DEJI OF AKURE – PART 8
Dr. Wunmi Akintide
For all of my readers who are interested in what is going on concerning the Deji’s selection exercise which had been stagnated for more than five years now, I have news for you. There is a development or breaking news you need to know about, if you have been following my serial articles on the Deji, and what should be done to move the process forward, to select a new Deji that would be acceptable to the rank and file of our people at home and abroad.
I must first and foremost seize this opportunity to thank retired Justice Ojuolape’s Committee that was commissioned by Akure elites and elders to investigate the selection exercise and to submit recommendations. I understand the Committee has done its work and has made some useful recommendations literarily suggesting that the whole exercise be done all over again, just like 10 of the remaining 13 king makers have now said. What more is the Government waiting for?.
I will not pretend that I know the full terms of Reference given to the Committee and whether or not their report has done justice to it. But one thing is clear to me, and I have underscored the point in all of my series on the Deji which had been widely publicized on the Internet and a few magazines around the world that the stalemate on picking a new Deji has arisen because of the Ondo State Government’s decision to drastically modify the 1958 Chieftaincy Declaration on the Deji’s title, by unilaterally breaking the one and only Asodeboyede Ruling House in Akure into two this late in the game.
Out of the 44 Dejis that have so far reigned in Akure, starting with Asodeboyede himself, the Ondo State Government in an attempt to appease a small faction of the Asodeboyede descendants in Akure, has gone ahead to create a new Ruling House named Osupa/Odundun which many newly minted princes in Akure now claim to be their linkage to Royalty in Akure, because there is no one in Akure today who can say with any certainty, if that is true or not. In more than 100 years there has been no descendant of the two Obas- Osupa and Odundun who have been selected a Deji because of strict adherence to the “Omo Ori Ite” provision in Akure tradition which was deliberately improvised by our founding fathers, from the beginning, to ensure that the predicament faced by Akure king makers today does not arise.
Our founding fathers, in their wisdom, have anticipated some pretender princes and Johnny-just-come princes and “Seriki Tulasi” with a lot of money and influence may infiltrate the rank and file of genuine princes in Akure to bulldoze their way to the throne of Akure, as some have done in claiming chieftaincy titles they were never born into. A good example was the late Robert Akesogie Agbeyewa born of an Ido Ani father and an Ado Akure mother. Late Agbayewa had torpedoed his way into becoming the Sasere of Akure under Oba Otutubiosun Adelegan Adesida the 3rd. There are a few others I can cite for you in Akure and other places and else where in Nigeria.
Now that Akure has become the capital of Ondo State, some ruthless pretenders with little or no likage to Royalty, can kill to be crowned a Deji. If our history has always been properly documented, we can avoid such pit falls. My principal motivation for embarking on these series of articles is, in part, to permanently document some of these facts for posterity. At over 60, I am relatively young to consider myself an expert on Akure History, but someone has to start some where.. I got much of my research information from many sources including those from late Oba Afunbiowo Adesida the First, my grand father, and from one of the prominent historians like late Pa Atandare who wrote the History of Akure, and from Pa Adegbola, the first ed ucated Akure patriot of consequence, and from my own father late Chief Samuel Akintide Gbangba and from late Chief R A. Fanibuda and late Chief Faleye Egun of Akure of blessed memory.
I am fully aware that some or all of these sources may have put their own spin on their own versions of their narrative, but their central theme is consistent. The “Omo Ori Ite” provision in Akure tradition was jettisoned just to give the descendants of Osupa and Odundun their chance to claim the throne. But by so doing, the State Government has given pretenders a field day to desecrate our tradition. The mere fact that the so-called Osupa/Odundun would present a candidate to the king makers and later turn round to totally disown the same candidate as a stranger, has spoken volumes on the credibility of that so-called Ruling House. If they have lied to the king makers about “Prince” Adegbola Adelabu, who knows what else they are lying about?.
For those of you who may not know, “Prince” Adelabu has already performed most of the traditional rites to being made a Deji, with all protocols observed, including a few weeks sojourn at the Asamo Court, the central shrine of Obanifon, the founding Deity of Akure. His next and final move was to go up to Chief Ooye’s Court where the Ooye would have formally placed the beeded crown on his head preparatory to his climbing up the famous Okiti Omolore, with his first daughter in tow, on his final entry to the Palace. There is not a single cherished secret of Akure throne the “Prince” does not know today. That was truly an abomination. Akure has been led into that cul-de-sac by a dysfunctional family which has made a total mockery of our sacred Institution. Should they be re warded for doing that? I leave you to answer that..
