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Agba congratulates Oba of Benin on return of stolen artefacts

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, has congratulated His Royal Majesty, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin on the return of stolen artefacts.

The congratulatory message was contained in a letter dated May 10, 2023, by the minister to the Oba, entitled: “LETTER OF CONGRATULATION ON THE RETURN OF STOLEN ART FACTS”.

The letter reads: “My family and I wish to felicitate His Royal Majesty, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Government of Edo State and the good people of Benin Kingdom on the historic formal decision of the Federal Government via an official gazette to domicile repatriated Benin artefacts at the royal palace of the great Benin Kingdom, thus affirming His Royal Majesty as the legitimate custodian of royal Benin arts.

“I am highly delighted to identify with the generous outpouring of joy and happiness by all true Benin sons and daughters, both at home and in the Diaspora on this historic development. The wisdom, sincerity, and calmness of His Royal Majesty throughout the period leading to the final decision of the Federal government is unparalleled and unprecedented.

“The return of all the artefacts, when completed, will be a great balm and relief to everyone as historically, Benin had no formal system of writing other than the stories told in cast brass and carved ivory. Art was the kingdom’s culture, its wealth, its literature, and its memory. When these artefacts were pillaged, it left behind only ashes where palaces and temples had stood for centuries.

“I am also elated that the returned artefacts will be domiciled in a new museum on the premises of the great Benin palace which will elevate Benin City into a global destination for art and culture, much as Frank Gehry’s spectacular museum helped revive the fading industrial city of Bilbao, Spain. New hotels would rise; new businesses would flourish. Underemployed young people would discover productive futures in art, archaeology, tourism, and other services and the trauma of the past would be converted into resources for the glory of all Edo people and the entire citizens of Nigeria.

“I take this opportunity to commend His Royal Majesty for his genuine love, commitment, and total dedication to the welfare of his subjects, the good people of Edo State, which has brought great honour to all Edo people.

“I wish to affirm that His Royal Majesty, over the period of my assignment as the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, has been a great pillar of support, and his majesty’s wise counsel and prayers have given me strength and inspiration, leading the country into a sure path of greatness under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. His majesty has not only shown full support and total commitment to the progress of our country but has also demonstrated his fatherly role by providing us with the needed guidance and royal blessings at all times, while giving us unhindered access to his Palace.

“May you live long on the throne, and may your reign continue to bring sustainable peace and more development to Benin in particular and Edo State in general and may the love and bond your subjects have enjoyed under your reign be enduring.

“While heartily congratulating Your Royal Majesty and the entire Edo people on this historic moment, please accept the assurances of the highest regards.”

Meanwhile, when accosted by journalists, consequent upon his tweet of the congratulatory message on his verified social media handles, on what the federal government was doing about the housing of the artefacts, the minister said that the federal government, through the National Commission on Museums and Monuments, had made provisions in the 2023 budget to the tune of N1.9 billion for housing the artefacts in the Royal museum.

Agba said that the Federal government, having put it in the gazette that the Oba is the custodian of the artefacts, he would wish that the Commission, in consultation with the Oba of Benin, would determine where the Royal Museum would be built.

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