My worst nightmare as a historian and as a member of the royal family in Akure is to wake up one day to hear that a descendant of a Hausa, Ebira, Idoma, or Igbo man has been crowned a Deji in Akure. It is going to happen. It is only a question of time. Don’t be surprised if you hear about Kabiyesi Mallam “Gajere Ba Yaro Ba” or Chukwu Emeka Ogbonna, the Deji of Akure Land. That is where we are headed in Nigeria, because we have lost our moral compass and much of our sacred traditions and values in our quest for western civilization.
Unlike what happens in Edo Kingdom, or Kano and Sokoto Caliphate, the rules for the selection of most of our royal fathers in many towns in Nigeria have been relaxed and compromised. It is easier for the head of a camel to pass through the hole of a needle than for any individual, however rich and influential, to be crowned the Oba of Benin or even a traditional chief in Benin. “Oba gha tokpere, Itse:” “Long live the Oba” is not just a slogan in Benin.It is a constant reminder that the Edo people do not take their tradition and ways of life lightly.
With rigidity, the purity of the royal blood is Benin is maintained from one Oba to another. It is even more rigid than what happens in the United Kingdom where the House of Windsor has ruled for centuries. You can take it from me that whoever becomes the Oba of Benin is a blue blood and a direct son of the outgoing monarch.
It used to be that way in Akure and many towns in Yorubaland but, sad to say, not anymore. If you don’t believe me, I will furnish a long list of many Obas in the old Western Region and other states who have been dethroned and defrocked after their coronation because the Law has found them to be illegitimate or wrongly picked, or both.
Many of those individuals cannot convincingly tell you or articulate their royal connection or their passport or pathway to the throne because they have none. They are in it because they see an opportunity. They decided to tell some cock and bull story in order to justify their quest for the throne and because they have plenty of cash to silence the king makers who will crown a palace servant or slave if you give them enough money. I don’t care that every store front in Nigeria is a Church or a Mosque. Many Nigerians don’t go there to worship Go, but “Ekurube” or “Kudi” or “Ego.”We live in a society with little or no documented history. In a country as corrupt as Nigeria where anything can happen and so many illegalities have been condoned. If you don’t believe me I urge you to pay attention to what is currently going on at the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives in Abuja.
If rigging is confined to politics alone, I would not complain as loudly as I am doing. Rigging and corruption have permeated the very fabric of our nature everywhere you look. We have it in the Church. We have it in the public and private sectors of our country, and even in our traditional institutions across the board.
“Prince” Adelabu otherwise known as “Ileri Oluwa” a pastor of a Church in Akure and a filthy-rich businessman was one of the 13 candidates that contested with Patrick Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi who has just been appointed the Deji of Akure. In 2005, Prince Adelabu had performed all the rites mandated for anyone who would be crowned a Deji in Akure. He had spent a few days at the Ashamo’s Court in Akure which houses the central shrine of “Obanifon,” the supreme deity of Akure.
Prince Adelabu was on his way to be crowned the Deji at Chief Ooye’s traditional palace in Akure before going to climb the “Okiti Omolore” in front of the Palace, when his ruling family came out to denounce him as an impostor.
The family actually admitted that he was not a member of their family even though they took his money when they needed him to bail them out. They dumped him after that, and the man with his tail between his legs did nothing to fight the blackmailers or the Government or the kingmakers who presented him and to put it on record that he fought back. He simply went home and that was the end of it.
Based on that revelation, the Agagu Government annulled his selection and went for candidate Adepoju Adesina who came from London claiming that his biological father was a grandson of Deji Osupa who reigned in Akure from 1834 to 1846. There was no one ready and willing to challenge his claim. He simply issued the kingmakers with a post-dated check for 2 million Naira as their “igbanujo” traditional kola. He convinced the gullible kingmakers they could see the check for payment after he receives his pensions from the United Kingdom.
The king makers were not even sure if the man was a taxi driver in Britain or some crazy hoodlum. They just took him at his words. They believed that any Nigerian receiving a pension in British Sterling has to be a very rich man. They were all proved wrong when the man told them to their face to stop bugging him or else he would deal with them and he did.
That was how the man became the Deji on a platter of gold. Hell broke loose after the kingmakers presented the check to the Bank and it bounced. The man was already king and there was very little the king makers could do than curse him by putting “Okaraba Baba Edi” on him and hoping that the man would self-destruct. He surely did.
He came to the throne in 2005 pretty much the same way Saraki, Ekweremadu, and David Mark have now invalidated the mandate Nigerians gave to the APC and Buhari in the last elections in Nigeria. The tail is now wagging the dog in the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives. All the APC could do now is put some “Tabatiada” or voodoo or “Okaraba Baba Edi” on Saraki and his fellow conspirators like Atiku Abubakar, Tambuwal and David Mark. The horse has already bolted before the stable was locked in Nigeria. Their own “Tabatiada” is already working on Tinubu and Buhari who are now at daggers drawn.
