I crave the indulgence of some of you who have come across any of my series on the Deji including the new Deji himself who had had cause to exchange one or two mails with me on the same series, ever before he became the “victor ludorum” in the protracted contest. I also want to seize this opportunity to thank all of you who have reached out to me, either to affirm, commend or criticize some of my principled stance on the Deji’s imbroglio or readers who have merely sought clarifications on some aspects of my position or the history of Akure. The latest in that list among several, is one Mr. Femi Aguda of California.
My determination in writing all the pieces I did on the Internet and elsewhere, is to break the logjam of silence among our people or our lack of
documentation of anything in our own part of the world. I honestly believe that one of the observations that separate or distinguish the developed countries and the Free World from the developing ones and those still in mental chains, is lack of documentation. If you don’t know where you are coming from, you are not too likely to know where you are going! In that unique sense, History therefore becomes very critical, in my view, to any society or any country’s desire to make progress.
By the special grace of the man of the hour, Agagu and the cooperation of the 14 or 15 remaining king makers in Akure, the stalemate arising from the Deji’s drawn-out selection exercise was finally broken, end of November 2005, after close to six years of delay and recriminations. In the process we had a candidate selected by the king makers in 2000 in Prince Adegbola Adelabu a.k.a. Ileri Oluwa who had already performed all the ceremonies and rituals of becoming a Deji, minus one or two critical rites before his selection was finally derailed by Agagu and Oluwateru working in tandem. It was a huge breach of Akure tradition for a candidate to go that far before being stopped. The Agagu Government should have saved Akure of all that breach, if it had acted sooner on the nomination of Ileri Oluwa submitted to them by the king makers, as far back as the year 2000. Why? Because we all know that even though the king makers are important in selecting an Oba, it is the Government that has the final say. The king makers could do all hey want, if the Government does not go along, it is a nullity. Agagu Government may now argue its hands were tied by so many court litigations pending in Court by aggrieved parties. While that may be true, there were other factors too. Corruption was another factor in the delay. They, Agagu and Oluwateru and some of the mercenary king makers in Akure had wanted Prince Ileri Oluwa who was considered a cash cow, an “Agbonmagbe” of sorts among the serious candidates had to be allowed to spend or waste part of his millions, and he surely did on the presumption that no other candidate could match his ability to throw money around. If I do not know the picayune details of how much money he had spent. I do know, for sure, that he had single-handedly contributed 2 million Naira at one time for the king makers to try and rush the completion of the new ultra modern palace.
Now that a new Deji in 46 year old Kabiyesi Oba Adesina Adepoju, Osupatadolaa the third has now been installed in reversed order following the rushed ratification of his selection by the Agagu Government, the time may have arrived for us to now start doing a post mortem on the winners and the losers in the selection exercise for the benefit of History.
I consider such a post mortem compelling because the final resolution of the Deji’s stalemate, as good as it may appear on the surface, has some serious consequences for the “dramatis personae” ie the principal characters and individuals involved in the selection from the newly created Osupa/Odundun Ruling Line to the King makers and to the individual candidates and even to some of us who had the courage to say it loud and clear that once the Omo-ori-ite provision had been expunged from the 1958 Deji’s Declaration as amended, the decision to go ahead and forcibly break into two the only Ruling House in Akure was an overkill, unnecessary, and totally unfair to the other units of the Asodeboyede Ruling House in Akure.
Let us begin with the winners. Yes, the newly created Osupa/Odundun Ruling Line had to be seen as a winner. The last time any Deji from their unit ever reigned in Akure was in 1845. It was a tremendous achievement for them to find one of their descendants being selected a Deji again. I don’t care how you slice it, it was a huge, huge achievement. The individuals to specially thank for that achievement are many. Some of them are even dead like Pa Aladetoyinbo, the late Bale of Alayere in Akure Local Government. But among the living, we have to specially recognize and congratulate the Bajimo of Akure Omowas, Dr. Chief Adebimpe Ige Ogunleye-Aladejana who I had strongly recommended in one of my articles on the Deji as the person suited to be named the Head of Family following the exit of Pa Aladetoyinbo.
