It was, indeed, a tortuous journey to the emergence of the Ogbodo viii, Amanyanabo of Opu-Nembe Kingdom in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa state after nine years without kingship.
Opu-Nembe, also known as Basambiri is made up of two major dynasties. They are Mein and Ogbodo dynasties. Each dynasty had produced seven successive monarchs of the ancient city.
Knowing that it is an aberration for a revered kingdom such as Opu-Nembe to be without a King, its people have been making frantic efforts to ensure that a traditional stool is reinstalled to over see the long-established affairs of the domain since the ancestral stool became vacant by death of the previous occupant.
Having produced the last King, His Royal Majesty Ralph Iwowari, who died nine years ago, the Mein dynasty was therefore out of the kingship contest to allow Ogbodo to produce the next King in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice which had reigned over the kingdom for a donkey years.
Consequently, the epocal battle line for who succeeds the late Nembe monarch was drawn between Dede and Tamuno Groups of Houses all of Ogbodo dynasty. Both groups of houses were made to nominate three persons each to be presented to the Opu-Nembe Council of Chiefs who will in turn vote candidates of their choices.
At the end of the day, six kingship nominees were presented to the 3-man committee set up by the chiefs council with saddled responsibility to conduct a free,fair and credible election to usher in a brown new Amanyanabo of Opu-Nembe Kingdom.
The six nominees who were selected from the two groups of houses in Ogbodo dynasty included: a former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Victor Ombu, current president, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah, former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) deputy state chairman, Chief Dairus Obiene-Dede, senator representing Bayelsa East senatorial district, Senator Biobarakuma Eremienyo-Degi, Chief Monday Kerema, and a former INEC Commissioner, Baratuapre Edouhotu.
With Senator Degi not returning his nomination form to the electoral body, it was now five candidates that were ready for the contention which was slated for Saturday May 29, 2021, at the First Town Hall of Opu-Nembe Kingdom.
Preceding the election proper was a plenary session by the Opu-Nembe Council of Chiefs at the same venue on the same day after which the kingship electoral process began in essence with accreditation of the chiefs. Each chief present at the plenary session was asked by the electoral umpire to document his name, phone number and the group of house he belonged.
After the accreditation, chairman of the 3-man Electoral Committee (ELECO) and paramount ruler of Oluasiri Clan, HRH King Chiefson Awululu, announced that an open-secret ballot system would be used to elect the new King. Other members of the ELECO were the president, Opu-Nembe Improvement Union (OIU), Chief Tennyson Jumbo and Community Development Committee (CDC) chairman, Chief Awori Kombo.
In the absence of any objections to the open-secret system of voting as announced by the ELECO, the kingmakers went into the election in an environment devoid of rancour with heavy security presence outside the hall to forestall any possible breach of the peace.
After the polls, sorting and collation of results followed immediately. Announcing the results, the ELECO chairman, Awululu, noted that a total of 71 chiefs were accredited out of which Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah of Tamuno Group of Houses scored a landslide 64 votes to beat other candidates to become the Ogbodo viii of Opu-Nembe Kingdom. He added that Vice Admiral Victor Ombu (rtd) polled a distant five votes to emerge first runner-up, Baratuapre Edouhotu had one vote and one vote was voided while the rest candidates had zero votes.
Speaking to newsmen after the election, King Awululu said “the process is traditional driven and I have come to do the needful. The agents of the various candidates have also appreciated that the election was peaceful, fair and transparent.
Some of the participants who spoke to our correspondent described the exercise as divine. A former Nembe council chairman and commissioner, Chief Walter Ben-Wari said “this exercise is devine and you are all witnesses to it; how we started and concluded the election of the King of this community. You know it’s something that the chiefs are in charge.
“Seventy-one chiefs were accredited and seventy voted and Biobelemoye Josiah won the election with sixty- four votes. Then, the remaining votes were shared among the other candidates. People were anticipating crisis and violence but by the divine intervention of the Almighty God, the election was peaceful.”
Other chiefs who spoke and described the electoral process as free, fair and credible were former Ragent and chairman, Opu-Nembe chiefs council, Chief Bomonyo Amakiri and Kienghosuote They all commended the electoral body for making Opu-Nembe Kingdom proud.