In my part one of this article, I traced the history of how the Asodeboyede Ruling House used to be the only big tent and the only ruling line from which all the forty-four Dejis that have ruled in Akure up till 1991, were selected. Among those forty-four, were two distinguished women. Even though the Awolowo Government in the West had attempted to break the logjam in endless Chieftaincy disputes by enacting the 1958 Chieftaincy Declarations covering all chieftaincy matters in the defunct Western Region. The only two towns that were not radically touched by the edict were the old Benin Kingdom and Ibadan metropolis. The same Edict had attempted to break up the only Asodeboyede Ruling House in Akure into three or more Ruling Houses because of persistent complaint by a cross section of the original Asodeboyede Ruling House that their own children and grand children were being for ever ruled out of contention for the Deji’s title, because Oba Afunbiowo Adesida the First had ruled for too long making it impossible for any of his cousins and brothers in the same Asodeboyede Ruling line to be considered serious candidates for the Deji’s throne by the time Oba Adesida the First had finally made his transition in 1957. The protracted agitation and protest by the other segments of the only Ruling House did not gather much traction while Oba Afunbiowo was still alive because of the man’s record of probity and the litany of achievements Akure City had made under his tenure of office.
His tenure had begun the golden age of Akure without any doubt. It was as if the gods were waiting for Ajapada to claim the title before the floodgate of blessings and progress were opened to Akure by leaps and bounds. his reign had ushered in Christianity, Education and modern civilization to Akure in a way that had never been known in Akure history. “Seriki ngoma mbameri goma” Please forgive my poor Hausa. I have always been a great lover of Hausa language with its deep and rich philosophical content just like the Yoruba language which also says “Oba mewa, igba mewa” Oba Adesida the First was a worthy Oba in a million, honest and benevolent to the chore. He had the wisdom of a Solomon, and the heart of a lion, and was exceedingly powerful and proficient in native medicine, and more so in Ifa Divination and interpretation better than any other Deji in living memory that some people even believed he could live for ever, because of his uncanny power at regenerative Medicine otherwise called “Ajidewe” in Yoruba mythology. He knew and understood “Orunmila, Ifa Aterere kaiye o s’oro dayo” even better than the Chief Ifa Priest in Akure otherwise known as Osinio in Akure dialect Once upon a time, and in 1956 to be precise, the Osinio who normally frequented the Palace to consult his Ifa oracle and to warn Adumila ahead of time about what the future holds in stock for him as the Oba and for the whole City as a whole. On this particular day Osinio saw something from his Ifa divination that he could not reveal to Kabiyesi. Ifa had just revealed to Osinio with Kabiyesi watching the whole scenario unfold in his very presence. Ifa had just revealed that the next Deji to succeed Afunbiowo would come to the same spot where the consultation was taking place before the Ifa inquiry was concluded at that very hour. Afunbiowo himself had got the same message loud and clear, but Osinio was frightened to his pant because that meant that the end was near for Kabiyesi. Osinio therefore deliberately falsified the message, but Kabiyesi reminded Osinio his interpretation was wrong, but he had the courage to ask him to carry on his enquiry to the very end, and he did. But lo and behold before the inquiry was concluded the young lawyer Prince Ademuagun Adesida the only son of Olori Olamiseji from Ibule, was the first person to appear at the scene in very miraculous circumstance, but totally unaware of what was going on. He had only stayed a few seconds, because he had thought his father was too busy and he had no intention of encroaching on Kabiyesi’s time. To cut a long story short, one year later in 1957, Oba Afunbiowo had passed away, to be succeeded by no one else tan the same Ademuagun out of all his more than 200 children. It was an amazing story, to tell you the truth, but it was a true story…
I was only 12 years old in 1956 when the present Queen Elizabeth the Second who had ascended the British throne in 1953 had visited Nigeria with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh for the first time in her epoch-making reign on the British throne. The Deji, “Okun arabaribi” Adesida the First, as the then oldest monarch at 120 or slightly less, in Africa, south of the Sahara, was picked as one of he special guests to shake hands with the young and smashingly beautiful monarch at Ibadan. I was at the time being raised in the Deji’s Palace by my grandmother Olori Alojo Adesida of blessed memory. I was an eye witness to the story I am narrating here. The Deji, by reason of age and illness, was bedridden at the time the invitation came through the then District Officer assigned to Ondo Province. Sir John Rankine was Western Regional Governor and Awolowo was leader of Government Business and Premier in the Region. Nobody had expected Ajapada would be able to make it to Ibadan talk less of shaking hands with the Queen. Kabiyesi was told about the significance of the invitation, and he agreed he would be there, come rain or shine. Two days to the occasion, Kabiyesi was on his feet looking thirty or more years younger than his calendar age would suggest.
