By: The Institute For Benin Studies –

Do you know that the Oldest Surviving Kingdom in the World is Great Benin Kingdom and is 2054 years Old? This piece reveals 30 amazing facts you never knew about the Great Benin Kingdom

The Great Benin Kingdom is probably Nigeria’s greatest empire. The Ogiso dynasty lasted for about 854 years plus an interregnum of 285 years between the reign of Ogiso Orire and Ogiso Odia, there was an interregnum of 70 years between Ogiso Owodo and Oba Oranmiyan plus 845 years of Oba ruler-ship till date.

Below are 30 amazing facts about the Great Benin Kingdom:

1.The First Storey Building in Nigeria was built at Ughoton by the Dutch in the year 1718, and it was called “The Factory”. The said building was destroyed by the British during the war against the Benins in 1897. The site of the building is still intact.

2. The Oldest Church in West-Africa was established in Great Benin Empire by the Earliest Portuguese missionaries in the 16th Century which is today known as the Holy Aruosa (Benin National Church). Pope Pius XII visited Benin and handed the church to the Oba of Benin, Oba Oreoghene in 1692AD.

3. The first Known Embassy Established in Nigeria was in Benin during the reign of Oba Esigie in the 16th century.

4. The Oldest known letter written in Nigeria was by Duarte Pires instructed by Oba Esigie which was addressed to King John II, on the 20th October, 1516AD. The second oldest letter was written by Anthonio Domingo (Great-grand Son of Oba Olua) to the Pope to seek for missionary assistance in other to spread Christianity in Benin Empire in 1652AD.

5. Oba Orhogbua founded Lagos and planted a dukedom, the Obaship of Lagos (Eko).

6. Oldest ever recorded market in Africa is Ogiso (Agbado) Market dated 60BCE.

7. The first ever recorded bank (Owigho) in present day West-Africa was built in Benin kingdom by Oba Eresoyen, construction started in the year 1740AD and was completed in the year 1743AD.

8. Queen Idia (Oba Esigie mother) is the first Oba’s mother to be alive to see her son becoming an Oba. That’s because traditionally previous Crown prince mothers were killed before their Sons ascend the throne.

9. Ga tribe of present day Ghana migrated from Benin during Oba Udagbedo reign (1299-1334)

10. Oduduwa was the exiled crowned prince from Benin known as Ekaladerhan, which is being purported as the progenitor of the Yoruba race.

11. The monarch of Warri kingdom is an off shoot of the royal house of Benin kingdom founded by prince Iginuwa the Son of Oba Olua in the 15th century.

12. The Osemawe of Ondo was corrupted from Osemwughe, the Benin warrior who deserted Udo town, when there was war between Benin City and Udo town.

13. The word Ondo was corrupted from the town “Emwan N’Udo” (people of Udo town)

14. The world most famous mask Queen Idia mask was the face of FESTAC 77’ held in Lagos.

15. The word Benin was corrupted from Ubini by the Portuguese explorer meaning “a place of heavenly pageantry and prosperity.”

16. Oba Esigie is the first King in Africa to be baptized in the year 1504AD in Benin.

17. The King of Benin can in a single day make 20,000 men ready for war, and, if need be, 180, 000, and because of this he has great influence among all the surrounding peoples’ … His authority stretches over many cities, towns and villages. There is no King thereabouts who, in the possession of so many beautiful cities and towns, in his capital – Olfert Dapper, description of Africa, 1668.

18. According to the Guinness Book of Records (1974 edition) described the walls of Benin City and its surrounding kingdom as the world’s largest earthworks carried out prior to the mechanical era.

19. According to estimates by the New Scientists Fred pearce, Benin City’s walls were at one point “four times longer than the great wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops”

20. Benin City is surrounded by massive walls dug by Oba Oguola in 13th century and Oba Ewuare I in the 15th century.

21. Great Wall of Benin extended for some 16,000km in all, in a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement boundaries. They covered 6, 500sq km and were all dug by the Edo people.