I am not here to disown all members of the so-called Osupa/Odundun as part and parcel of the only Asodeboyede Ruling House in Akure. They are all descendants of Asodeboyede, and they all have as much right as we do, to vie for the Deji’s throne any time, there is a vacancy like happened in 1882,when Oba Odundun was selected and in 1889 when Oba Arosoye was selected and again in1897 when Oba Afunbiowo was selected, in 1957 when Oba Agunsoye was selected, and in 1975 when Oba Otutubiosun was selected and finally in 1991 when the last Deji, Oba Ataiyese was selected all from the only Asodeboyede Ruling Line.
The due process is for the entire family to meet and for any princes including grand children wishing to contest, to signify their intention, and for their nomination to be made by one prince and seconded by another. If a thousand of them were so nominated, all the thousand names go to the kingmakers who will then consider the whole pack and pick just one person for the whole of Akure community to endorse by acclamation. “Prince” Adegbola’s selection was the first of such selection to be totally rejected by acclamation in more than a hundred years. You can check it out, if in any doubt. It is rejected first of all because the due process stipulated in our tradition has not been followed.
Now that a suggestion is being made by the Ojuolape Committee and the two factions of Osupa/Odundun Family, with one led by Chief Olu Falae and the other led by the Bajimo of Akure Omowas , Chief Dr. Adebimpe Ige Ogunleye to start the whole exercise all over again, I think it is time to now urge the Agagu/Oluwateru Government to return back to the” status quo” ante bellum, and to call on the only Asodeboyede Ruling House to start the ball rolling. If that is done, all the surviving descendants of the 44 Dejis that have reigned in Akure, and not just those of Osupa and Odundun alone, would reserve the right to attend that meeting and to get nominated for consideration by the remaining 14 kingmakers in Akure led by the Olisa of Akure, Oteru Oba Ode, Chief Folorunsho David the city’ s traditional Prime Minister. That is the only way out of this cul-de-sac
If the Government does that, it will now be up to the kingmakers to do their home work, and to pick one of the nominated Princes. Akure people and the king makers know who are the genuine princes in our town., All we are saying, is that we want a true royal blood, with the right leverage, the connection in high places, and adequate educational attainment, to do our town proud in the committee of traditional rulers in Ondo State and Nigeria as a whole. Surely our kingmakers can find one such candidate, if the selection exercise is not just narrowed down to just two out of our 44 reigning monarchs in Akure. If the kingmakers, in their wisdom, at the end of the day, decide to pick a descendant from Osupa, Odundun, Arosoye, Orudu, Eye Aro, Eye Moin , Otenioro, Ojijigogun, and even Alakunre to mention a few, so be it. We shall all ral ly round the candidate. It does not have to be an Adesida per se, if that is their problem.
But I cannot in good conscience, suggest to the king makers to select just anybody for the throne, just because they don’t want another Adesida. I come from the Adesida Ruling Branch, but that cannot and must not stop me from telling the truth. The Adesidas’ tenure has been good for our town, without any question, but that does not mean that an Adesida always has to be named a Deji. We all understand how the Adesidas had come to dominate the Akure throne. It all goes back to our progenitor, Oba Afunbiowo who had contested the throne on three consecutive occasions but only got selected the third time in 1897. But guess what? The man had reigned for 60 golden years for Akure. Who should be held responsible for that but God who knows the beginning from the end, and the end from the beginning? Those who want to complain should first talk to God. If Akure had more than one Ruling House, how come, Oba Afunbiowo was allowed to contest the throne three consecutive times? That is the question I put to those who now argue today Akure had more than one Ruling House. That was a big lie. It is one Ruling House. Period.
I am sick and tired of all the fake princes now showing up their faces in Akure today. I know quite a few of them as princes in their own right. But there are some of them that are only out for mischief. The late Barrister M. Olu. Bello, I am sorry to say, was one of them. There are others and they know themselves. Who, in his right senses, will deny that the Bajimo of Akure Omowas, Chief Dr. Adebimpe Ige Ogunleye is not a legitimate prince in Akure or that late Chief Adegbulu, Asuwamo of Akure Omowas who had presided as Family Head over the selection of Oba Otitubiosun, while I was Secretary to the Asodeboyede Ruling House in 1975?
