Following the recent media comment attributed to the office of Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, the Alake of Egbaland, where he opposed the desire of the Owu Traditional Council, with the Olowu as the Paramount Ruler, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu, has replied, saying Owu people are not under the control of the Alake.
The comment, which also objects to the existence of two paramount rulers in the ancient city of Abeokuta, Ogun State, was credited to a close aide of Alake, the Baapitan of Egbaland, Chief Adebola Lawal.
Lawal had said: “Owu is not different from Egba.
“If the people of Owu feel they are not Egba, why not pack their loads and leave this place?
“Why is Owu different from Egba?
“Are they not on Egba land?”
In his reaction, the Olowu of Owu through a statement issued and signed by the Oganla of Owu Kingdom, Alhaji Saheed Akinmade, stated that Owu people are independent ethnic group different from the Egbas and as a result, they are not under the control of the Alake or any other Egba Oba.
The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to a publication captioned ‘Stop lobbying Government, Alake cautions Olowu’, with the rider, ‘Says we can’t have two paramount rulers in Egbaland’.
“Since neither the publication nor its contents have been denied or refuted by Alake of Egbaland, our conclusion is that the publication was a true reproduction of Chief Lawal’s statement.
“Since the statement contains erroneous and misguided views that must be corrected immediately, we have decided to issue this counter statement.”
Akinmade noted that Owu people also have the right to continue with the appeal to the State Government to have the Owu Traditional Council and Olowu as the Paramount Ruler because it is a legitimate right.
He said: “There are two Paramount ruler in Ogun East Senatorial District, the Awujale for Ijebu and the Akarigbo for Remo.
“Meanwhile, Ogun central is larger than Ogun East and therefore deserves another paramount ruler, more so, the Olowu domain also extends to some parts of Ogun West.”
Below is the full statement, titled: “Despite the opposition of certain hostile elements, we Owu people will have our own Traditional Council and our Royal Father, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom will become a Paramount Ruler.”
Press release issued at Abeokuta, 28/02/2018, by Alhaji (Prince) Saheed Akinmade, Oganla Owu Kingdom, for and on behalf of our Royal Father, His Royal Majesty, Oba Dr. Olusanya Adegboyega Dosunmu, CON, Fta, the Olowu and the entire people of Owu Kingdom.
1. Preliminary Comments
Our attention has been drawn to a publication captioned “Stop lobbying Government, Alake cautions Olowu” which appeared on page 8 of the January / February 2018 edition of “The Village News”. The article also carried the following sub-title: “Says we can’t have two paramount rulers in Egbaland”.
The statement was credited to one Baapitan of Egbaland – Chief Adebola Lawal and derived from an exclusive interview he was said to have granted “The Village News” at his Ake Palace Office in Abeokuta. He was reported to have spoken for and on behalf of His Royal Majesty Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, the Alake of Egbaland.
Since neither the publication nor its contents have been denied or refuted, our conclusion is that the so-called interview took place and that the publication was a true reproduction of Chief Lawal’s statement. Be that as it may, because the statement contains erroneous and misguided views that must be corrected immediately, we have decided to issue this REJOINDER.
What are Chief Lawal’s grievances, what were the circumstances that provoked those grievances? According to him and as stated in the so-called “exclusive interview”, his anger was triggered off by a statement reportedly made by the Akogun Owu – Chief Ishola Akinsipo, during the
Owu Day celebration which was held last month (January 2018) here at Abeokuta.
2. Highlights of Chief Akinsipo’s alleged statement: Following are the salient parts of the statement allegedly made by Chief Isola Akinsipo during the occasion:-
I. Owu People are an independent ethnic group different from the Egbas; and as a result, they are not under the control of the Alake or any other Egba Oba;
II. The Akogun Owu has been incessantly pestering the Ogun State Government to formally grant Owu an Owu Traditional Council with the Olowu as the Paramount Ruler;
III. In an effort to justify the demand, the Akogun Owu has often referred to Ogun East, that is, Ogun East Senatorial District where there are two Paramount rulers – the Awujale for Ijebu and the Akarigbo for Remo;
IV. Still in his bid to prove his point, the Akogun Owu has made reference to Egba division, now known as Ogun central arguing that the area is larger than Ogun East and therefore deserves another paramount ruler in the Olowu whose domain extends to some parts of Ogun west.