Buhari surprisingly told Nigerians in total amazement that he did not belong to the people that put him in power. He said he would work with anybody put forward regardless of party label or affiliation. It was the craziest statement that could only come from somebody who has been heavily drugged or is under the influence of “Edi” or “Tabatiada”
Please forgive me my small digression. I only digress because what you see unfold in Abuja is also happening at your own backyard anywhere you live in Nigeria. Prince Adepoju Adesina was crowned The Deji in 2005. He was dethroned with ignominy in 2010 for beating up his wife in the public place and pouring acid on her in a very embarrassing case of domestic violence that went viral as the Women Organization in Nigeria took the wife’s case to the floor of the Nigerian Senate.
The poor woman never fully recovered from the fallout and the acid poured on her body. She died miserably less than 2 year later and his family in Owo had to make peace with the deposed Deji. They were ready to support his restoration back to the throne so as to secure the future of the two little boys his late “Olori” Bola had for him. The family wanted the two boys to be able to run for the Deji’s throne in the future and be crowned a Deji in Akure. If their father did not die on the throne, they would have forfeited that chance for good.
You can see how terribly silly and illogical some of our people could be. In more civilized societies another Adesina coming to the throne should have been the least of their worries because of the way the man has disgraced the institution of the Deji, but it is not so in Nigeria. Our value system has been badly compromised. We are all as crazy as a fox...
The same Adepoju is now asking the Government to reinstate him. He compared himself to the late Kabiyesi Olowo Olateru Olagbegi. He succeeded in delaying the selection exercise because he filed an injunction in the Court asking Ondo State Government to delay action until the outcome of his injunction is decided. He was going to disrupt the Aladetoyinbo’s selection by filing another injunction, but in an Akure animal farm type of scenario, the kingmakers had to go into hiding so they could not be served by the Court bailiff.
I see a compelling need to document all of this information for posterity because information is the tool for decision-making; however, many of us are in denial about this.
To make sure that Aladetoyinbo’s selection is not delayed or derailed by the antics of the deposed Deji, the whole Ondo State Government under Olusegun Mimiko had to summon the Ondo State Executive Council to quickly ratify the selection and to deliver the staff of office to Aladetoyinbo at the Governor’s office on June 9 just like they did when the 45th and the 46th Deji, Adepoju Adesina and Adebiyi Adesida were selected.
Cutting corners has now become the rule and not the exception in Nigeria. Government tries to circumvent the rule and due process because they are bent on helping a particular candidate. The Government will bend the rule if necessary to help a candidate of their choice. The Government can move the goal post any time as it suits their whim and caprices because we operate in a jungle.
Akure has every reason to celebrate the selection of Aladetoyinbo because he is arguably the most authentic candidate and has a verifiable and provable connection or lineage to the Deji throne. His mother belongs to the great Elemo Adedipe family. The new Kabiyesi‘s mother comes from the Okira Adedipe unit of that illustrious Adedipe family in Akure. For anybody who will be a Deji in Akure, it does not get any better than that.
The new Deji’s biological father, Pa Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade, the late Bale of Alayere village near Ogbese was installed the Bale by Deji Afunbiowo Adesida the First, my own grandfather, the greatest Deji of all times, who always stood for the truth. We all knew for a fact that Pa Aladetoyinbo was a genuine prince in Akure.
Prince Aladetoyinbo and Dr. Adebimpe Ige Ogunleye Aladejana fought tooth and nail for the carving out of the Osupa/Odundun ruling House from the only Asodeboyede Ruling House in Akure. The new Deji contested for the throne in 2005 but narrowly lost to Adepoju Adesina for the reasons I have stated above. For these reasons, Akure should be happy with his selection. The Kabiyesi holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Architecture from the United States and I am proud to say that the new Deji is married to one of the granddaughters of my own father, Kabiyesi, the pioneer Olugunshin of Igunshin in Akure North Local Government.
His Olori Bimbo Omosalewa Aya Aladetoyinbo nee Akintide Gbangba, “Ogingin Uro o tu ponronyin wese, ona ni moko Olokoju Ayeko. Omo Ole taun topo topo, Aguntan meta orundunrun.” She is the future Eyesorun or Eyelua of Akure without any doubt. Gentle and beautiful Bimbo was trained and educated in the United States. Bimbo is going to be a pillar of support to her husband. Her grandfather, the late Olugunshin, was conferred the Olugunshin title by Kabiyesi Deji Agunsoye, Ademuagun Adesida the Second, the first educated Deji in all of the 900 years of Akure history.