He was not a Johnny-just-come lately of a Prince in that unit of the Asodeboyede House. At a time when very few dared to identify with the Family, he was down in the trenches fighting along with others for the unit to be created into another ruling line in Akure. I knew his role in that regard, when I served as Secretary to the only Akure Ruling House in 1975. Dr. Adebimpe Ige Ogunleye-Aladejana who is now Chairman and Head of Family is a winner. By the same token, Kabiyesi Adesina Adepoju as the first “non-omo-ori-ite” great grand child to ever ascend the throne in more than 700 years is clearly a winner. It was a Napoleonic feat, if you ask me.
Among the losers had to include Chief Oluyemi Falae whose prestige and national stature has helped the Family articulate its case before the Government and the general public. He was initially named the Head of Family but later reversed to Deputy Head. Above all, the candidate he had supported did not win, in large part, because of a conflict of personalities between the faction of the king makers that supported the Falae candidate and those that did not.
I can tell you that the Falae factor had to be seen as a huge loss for people like me in Akure who hold the Chief in the highest esteem. I strongly believe that Akure town would have been better served, had the chief made it known, years before now, that he was in any way related to Royalty in Akure. Like I said before, in one of my articles on the Deji, he most certainly, as an Akure Prince, would have been considered a sure bet to be crowned a Deji, if he had shown interest in 1991 and o
bviously in 2005.I would have been rooting for him for sure.
Tell me, who would not have preferred a former Presidential candidate and a former Secretary to the Federal Government and Minister of Finance to any of the candidates presented by the Osupa/Odundun Unit? It should have been a cake walk for Chief Falae, and I would have been in the forefront leading the effort to crown him a Deji in our town, because he is a star in our town without any question. He would have been our own superb equivalent of Kabiyesi Laloko of Iloko in Ijesha, Oba Olasore. Akure would have loved the choice to death. But Chief Falae, I regret to say, did not establish, early enough, his blood relations to Royalty in Akure. We knew him to be an Heir Apparent of Ilu Abo without any doubt. We also knew him to be related by blood to the famous Elemo Family of Akure. I can tell you that my own brother-in-law Prince Aladetoyinbo who initially had the greatest leverage to win, all things considered, did not win, when the chips were down, for very strategic reasons.
The other big losers, if the truth must be told are the majority of Akure citizens in Baltimore, Maryland, USA who had already crowned Prince Aladetoyinbo a Deji in Diaspora, in much the same way like Ladejola Oginni was crowned the Owa Obokun of Ijesha Land. They had given him all the moral and financial support to make him a Deji, but, sad to say, their effort was not good enough. On the contrary, The Oyemekun Progressive Union of the tri state areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut had come out winners by their neutral stand as ably represented by their President, Dr. Kayode Fakinlede of New Jersey.
Of course, Ileri Oluwa who had performed all the rights necessary to be crowned a Deji, but did not get crowned, was a big loser having spent his millions in pursuit of a mirage.
How about the king makers? The winners were clearly the Olisa Otutuleyowo the Second, retired Colonel Folorunsho David and the eight other king makers who had voted for Prince Adesina, and the losers were the 5 king makers who had gone along with Prince Aladetoyinbo. I have to single out the Olisa as a man of steel and principle. I don’t care what anybody may be saying about him, retired Colonel David would go in history as one of the most principled and effective Olisas in close to a hundred years. You can quote me on that. I am not one of those Adesidas who believe the present Olisa should be declared a “persona non grata” to the Adesida Family for good. I don’t be believe he had born any animosity against the Adesida as a group, as rumored. All he had done was stand up for fairness and principle, and I believe he was right to do that, when all was said and done.