22. The Great wall of Benin took an estimated 150million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.

23. Benin City is the first City to have a semblance of street lighting in the world.

24. The Portuguese were the people who called our land “Great City of Benin” because they were astonished with what they saw that the Edo people achieved centuries before any major cities in the world.

25. 1n 1691, the Portuguese ship captain Lourenco Pinto observed: “Great Benin, where the king resides, is larger than Lisbon; all the streets run straight and as far as the eyes can see.

26. The Binis are the best bronze casters (Igun – eronmwon) in the world.

27. Two kings were installed without a crown, Ogiso Igodo (40BC-16AD) and Oba Oranmiyan (Odolorre) 1170-1200AD.

28. Great Benin is known as the cradle of Black civilization and the centre of the world (Edorisiagbon).

29. The Benin were the first to use sophisticated weapons (guns) to fight war(Idah war) in the present day Nigeria in about 501 years ago (August, 1516), the war was led by Oba Esigie mother (Queen Idia).

30. All Oba’s in Lagos(Eko) were all buried in their ancestral home (Benin City) until late 19th century, to further lay credence to that Oba Osemwende in 1834 instructed Idewu Ojulari, the Oba of Lagos to zegbele (kill himself) the instruction was, expectedly, complied with. The Lagos Oba complied by taking poison.


By: Theophilus Izobofolo

 How safe are you with that nanny, maid, steward, cook, security guards, driver, lesson teacher, etc, whether at home or in the office?
We are all shouting  “Security! Security!! Security”!!! but are we not all guilty?
1) All the above mentioned people working with us, do we have their guarantors? Do you ever visit their referees even after a year or two of their engagement?
2) Do we ever revisit their home address provided or call to see if there has been a change in address or phone numbers?
3) Did you register the maid, drivers, nannies, etc, you keep in your homes with the relevant agencies such as the  Police, Safety Commission or Neighborhood Vigilante groups?
4) Do you have their photographs and confirm every given information?
5) Do you attend your Estate/Street meetings or are you so reserved that you have no relationship with your neighbors and too busy to attend meetings?
6) Do you have a What’sApp group for residents only for emergency messages such as when  a neighbor is being attacked or robbed, a fire incident, a neighbor is critically ill and needs urgent  help and other emergencies?
7) Do you know that your cook, nanny, driver, steward, maid, day care center handlers or lesson teacher, etc, could be HIV positive?
He/She can have Hepatitis B or even tuberculosis? What will it cost you to do a medical test for them before you employ them?
It is your life that is in danger if you engage a sick victim without knowing their medical history.
8) Do you know that your driver could be a wanted person by the police in another state for theft or kidnapping? Have you done a check on him with the Police and do you have a 5×7 photograph of him? Do you know that he could be hypertensive, have high blood pressure (HBP), poor eye sight or he could have an enlarged heart and not fit to drive?
9)  Is your security guard a citizen or a foreigner from  Niger, Chad and Benin Republic? How did/can you confirm that? If he is a foreigner, is he registered by the requisite organization and eligible to work here?
10) Never talk about money transactions or cost of your jewelries or valuables in the presence of your domestic staff. Most theft usually have in-house informants. Please note that the longer your domestic staff work with you, the more dangerous they can be.
They wait for a time to strike when you least expect and they are hardly ever thought to be the suspect.
HOW SAFE ARE YOU WITH YOUR PERSONAL STAFF? Don’t be a victim. Do all the necessary checks immediately.  Save your life and that of your loved ones. Security and safety is everyone’s business including you and I.



By: Andy Akporugo Jr

On Thursday last week at the high-hatted Radisson Blu Hotel, I sat in the company of some of the finest Urhobo minds mainly resident in Lagos. We were guests of ‘‘The Urhobo Foundation’’, sobering over a lecture, one in a series, delivered by perhaps the foremost Urhobo ‘nationalism-intellectual’, the redoubtable Professor G. G Darah, under the theme ‘‘The Urhobo Nation and the Restructuring of Nigeria’’.