If myself or my junior brother, Olu Hero the father of Bimbo becomes the Olugunshin tomorrow, we can never disown the Deji or claim like Kabiyesi the Alaiyede of Ogbese, Oba Peter Oluyede that the Deji is not our boss and benefactor. Deji Afunbiowo made Pa Oluyede the matriarch of the Oluyede family, the pioneer Bale of Ogbese. It is totally disingenuous of Professor Peter Oluyede, the new Alaiyede, to want to rewrite history by claiming Ogbese is no longer part of Akure territory. Olori Bimbo’s mother is also a princess and daughter of Kabiesi, the late Balogun of Ugoba, Oba Agbogunleri... Bimbo is a double princess married to Adumila Olori Alade Ajiwajiwa Ileke. O to ri Ileke do luku Oyo, Iwerepe gba ra re gba igi oko.
I am sure the whole of Ugoba and Ushinigbo community would be more than happy with the selection of Kabiyesi Odundun Asode dero who will be inheriting some of the fine legacies of his predecessor including his ultra-modern, Taj Mahal of a new Palace.
The current Bale of Alayere, a brother of the new Deji would be insane to now claim that Oba Peter Oluyede is his prescribed authority because he now belongs to the Akure North Local Government. I am sure the new Deji of Akure, a reincarnation of Odundun Asode dero will never tolerate that nonsense. He is going to put the records straight without being disrespectful to the new Alaiyede of Ogbese, a grade ”D” Oba, a learned professor, and a gentleman who must now find some ways to fully reconcile with the new Deji who owns Alayere village and Ogbese.
Governor Mimiko will do well to listen to the voice of reason and not remove Akure North Local Government from the authority and supervision of the Deji. Many Local Governments like Kano, Sokoto, Lagos, Ibadan still owe allegiance and pay emoluments to the Emir of Kano, the Sultan of Sokoto, the Oba of Lagos, the Olubadan of Ibadan, the Alaafin of Oyo, the Awujale of Ijebu Ode, the Alake of Egba Land, the Ooni of Ife, and of course the great Oba of Benin. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander.
Akure has every reason to celebrate the coming of Kabiyesi Odundun the Second. The first Odundun was the 38th Deji of Akure who reigned from 1882 to 1890. Odundun was a great Deji. Even though he reigned for only 8 years, he left his footprints on the sand of history in a way that Akure cannot and should never forget.
The first Odundun was called “Odundun a sode dero” because he led Akure to break the mental yoke of the Oba of Benin in Akure. That yoke was implanted when “Osupatadolaa” became the 33rd Deji of Akure from 1834 to 1846 with the royal blessing of the Oba of Benin. That domination continued in a subtle form during the reign of the 34th Deji Kabiyesi Agboyere who reigned from 1846 to 1849. It continued during the reign of the 35th Deji “Amororo bi Ojo” who reigned from 1850 to 1851 and the reign of the 36th Deji Omoremiosun from 1851 to 1852 and the reign of the 37th Deji, Ojijigogun, my great great grandfather who reigned from 1852 to 1882 and the 38th Deji “Odundun a sode dero” who reigned from 1882 to 1890 as stated earlier.
Odundun was a great and powerful Deji who did not take any nonsense from anybody. He was therefore feared and respected at the same time. He, like King Henry the VIII of England, got one of his young wives beheaded for sharing a joke with him in the bathroom because he had the power and he was not afraid to use it.
Candidates like Olofinlade Adesida, my grandfather, who contested with him in 1882 had to leave town after the contest because Odundun did not tolerate opposition and would not have spared him. Adesida escaped to his father-in-law’s farm at Ulado village where Chief Oluyemisi Falae currently has his Midland Farms. His particular hamlet in Ulado where he waited before his coronation as the Deji in 1897 was later renamed “Arodoye” during Oba Afunbiowo’s longest reign from 1897 to 1957.
With some help from Egun Aladoko, Deji Odundun was the first Deji to challenge the Oba of Benin’s domination of Akure. He did it during the reign of Oba Overamen who was exiled to Calabar following his intransigence against the Philip Expedition to Benin in 1897. From Osupatadolaa, every Deji used to pay annual allegiance to the Oba of Benin before Deji Odundun came on board.
Odundun took the bull by the horn. He refused to kowtow to the Oba of Benin and he secured Akure’s autonomy from Benin. Oba Overamen was going to deal with him, but he could not do so when he faced a greater crisis with the British that sent him into exile in Calabar. He had refused to let the British enter Benin during his traditional “Igue” festival which is very similar in some ways to the popular “Ilefunta” ceremony when the Deji is not allowed to entertain visitors or leave town by tradition.
Ogiso Overamen, a powerful Oba ordered the Edo traditional armed forces to attack Captain Philip and his troops. He paid dearly for that intransigence. He was captured alive and exiled to Calabar where he died. His “Edaiken”who took over in Benin after his father’s death was the great Oba Eweka, the father of Oba Akenzua. Oba Akenzua was the father of Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, the current Oba Erediauwa of Benin.
Stayed tuned for the Part 2 in a few weeks.