Who can deny that Chief. Adedeji Adesida , the Obadua of Akure Omowas is not a genuine Prince or that the late Chief Aladetoyinbo the Alayere of Alayere or Ambassador E. M. Adegbulu, the Olu of Aponmu, or Chief E. R. A. Babalola, the current Aladun of Adun, in Akure Local Government are not legitimate princes in Akur?. We all know ourselves. Let the Government follow the due process and return back to the one and only Asodeboyede Ruling House, and there would be peace in Akure.
I do know the Gbobaniyi of Akure Land and the current Oluabo of Ilu Abo, Chief Olu Falae as part of the Elemo Adedipe Ruling House, and therefore entitled to seek the Elemo title, if he is no longer interested in his Oluabo throne. I am aware he is today the Head of a faction of the Osupa/Odundun Line, as mentioned, earlier on, in this article, but his linkage to the Deji’s throne is very foggy to me at this point. He may well be a member of the Osupa Family, I just don’t know that, for a fact at this point, like I said before in one of my articles.
Now to the breaking news I did talk about at the beginning of this essay. There is something going on in Akure as we speak. I read on the Internet 10 of the remaining king makers in Akure have withdrawn their support for the so-called Deji-Elect and are now urging the Government to let them start the process all over again. That is an interesting development I have always envisaged in my articles, and I welcome it. It is the right thing to do, but it has to be done right, this time around by Government clearing the way for them to go back to the original Asodeboyede House as articulated in this write-up. 18 out of 21 original king makers in Akure had unanimously voted for Ileri Oluwa, to begin with. No sooner was the selection announced and public revulsion against made known, than two promi nent kingmakers, namely Chief Elemo Bolanle Adedipe and Chief Ojomo, Oluyide openly disowned the selection. One or two years later, another prominent Chief, Odopetu Falade Adelusimo, in an apparent feud with the Deji-elect, over money. also jumped ship, making three of them in opposition. Sao Alade Ologunmeta and Ooye Adeniyi had, earlier on, made their transition, leaving only 13 out of which 10 have now decamped, leaving only 3 including the Oteru Oba Ode at this point in time.
The Osupa/Odundun Line has broken asunder into two irreconciliable factions with one faction going for Chief Falae and the other going for Chief Bajimo, Dr. Adebimpe Ige Ogunleye as Head of Family. It will be recalled that Dr. Ige Ogunleye along with late Bale Alayere Aladetoyinbo had spearheaded the struggle to carve out another ruling House, and to persuade Government to narrow down the selection to only Osupa and Odundun out of fear the Adesidas and the others participating in the exercise might muddy the waters for them.. But look where the Family has led Akure now. It is time to go back to the only Ruling House for peace and orderliness to return to our town
Another development you want to know about, is the attempt by the Osolo and Iralepo of Akure to pressure the Ondo State Government to carve out their two Kingdoms from the Akure Kingdom, a proposal which may, in due course, lead the two former “Obas” smiling, while the Deji, their overall boss, takes a cut in the size and relevance of his Kingdom, and conceivably sinks into oblivion, if an illiterate and a less proactive Deji takes the throne. It is that development and the ripple effects it has caused, and may continue to cause, that is causing many of our chiefs who have been at logger heads with the Regent over the new Deji’s selection, to immediately bury the hatchet and to close ranks in facing a more urgent and looming crisis which has now given the 10 dissenting chiefs a wiggle room to openly disagree with the Olisa, and to say good bye to their iron-clad solidarity hitherto.
The selection of Chief Olu Falae as Family Head by a faction of Osupa has introduced a new dynamic and urgency into what can be done to move the process forward. Chief Olu Falae, as a seasoned and influential Administrator, and a former Presidential candidate, knows which buttons to press to bring some modicum of order into the selection process. He was prevailed upon and probably hired to do just that by the Osupa/Odundun rag tag Army which is anxiously seeking a political juggernaut in Nigeria to bail out their weak and disorganized family from a looming disaster.
I can, from my vantage point here, in far away New York, read the hand writing on the wall, and that is why I am seizing this opportunity to impress on the Ondo State Government and on the Deputy Governor in particular, as our only representative in Agagu’s Cabinet to please assert himself, for once, and to use his good offices to talk to his boss to let wiser counsel prevail, and to please pay attention to all of my observations in this write-up
The way out is going back to the “status quo ante bellum”. Go back to the drawing board and let the whole Asodeboyede Ruling House produce a new Deji as they have always done from time immemorial.
I rest my case.
Dr. Wunmi Akintide