As discussants was a carefully selected assemblage of the very best of the varied expertise of the Urhobo tribe: Prof. Joe Abugu, professor of Commercial Law, University of Lagos; Mr. Ese Onosode, who amongst many descriptions, is the Chairman of a very ambitious Delta Economic Summit group [about which purpose I shall return to, somewhere in this offering] and son of the very venerated Dr Gamaliel Onosode, who as an individual perhaps had more corporate business experience than the whole of Delta State did; Mr Ede Dafinone, accomplished professional and scion of the very accomplished Senator D.O Dafinone’s family and Professor Mrs Okobia, Vice Chancellor of the Western Delta University, Oghara. I now struggle to recall the name of the last discussant.

At the end of the presentation of what was a very well received paper, I had been able to pen down a few pieces of education, some of which I now volunteer as follows:

i. The Urhobos are comprised in 24 kingdoms, 9 local government areas in Delta State and also settling in parts of Bayelsa State, are the 5th largest ethnic group in Nigeria; certainly large enough to own their own state, their land area measuring almost double the size of Lagos State’s 3,577 sq Kilometres

ii. Its area is rich with the finest crude oil [especially from Kokori], 400 oil wells, 8 huge rivers which directly access the Atlantic ocean, a Refinery, a steel plant, a power plant, vast agrarian land etc etc. It is said that if you savoured an orange and carelessly spat its seeds outside your house in the evening, you would require a cutlass to weed an orange plant the following morning instead of a broom to trash the seeds!

iii. Lagos which bridges we still count until today, was built majorly up till the 70s, almost exclusively from the revenue of a richly producing ‘Urhobo oil block’, OML 30, an unthankful provision which was similarly enjoyed by the whole of Nigeria in its successful prosecution of its civil war and the gluing of its disparate parts.

iv. The Urhobo people are true federalists, being already congregated for many years along its tenants within its 24 kingdoms and the first ethnicity to break-off from the Benin kingdom, in search of its own destiny.

v. The first hostility towards the Urhobo people by Nigeria was in 1968 when the Gowon government scapegoated them for Ojukwu’s intransigence, when it ordered oil companies to relocate out of Urhobo land to Lagos State for safety

vi. A further act of belligerence was soon to follow in 1969 via a directive that every revenue from oil and gas should be owned by the Federal Government, at a time when other tribes owned their own natural resources. The expropriation has since received consistent constitutional protection and now nestles in Section 44[3] of the 1999 Constitution.

vii. Currently, all the Urhobos are allowed is only a part of a measly 13% of the revenue from oil which they have 100% ownership of! The rhythmic representation of this travesty was expressed in choruses of ‘‘13% derivation being 87% deprivation’’!

viii. The Urhobo demand is that Nigeria must return to its constitution of 1963 by which the regions had considerable autonomy, the proposed revenue sharing formula for emphasis, being 50% to the regions, 20% to the Federal Government and 30% to a pool from which we shall again share.

I produce the above being my paternal Urhobo claims, mainly to buttress the Ijaw claims to which I associate [being myself grand-maternally of the purest Bekederemo stock] as well as those of tribes of the Niger Delta area, which insist on justice principally on the basis of a restructuring premised on the devolution of more powers to the states – truly only a pretentious phrase which in fact, starkly translates to more or total control of the oil revenue from the area.

While I recognize that the above arguments for restructuring/resource control may be premised differently elsewhere, especially in the Southeast where their natural resources lie more in their commercial venturing than in their earth, I do however believe that the relevant good governance issues I shall raise here do not diminish by the difference of premises.

