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A new king crowned in Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta region

August 25, 2021

 The coronation of a dashing monarch in the oil-rich but impoverished Delta region has sparked a resurgence in royalty, tradition and ancestry among some young Nigerians.

Thousands thronged the streets and dignitaries and well-wishers flew in from around the world as the Itsekiri people of Iwere Kingdom in Delta state crowned a new king, Ogiame Atuwatse III.

Born Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, the 37-year-old is the 21st Olu of Warri to ascend the throne and one of the youngest to do so.

Inspiring a new generation

The prince has inspired a new generation with his progressive attitude and his speech was the highlight of the ceremony for many who have often lamented the failures of leadership in the country.

In a wide-ranging speech, he called for the region to look “beyond oil and gas.”

Nigeria is the largest oil-producer in Africa, contributing 86% to the country’s total export revenue.

The Niger Delta, in the southernmost part of the country has had to battle with insurgents, oil spills and pollution caused by behemoth energy companies in the region.

“We must look beyond oil and gas, and channel our energy in the right direction, towards the endeavors that will result in added value across the board,” he said in the speech.

Many have expectations on the new Olu of Warri to set things in motion to rewrite the narrative of the region.

“We must look beyond oil and gas, and channel our energy in the right direction, towards the endeavors that will result in added value across the board,” he said in the speech.

Many have expectations on the new Olu of Warri to set things in motion to rewrite the narrative of the region.

“The Niger Delta has had either the narrative of pollution or the narrative of insecurity, and I really feel like this is a turning,” Oritsema Jemide told CNN.

‘Women no longer invisible’

The Olu of Warri also pledged that women would be given agency to play an active role in the community.

“We will ensure that women, both old and young, honored and respected not only by word, but in actual cultural practice.. So I say to our women today, you will no longer be invisible.”

As is common in monarchies, he also bestowed new titles on his mother and wife to be known as Iye Olu Atuwatse III and Olori Atuwatse III.

Itsekiri entrepreneur Tara Fela Durotoye attended the coronation ceremony.

She told CNN citizens of Warri, from all stratas of society were filled with excitement at the promise the new king brings to his people.

“​​I saw people break out in dance at his appearance. I saw people exclaim… I think Nigerians are looking for something different and something new, something fresh. And he represents all of that, in his age, his exposure, his educational background, the pedigree,” she said.

“He brought so much to the throne, to see a forward thinking monarch, who understands technology, who understands entrepreneurship, understands the role of women. It was such a beautiful, beautiful experience and being a part of it gave me hope,” Durotoye told CNN.

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