few others went into the forest to hunt for games.
While the hunting was on, he saw two portions of the bush that looked strange to him. The portion that was a bit larger was of dry grasses and the smaller one had lush grasses. A curious Ovivi Arichoko went to take a close look at it. He saw two similar objects sitting inches away from each other. Their environment was wet and water was oozing from the ground
He quickly went to call his mother’s father’s attention to the objects which looked mystic to him. Diviners were swiftly consulted to unravel the puzzle surrounding the strange objects as was the practice then.
The diviners said they were good. The two were brought to the Upopo Uvete home of Arichoko’s maternal grand father and named ONYIONIYEWA, the mother earth. One Onyioniyewa was a male and the other female. And the fair grand father gave Onyioniyewa the female to his grand son, Arichoko.
Grown up enough to fend for himself and settled down for married, Arichoko, upon his grandfather’s abundant blessings left Upopo Uvete for Okengwe to reunite with his paternal kinsmen and with his prized Onyioniyewa
Onyioniyewa was soon to be the subject of covetousness and frayed nerves between Upopo Uvete and Arichoko’s Okengwe people. History had it that while Arichoko’s Onyioniyewa was a kind of boon, seething with benevolences including rainfalls especially at dry seasons for which it became famous to the Arichoko community that was then largely agrarian, the Upopo Uvete’s Onyioniyewa fumed with malevolence; it could kill, provoked or not.
Plague would descend from its bowels to render the community prostrate just as it was said to be capable of wiping out households. But why did those diviners not see the catastrophe that was this Onyioniyewa? One wonders.
To counterbalance the maleficence of the male Onyioniyewa, the Upopo Uvete grandfather of Arichoko requested him to return the fertile female Onyioniyewa whose rain was already giving heavy agrarian yields to Okengwen people. He turned down the request, expectedly.
His refusal had consequences. One account said that Upopo Uvete sent warriors to storm Okenwen for the collection of the useful Onyioniyewa. Another chronicle refuted the narration that war really broke out between the two communities. This version revealed that on that historic and historical day, there was an intercession as rain began to fall torrentially without ceasing just before the war began. No real physical battle field. Some history recorded it that it was Onyioniyewa that was behind the rain, call it rain war if you like.
After the rain war, the people who helped Arichoko family of Avi clan to protect the arcane but charitable object got admitrange into the ownership of Onyioniyewa which was there after institutionalized as a monarchy and named Ohindase to be rotated among them.
Interestingly, Arichoko who by right was the bonafide owner of Onyioniyewa was incidentally not the premiere occupier of the Ohindase stool. He had an elder brother. By traditional wisdom, younger people as a norm could not make choices of things before their seniors unless the rule was tinkered in their favour.His elder brother, Anega therefore was crowned as the first Ohindase. Arichoko nursed no misgivings then unlike now that our world walks on its head. Societies were well ordered in Arichoko’ time.
Such was the authochonous, important and influencial primacy of Ohindase stool that HRH Stephen Bello occupies today, of which forty five(45) occupancy anniversary people have gathered to celebrate.
Abridged profile of Ohindase Stephen Eneika Bello.
His Royal Highness, Stephen Eneika Bello was born on August 8th, 1948 in a place called Amushigbo Quarters, Ido- Ani in Ose LGA of Ondo State. The Ohinfase’s father, late Bello Bello Onyibo was a prosperous farmer. He was installed as a local Chief of his people, the Baale of Ido-Ani
A man of history, this Ohindase was the first traditional ruler in Ebiraland. After leaving Primary School, Ohindase served as a probationary teacher with Ighara Native Authority school. He went to Government Teachers’ Training college in 1973 to satisfy his hunger for more knowledge in teaching skills after which he taught in many primary schools as a professional teacher
His Highness was doing well as a teacher when he was invited by his people to occupy the stool of his forefathers. He mounted the stool in 1977 as the 12th Ohindase and was enrobed by the late Ohinoyi of Egbira Opete land, Alhaji Muhammed Sani Omolori
A busy and versatile monarch, Ohindase was once made the District head of Okenwen, apart from his traditional ruler ship.His reign witnessed a lot of human, physical and material developments for which acknowledgment and appreciation he was for saveral and frequent times given certicates of recognitio ofns for sterling leadership by organizations within and his outside his Okenwen domain.
In recognition of his leadership mettle and rank in Ebira monarchy hierarchy, HRH Stephen Eneika Bello was appointed, upon the sad demise of Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Muhammed Sani Omolori, as the acting Chairman of the Ebira Area Traditional Council 26, 1996, a kind of Ohinoyi ship regency.