Quickly, I propose to question the claims of state ownership of the resource. By the history of the Urhobo land and elsewhere, migration upon which most virgin lands became owned was an individual effort. The lands by the natural progression of ownership soon became communal. To that extent therefore, the most ambitious manner of ownership of Urhobo land was communal. That being the case, it would appear that the States cannot claim a better ownership of the land, and thus the resource buried in it, than can the federal government. They are both artificial, expropriatory interventions by strangers, whether in the form of Midwestern State or Bendel State or Delta State or the Federal Republic of Nigeria. if we push the logic of the restructure activists therefore, the true owner of oil caught flowing beneath my land ought to be me, my family or community sired by me! I shall return to complete this argument presently.

Beyond the issue of true ownership, it is my further argument that the heart of the current agitation for restructure does not beat in the chest of a demand for good governance! In truth, the agitation tends to raise more of ‘‘rights issues’’ whether human or economic, than good governance ones. In a sense, when I sat in the hall that day listening to the dominant rhetoric, it felt as if I was sitting at a pre-Nigerian independence sensitisation class. The argument being that we should be allowed to manage our resources or that we are a viable state are simply the same as for the quest of the independence of nations. Yet we know, don’t we, that independence in Africa has not necessarily given the people good governance. While the independence and control argument may overlap with the ‘social contract’, good governance one, it doesn’t necessarily make a compelling argument for it.

If you will forgive my French, the truth is that the problem that ‘‘squeezes our balls’’ in the NigerDelta is an ethical one more than it is structural! It is in fact the anxiousness to talk about the structural and leave the ethical and the insincerity that it represents, that deals a more ghastly blow to the agitation than all the guns of Abuja and elsewhere.

We currently are entitled to receive 13% of revenue from our oil. And we have received it for many years, along with revenue from elsewhere, all of which amount to billions of Naira in their hundreds in the last 18 years in the least, but what have the communities or the people of the NigerDelta states enjoyed on account of this revenue. Hasn’t almost all the revenue been looted? Can we honestly say that there is absolutely no state sponsored infrastructure in my community as indeed in most, simply because power has not properly devolved from Abuja on the states or because more funds have not been restructured into the hands of our governors who are in the main, primitive in their voracious greed?

My training advises me not to hope that a man who has criminally mismanaged little and literally eaten the rest, leaving us with a stinking belch from his overfeed, will suddenly call us to table when more is brought. This is the burden of our agitation and until we provide a response that provides guarantees to the contrary, our effort will only be seen as self-serving, almost criminal, especially because many of its champions are the same people who have perennially exploited the people off the little that have been provided. Let’s make no mistakes about this: the fact is that although ironic, it is yet a valid self-preservation prescription for the ordinary man to wish that the exploiter is kept far away in Abuja, than that the powers of a local tyrant are reinforced in such a way as to provide him with a real and urgent capacity to rob the ordinary man’s home of the function of providing some refuge for him, even if for the time being only pretentious and unenduring.

If we are not probing the criminal gluttony of our governors, we must interrogate their competence. Does power have to devolve to the states before they can be enriched from agriculture or commerce and industry or taxation for example? I trust that somebody is following the exchanges between Pat Utomi and former Governor Uduaghan from which we now understand in sum that for the apparent absence of the possibility of immediate personal aggrandizement, the government of Delta State refused to give a company intending to build a huge school and hand over to it for maintenance. A thief with some humanity will be patient enough to facilitate the building of the school and hope to loot from maintenance allocations, but No! Our brother thieves will steal seeds instead of harvests! Certainly, the issues raised in their bitter dialogue cannot be answered by arguments for restructure. Their answers will be found somewhere in the wickedness of man.

Surely, I vote for devolution of powers or restructure or resource control or what my dear friend Professor Edoba Omoregie would rename the ‘‘refederaton’’ project, but certainly, if the object of governance is the individual, they would be highfalutin words, until they are demanded, and we are assured that they will be operated, by those who by their ethical values we trust to have hearts that beat in their chests and not at their backs!

[to be continued]