THE FULL IMPLICATION OF EQUATING THE DEJI WITH THE OLUOKE OF OKEGBO, THE AMAPETU OF MAHIN, AND THE OJOMOLUDA OF IJEBU OWO IS NOT LOST ON AKURE PATRIOTS AT HOME AND ABROAD.
Under the new Agagu dispensation in Ondo State, it may well be that the Oluoke, the Amapetu and the Ojomoluda like the Deji of Akure, are now first class Obas in Ondo State. According to Agagu’s Commissioner for Information, Prince Olu Mafo, it was Agagu’s Government practice to present newly appointed Obas with the staff of office as soon as their appointment is ratified. They did it for the Oluoke, they did it for the Amapetu, and for Ojomoluda, so what is new with the Deji getting his instrument of office two days after the hurriedly arranged ratification of his appointment by the Ondo State Government?
The Commissioner had explained further that the Deji’s ratification was nothing but a side issue, as the Executive Council Meeting had more important things to do for that day. The presentation of the staff of office had to be done at the Cocoa House Conference Hall on Oda Road with God Almighty, the Governor himself making the presentation because the ceremony cannot wait, because that was the only day the Governor could spare to honor the new Deji. I say “Foul over the Bar.” That was an insult to the Deji and all Akure people at home and abroad, from an Iju Odo man who now views himself as the Lord of the Manor who can get away with murder, and simply ride rough shod over the feelings of our people just like that. It is the most stupid and insensitive thing that any Governor can do, and somebody has to call Agagu’s bluff, for whatever it is worth. We all know that gone were those days when important traditional rulers used to count for something. They have all now become a pawn in the chess game of silly politicians, and I deeply regret that.
Here was a Governor who, not too long ago, foolishly decided to break up the Deji’s kingdom into three in the absence of a Deji, and without as much as a word from the Akure Council of Chiefs, the Regent and the Akure leaders of thought! How insensitive can the Agagu Government get on matters relating to the interest of his State Capital? What exactly has Akure done to deserve this kind of shoddy treatment from a Government in which our own son is the second-in-command in his Cabinet?
Having said that, I now want to examine the full ramifications of Agagu’s insult to our most cherished Institution, the Deji’s throne, and how Agagu’s action may have irreparably damaged and desecrated our culture and tradition. But before doing that, I wish to recall one other instance at Ado Ekiti when Military Governor Bamidele Otiko, under pressure from the powerful Ekitis in his Cabinet and former Western Regional Military Governor in General Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, had foolishly agreed to go present the staff of office to the newly appointed Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba George Adelabu, before cock crow, in similar circumstance, because Otiko was scared like Agagu that the coup he planned on installing the new Deji, might be circumvented or overruled by a possible Court Order following the injunction filed by the first Deji-Elect “Prince” Adegbola Adelabu aka “Ileri Oluwa”.
Readers would recall that in 2000, the Akure kingmakers had, by a unanimous vote of 18, approved the nomination of Adelabu to be the next Deji of Akure. It was true the selection was not popular, but it was done by bonafide kingmakers who had the power to do so under Akure tradition and as clearly stipulated in the Deji’s 1958 Chiftaincy Declaration as amended. No popular Referendum was needed to determine if Prince Adelabu was favored by the majority of our people or not. Based on that selection, the kingmakers had gone ahead to have the Deji-elect begin the traditional rites he needed to perform, including three weeks at the central Obanifon Shrine in Chief Asamo’s Court, Akure where the Prince had first started to learn how to perform his traditional roles as the Deji of Akure.
The man has actually done everything required of him except a visit to late Chief Ooye Adeniyi’s House where he would have been crowned before moving next to Chief Ejio’s Shrine at the Erekesan Market, before heading for the Okiti Omolore from where he would have entered the Palace.
While all that was happening his Family the Osupa/Odundun, the new arbitrarily created Ruling House had filed a motion in Court disowning him as a bonafide member of their Family and asking the kingmakers to therefore abandon his selection. But twice the Court of Law had dismissed their motion as null and void and lacking any merit. You and I may not like Prince Adelabu per se, but that hatred must not be misconstrued to mean the man has forfeited his fundamental right under the Rule of Law which a responsible Government like the one professed by Agagu, cannot dismiss with the wave of the hand just like that.