His regency ably piloted the affairs of the then shocked and mourning Ebira people, leading to the emergence of the current Ohinoyi, His Royal Majesty Ado Ibrahim.
But for the modern establishment of Ohi stools whose occupies are each ranked higher in status as a Paramount ruler of each of the traditional districts of the whole of Ebiraland, regency status in the eventual passing on of an Ohinoyi of Ebiraland would still have remained the exclusive crown of Ohindase.
Many personalities thronged the Anniversary venue at Okengwe Comprehensive College, 29th January, 2022on to identify with the celebrated monarch. Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello was ably represented. The Ebira Paramount ruler, Ohinoyi Ado Ibrahim had his representatives adequately attend the Ohindase event.
Other illustrious persons too numerous to mention also graced the occasion. Praises upon praises, describing him as a man and monarch of example flowed like a river in the rain season. For them, Ohindase was a strong willed, disciplinarian personality and an embodiment of everything that was good.
They believed that the monarch’s elastic patience and humility coupled with his ability to strictly adhere to the rules guiding the stool had greatly contributed to his long stay on the throne. His endless service and wise leadership, they also reasoned, had brought great political, economic and social success to his chiefdom making Okengwe a prosperous and peaceful place.
As the event began, President General of Okegnwe Development Association (ODA Worldwide) was quick to set the tone for the big crowd that attended the 45th anniversary of the revered monarch. According to the President, the event was the kind that transcended the celebration of the life of the Ohindase as unity and cohesiveness among the people which consequent is the appreciable development of Okengwe in every sphere of life under the peaceful reign of the Ohindase should be celebrated as well.A kind of twin events.
Thanking the people and members of Okengwe Development Union(ODA worldwide) members for putting the event together on behalf of his monarch father and the family, Mr. George Ogirima Bello who is the Managing Director of Kogi State Agricultural Development Project expressed joy over the reigning unity, love and understanding among the sons and daughters of Okengwe. He charged the people to sustain the present peace for more stability and prosperity in the area.
His former pupil, Comrade Haroon Opotu, speaking on behalf of Kogi Central Council of Elders, National Youth Council of Nigeria and the EYC Council of Elders said inter alia:
” The Ohindase as our Royal Father is selfless and rules with fear of God. He is a peace loving and wonderful keeper of our customs and traditions. This foremost traditional ruler is a teacher, counselor, motivator and propeller of ideas, strict disciplinarian, qualities that have helped him to pilot the traditional affairs with grandiose perfection,” he said
In his remarks, Professor Muhammed Audu as Chairman of the 45th anniversary of the Ohindase’s installation prayed to God to keep the royal father for many more years on the throne even as he called on well meaning personalities and organizations in Okengwe and Kogi Central Senatorial District as a whole to invest heavily in the education of the child for the future that will be free of social upheavals. The professor emphasized that knowledge was at the core of stable, peaceful and prosperous society.
Successful as HRH Stephen Eneika Bamidele Bello might be, he knew that a tree cwould not make a forest. It was in recognition of this fact that the wise king seized the opportunity of the anniversary to give Achievement awards of titles to few of the numerous sons and daughters of his domain that had in one way or the other immensely contributed to the success of his reign.
For his effort in always ensuring that Okengwe people embraced unity for the purpose of development, the President General of Okengwe Ddevelopment Aassociation, Ahmed Onoruoiza Yusuf was given the suitable title of OVOZABE OF Okengwe. Emmanuel Enesi Ozigi was conferred with the OGAZI OF OKENGWE title. He represents the richness of rainbow for the Ohindase and his dormain
The title of OTENYIETE OF OKENGWE was given to Alh Ismail Abubakar for his efforts in seeking peace and comfort for his fatherland while Alhaji Musa Audu, an Abuja base business tycoon assigned his OTUREMA OHINDASE title to his son, Audu Yahaya Onimisi-Okumo. Okumoh is a rising political puzzle as he spreads meaningful tentacles in many parts of the country. His father sees in him a worthy Pilar for Ohindase throne. Grateful to the Royal father for the honour, Audu asked that his son be conferred with the OTUREMA Ohindase title on behalf of the family
Alh Jibril Momoh as the Accountant General of Kogi State was also honoured by the great Ohindase as the UZOMI OBANYI of Okengwe. He is making his Okengwe community proud as a prominent official in the Government of Yahaya Adoza Bello
In their remarks the new title holders thanked the respected traditional ruler for finding them worthy of the titles which they promised would spur them to continue to do their best for the community in enviable ways and at all times