Ondo State Deputy Governor

by Dr. Wunmi Akintide

Now that we have a new Deji in place in Akure, the time may have arrived for us to begin to ask some pertinent questions as to where Akure goes from here. I would expect the young man recently named the Deji and recently ushered to the Governor’s Office to go receive his staff of office in a hurriedly arranged ceremony, just like the Osolo and the Iralepo were so honored, a few months ago, by the same Agagu/Oluwateru Government, would quickly settle down, and offer himself as a rallying point to now move Akure forward.

I am, of course, aware of the litigation already filed in Court by the first Deji-elect to declare the new Deji’s selection and ratification by Government, as null and void. Much as that litigation may have garnered some merit in Law, the Agagu Government, in a false but quick move to save his face, and to begin to make some overtures to the new Deji and Akure, has more or less created a “fait accompli” that cannot be easily overturned in a country where the “Rule of Law” is more of a cliche than reality.

Many of our judges are not on the bench to strictly interpret the Law. They are there, first and foremost, as agents of the Government in power, and would think twice before going against any position held by Government, whether right or wrong. Gone were the days when no-nonsense Judges like the late Justice Jibowu, the late Justice J.I.C Tailor and late Akinola Aguda were calling the shots, as they were, regardless of who and who were the litigators. That probably explains while none of them never became the Chief Justice of the Federation.

So in that regard, one can take it that new Deji’s future may be shaky, but secured, when all is said and done. The quest for public peace, and the argument that undoing what the Government has done may throw the State Capital into avoidable chaos would be the Court’s easiest alibi, and that may be a powerful enough argument in Nigeria to save the new Deji of a potential embarrassment in the Court of Law.

The big loser in all of the jigsaw puzzle still remains Prince Adegbola Adelabu, Ileri Oluwa the First, who would, for once, taste out of the poison he has, so often, mindlessly administered to many Akure taxi drivers who buy cars on higher purchase from him, and who are later forced to lose such cars, due to some default in payment, while forfeiting their initial deposit and all of their repayment totals before Ileri Oluwa sends the local sheriff after them to impound the cars which are later sold to new buyers for double profit. It may not be exaggeration, if somebody tells me. Ileri Oluwa may have spent upwards of 10 million Naira fighting for a position that would only fetch him a fraction of that amount, had he succeeded in being crowned the Deji. That, in of itself is a panacea for bankruptcy, whichever way you slice it.

I recall his one time donation of 2 million Naira as part of his contribution to the yet uncompleted Deji’s Palace. I am sure he might have spent double or triple that amount in legal fees for endless litigations, and all his installation formalities. I recall one or two of the original king makers jumping ship and abandoning Ileri Oluwa mid stream, because he had assumed the loan he had borrowed from Ileri Oluwa was not to be repaid, once Ileri Oluwa has shown interest in becoming a Deji. They have ruined the man, so to speak, and nobody cares how he feels at this point. What a country!

Our people are terrible, all of them with only a few exception, have squeezed water out of a stone, so to speak, in the way and manner they had fed fat on Ileri Oluwa. It was amazing how easily some of the king makers were willing to jump ship, and to leave Ileri to his problems, once Governor Agagu has suddenly changed direction, completely leaving Ileri Oluwa on the lurch. They couldn’t care less about Ileri’s fundamental human rights as a citizen of Ondo State and as a Nigerian. The Osupa so-called Ruling House which is, by the way, quietly staging another coup by breaking itself asunder from the Odundun unit by not mentioning Odundun as part of their family unit right now, in a deliberate attempt to now make Osupa look like a separate Ruling House in Akure and Odundun as another one. Agagu/Oluwateru Government is probably aware of this clandestine move, but are keeping quiet, for reasons best known to them.

What the Olukoya Military Government had done was to arbitrarily break the only Asodeboyede Ruling House in Akure into two, namely Ojijigogun/Arosoye/Adesida and Faturoti as one, and Osupa/Odundun as the other. That was what the Council memo and edict approving the breakup, had clearly stated in black and white. Before we know it, some people would now begin to argue again that Akure now has three Ruling Houses.

I am focussing attention on this point right now, for emphasis, and documenting it for posterity. It is the role of Government to do what I am doing now, but the current Governor and his Deputy are just too sneaky for anyone to trust them completely. But in this article, the person I really wish to put under a microscope is the Deputy Governor, Otunba Omolade Oluwateru whose profile in office could possibly have earned him a change of his last name to “Agaguteru”

If, as his name suggests, he truly believes that God is awfully majestic to command fear, he would have remembered that he got the position he is in today on the platform of Akure which I would argue, has been so good to him, if he truly counts his Blessings. He should, at least, have shown some deference to Akure his constituency and his launching pad to power as the number two in our State. It is true that he was nominated as a running mate by Agagu, but he was so nominated for a reason. That reason was the fact that he comes from Akure first and foremost. The second reason was the fact that he was once elected Chairman of Akure Local Government, and was probably joining the ticket on the presumption he had some viable political following and antecedents in Akure that could guarantee the success of his ticket. The State Capital, in terms of voters has a huge turnout, probably higher than other Local Governments in the State. That he was a retired civil servant and former Controller of Accounts at the Housing Corporation, was a factor in his nomination as Deputy, but far less important than the reasons stated before.