Kabiyesi accompanied by the late Eyelua, the mother of Prince M.A..Adedeji, the Obadua of the Omowas in Akure did not only go to Ibadan to receive the Queen, he personally attended all the State functions arranged for the Queen for the three days he had to be at Ibadan. I know you will not believe my next testimony, and I really don’t care if you do or not. All I knew, and could swear to the Bible on was that the Deji always returned back to his own bed at night every single day to sleep and to eat his meals, by miraculous means, that only the initiated can believe or understand. Nobody in our kind of society fools around with that kind of man is the point I want to drive home. There were a lot of people complaining that the Deji’s longevity on the throne might, in deed, keep them from ever becoming a Deji in Akure. But very few were bold enough to say that loud because Oba Afunbiowo Adesida was passionately loved, respected and feared at the same time, because he was a fair minded person who had never, at any time, claimed that the Adesidas alone and their descendants should for ever hold the key to the Deji’ s throne. Not once. That much I know. His “Agbelepota” mystique was contagious. if you dare think evil of him, because he himself would never think evil of you, you pay the price with your own life if you ever tried him. He was that good. My propensity to want to tell the truth and be fair to both sides of the fence were some of the attributes that robbed off on me from the genes I took from him through my own mother, and from my own father who too does not suffer fools gladly, and would call a spade, a spade regardless of whose horse is gored. I am writing this article from that prism of conviction, if you can believe that. Akure has never again been blessed by another Deji like him in a life time. Not even his three children who were lucky to follow him, were able to rise up to the same level in spite of their education. You can quote me on that.
When Kabiyesi Ademuagun Adesida, the very first educated Deji to ever ascend the throne in direct succession to his father in 1957, was picked, he got selected from the one and only Asodeboyede Ruling House. Among other princes that contested the throne with him, at the time, were many of his own half brothers like the late Prince Adelegan Adesida, the late Prince Adeoye Adesida, the late Prince Adeusi Adesida, the then Akota of Ikota near Akure. Others included Prince M. Adedeji Adesida, Prince Adelanke Adesida. The contest was not confined to the Adesidas alone as some people now blindly argue today. Other serious contenders with Oba Ademuagun Agunsoye were candidates from the other branches of the same Asodeboyede Ruling House at the time, like the late Prince Adegoroye, father of late lawyer Deji Adegoroye and Dr Rubbie Adegoroye, the late Prince Faloye Junior of Oyemekun Road, Akure, and one gentleman from Ondo Town with Ondo traditional marks on his face, who convincingly claimed he was a Prince of Akure, and he came down to Akure to show interest in the nomination process. All the names of the princes were submitted to the Afobajes or the kingmakers led by the late Olisa Bankole Oluwatuyi the Second and the late Sao GOC (General officer commanding the Akure Traditional Forces), William Adu Falokun and the late Elemo Komolafe Adedipe. In the final analysis, it was the young flawlessly handsome and charismatic lawyer, prince Ademuagun Adesida aged 32, at the time, that was selected by the majority of the king makers using Ifa oracle. It was clear to all he was the peoples’ choice, and Ifa Divination simply confirmed that in a landslide.
By the time the Awolowo Government Chieftaincy Declaration was gazetted into law in 1958, Oba Ademuagun was already the Deji-in-Council. He had immediately challenged in Court, the attempt to break up the only Asodeboyede Ruling House into more ruling Houses as a contravention of Akure tradition and custom. He had particularly stressed the “omo ori Ite” “Born to a ruling Deji ” clause, as a sacrosanct provision that must be upheld. Many known princes from the Adesida line and from the other branches of Asodeboyede in particular had come out to challenge Ademuagun’s position on that by claiming he was only trying to bar the other members of the Asodeboyede Ruling House from ever becoming a Deji in Akure.
