Punch Newspaper - The Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, has berated the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, for categorising himself among the five top monarchs in Yorubaland.

At a fundraiser for a professorial chair instituted in his honour by the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, in Lagos on Thursday, the Awujale said the Alake was a junior oba in Yorubaland. Reacting to a categorisation of monarchs by the Alake recently when the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, visited him (Alake), Oba Awujale said the Egba monarch was peddling falsehood and turning history upon its head.

The Awujale said, “The Alake, while receiving the Ooni in his palace, said Yoruba Obas (the ‘Big Five’ so to say) had been categorised with the Ooni in the first position followed by the Alaafin, the Oba of Benin, with the Alake coming fourth and the Awujale occupying the fifth spot in that order. He also went further to quote wrongly from a 1903 Gazette to support all the fallacies in his statement.”

He added that when he learnt about the comment, he contacted the Alake, who he added, vehemently denied saying so. He added, “In a recent discussion between the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, and me, we also touched on the same issue and the Oba of Lagos told me that he too had asked Alake the same question, which he had again denied vehemently.

“Regrettably, however, when the said statement few days later was continuously credited to the Alake on the pages of newspapers, I expected him to deny it or issue a rebuttal, but he did not do so. Therefore, I consider it necessary to debunk the falsehood and misrepresentation of facts from the Ake Palace so as to put the records straight.”

The Awujale argued that the 1903 Gazette referred to by the Alake was just a newspaper publication. “The first question to Alake is: who categorised the Yoruba Obas and when? I challenge him to produce the document of the said categorisation. It is a known fact that Alake was a junior traditional ruler under the Alaafin at Orile Egba before he fled to Ibadan for refuge as a result of the war then ravaging the Yorubaland.

“Following the defeat of Owu by the Ijebu Army in 1826, the Owus became refugees all over Yorubaland. Some of the Ijebu troops that fought the war proceeded to Ibadan, where they met the Alake and sacked him; consequently forcing him to seek refuge at Ake in Abeokuta in 1830, where, of course, he met the Osile,

Olowu and Agura already settled at Oke-Ona, Owu and Gbagura sections of Abeokuta township respectively. Even then, the Olubara of Oyo origin had always argued that all the aforementioned four rulers met him in Abeokuta and therefore claimed to be their landlord.

“To even refer to the Alake as ‘the Alake of Abeokuta’, not to talk of Egbaland, is a misnomer, as his control since his arrival at Ake in 1830 and till today is restricted to the Ake section of Abeokuta. The official Government Gazette testifies to this fact.

“In short, the Alake, from history and all available records, is a very junior traditional ruler in Yorubaland. His peers in Ijebuland are the Dagburewe of Idowa; Ajalorun of Ijebu-Ife; Akija of Ikija-Ijebu; Olowu of Owu-Ijebu; Oloko of Ijebu-Imushin; Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo and Ebumawe of Ago Iwoye.”

Efforts by one of our correspondents to speak with the Alake of Egbaland proved abortive. His media aide, Chief Layi Labode, neither answered calls put through to his mobile nor responded to the text message sent to him on the issue on Thursday.

At the Oriental Hotel, Lagos, the Awujale led other dignitaries to raise money for the N500m chair aimed at “encouraging teaching, research and publications in contemporary politics and governance.” Traditional Rulers in Ijebuland donated N125m, being the first instalment of the N250m they promised.

While the Awujale himself donated N25m, the Chairman of the Globacom Nigeria Limited, Otunba Mike Adenuga (Jnr.), sent a donation of N50m. Other prominent Nigerians in attendance, including the Founder of First City Monument Bank, Otunba Subomi Balogun; Chairman of Honeywell Group, Mr. Oba Otudeko; and Chairman of Premier Lotto Limited, Chief Kessington Adebutu, also separately made donations they said were in millions. They, however, declined to disclose the exact amounts.

While the Awujale called for an urgent reform of the country’s electoral system, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, and a renowned scholar, Prof. Akin Mabogunje, canvassed a review of the system of governance in the country, especially in the areas of revenue generation and distribution. According to Sanusi, the presidential system, as currently operated in the country, allows for the use of over 80 per cent of resources to cater for the interest of the few members of the political class while the over 169 million Nigerians rely on the remaining 20 per cent. He said,

“Do we need the 36 governors, 36 ministers, hundreds of special advisers and many other political office holders? The reality on the ground tells us that the bicameral federal legislature is not good for us with the recession that the country is facing. Mere simple arithmetic tells us that.”

The monarch, who also canvassed the building of strong minds, noted that such people were capable of lifting the nation to loftier heights. People that are capable, strong and with good character, he added, should be the ones invested with the responsibility of piloting the affairs of governance of the country. He, therefore, called for a Council of Elders, saying it would help to select and screen credible leaders for the country.

Mabogunje, who spoke on “Issues and Challenges of Governance in Nigeria”, said there was the need to review the system of governance in the country.

The Emeritus Professor added, “As we contemplate the future, it is my earnest hope that our political leaders would revisit a number of institutions deriving from the period of military rule, especially the local government system.

“They should help to create truly effective democratic local government for the governance of our towns, cities and rural areas to empower the citizens and make them take ownership of their governance at the local level.

“Revisiting our governance system at the state and federal levels should be specifically to cut down the cost of governance at those levels and make governance more efficient and effective for collective service delivery to citizens.”

A former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba, urged the National Assembly to make proper law on the use of the card reader in the nation’s electoral process.

Osoba, who also faulted some of the recent Supreme Court judgments, especially the Akwa Ibom and Rivers states elections, urged the federal lawmakers to ensure the inclusion of the card reader in the constitution.

At the event that had the Chairman of Tanus Communications, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, as one of its comperes, the Awujale said parts of the reforms urgently needed bordered on seeking solutions to issues with the card reader and the introduction of electronic voting before the next elections. Ogunbiyi added,

“I believe that independent candidates should be allowed to contest elections so as not to limit the choice of the people and by so doing, improve on the quality of participation and representation.” Awujale was hailed by the OOU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sabiu Adesanya, and its Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Segun Oshin.

Other dignitaries who attended the event included the Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga; a former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Niyi Adebayo; Chief Razak Okoya and Senator Daisy Danjuma, who also made a donation on behalf of her husband, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd). Others are the Chairman, Board of Directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, who called for responsible leadership, especially in the private sector; former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Tunde Lemo; and a former Minister of Industry, Chief Jubril Martins Kuye.

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