Agagu cannot be allowed to operate his jungle law without a challenge. What kind of Government is Agagu running in Ondo State, if he is allowed to brazenly circumvent the Law and to blatantly undermine the right of Prince Adegbola to a fair hearing in the Court of Law, like he has done now? A Governor who will sanction this kind of coup, would have no problems rigging an election just to cling to office by all means. This move by Agagu does not sound right to me, regardless of how you slice it.
Prince Adegbola is Agagu’s victim today, the next victim could be you or me tomorrow or your brother or sister. That is why the Agagu action in Ondo State is a very disturbing scenario that law-abiding Nigerians cannot afford to ignore. That is point number one. Therefore the move to create a “Fait accompli” by rushing to present the staff of office to the new Deji, while it may appear legit on the surface, is serious obstruction of justice, and victimization or oppression of the worst order, if you factor in the rights of Prince Adelabu to seek redress in a Court of Law. He may win or lose in the Court, but his right should not have been circumvented or compromised by his own Government.
Agagu may think he is doing the new Deji a favor by rendering useless any attempt by Ileri Oluwa to stop or delay his coronation as the Deji just like Governor Bandele Otiko once did for the Ewi of Ado Ekiti as I hinted earlier in this write-up. While that move may succeed for a little while, it could not be a foolproof solution, as clearly shown in the Ewi’s case, I might add. I, for one, support the new Deji’s appointment, and I have congratulated him. But I totally disagree with the way and manner the Agagu’s Government is overplaying his hands and turning upside down the due process in installing the new Deji. Agagu is deliberately putting the cart before the horse, and turning the Deji’s selection into dirty politics, and creating problems for the young man instead of helping him. Agagu is probably doing this to weaken the new Deji, so he can continue to kowtow to his Government or kiss his ass, once his appointment is ratified. The new Deji who is educated in the UK must be appalled about this way of doing things, if he has learnt anything from his sojourn in a civilized society.
It is true that the young man may feel indebted to Agagu, and therefore rendered impotent to ask the Governor some legitimate questions on why he, Agagu would not wait for the Deji to be installed, before going ahead to divide the Deji’s kingdom into three. I would have felt more at ease with this
development, If Agagu had said he was rushing the Deji’s ratification to give the incumbent Deji a chance to offer his own views and that of Akure people as a whole on how the elevation of the Osolo and the Iralepo should be done. Unless Agagu is willing to reopen and renegotiate the terms of the elevation of the two Chiefs with the new Deji and his Council of Chiefs, my prediction is that the honey moon between the new Deji and Agagu would not last. Agagu by elevating the two Chiefs as Obas in Akure has already embarrassed and clipped the wings of the new Deji in a very profound way.
By removing Isolo and Isinkan from the present Kingdom of the Deji, Agagu has already done incalculable and irredeemable damage to the Deji’s honor and prestige as the preeminent ruler of Akure kingdom. The only way out is for the terms of the elevation to be renegotiated in black and white so both Obas would know their boundaries from the get go, and what they can do or not do. Period. I have no problems with their elevation, and I have said so, time and again, but the way it was done was very sneaky and demeaning to Akure as a whole and to the Deji-in-Council. Period.
Very soon, the two Obas in trying to justify their legitimacy would soon start making up stories on how they brought their crowns from Ife and what have you, and if the story of Afonja and Alimi in Ilorin and the story of Olukare and Owa-Ale as told by Elewi Idowu Adekoga is anything to go by, the whole of Akure and the Deji may have a difficult road ahead of them. Agagu as a transient leader may have sowed, in four short years, in Akure, the seed of disunity and mayhem the end of which nobody can predict.
We do not wish to see Akure become another cul de sac like Ikare, Ilorin or Owo before the current Olowo’s appointment was finally ratified by the same Agagu Government. The Agagu’s Government had been a disaster for Akure regardless of what the Iju-Odo man could be saying to the contrary. Let the new Deji beware. His newly found friend could turn out to be his worse enemy, if he wants to assert his authority as the Peoples’ Deji.
Agagu has turned Akure tradition upside down by putting the cart before the horse. The rush to present the new Deji with the staff of office before critical ceremonial formalities have been concluded, all in the name of keeping Ileri Oluwa at bay, by seeking redress in Court, is a step in the wrong direction for the first non-omo-ori-ite Deji to be installed in more than five hundred years. It is not a bad idea that the next Deji is the first grand child or great grand child to be lucky to be crowned a Deji for as long as anyone can remember in our long and cherished history in Akure. Long Live the Deji and Long live Akure.
I rest my case.