Even his half brothers and their grand children from the same father like my self and Prince Adewole Adesida, among others, were quite unhappy that the “omo ori ite” clause was probably a contraption by Ademuagun to narrow down the selection of a future Deji to his direct children only. It was a battle that dragged on till Oba Ademuagun had made his transition in 1973 at 48. The same controversy was part of what had delayed the selection of Oba Adelegan Adesida till 1975 when Governor Jemibewon in an act of courage and poetic justice had simply set aside the Justice Adenekan Ademola Junior Commission of Inquiry his Government had set up to nullify the selection of Oba Adelegan, and to start the whole process all over again just to give the late Prince Adebobajo Adesida another chance to undo what the king makers had already done.
By the time Oba Adelegan’s nomination among seven other princes of the same Asodeboyede Ruling line was finally made in 1975, I, Prince Wunmi Akintide had become the Secretary to the Asodeboyede Ruling House while Pa Prince Asuwamo Adegbulu (not from Adesida line per se) was also selected as the Head of the Ruling House. He and I conducted the nomination of the seven candidates together with the late Mr. Ige as Secretary to the Akure Local Government Council. as Government Representative who was in the Selection Meeting to make sure the due process in Law was followed to the letter in nominating six other princes along with Prince Adelegan Adesida who finally got selected by the majority of the King makers. Oba Adelegan, another great Deji had reigned from 1975 to 1991. Through out his 16 short years in office, the issue of whether or not the Asodeboyede Ruling House should be broken up into more Ruling lines, was never resolved till he passed away in 1991.
By the time Oba Atayese Adebobajo Adesida was contesting the vacancy again in 1991, he again had to do so within the context of the same Asodeboyed Ruling platform. If anybody thinks I am lying, such a person should consult Permanent Secretary Rueben Modupe Omo Olorun from Idogun near Idoani, who had crafted the Council Memo that advised the Asodeboyed Ruling House to go make sure that princes from other branches of the only Ruling House were again present at the Nomination meeting of Prince Adebobajo, and they must also append their signature as proof of their attendance and participation at the meeting. The advice was followed to the letter, and Prince Adebobajo’s name was among the names that were again presented to the King makers on that occasion, and he was the one that was finally selected by the majority of the king makers.
He, Oba Ataiyese had ascended the throne in 1991. he had taken the name Ataiyese, and had ruled till 1999 October when he too had made his transition. Before his appointment as the Deji was announced and gazetted, he was made to agree to a gentleman’s understanding that the “Omo ori Ite” clause would no longer apply in picking a future Deji after him, and that the Osupa/Odundan Ruling Line would now be added to the Ojijigogun/Arosoye/Adegoroye/Adesida Ruling Line to replace the old Asodeboyede Ruling Line. That was the written agreement agreed to by the then Military Governor Naval Captain Olukoya’s Government before handing over to Oba Ataiyese Adebobajo Adesida the Fourth, the staff of Office at the Akure stadium in 1991 The general understanding then was that the next Deji would have to, willy nilly, come from the Odundun/Osupa branch of the Asodeboyede Ruling Line. Period. Many in the Adesida segment did not even realize that was in deed the case. But I happen to know that for a fact, and Ex-Governor Olukoya is still alive and can confirm what I am saying here, if you don’t believe me.
I have traced all this history as a backdrop to how the current Deji-Elect, Prince Adelabu may now end up becoming the first Deji in history to exchange his pastor’s cassock for the Deji’s crown after more than one hundred years of continuous reign of candidates from the Adesida segment of the Asodeboyede Ruling line. It was not by design. it was purely an accident occasioned by the fact that Oba Afunbiowo was compensated by God for waiting so long to become King. He most certainly would have reigned for 75 years, if he had been allowed to ascend the throne in 1882 when he first ran for the office. Those who are complaining today must take their complaint to God and God alone who knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning.
