Since last week when the House of Representatives announced its intention to go ahead with the creation of more states, agitations and underground consultations had started among potential beneficiaries of the legislature’s exercise of legislative powers. Some of the issues before the honourables include the criteria for selection and the political relevance of the proposed states. In Ibadan, the agitations are more fierce and the shouts are loud enough amongst the citizens whose hope of having a state of their own seems to lie in the hands of the National Assembly, Oyo state government, and prominent Ibadan citizens.
At the outset of his reign, the current Olubadan of Ibadanland made only one request of eminent personalities that came calling- the creation of Ibadan state. While this was extensively applauded and supported by all and sundry, a major stakeholder- the Oyo state government- seems not to be in total support, owing to several contemporary issues and those of times past that had prevented the creation of Ibadan State during previous states’ creation processes.
According to several tales by the moonlight, removal of Ibadan from the map of Oyo state would create a lot of vaccums and introduce new contexts to the politics of the old western region. The first being where the new capital of Oyo state will be situated.
The Alaafin of Oyo whose royal stool in Yoruba deity is highest naturally would love the capital to be Oyo town. However, current currents being generated by a gradually severing relationship with the state government might create more problems for the actualization of this. Also, Adebayo Alao Akala’s ascension to the gubernatorial position and the preferential development of Ogbomoso now pitch the city (Ogbomoso) against Oyo town. The famous seven Oke Ogun cities like Igbeti and Igboho would also like to enjoy the pacesetting developments that Ibadan city enjoyed as the capital of soon-to-be-scattered Oyo state. Even in Ibadan, the divisions is highly evident.
The Olubadan of Ibadan is not in good terms with the governor when he (Olubadan) suppossedly implored voters in 2007 to vote for the ANPP gubanatorial candidate- Abiola Ajimobi, an Ibadan indegene. And since Akala’s victory at the polls, he (Akala) and his executive council constantly attempt to discredit the Ibadan royal stool. However, the respected king had since maintained an honorable silence while making underground contacts with the honorables and eminent Nigerians like the Senate Presidency and House leadership to actualize his only request- Ibadan state.
Akala has also successfully created a slit in Ibadan curtains by enticing prominent Ibadan citizens with poison laden juicy positions. One after another, these so called Ibadan high chiefs followed the path of the late Lamidi Adedibu (a late Ibadan high chief) by throwing their full weights behind Alao Akala’s government. The latest being the famous lawyer- Chief Richard Akinjide whose daughter is now seeking for an Abuja legislative post.
Like a sinner before a confessor, the high chief and other pro- Akala Ibadan indegenes daily pour encomiums on the state governor. In one of his recent comments on the state politics, he implored Ibadan citizens to stir clear of Agodi State House in 2011 claiming that Akala dutifully deserves a second term, a statement that was condemned by the Olubadan-in-council. Incidences like this are quite usual nowadays in Oyo state news. This brings to the forefront the evident fact that some highly placed Ibadan indegenes would oppose the creation of Ibadan state if their benefactor- Alao Akala- kicks against it.
Luckily for the protagonists of Ibadan state, a prominent Ibadan indigene- Senator Teslim Folarin- is the majority leader of the Senate and his voice would surely count in the success or third failure of the Ibadan state project.
If news going round in the city is anything to go bye, he is not in good terms with the governor hence should be on the side of the royal household. The son of the late Ibadan politician Chief lamidi Adedibu- Kamarudeen Adedibu- is another voice to reckon with. There are wide insinuations that he ought to be the next governor of the state according to his father’s dying wish. However, as previous Nigerian political instances had shown, our politicians are like prostitutes- they follow the highest bidder. Hence anything can happen. But what is unchangeable is the fact.
I’ve been to several states of the federation and I have an idea of what an average Nigerian state (forget the politics) looks like. In terms of size, Ibadan is bigger than more than two-third of Nigerian states (it is the second largest city in Africa!). Niger state, Nassarawa state and Imo state could be merged together within Ibadan convincingly, hence the limitation to the creation of Ibadan state is not that of size.
In terms of infrastructure, Ibadan has almost first of everything in Nigeria. The first university (University of Ibadan), teaching hospital (the UCH), television station (NTA Ibadan), stadium (Liberty stadium), multi storey building (Cocoa House), the list is endless. The frequent failures of present and past state governments had greatly hampered the potentially unlimited progress of the state which was once the commerce capital of the old Western region.
Ibadan people are also expected to be put into consideration at all decision making forumns, interactions and negotiations. Evidently, the age long agitation for a state of their own had being resurrected since the time the House of Assembly made the pronounciation. However, as much as the quest for Ibadan state is strong among the citizens, the failed past hopes had limited the inputs of Ibadan citizens and residents to occasional expressions at news stands, and when passing history across to the future generation.
It is evident that unlike other potential new states, Ibadan state is long overdue in a nation where Niger, Ebonyi, Nasarrawa and other smaller states were created. The current wave of rejuvenated hope in the city is one that is suspicious in many angles- whether this is an avenue for the governor to ‘punish’ the city elders, or for the Ibadan dynasty (Ibadan Omo Ajorosun) to establish its dominance and regain its respect. The battle of conflicts of interests is also gradually gathering momentum.
Ibadan citizens are awaiting on which side people like Richard Akinjide and Teslim Folarin will stand. Whether they are going to form shortlived alliance with a fragmenting and tempting Ogbomoso man (Akala) or will be on the side of history by being the team that fought for, spearheaded and got the much eluded dream of every Ibadan citizen- Ibadan state.
The current chapter in the annals of Ibadan politics is similar to the one Nigeria had on June 12 1993. Heroes were made out of NEC (for being a fair umpire), MKO Abiola and Tofa (for being good candidates) and Nigerians (for being good citizens). Eternal enemies were also made out of people like IBB whose tenure as military leader annuled the fairest election in Nigerian history. Only God Himself can appease Nigerians of this unimaginable atrocity. The same, very soon, would be said of the playmakers in Oyo state especially those with scores to settle, injuries to inflict, muscles to flex and history to make.
Ordinary Ibadan citizens might not be powerful enough to slap some sense into the playmakers. Their voices might be expertly silenced by professional manouvers. They might also be rendered inaccessible to higher authoorities and the legislature. They however have one strong power- their tongue.
With their tongues, Ibadan people had passed ancient tales from generation to generation. The battles of Lagelu and Bashorun Ogunmola are still popular tales today. The youths are aware of the nexus of waring warriors at Oritamefa, and of the amazing Ololu masquearades. Tales of Bola Ige’s administration and Lam Adesina
217;s malhandling of teachers are still evergreen and would be passed to generations to come so will the story of how the battle for the actualization of Ibadan state was fought would be told to future generations.
If the process fail this time, for the umpteenth time, I won’t be surprised if fracas break out 60 years from now when a child from any of the playmaker’s clan is given the beating of his life by my children that I just told tales of the lackadaisical attitudes of the present stakeholders in Oyo politics. Then, no one would be able to blame me or be on the side of the poor child whose parents were on the wrong side of history.
The message is simple. If present political and royal scions of Oyo state fail to act right, history won’t. The dice is cast.