Those who continue to criticize his support for Ileri Oluwa to start with, and his last minute switch-over to Adesina Adepoju just don’t know him as well as I do. I can tell you here and now that the same Olisa and king makers who think like him, would have supported any other candidate other than an Adesida, even if the only Asodeboyede Ruling House in Akure had not been broken into two, and once the omo-ori-ite clause had been put to rest. Why? Because the Adesida fatigue had already set in, and the majority of our king makers were hell-bent to see a non-Adesida candidate as the next Deji in Akure, if only to break the more than 100 years jinx.
If Kabiyesi Ataiyese ever got anything right in his short reign, his choice of Folorunsho David as Olisa of Akure was clearly one of them. Another king maker I would mention in person is Chief Asamo Olusanya, now the longest reigning Akure Chief. You could say anything you like about him, Chief Asamo Olusanya was “a man of timber and caliber to borrow a cliche from the late Mbadiwe. He was the most astute politicians of them all.
The losers have to include Chief Elemo Bolanle Adedipe one of the most charismatic and popular Elemos of all times. He, sure, didn’t come out too good in this, when all is said and done. Chief M.A Falade, the Odopetu also did not come out too good in the selection exercise, all things considered. I cannot tell whom he had voted for in the selection tally, but there is a chance, he might not have been on the victorious side, I would guess. Chief Aro Aminu and Chief Ojomu Oluyide were a stabilizing force among the king makers, and I have to believe Sasere Oluwaleimu too must have played his part very well. Unfortunately, The Sao another important Chief to watch was spared of any embarrassment in the exercise by death.
Among the other short term winners had to be counted Governor Agagu, and his obedient Deputy in Oluwateru who, we have now learnt, was the invisible brain behind the last minute selection of Adesina Adepoju who must have spent the least among the principal contestants for the throne. As an accountant by profession he had waited till when it counted the most to shoot out, and he had pulled all the stops in his many years experience as a clever Londoner to pull a fast one on everybody, on both the Governor and his Deputy and then on the majority of the king makers. I call the Governor and his Deputy Oluwateru a short term winners, because the peace overtures they probably believe they were making to Akure as a whole and to the Deji -in-Council, to paper the cracks arising over their decision to break up Akure into three kingdoms, is going to have very serious repercussions that would go far beyond their tenure of office when the chips are down.
That point leads me to the other winners in Kabiyesi Osolo and Kabiyesi Iralepo who finally got their chance to fulfil their life ambition by getting the Ondo State Government to elevate them as Obas during an interregnum when they knew the Regent, Princess Adeyinka Adesida could not command as much clout and leverage as a substantive Deji to stop them from becoming Obas, and they were exactly right. But the acid test would come when an effort is being made to carve out or demarcate their two kingdoms from the Deji’s kingdom.
I know Agagu and Oluwateru may have put the new Deji in a box by letting the young Oba know that without their support, he could not have made it to the throne. They would then like to use that to constantly intimidate him not to speak up against them and their Governm
ent, if the push comes to shove. The elevation of the two Obas, if not reopened and renegotiated with this new Deji and the Akure Council of Chiefs and the rank and file of Akure, as soon as the Deji’s Honeymoon with the Government is over, could be a serious Pandora Box of the future.
That is where the Olisa and the other Akure Chiefs are going to openly disagree with the new Deji, if he is not very careful with the kind of cozy camaraderie he presently enjoys with the Governor and his Deputy over the elevation of the two Obas. His Honeymoon with Government could be the shortest enjoyed by any Deji in recent memory. That is a prediction.
My humble suggestion would be for the new Deji to have the Agagu Government go back to the drawing board, not necessarily to undo what has been done, but to renegotiate the terms, and to document the dos and the don’ts in specificity before the two Obas start telling stories about how they have brought their crowns from Ile-Ife, and what they see as their natural boundaries with what is left of Akure after Isolo and Isinkan are taken away. The famous Ogun Idanre would be seen as nothing but a skirmish, compared to the rancour and recriminations that the Osolo and the Iralepo feud and debacle may generate in the fullness of time.
With some diplomatic move, I believe we can still avoid such mayhem in our town. I hope and pray it won’t come to that.
I rest my case.