3. Chief Lawal’s counter statement:
The Baapitan of Egbaland, Chief Lawal countered by angrily criticizing the Akogun Owu’s alleged statement. Following are the highlights of the criticism.
I. The Akogun Owu “is a young man who knows nothing about history”.
II. Owu is not different from Egba. “If the people of Owu feel they are not Egba, why not pack their loads and leave this place? Why is Owu different from Egba? Are they not on Egba land?”
III. Egba people came to Abeokuta before the Owu. “Owu people met Egba here. They got here in 1834 while Egba got here in 1830”. It was Sodeke that invited them in “when he learnt they were outside the gate”;
IV. The Alake of Egbaland is the consenting authority. “No Oba in all the sections (of Abeokuta) can be installed without the Alake”.
V. Ijebu and Remo are separate groups. Hence they have two paramount rulers. “Remo and Ijebu are not the same. They are separate ethnic groups”;
VI. “We cannot have two presidents in a country and we cannot have two governors in a state. So we must not have two paramount rulers in Egba Division”;
VII. Chief Lawal was unrelenting and sounded rather desperate in his determination to oppose Owu People’s demand: “Asked if he meant the Owu people cannot get the paramount rulership they are asking for, the Baapitan retorted: “I don’t know, I am not the approving something (Ministry). But in our own case, we shall fight it to the end”.
4. Our Rejoinder
We have done adequate justice to the publication by faithfully reproducing the view points of both the Akogun Owu, Chief Ishola Akinsipo and the Baapitan of Egbaland, Chief Adebola Lawal. Our reactions are as follows:-
I. The Owu as an Independent separate people:
It is common knowledge that we Owu people are an altogether different people – different from all the others. We are not Egba. Chief Lawal is fully aware of this fact; he is only feigning ignorance. Our language, our culture, our values, our way of life – all these, and more, make us out as a totally different entity. In this respect, Owu Kingdom is comparable to Ijebuland and Remo land. Hence, like those areas, Owu Kingdom is fully qualified to have its own Traditional Council with our Royal Father the Olowu as its Paramount Ruler. This argument is further buttressed by the fact that from the geographical point of view, Owu Kingdom is larger than Ijebu East Senatorial District.
II. A disparaging remark:
The Baapitan’s description of the Akogun Owu as an ignorant “young man who knows nothing about history” is very unfortunate indeed. By the way, what really is History? One of its standard definitions goes as follows; “History is an interpreted record of past events”. People usually interpret it to support their views or to prove their case. Therefore, it is really surprising that the Baapitan, being an Egba man, has interpreted the history of the period to favour the Egba? Isn’t his interpretation therefore altogether subjective? Indeed, it is absolutely unreliable and unacceptable.
At any rate, we are in this matter not concerned about age but about truly representing one’s people. When during the Owu Day celebration the Akogun Owu declared that we Owu people are “an independent ethnic group different from the Egbas and, as a result, not under the control of the Alake or any other Egba Oba”, he was only speaking the minds of all of us the Owu people.
By disparaging the Akogun Owu, the Baapitan has blatantly and egregiously insulted our Royal father the Olowu of Owu and the entire people of Owu Kingdom. He must therefore apologize unreservedly to us.
III. We are all immigrants:
In citing the different dates on which he said the Egbas and the Owu people settled in Abeokuta, the Baapitan has conveniently lost sight of one extremely crucial point – namely, that we are all immigrants in this area. We emigrated from the defunct Old Oyo Empire.
On arrival here, whom did we meet? It was the people of Ibara led by their legendary LAFA. The Ibara people were our host, we were only their guests. They accepted us and we settled on their land. This may sound unacceptable to the Baapitan and those who share his view; but it is the truth.
Conveniently and deliberately ignoring this fact, the Baapitan declared the area as Egbaland and asked us Owu people to quit the land. His declaration is both amusing and naïve.
It has compelled us to recall a Yoruba saying which goes as follows: “Eni ri nkan he to fe ku pelu e, owo eniti o ti s’onu nko?” Roughly translated, it means; “If a lucky person who by chance found an object lost by someone else, sets out to fight to death in order to retain it, what is the person who lost the object in the first instance expected to do?”. Baapitan please respect the fundamentals of history.
IV. Paramount Ruler as President of a country or Governor of a state:
The Baapitan obviously has a highly distorted view of the status of a Paramount ruler. In what way is a paramount ruler comparable to a president or a state governor?
