The succession bid for the vacant stool of the Ogoga of Ikere-Ekiti in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State and the second largest town in the state, following the demise of Oba Samuel Adegoke Adegboye, heightens as more influential princes have joined the race. Ekiti State Correspondent DEMOLA ATOBABA reports that the epic battle could take a long while to resolve, as who wears the crown is causing some disquiet within the royal circle as the two factions in the kingmakers engage in a supremacy battle. And only on Monday, a large number of Ikere-Ekiti Women trooped out on Monday to stage a protest against the alleged plan by the Ekiti State government, in collaboration with kingmakers, to impose Adejimi Adu as the next Ogoga. The women started the protest at about 9 a.m. at Odo Oja roundabout, raining abusive songs against the state government, the kingmakers and some notable indigenes of the community who support Adu.
WITH an estimated population of about 100,000 people, Ikere-Ekiti, the second largest town in Ekiti State, is home to two traditional rulers Ogoga and Olukere, according to history. The atmosphere in Ikere, headquarters of Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State, is becoming apprehensive as tension is building up over the successor to the vacant Ogoga stool. The reason is not far-fetched: less than a year after the demise of Ogoga of Ikere, Oba Samuel Adegoke Adegboye, succession bid among the various contenders to the coveted stool has heated up in the ancient town. The late monarch reigned for 43 years. But now things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold as royal families are at war over who becomes the next Ogoga, the traditional monarch of the community.
Strategically located in the southern part of the state and in between two big capital cities of Akure in Ondo State and Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Ikere-Ekiti is the hometown of some prominent Yoruba sons and daughters, including world famous singer, songwriter and music producer, Sade Adu; eminent lawyer and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), who holds the title of Mayegun of Ikere, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN); world renowned poet and literary giant, Prof. Niyi Osundare, and Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zone 6, Mr. Tunde Ogunsakin, just to mention a few.
Investigations showed that the issue of traditional institution in the community has been one of the most controversial, with the Ogoga acknowledged as the paramount ruler while the Olukere is regarded in history as the first royal institution in the ancient town.
No fewer than 12 princes from the three major ruling houses – namely Akaiyejo, Agabaola and Ogbenuote – have indicated interests in the vacant first class stool. After the screening conducted by the 13 kingmakers, six out the 12 contestants were said to have scaled through for the race. A source close to the kingmakers hinted WESTERN POST that the remaining 6 contestants included Prince Adegbesan Afolabi Adebayo, Prince Adegbesan Samuel Adeleke Ojo, Prince Aruleba Michael Gbenga, Prince (Capt) Adu Samuel Adejimi, Prince Olokungboye Victor Adebanjo and Prince (Dr) Olajuyin Oyebanji.
The last Ogoga Oba Samuel Adegoke Adegboye passed on in August last year and no person has been appointed and installed to replace him.
In the meantime, one of his daughters, Princess Ayooye Adegboye-Oyinlola, was appointed Regent by the state government pending the ascension to the throne of a new Ogoga.
WESTERN POST reliably gathered that eleven out of the 14 kingmakers in Ikere-Ekiti have unanimously upheld the selection of Prince Samuel Adejimi Adu as the Oba-elect for the town, with a claim that his selection followed due process as stipulated by the extant laws on chieftaincy matters in the state.
The kingmakers who flayed media reports, which claimed that the screening process into the Ogoga of Ikere Ekiti stool, which became vacant after the recent demise of Oba Samuel Adegboye, was fraudulent, insisted that the exercise was carried out in consultation with the Ifa oracle and voting done in the presence of two representatives of each of the royal houses and a government representative.
Ifa oracle was consulted in the presence of everyone, says Chief James
Addressing newsmen in Ikere- Ekiti over the development, with 10 other kingmakers in attendance, the head of the kingmakers, the Sao of Ikere Ekiti, Chief Omotosho James, who noted that the appointment of an Oba is a sacred matter, condemned what he called the hiring of newspapers by some disgruntled elements within the town in order to wrestle the vacant Ogoga stool. He noted that such move was satanic and aimed at truncating the existing peace in the community for selfish reasons.
“Fighting a sacred war which one has failed to win through the due ‘process’ by hiring the media is an insult to our tradition and this belittles our revered throne before the whole world. If anyone is boasting of any media affiliation, he should use such connection to recruit our teeming unemployed youths into the media rather than using the media to steal his way into a position God has not given to him,” he said.
He also stated that the claim that the 14 kingmakers, who presided over the screening exercise that produced Adejimi, were not the authentic kingmakers was baseless as no one could attain the position of a kingmaker by favour or any form of manipulation.
“The Ifa oracle was consulted in the presence of everyone. Out of the six contestants shortlisted his ‘Ifa’ was the best. To fulfil all righteousness, we went into voting, he got 11 votes while Prince Oyebanji Olajuyin had three; others had no vote. If we are not authentic how come they subjected themselves to be screened by us?”
Also, the Head of Agirlala -Ogbenuote Ruling House, Chief Abioye Ojo, popularly known as Atewologun, bluntly refuted the claim that the acclaimed Oba-elect is not an offspring of the royal family, noting that his father was once a family head of the lineage whose legacies of good leadership and selflessness were widely acknowledged.
He frowned on the use of Ogoga palace as a platform for a media campaign by a group of people, a matter which he noted had become an issue of concern and worry among the people noting that tradition behoves on whoever is occupying the throne on the interim, before the emergence of a new king to be neutral and not to desecrate the primordial tenets of non-alignment throughout the transition period.
