Ooni Of Ife Gracefully Humiliated Oba Of Eko

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Are you surprised that Ooni of Ife reduced Oba of Lagos below his level? The first indication of class was how they got to the throne. When the people of Lagos protested that Tinubu should not be in a position to share his preference on who should be the Oba of Lagos, other Yoruba protested that Lagosians must not discriminate against another Yoruba in Lagos, as they would allow Tinubu to determine their Oba. Indeed, we had those that were asking if Lagosians would rather have someone from other parts of Nigeria.

Before we blame everything on IFA or the selection process, some potential potentates around the world including Nigeria have decided to pass over the throne to either a younger siblings, more educated kin or more informed, one against the right of passage because of religious belief or may feel constrained by the duties and responsibilities of the throne. You may have read about a king of England that abdicated his throne in order to marry a commoner.

Akiolu family is well known and cultured but just like any family, some members reject the training reserved for members of the royal houses. Actually, the police force has produced well bred and respected Lagosians including the former Chief of Police Musiliu Smith in Obasanjo’s cabinet. So it is not that Oba Akiolu was not cultured, he survives in the present-day Nigeria the best way he knows how. So, he made it in the Police force and made it to the throne.

Look at the background of Ooni before he ascended the throne and look at that of Oba of Lagos before you determine who humiliated whom. The present Ooni is young enough to be the son of Oba of Lagos. Under normal circumstances, one would expect youthful exuberance to cloud the behavior of the young Ooni. Instead what we saw was a jealous older man behaving as if he was uncultured in Yoruba history while the young man took the higher ground.

The behavior of Oba Akiolu of Lagos trivialized his statue and the stool he occupies. Lagosians, are usually and unfairly stereotyped with some boisterous behaviors. But the confusion comes from those that were not familiar with the culture of the indigenes. Like any other place, those born and bred from good homes and those from otherwise homes behave differently. Even in Lagos, they can distinguish the ruffians from the cultured. Indeed, there are those from very cultured homes that lost it on their way to make money by any means necessary.

There is no Lagosian from a royal house that would not be sorted out by men of integrity and caliber before anyone ascended the throne, not only in Lagos but in every domain. If you decided that integrity does not matter, you would end up with someone like Akiolu or Tinubu in power. Compare that to the way Ooni of Ife was selected. Rivalry or competition is ingrained in choice of final for the throne. He weathered each of them before and after becoming Ooni.

Ooni even came out after that to say his mission is to unite all the Yoruba Oba and that incident would not deter him. Ooni and Alafin have their differences but historians and well-informed Yoruba know the different functions between Ife and Oyo. Actually, we also know the political tone many ethnic groups and subgroup have taken in self-actualization and promotion of their own title. Yet, it does not mean traditional rulers have to be less than cordial to one another.

Fair is fair, if it was entirely a Lagos business, Akiolu would never have been chosen as the Oba in the first place. All over Nigeria Oba, Emir and Igwe or Obi are screened and reserved for men of class and integrity. This man was eased out of Nigerian Police, a force that has corruption problem like many institutions, but that of police have been over the top for a long time. Say what you want about Oasanjo, he dealt with corruption in his own way and with Akiolu.

The point about Tinubu angle is that he is going to come back and haunt Yoruba by his choice of Akiolu and other politicians with his corrupt practices. No matter how this writer feels about Tinubu, Yoruba sent fire to quench fire and he served that purpose. But that does not legitimize him as Yoruba leader or aspiration for Presidency. He forced Akiolu through as Oba of Lagos. Osibajo, an honorable man is an exception, even as Tinubu’s choice.

This Oba has been openly involved in Lagos politics coming out to swear on those that were against any choice of his master, Tinubu. Some of you may remember the role this same Oba of Lagos played in the dispute between Tinubu and Fashola. Tinubu apparently walked out on him with impunity when he feared that Fashola was making sense to the people of Lagos and in the meeting before Oba of Lagos. The Oba turned around until Fashola succumbed.

Fashola a son of the soil that is well known in Lagos because of his father’s amicable reputation became Tinubu’s accomplice. If you cannot beat them, join them. If the fight against corruption solidly gets a foothold in Nigeria, Tinubu will face justice and he would easily implicate Fashola that initially made his greedy acquisition possible. The koko of the matter is that the support Tinubu gets from Yoruba and which he gave Akiolu will come back and haunt all of us.

Anyone that expects Oba of Lagos to apologize to the Ooni of Ife should not hold his breath. We pay him back scornfully. He also had some problem with the previous Ooni Sijuade. Grown men in exulted positions must learn how to respect their office, especially in a public forum. While some understood his beef with the previous Ooni, this new and young Ooni should not inherit their differences. After all, the previous Ooni also had his differences with Alafin of Oyo.

This Ooni is still cutting his teeth especially with his loyalty to foreign religion and his adherence to their God when he is supposed to be the keeper of Yoruba religion. Yoruba Oba must come together for the sake of their people and create forum where they can express their differences without rancor and disrespectful slights in public. They do not have to share the same political leaning. They are closer to the people locally and must serve and share their causes to earn respect; not personal enmity.

Open division gives unscrupulous politicians the opportunity to gain and distribute favors in their selfish interest. The way Abacha used Yoruba Oba against M.K. O Abiola and General Diya is a fresh history for Yoruba to learn.

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Articles by Farouk Martins Aresa