My submi

ssion is that Oluwateru owes Akure something for his napoleonic rise to power in our town and State. He comes from Irowo Quarters in Akure from where he was nominated as chairman of Akure Local Government earlier on. I happen to come from the same Irowo which is the home turf of the General Officer commanding the traditional Forces in Akure. By reputation Irowo sons and daughters, as children of warriors in Akure, are known to be tough, bold and courageous. As a rule Irowo originals do not “kiss ass.” We do not sell our conscience. We tell the truth as we see it, and we never bite the fingers that feed us. We fear nobody, and we don’t allow ourselves to be used or manipulated. We stand up for the truth and for what we believe to be right and legit. I have serious doubts if Otunba “Agaguteru” shares some of these attributes any longer, given the way and manner he has hitherto conducted himself as Deputy to Agagu in the last three years going to four.

In airing this opinion, I am aware that the post of Deputy has been likened to that of a spare tire and treated as such by most Governors in Nigeria. They are presumed to be easily expendable and should be seen but not heard. Even if that were so, there are still a few options open to a Deputy Governor to make his presence felt, and to be respected by his Governor, especially on issues pertaining to the interest and welfare of his constituency. I, like many others in our State, was a very enthusiastic supporter of Agagu and Oluwateru when they contested elections against Governor Adefarati in 2003.

That was because I had expected much from their joint ticket, and I firmly believed, at the time, that Akure the State Capital and the entire State would be better served by them than the outgoing Government. Nobody gave them a chance to record the landslide victory they eventually held against Adefarati, but they did win due to a number of unforeseeable factors, part of which was massive rigging which was simply overlooked by a good number of voters in our State, because they just wanted a change. Now they got the change they wanted, but the Agagu/Oluwateru Government, in an era of plenty, has squeezed our State dry, leaving undone many things they should have done, and doing things they should not have dabbled into, or should have handled differently.

The point that readily comes to mind was Agagu’s breakup of Akure into three distinct kingdoms by elevating the Osolo and the Iralepo into Obas without defining and spelling out in black and white, the conditionalities for their elevation. Agagu and Oluwateru were literarily taking Akure kingdom and dividing it into three in the absence of the rightful owner of the Kingdom, and the general consensus of the great majority of our people.

I repeat that I am not against giving some form of recognition to the two chiefs, and I totally agree that the two were Obas where they came from, and before they were assimilated into Akure land by the then Deji of Akure who had owned the land in perpetuity before their arrival. If the visitors are now to be recognized as the permanent owners of the quarters assigned and allocated to them by the Deji, that allocation and the rules governing it, had to be properly defined and worked out with the three parties agreeing to the terms, and with a written document to seal what had been agreed on. There cannot be a king without a kingdom is my point.

If Agagu was ignorant about the sensitivity of Akure people to this development, Oluwateru cannot rationally claim such ignorance. To add more insult to injury, it was Agaguteru himself that Agagu had sent to be the “agent provocateur” to present the staff of office to the two chiefs in a sneaky and insulting ceremony that shows how much Agagu really values the constituency of his docile Deputy. It should have occurred to Oluwateru to explain to Agagu why it would be politically suicidal and unconscionable for him to be the one to perform that role. His diplomatic refusal to be the devil’s advocate, should have convinced Akure people that the decision to elevate the two chiefs were forced down his throat, and that he did object to it in practical terms. He did not

do all of that because he was just too scared to disagree or fall out of favor with his boss on a matter as serious as polarizing Akure for ever and doing so with careless abandon.

It the Osolo/Iralepo elevation was bad enough, the way and manner the new Deji’s selection was rushed and stage-managed by Agagu again, was very insulting to our people and the Deji as an Institution. I don’t care if the new Deji accepts the raw deal he was given without complaining, it is still an insult to the Institution, as the new Deji, can hardly fight for himself on this, as a new comer who still has a lot to learn as he takes over the exalted position. At only 46, the new Deji is definitely a young man, but he is a young man taking a highly prized title established by our founding fathers as a rallying

force, and the central glue that has bound our people together for centuries.

As I sit here watching the installations of the new Alake of Abeokuta, I cannot help but make some comparisons with the way and manner the installation formalities are being handled with absolute dignity and pageantry befitting the Alake of Abeokuta both by the Ake king makers and the Ogun State Government. Surely some people will argue that if the Olowu, the Osile, the Onibara and the other Obas in Greater Abeokuta can coexist in peace, why can’t the Osolo and the Iralepo coexist with the Deji? It is a fair question to ask. But my answer is that the relativities between the Alake and those Obas are not exactly the same with what obtains with the Deji and the Osolo and the Iralepo per se.

A situation where Agagu now appears to equate the Deji with the Osolo and the Iralepo is fraught with a lot of danger and can lead to so much bad blood and mayhem in the immediate future, if care is not taken. It is a prediction that any responsible Government of Ondo State ought to be seriously concerned about. If this can be happening to Akure in a Government where our own son is number two, the next Deji and all of us have cause to be terribly concerned.

I am still hoping that Agagu and his Deputy would allow wiser counsel to prevail, and not assume that once they have finally given Akure a new Deji, theirs and our problem has been solved for good. It has not. It has only been swept under the carpet for now, and that is not good for all the parties involved. I think Oluwateru should start doing something to redeem its tattered image before it is too late. He can still make some de

nt, if he tries.

All I can wish him, at this point, is Godspeed and good luck. I rest my case.

You may also like

Leave a Comment