“Those who are saying those things are rather drunk and be clouded by their thirst for offices. His father was a family head around 1991. When even he, the father died, his children presented to the family a live cow, which we all slaughtered and ate to celebrate his father in line with our tradition. If they have a genuine claim, why have they not raised this alarm before his emergence?’
Similarly, the Ologotun of Ikere-Ekiti, Chief Emmanuel Olajide, under whose auspices the Ifa oracle was consulted, according to the tradition, has warned on the need to allow peace to reign in the town and the entire state.
According to him, ‘’The whole exercise took place in my presence. The Secretary to the Local Government, Mr. Wale Olanipekun, the heads and secretaries of each ruling house were there. Everything was transparent. All these claims are afterthought and not good enough for Ikere and Ekiti State at large. We are tired of crisis in this state. It is our prayer that none of these mischief makers would plunge us into one,” he said.
Ologotun also flayed the bribery allegation levelled against the kingmakers, describing it as spurious and unfounded, noting that it is the custom to always stigmatize wealthy people in the name of bribery as a result of their economic wherewithal.
“Those who claimed that we took bribes should show their proofs. Such accusation is baseless and spurious. If we vote 20 times, we are still going to vote the same man who the Ifa oracle has chosen. We cannot bend the tradition because of some people’s selfish interests,’’ he affirmed.
The kingmakers who described the state Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, as a lover of the town, urged the government to announce the result of the screening exercise presented to it in the interest of peace.
Ruling houses disagree over the choice of Adejimi
But the three ruling houses in the town have insisted that the most important criterion a prince must fulfil before he could be crowned as the Ogoga of Ikere is to be a biological member of any of the royal families. They alleged that the Samuel Adu Adejimi now presented as Ogoga-elect was never a member of the royal families.
The enraged royal families jointly called on Governor Fayose to annul the selection process conducted by a faction of the 21-member kingmakers and order a fresh process, which they said should be in tandem with the law to avert imminent crisis in the town.
At a press conference in Ikere-Ekiti, the ruling houses accused the Ikere Development Forum, (IDF) headed by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Wole Olanipekun, of planning to foist Adu Adejimi on the town despite the stiff opposition to his candidacy.
In a statement read by the spokesman of the royal houses, Prince Ojo Ologundoye, they maintained that Prince Adejimi would suffer immense eligibility problem among the indigenes of the town, if he succeeds in his bid to become the next Ogoga. They described as a call to anarchy, the alleged factionalisation of the kingmakers by the powerful and influential members of the Forum in a bid to ensure that their preferred candidate scaled the hurdle of selection process.
They said: “To say the least, Mr. Samuel Jimi Adu, is not a member of any of the ruling houses, but has surprisingly been claiming to be a member of Ogbenuote ruling house, whereas, he has no link with that royal family and neither is he a prince at all, which means this selection has no place in history and in law.
“As a matter of fact, no selection process was conducted by the Ogbenuote ruling house, some few people just handpicked and foisted on the family a preferred candidate of a few individuals and this had sparked off widespread resentment, thereby culminating in some protest letters to the Governor, the state’s Attorney-General, Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly among others.
“Rather than for the kingmakers to consult the oracle in line with customs and tradition, they came up with a list of 14 kingmakers out of 21 traditional kingmakers. Even two of the kingmakers refused to sign, sensing danger in the high level of partisanship and illegality embarked upon by the kingmakers.”
The families contended that it was alien to tradition of the town for IDF, which was a town development group, to dabble into Obaship issue, describing such attempt as unconstitutional and brazen display of ego.
WESTERN POST also learnt that the kingmakers decided to jettison rotational formula given the fact that a majority of Ikere indigens at home and in the Diaspora seem to be favourably disposed to the choice of Adejimi. As the controversy continues to rage, it is expected that the state government would find a lasting solution to it and stop the rumblings in the royal circle in Ikere. Ikere is the second most populous town in Ekiti State and the hotbed of opposition in the state. It, therefore, needs to tread softly in picking a successor to the prestigious stool in a way devoid of violence.
Ikere-Ekiti women protest…
The protesting women maintained that Ifa Oracle in conjunction with the customs and tradition of the town must be used as criteria to determine the next Ogoga. The women alleged that most of the kingmakers had been bribed. Most of their placards read: “Mr Governor, don’t approve Adejimi Adu as the next Ogoga,” “Don’t use voting to select New Ogoga,” “Money should not determine the next Ogoga,” “Consult Ifa Oracle, No Voting,” “It is not in our tradition to choose Ogoga by Voting,” among others. Mrs. Funmi Adegbesan, one of the protesters said they staged the protest to demonstrate that the act of selection of Ogoga through voting that is against the tradition of Ikere Community.
She said: “We want them to commence the process afresh, and they should consult the Ifa oracle. We don’t want the Ogoga to be chosen through an election by the kingmakers who have been compromised.
“The Ikere women are angry with the kingmakers for collecting bribes, and we have lost confidence in most of them. They should choose the next Ogoga through the Ifa Oracle.”
Another protester, Mrs. Anike Obasoro, said the women of the town would not allow Adu to reign as Ogoga, declaring that the outcome would be devastating if Adu is imposed as the monarch.
Mrs. Obasoro said: “We will not allow Jimi Adu to reign in Ikere, he can become king in Lagos, but he will not become king in Ikere because he is not a prince.
“If they impose him on us, there will be trouble and the town will not enjoy peace. We are warning them not to impose him on us because government will not be able to control what will happen thereafter”.
The men of Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and Department of State Services (DSS) were on ground to ensure that the protest was not hijacked by the hoodlums
The Deputy Governor, Kolapo Ishola, arrived at the scene at about 9.50am and appealed to the protesting women to maintain peace.