Yoruba monarchs’ feud rages
• Awujale accuses Alake of wrongly categorising obas
• Sanusi, Osoba, Mabogunje fault govt structure
Any end to the feud among Yoruba traditional rulers seems nowhere in sight yet as the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona , yesterday called on the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbedebo to refrain from making unsavoury, unguarded and unfounded statements, which if not checked, may seriously jeopardise the unity of Yoruba obas and their people.
Adetona’s remarks were coming on the heels of a statement credited to Gbedebo, who was quoted to have claimed that Yoruba obas have been categorised into a ‘Big Five’ with the Ooni as number one , followed by the Alaafin, the Oba of Benin, the Alake coming fourth and the Awujale as the fifth in that order.
Speaking during the launch of the Endowment Fund of Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professional Chair in Governance, in the Department of Political Science, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) held in Lagos yesterday, Adetona said the Alake also went further to quote wrongly from a 1903 Gazette to support all the fallacies in his statement.
“When I learnt of the statement, I made several calls to Alake until I eventually succeeded in finding out from him if those statements were actually made by him, which of course, he vehemently denied,” he said.
Adetona also called for an urgent reform of the nation’s electoral system by first proffering solution to the minor issues with the card reader machine and also the introduction of electronic voting system before the next elections as being the only way to guarantee the choice of the people.
At the same forum, Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Sunusi II said no poor nation like Nigeria should be told it has no business keeping 36 governors and deputies, a president and vice president, 36 ministers and ministers of states, various aides including a bicameral legislature, commissioners, advisers, special advisers and others.
Sanusi said: “Simple arithmetic tells us if you have this nature of structure, you are first of all doomed to spending 80 to 90 per cent of whatever you earn servicing and maintaining public officers. This is the problem we are facing in Nigeria today.”
Similarly, former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba said until Nigeria reforms her electoral system where peoples’ votes count , the nation will continue to have fraudulent people occupying public offices.
Adetona urged Alake to appreciate the fact that the Ijebu have been in existence for almost 1,000 years and that they are the only people that still remain in their original homestead while other Yoruba towns and villages have relocated twice or more.
He added that it was imperative for the Alake, being a young and inexperienced traditional ruler, to contact former President Olusegun Obasanjo for proper education so as to save himself and his people from further embarrassment about the hierarchy of the Yoruba traditional rulers.
He said: “In a recent discussion between the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu and I, we also touched on the same issue and the Oba of Lagos told me that he too had asked Alake the same question, which he had again denied vehemently. Regrettably however, when the said statement few days later was continuously credited to Alake on the pages of newspapers, I expected him to deny it or issue a rebuttal, but he did not do so.
“Therefore, I consider it necessary to debunk the aforementioned falsehood and misrepresentation of facts from Ake Palace so as to put the records straight.”
Going down historical lane, Adetona said: “First, I would like to make it abundantly clear that the 1903 Gazette referred to by Alake was just a newspaper publication that he, in his self-serving role is now presenting as an official Government Gazette. The first question to Alake is: Who categorised the Yoruba obas and when? I challenge him to produce the document of the said categorisation. It is a known fact that Alake was a junior traditional ruler under the Alaafin at Orile Egba before he fled to Ibadan for refuge as a result of the war then ravaging Yorubaland.
“Following the defeat of Owu by the Ijebu Army in 1826, the Owu became refugees all over Yorubaland. Some of the Ijebu troops that fought the war proceeded to Ibadan where they met Alake and sacked him, consequently forcing him to seek refuge at Ake in Abeokuta in 1830 where of course, he met the Osile, Olowu, and Agura who were already settled at Oke-Ona, Owu and Gbagura sections of Abeokuta Township respectively.
“Even then, the Olubara, of Oyo origin had always argued that all the aforementioned four rulers met him in Abeokuta and therefore claimed to be their landlord. To even refer to Alake as ‘Alake of Abeokuta’ not to talk of Egbaland, is a misnomer, as his control since his arrival at Ake in 1830 and till today is restricted to Ake section of Abeokuta. The official Government Gazette testifies to this fact. In short, the Alake from history and all available records is a very junior traditional ruler in Yorubaland. His peers in Ijebuland are the Dagburewe of Idowa, Ajalorun of Ijebu-Ife, Akija of Ikija–Ijebu, Olowu of Owu-Ijebu, Oloko of Ijebu-Imushin, Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo and Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye.”
The monarch recalled that there had been an occasion in the past for three obas – himself, the late Alake, Oba Oyebade Lipede and the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the Ooni of Ife – to sit over this issue with Obasanjo, at Aso Rock, Abuja.
He stressed : “My advice to Alake, being a young and inexperienced traditional ruler, is that he should contact Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for proper education so as to save himself and his people from further embarrassment.
“It is important for Alake’s education to appreciate that Ijebu has been in existence for almost 1,000 years and that we are the only people that still remain in our original homestead while other Yoruba towns and villages have relocated twice or more. If only he cares to obtain a copy of the book, The Ijebu of Yorubaland 1850-1950 by the late Prof. E. A. Ayandele, that erudite professor of history and endeavour to read it, there, he will know who the Ijebu are and appreciate that from time immemorial and since our settlement on Ijebu soil, Ijebu was indeed a nation until 1892 when we were defeated in the Magbon War by the British colonial forces. As to be expected, the British colonial masters left no stone unturned to humiliate us for daring to engage them in a war.”
He continued: “When Sir Gilbert Carter read Intelligence Reports on Ijebuland at the Home Office in London, he felt convinced that the Ijebu were a special breed. Therefore, when he later found himself as Governor of Lagos Colony, he prepared a Treaty for the Awujale to sign so as to allow the missionaries to educate and evangelise the people as well as surrender their monopoly of trade between the coast and hinterland and for which he offered an annual payment of 800 pounds that was rejected.
“Notwithstanding the conquest, our early contact with the expatriates was quite significant and rewarding. It was during this period that our God-given commercial acumen was brought to play, resulting in enormous prosperity for the Ijebu to the envy of our neighbours.”
Observers have, however, expressed concern that the development may likely stall the efforts of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Alaiyeluwa Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who has been canvassing unity and peace among the traditional rulers in Yorubaland since he assumed the throne.
The Emir of Kano said he had once raised the issue of huge overhead burden while serving as the Governor of Central Bank (CBN), saying: “I raised this issue of using huge resources for funding public officers when I was the Central Bank governor that about 80 percent of government revenue is being used to maintain one million public officers leaving the rest of the population. Unfortunately my own government then disagreed with me.”
He wondered what a country like Nigeria is doing with almost 400 lawmakers, 109 senators, noting that “ we need to take a critical look at the numbers of laws that they have passed and how effective those laws are.”
Osoba, who stood in for Obasanjo called on the National Assembly to legislate on the use of card reader for election in the Electoral Act.
The guest speaker at the event, former Executive Chairman of the Development Policy Centre Ibadan, Prof. Akin Mabogunje in his lecture titled “Issues and Challenges of Governance in Nigeria” observed that the major issues and challenges facing governance in Nigeria at all levels were largely structural and derived from the military government wanting a federation turned upside down to align with the unified command structure of military administration.