Treaty Kings and Kingdoms Classified As Chieftaincy Stools Before The Amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 by the British Government

Treaty Kings and Kingdoms Classified As Chieftaincy Stools Before The Amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 by the British Government

Treaty Kings and Kingdoms Classified As Chieftaincy Stools Before The Amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 by the British Government

Solomon Olali-Igabo writes Treaty Kings and Kingdoms Classified As Chieftaincy Stools Before The Amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 by the British Government

Great Britain has a longstanding bond or tie with few kingdoms and kings far back in the 18th century before the Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria by Sir Fredrick Luggard in 1914.

It is interesting to note that the Niger Delta were ruled by powerful and influential kings and chiefs in pre-independence era whom the British Government also acknowledged as friends and allies due to their exploits and diplomacy.

Before the partition of Africa Continent by the early European explorers and abolishment of slave trade, African rulers or kings had good mutual relationship with the Portuguese merchants and the British including the missionaries.

For instance, during the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria I, Queen of Great Britain in 1837 however recognized few traditional rulers and kingdoms in the Southern protectorate as kings and chiefs with whom they signed treaties of recognition with relevant dates.

Chronologically, the kings or chiefs known as Treaty kings or rulers are the king and chiefs of Kalabiri as the Amanyanabo of Kalabiri kingdom on 2nd October, 1850.

The king and chiefs of Grand Bonny in Rivers State as the Amanyanabo of Grand Bonny on the 3rd of October 1850, while the king and chiefs of Benin, Edo state as the Oba of Benin on the 5th of April, 1851.

Others are the king and chiefs of old Calabar in Cross River State as the Obong of Calabar on 19th of September 1856, the king and chiefs of the Brass people in present Bayelsa State as the Amanyanabo of Nembe (Mingi) on the 17th of November, 1856 and the king and chiefs of Lagos in Lagos state as the Oba of Lagos on 2nd April 1864 as well as the king and chiefs of Opobo in Rivers State as the Amanyanabo of Opobo (king Jaja of Opobo) on 4th January 1873 respectively.

These aforementioned seven kings and chiefs are not only Natural Rulers but are called Treaty kings by the British Government.

Here in Bayelsa State, the Nembe Chieftaincy stool (Mingi) is perhaps the most ancient and oldest and first among equals.

Historically, in 1830 the white explorers the Lander Brothers, John, James and Richard were brought into Nembe headquarters. This was also a major decision at the time. KingBoy Amain, Mingi V in his capacity as the king of the Brass peoples (country), was instrumental to the release of the explorers from the Obi of Aboh in now Delta State. During the Royal visit of the Queen of England and the Duke of Edinburg in 1956, Mingi X Francis Joseph Alagoa was presented to the royal visitors as the incumbent on the vaulted throne of king of the Brass people (Amanyanabo of Nembe) and he sat by them. Also during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester His Majesty King Mingi attended and represented former Brass Division as the Amanyanabo of Nembe, the only first class Chief then.

The Nembe-British War of 1895 led by King William Fredrick Koko, Mingi VIII was another feat or exploit which the British Government later realized her injustices meted to the Nembe People and other Ijaws in the Brass River over monopoly of trade. Ambassadors and High Commissioners in Nigeria have attested to the fact that Great Britain had a long standing relationship with Nigeria and regretted the sad incident where the Royal Niger Company Operational base at Akassa was raided by King Koko and his kinsmen in order to liberate them from oppression.

In the report to the resumed Nigeria Constitutional Conference which was held in London in October 1958 at then Eastern Regional Government, it was stated therein that the conference agreed that there shall be 17 first class chiefs, 58 second class chiefs and 5 special members in the Eastern House of Chiefs. Out of the 17 first class chiefs 8 are to be Natural Rulers and annex IV attached to the Report classified the following Natural Rulers as ex-officio members of the House of Chiefs:
Eze Aro of Arochukwu
The Amanyanabo of Bonny
The Obong of Calabar
The Amanyanabo of Kalabiri
The Amanyanabo of Nembe
The Obi of Oguta
The Obi of Onitsha
The Amanyanabo of Opobo

The Federal Government of Nigeria and the seat of power was based in Lagos, not just Igbo dominated Eastern Regional Government, but through constitutional provision, had already accepted in 1958 the office or institution known as the Amanyanabo of Nembe – the paramount overlord of Nembe clan. The stool was subsequently recognized and classified as first class chieftaincy stool by Rivers and Bayelsa States’ Governments respectively.

Nembe is the cradle of civilization in this part of the world is undisputable. History is a weapon and one have to treasurer it for posterity and not to be politicized.

Today there are multiplicity of kingdoms and kings in different clans and communities due to administrative or political conveniences. But the fact remains that all animals are not equal even in the animal kingdom as well as all kings are not equal by virtue of historical account and impact.

Sadly, in the kingdom of catfish all that have fins (moustache) are equal. Unfortunately, this mindset of some traditional rulers or chiefs where every king or ruler irrespective of status parading as first, second or third class chiefs among others without impact or footprint to show.

Traditional rulers or chiefs are the custodians of the local people who attach respect to the custom and culture of their people, who placed premium on selfless contributions of individuals to the development of their kingdoms and people. The question is how many of our traditional rulers or kings are living up to expectation?

Frankly, the reverse seems to be the case in our contemporary society where most communities or kingdoms have been mortgaged or shortchanged by selfish political and traditional leaders for pecuniary gains thereby retarding the development or progress of their areas. Government and community traitors are not also helping matters and are also culpable in most of the violence or crises because of greed and inordinate ambition.

The call therefore is for traditional rulers to uphold the culture of the people as well as leave a legacy for generation yet unborn.

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