Prince Adelabu we are told is an ordained pastor in one of the evangelical Pentecostal Churches in Akure today. He is also a business man/Motor Dealer/ Higher Purchase Merchant and Real Estate Magnate whose personal Real Estate properties cannot be less than 50 or more Houses in Akure at the last count. He was probably not even born or just a baby when Oba Afunbiowo was on the throne. I am told he owns the mighty Agbowo Housing Estate, next door to the University of Ibadan and so many other multi million Naira estates in choicest areas in Lagos and many other State Capitals in Nigeria including Abuja, the Federal Capital. He is known to have given out, on higher purchase, to many drivers, no less than 2/3rds of all taxi cars doing business in the State Capital today. He is, without any doubt, one of the richest, if not the richest indigenous business man in Akure today. His critics, and I was one of them before I started my research on him, and there are many in Akure, who correctly think the man is quite capable of selling the whole State Capital in one fell swoop, if he ever finds himself sitting on the throne of Akure because he is known to be a very unscrupulous wheeler-dealer who will lease you a car or a Building on higher purchase at double the price, and finds some clever way to repossess the car or the house from you, to be resold to another willing buyer for triple the previous price.
These are stories we keep hearing from the grapevine on him and his Business dealings in Akure. I must confess that I have not had the time to double-check all of these allegations I have heard about him. But one thing is clear to me that the house where the Deji-Elect currently lives in Ijapo Estate in the State Capital was one of the houses he had repossessed from one Prince Kayode Faloye the Chairman/ Managing Director of Africola Brewery in Akure. I was the first indigenous General Manager of the same Brewery, and the said Prince Kayode Faloye is a cousin of mine, and a former boss at the Soft Drink Brewery. If I cannot verify the other information I have stated here about the Deji-Elect, I am 100% sure he did repossess my cousin’s house. That much I know. Should that make him a bad man who should be treated like a leper? My answer is a resounding “No,” Why? Because I live and work in New York where my house or car can be repossessed in a heartbeat, if I don’t make my monthly payments or if I default on my monthly mortgage without a good reason.
So what is the big deal? Come on, men, the Deji-Elect would run out of funds if all he does is play father Christmas with all his money. Should that disqualify him from becoming a Deji, if he meets the other conditions, I say “Not at all” I think the only thing stopping him now are the frivolous law suits that are being filed against him by some sore losers in his Family who still feel they can shoot his candidacy down by proclaiming him a total stranger to the Family he claims to come from? I had thought the Odundun/Osupa Family are real jokers who had been kept in the cooler for over a hundred years by an act of God. They are being given a second chance of a life time, and the best they could do is their current show of shame. if I were God, I would put them back in the cooler for not appreciating what God had done for them to begin with. How many of them actually fought for what is happening to them today? I remember the late lawyer Deji Adegoroye and few others like Prince Dr. Adbimpe Ige Ogunleye-Aladejana who as Principal Medical Officer in Ondo State Public Service had used his clout to fight tooth and nail to bring this miracle about with God’s help.
Those sore losers in Odundun/Osupa axis definitely run the risk of a libel if they cannot persuade the Court of Appeal in Ondo State presided over by Justice Mrs. Olateru-Olagbegi the Chief Justice of Ondo State who is really in the best position to understand the nuances of what we are talking about here, because her own husband has come from a ruling line that has dominated Owo throne in much the same way like the Adesidas have done in Akure. I now fully understand why the Muslims never stop shouting “Allahu Aqbar” you have to agree that God is truly Great. Amen.
I am not going to comment any further on that litigation before Justice Olateru-Olagbegi, because the matter is “sub judice” at this point. But the picture shall be clearer on January 22, 2004 when Justice Olagbegi renders her final verdict. The litigation is like proving emotional abuse in Psychology, my profession as a Clinician. The Deji-Elect’s opponents had better be ready to show proof, concrete proof that the Deji-Elect is in deed a pretender, and an impersonator. If not, he could be the one that laughs last, and laugh best, while his opponents may end up being sued for libel and defamation of character, if the Deji-Elect wants to take back his pound of flesh. I will not say more than that at this point. We just have to wait and see.
