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OPINION: Much Ado about Ooni and Asiwaju’s Courtesy at Oniru Coronation by Funsho Arogundade


Great names and institutions are not built overnight. It was H.H. Younus AlGohar who remarked that respect does not come by asking for it; it is earned over time by giving it to others.

Over the years, Nigeria’s political luminary, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has shown, like Laurence Sterne said, that respect for ourselves guides our morals, while respect for others guides our manners. Only little people are indifferent, superior people are caring and respect constituted authority, whether traditional or political. It is not out of place to say that Tinubu falls among those, in our part of the world, with great respect for traditional institutions having rightfully earned two great titles — among many others — Asiwaju of Lagos and Jagaban of the Borgu Kingdom in Niger State, bestowed on him by two revered monarchs.

In a country where traditional leaders are still widely respected, these chieftaincy titles enhance his power and reach, which he has used them for the good of the nation and the people.

As a two-term Governor of Lagos State, it is not by happenstance that nearly a decade and a half since he left the seat as the State’s Chief Executive, Tinubu still retains massive support within and outside the state. He has been credited with the social and economic progress seen in Lagos in the past two decades. He keeps an open house and reaches out to people in need. Tinubu is a man of the people. He is liked by many people from different social classes. It is a known fact —by many— that Asiwaju has helped great numbers of young and elderly people to grow and achieve their dreams. Even when some of these people turned around to work against his interest, he never begrudged them and is always quick to forgive them whenever they realised their follies.

Irregarding the circumstances, Tinubu is not known to undermine those he helped raise to prominence, or subject them to any form of public ridicule. This brings to the fore the needless furore making rounds on social media, over a circulating video and a picture of His Imperial Majesty, Oba Babatunde Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife and the National Leader of the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Tinubu, exchanging greetings during the coronation outing of the 15th Oniru of Iru Land, Oba Omogbolahan Lawal in Lagos last Sunday, September 6, 2020.

Of course, some trouble-makers have gone to town spinning different conspiracy theories around the picture and the fleeting moment of the interaction. There have been allegations, pointing to Asiwaju Tinubu as arrogant and disrespectful of the highly revered Oonirisa. This is farther from the truth and not a representation of what transpired at the coronation event.

While much attention has been focused on the picture, those pushing the false narrative have refused to allow the true situation unveil itself.

Actually, His Imperial Majesty Ooni Ogunwusi came in at the peak of the moment, with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu —represented by his Deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat— reading his address. Several dignitaries including Asiwaju Tinubu were already seated when Ooni made his way into the venue.

At such events, the protocol does not permit anyone into the venue when a Governor or President is making a speech. However, the protocol was shunted to accommodate the entry of the revered Ooni, with the number one citizen of the state —a duly elected Governor standing— waiting to continue his speech, which he had paused to welcome the Ooni.

Everyone at the top table welcomed the Oonirisa, including Asiwaju, and allowed him to take his seat. As gathered, the circumstance of the exchange of courtesy was such that before Asiwaju could get up, Oonirisa had moved. This begs the question: why so much ado about a harmless, fleeting courtesy moment? To them, such posture denigrates the office and stature of the Ooni. Some have even stretched the issue languorously with tales of how Oba Ogunwusi emerged as the Oonirisa. Of course, the true story of how the monarch emerged and the role played by Asiwaju are still alive to present the true narrative. Meanwhile, those who wish to weep louder than the bereaved should take heed lest they drag the revered stool of the Ooni into the needless controversy.

There is never a single story; those screaming for Asiwaju’s head, do so not out of love for the Oonirisa but because Asiwaju was involved.

Mr Tunde Rahman, a seasoned journalist and media adviser to Asiwaju Tinubu, in a reaction to one of the threads on Facebook, said “Anyone who knows Asiwaju Tinubu would know that he has great respect for traditional institutions. He is full of humility. He would not disrespect any traditional ruler, talk less the Oonirisa, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who is no stranger to him. Kabiyesi and Asiwaju know that there is no issue in this. They are not unmindful of the fact that some people are just out to fish for a non-existent disaffection between the two of them. Oonirisa knows Asiwaju holds him in high esteem and has high regards for him.”

Of course, Asiwaju Tinubu is the phenomenon! When they do not talk about him then there is nothing to talk about. It is not surprising and unfortunate that those at the forefront of schisms and stoking controversies around the incident at the Oniru coronation outing are Yoruba.

I leave you with this quote from a notable social commentator, Olukayode Salako: “Yorubas are fast losing it, they hardly support themselves to grow economically, unlike the way the Igbos and the Northerners do to one another; they naturally rebel against their own kinsmen and they are fond of always standing and working against the survival of their leaders.”





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