Royal Rumble: Awujale Is The Last Among Major Yoruba Kings – Alake Insists

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SAN FRANCISCO, March 15, (THEWILL) – The Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo on Monday replied the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, by insisting that the Awujale remained the last in the echelon of the big five traditional rulers in Yorubaland.

The royal diatribe started when the Alake ranked the Awujale as occupying the last position after the Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Benin and Alake of Egbaland, stressing that the listing “was supported by documentary evidence and I therefore stand by my position”.

In his retort, Oba Adetona claimed at an event in Lagos last Thursday that the Alake was a junior chief in Egba forest under the Alaafin and that Alake is also of the same status with some Ijebu obas such as the Ebumawe of Ago -Iwoye who are under his (Adetona's) jurisdiction.

But speaking through 22 Egba chiefs, including 15 Ogboni chiefs who gathered in Ake Palace, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, Oba Gbadebo informed his Ijebuland counterpart that the ranking of the Yoruba traditional rulers was carried out in 1937 by the then Ooni of Ife.

Reading a prepared speech signed by the Balogun of Egbaland, Chief Sikirulai Atobatele at a press briefing, the Baaroyin of Egbaland, Chief Layi Labode said the ranking took place at the Central Native Council meeting in Lagos and was chaired by the Governor – General, Sir William Macgregor.

Labode affirmed that those who attended the said 1937 meeting held in the Government House in Lagos, were the Ooni of Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Benin, Alake of Abeokuta and the Awujale of Ijebu – Ode.

He explained that their concern about Awujale's comment is based on the monarch's “self – indulgence to churn out outright historical falsehoods in the presence of knowledgeable Nigerians”.

The Baaroyin said “historically speaking, Alake was higher by salary differentials paid by the Colonial Government” at the time, adding that the Alake of Abeokuta earned £2,250 while the Awujale of Ijebu – Ode earned £1,700 during the colonial era.

“Awujale (claimed he) made several calls to Alake to confirm if Alake actually made the statement on Yoruba Obas ranking. Awujale also claimed that Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos, also contacted Alake on the same issue which Alake again denied.

“(The fact) both Awujale and Oba of Lagos actually called Alake on the ranking of Yoruba Obas, Alake responded that his ranking was supported by documentary evidence and he therefore stands by his position,” Labode said.

He and Media aide of the Alake also refuted claims by Oba Adetona that the Alake was a junior chief in Egba forest under Alaafin where he (Alake) fled to Ibadan and later to Abeokuta and met the Osile, Olowu, Agura and Olubara on ground.

On the contrary, the Baaroyin of Egbaland explained that 20 Alakes had reigned in Egba forest prior to the founding of Abeokuta, explaining that that there was also no Alake who fled to Ibadan or took refuge there.

According to him, the Egba arrived and settled in Abeokuta in 1830 with the first Alake installed in 1854 followed by the Olowu in 1855, the Agura in 1870 and Osile in 1897.

He stressed that by the Egba United Government Proclamation of February 1, 1898, and approved by the then Governor of Lagos, the Egba cabinet had Alake as President, Osile Minister of Justice, Agura Minister of Communications and Works and the Olowu, the Minister of Finance.

Labode further stated that some of the comments on Alake by Oba Adetona were “uncalled for and neither civil nor decent,” but said the Egba chiefs would not “defile the sacred Yoruba traditional institution and therefore, refrain from trading insult with a highly regarded monarch of his (Awujale's) status”.

Also present at the briefing were Bameto of Egbaland, Chief George Taylor, the Ilagbe of Egbaland, Chief Akin Akinwale, and the Balogun of Ilaho, Chief Adebayo Soyoye.