The next point I wish to address on the Deji’s vacant stool is to wonder aloud how long the Ondo State Government under Agagu, can keep on dodging the bullet and running away from its responsibility to take some action on who should become the next Deji without becoming partisan and unfair to one of the parties in the Dispute. The Adefarati Government had played so much politics with the Deji’s vacancy enriching their pockets, in the process, until they were sent packing from office last May. They just kept moving away the goal post until they themselves were forced to become history. the same fate may befall Agagu’s Government. They had a choice to either accept what the King makers had done or had the courage to cancel the whole decision, if they think the King makers had not done their duty with all fairness and honesty. By delaying their decision, they have encouraged more corruption to creep into the process as money and more money had kept changing hands.
The only group that is laughing to the Bank are the Senior Advocates and their junior lawyers feeding fat on the ignorance or the ambition of the major parties to the contest. When somebody who will be king, spends as much as 20 million or more in fighting for a position, what does the Government expect that person to do when he finally gets the position. The situation is a little bit analogous to the several billions the US Government had been spending to prosecute the War in Iraq. Are they ever going to leave Iraq alone until they make their money back in hard currency? The Deji-Elect as a very shrewd business man is certainly going to ask for his pound of flesh if his track record is anything to go by. I am deeply concerned about that as an Akure man, and a Prince for that matter, and so should all Akure citizens at home and abroad. I don’t care if the Deji-Elect is Pope John Paul, the Second or Mother Theresa. The Government is simply asking whoever becomes the Deji, down the road, to become the King of Corruption.
A new Government like the Agagu’s Government which prides itself on public probity, must not be seen to be doing this kind of nonsense. It is not just enough for Agagu to feign leadership by claiming he just wants to leave the king makers to do their job. That was nonsense. The King makers have already done their job. Let the Government do his own. Those who don’t like the decision should now reserve the right to go to Court. That is the due process. The Government can order a fresh start to the process, if they think justice has not be properly served, or approve the selection of the Deji-Elect, and let the chips fall where they may. That is Leadership. As far as I am concerned, I can see no difference between Governor Adefarati and Governor Agagu on this issue. It is like the pot calling the kettle black. They are the same, if the truth must be told. Let Agagu’s Government stop hiding behind endless Court litigations.
I am a member of the Adesida /Ojijigogun Family, and I am very proud of it. If I had my way, my preference would be for the Government to restore the Asodeboyede Ruling Line as the only Ruling Line in Akure, and for anyone who can prove himself to be a descendant of that family to have a right to be nominated for the vacant stool regardless of whether or not they are accredited grand children like any of the present top contestants for the vacant stool. My mother is a direct daughter of Oba Afunbiowo Adesida the First. I don’t want to hear any Prince from the male line telling me they have a superior claim to the title than myself. I am 100% the child of my mother because I was in her womb for nine months or less or more. As for my father, only my mother can tell, and that is true for each and everyone of us without exception, unless we just don’t want to admit it publicly.
The Deji’s selection exercise has hit a brick wall right now, because nobody, not even Pa Aladetoyinbo can easily prove to the court who the real father of Kabiyesi Deji-Elect, Ileri Oluwa the First, was. Nobody can do that with all certainty. His opponents are wasting their time going to court looking for a needle in a Hay stack. Forget it. “Ode to nso Olodumare ni, ori egun lo ma ku si,” if you really get my point, and the Law is really an ass on this type of litigation. The last time Oba Adelabu last ruled in Akure, according to the Head of the King makers, Chief Olisa Otutuleyowo the Second, Chief Folorunsho David, was 1845, exactly 158 years ago. Pa Aladetoyinbo must now produce a DNA sample that has to be matched with that of the Deji-Elect to prove that Prince Ileri is in deed of the royal blood or not.
The King makers would have been better served to have picked Prince Dr. Adebimpe Ige-Ogunleye-Aladejana whose claim to the throne actually came from mama Yoyo, who we all know was definitely a princess in Akure. We are all being dragged into this mess today in Akure because for over a hundred years, nobody outside the Adesida Family has been selected a Deji in Akure. I won’t be surprised at all, if tomorrow, Mr. Kenneth Olawale, the former Speaker of Ondo State from my constituency at Kajola/Ilado/Ofosu/igunsin/Oda constituency, now submits his name for nomination as the Deji of Akure in the foreseeable future. The current son of Olisa of Ilu Abo, Second-in-command to the Olu Abo, Chief Oluyemi Falae of Ilu Abo in Akure Local Government can conceivably become a Deji in Akure, if he has enough “Ekuribe” in his pocket as they say. Come on. We deceive ourselves too much in our society.