There is no comparison whatsoever. Nor is a paramount ruler’s domain in any way comparable to a country or a state. As we Yoruba people would say; “Igi imu esin jina s’ori, ohun ti o ba jora won la a fii we ‘ra won”.
The reality of the situation in today’s Yoruba land is that every paramount ruler, just like every oba is an appointee of the state governor in the latter’s efforts to run the affairs of the state as seamlessly as possible. If the Baapitan is not aware of this, then it is very unfortunate indeed.
V. The permanence of change:
One of the permanent features of life is change. In today’s Nigeria like in any other country, change is of the essence. It is taking place almost on a daily basis – thanks to the unparalleled and unprecedented change phenomenon known as international communication technology (ICT) which has radically transformed the entire planet into a global village.
Unfortunately, however, some people obliviously including the Baapitan, are either not aware of the phenomenon or don’t want to acknowledge it or are dead set against it – no doubt because their interests are best protected by the status quo and because they fear that they have everything to lose by embracing change. They forget that those who refuse to swim with the tide will be left behind by it.
In each of the several towns in today’s Ogun Central Senatorial District, there are either two Baales or two Obas ruling in the same town. Until recently, that type of situation used to be regarded as a taboo. But it is no longer so. That is CHANGE.
Obviously, doggedly determined to continue to live in the past, the Baapitan, in the so called “exclusive interview” declared the Alake as the consenting authority. “No oba in all sections of (Abeokuta) can be installed without the Alake”. He also said “….we must not have two paramount rulers in Egba division”. He was altogether resolute: if we Owu people persist in our request for Owu paramount rulership, “we shall fight it to the last”. Haba, Baapitan can’t you see the CHANGE that is taking place right under your nose?
VI. Example of Nigeria’s quest for change:
The Baapitan obviously is not aware of the overwhelming national demand for change sweeping like a hurricane throughout the country. There is a nation-wide call for restructuring aimed at rendering the Federation easier to govern and satisfying the desire to make life really worth living for its citizens.
The quest for change is not limited to Nigeria. It is a global phenomenon. It is expressing itself even in foreign countries – such as the United States of America, which has been periodically amending its constitution, Great Britain and France to mention only a few. As already warned, if Baapitan refuses to change with the times, he will be left behind by this unstoppable phenomenon called CHANGE.
VI. Ogun State Government as Approving Authority:
The Baapitan has warned us Owu people to stop lobbying the Ogun State Government to grant us our own Traditional Council and our Royal father, the Olowu of Owu, the status of a Paramount Ruler.
Dear Baapitan, please tell us; to which other body should we direct our request? Surely you are fully aware that the state government is the only political organization endowed with the necessary power and authority to grant or reject such a request. We Owu people also have the right to press ahead with our appeal to the State Government. Whether you like it or not we shall continue to exercise that right.
Meanwhile, Baapitan you should remember the following Yoruba adage; “ Bi ika ba r’ojo ika ko lo maa daa”. Roughly translated, it means, “A wicked man’s case will never be adjudicated by a wicked judge”. It is another way of saying “Man proposes, but God disposes”. The Ogun State Government is an upright judge, it will adjudicate uprightly.
5. Concluding Remarks
There is no shaking, no going back. We Owu people will press ahead with our demand – because it is our legitimate right. No opposition or hostility from millions of Baapitans can stop us. And we are absolutely confident of achieving a resounding success.
We Owu people in our entirety are totally convinced that our request will succeed eventually – sooner rather than later. Not only shall we have our own Traditional Council, our Royal father, the Olowu of Owu will become a Paramount Ruler.
In concluding this Press release, we want to thank all of you the Honourable members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm. We thank you for your invaluable patience, attention, cooperation and forbearance. We are very grateful indeed.
In his so called “exclusive interview” the Baapitan maliciously accused the Press of misquoting him. We are not surprised. We Nigerians are very fond of using the press and then dumping them. To them the press is no better than a whipping boy. But our own attitude to the press is entirely different. We are fully aware that you pressmen are engaged in a very risky, dangerous but absolutely useful assignment. Our fervent prayer is that God may continue to protect and guide you aright and crown all your efforts with resounding success. Amen.
Alhaji (Chief) Saheed Adesola Akinmade
Oganla Owu Kingdom
For and on behalf of our Royal Father
Olowu and the entire people of Owu Kingdom
February 13, 2018.