As for the kingmakers in Akure, I have no problem with them at all. The problem is not with them. They have the power to select one person from the list submitted to them, and they have done so. We may not like their choice just like nobody liked the choice of Oba Adelegan over Prince and later Oba Ataiyese Adebobajo in 1975. The King maker on that occasion had stood their ground, and they were vindicated. The current King makers are doing the same thing today on principle. That principle may appear wrong-headed to you and me. But that does not invalidate the principle. For majority of them, this is probably the last Deji they would ever be opportuned to select because Ileri is just too young for any of them to want to survive him. “Be, laiku Ekiri, a ko gbudo fi awo re s’Gbedu”…
The questions to be asked now are the following and the answers to them all, if you ask me, are yes and yes. Was the selection based on the Chieftaincy Law passed into Law by the legitimate Government in the State? Was due process followed in making the selection? Was Prince Ileri validly nominated by his Ruling House which is next in line to pick the next Deji? was Prince Ileri taken through all the customary and traditional rites, even if it means performing some of the rites under cover of darkness, with so many Police detail nearby to protect the candidate, like was done for another Oba Adelabu, the Ewi of Ado Ekiti some years ago? Was Ifa oracle consulted in arriving at a decision to pick him? ,Don’t forget Haruna Ishola’s and Ayinla Kollington’s admonition in their songs that “Eni fo ju ekuro wo ifa, would, sure, have himself to blame. “If you despise the symbols of Ifa divination as mere empty palm kernels, you have yourself to blame” We all know the Ifa oraclers of nowadays never speak evil of anyone who has a lot of money. That is the painful truth. Money and Ifa are two sides of the same coin in today’s Nigeria. You bet.
Modern ifa like the rest of us is not stupid. It instinctively knows who is qualified to be King at a time the town’s people no longer financially support their Oba. If you don’t have enough money to support yourself as Kabiyesi, don’t even go there, would be my advice to you. Why do you think, I am not home at this time fighting to be one of the contestants? I am not doing so, because I know the Deji-Elect would gladly and effortlessly, exchange the 20 or 30,000.00 Dollars I could only afford to throw away in a desperate effort to become a Deji. I would rather use that money as down payment for another mortgage in Long Island while clinging desperately to the only title I have which is “Dansaki” That is enough for me, if you ask me. I don’t want to be an “Omo Oba to nfi ase mu otin” Not by a long shot.
I am just about tired about the delay of Ondo State Government in allowing the Deji’s tussle to fester for so long while allowing so much corruption to creep into the Selection Exercise. Traditional rulers in general have lost their lustre and credibility, with three tiers of Government now in place in our country. The Chairman of Akure Central Local Government is far much superior and powerful than any Deji-in-Council today who does not have enough cash to live up to the flamboyant and luxurious life style that is expected of any respectable Oba in our Society. My beloved uncle the last Deji of Akure, Oba Ataiyese was a living proof of that. He had to buy himself a Mercedes limousine car from his own pocket in addition to his two Mercedes Benz cars because the Mercedes car provided for him by the Local Government was just too old to match his flamboyant life style right from his days as Commissioner of Police in Lagos.
The Deji’s title will cripple you totally if you are not financially strong enough. Only the well-to-do ones should ever aspire to be a king in Nigeria, if they had a choice in it, and I think they do. The Government ought to bear that in mind in approving who will be king in today’s circumstance in any part of Nigeria. That is the truth although many would hate to hear it.
Those who argue that the Deji-Elect ought to be very literate are quite right in their assessment, and I support them completely. But being literate will definitely help, but it is not an absolute requirement, if you ask me. Oba Afunbiowo Adesida the First, the best Deji Akure ever had, could not read or write. He has remained a “sui generis” and the very best in his class. If the Ondo State does not have the backbone or the legal backing to tell the king makers to start the process all over, as suggested in my part one, they should just let sleeping dogs lie, call a spade a spade and put a final end to the deep malaise and corruption the Deji’s selection exercise has already unleashed on our people and psyche.
I rest my case.