I have read with dismay, the purported statement made available to the press by the Council of Yoruba Obas in the Diaspora, and signed by the secretary, Olukunle Akanbi, on our stand against having a Yoruba Oba outside the shores of Nigeria.
Inasmuch as I will not want to join issues with this faceless group, or council as it were, I considered it necessary to react to their reactionary move, even as it will make a lot of sense to correct the wrong impression they might have about our group, the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) and our amiable leader, and global convener, Iba Gani Abiodun Ige Adams, who is the 15th Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland.
(1) This is for the record
Let me begin by saying that at the end of the just concluded 2018 edition of the European Summit held in Germany, the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU), a group of prominent and successful sons and daughters of Yoruba descend in the Diaspora, issued a communique, expressing our stand against the idea of having a Yoruba Oba in the Diaspora.
The reason for this is obvious. It is as a result of the ugly trend that is gradually creeping into the system of our traditional institutions.
We reacted against this because we would not allow any faceless individual, group or council to desecrate our traditional institutions.
(2) Aare Onakakanfo and his sacred duties
Let it be stated also that as the 15th Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Ige Adams, has an avowed responsibility to promote the image of the race wherever he founds himself. And it is his duty to also protect the sanctity of our traditional institutions.
And in doing his sacred job, he respects and accommodates, as always, different opinions of individuals, groups or associations that are based on truth, sound judgment, verifications and proofs.
Aare Gani Adams also takes cognizance of relevant issues especially, those that have to do with peace and unity of the entire Yoruba race, as well as the sanctity of our traditional institutions.
(3) Appointment of Yoruba Obas in the Diaspora
There are 195 countries in the world, 193 of those countries are members of the United Nations. In all these countries, Yoruba sons and daughters have distinguished themselves as most cultured race, with over 250 million people that spread across all the continents of the world .
We have Yorubas in Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Cote De Voire, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Gambia, Brazil ,Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago.
For instance, Yoruba descendants in the US are well over 30 million people, including North and South America.
With all sense of modesty, as the coordinator of OPU in Europe, I have travelled to some of these countries. And one of the things I cherish most about the Yorubas in those countries is that despite our huge populations and popularity as a race, I am proud to say that the Yorubas are still one, big and united family with our roots in Ile Ife, and Oduduwa being our great ancestor.
Yoruba history, no doubt, is rich on the sanctity of our Obas. Therefore, the appointment of a Yoruba Oba in the Diaspora is alien to our culture and tradition.
In history, Yoruba Obas are always men of noble birth. They are men of characters and courage. Not people of no means or people who are bent on foisting their overbearing attitudes on a group or association. That is the truth about the respect the Yorubas have for their Obas.
It must be noted also that an individual can be honoured with a chieftaincy title in a foreign land, however, it is nobody’s business. But it is pertinent to say it clearly that no group, association or council has the right to appoint an Oba outside the shores of Nigeria.
Before an Oba is installed, certain necessary traditional rites would be done.
So the questions are:
Under whose constitutional authority was an Oba of Yoruba in the Diaspora appointed in Republic of Ireland?
Who gave the approval for the appointment of a Yoruba Oba in the Diaspora?
Who among the prominent Obas in Yorubaland have attested to the appointment of a Yoruba Oba in the Diaspora?
These and many other questions are begging for answers.
For instance, there were reports in the public domain that the Ooni of Ife, His imperial majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, had earlier intervened by writing a letter warning the perpetrators of the consequences of appointing a Yoruba Oba in Dallas.
With such move, I believe we are on course, and on a mission to stamp out practices that is alien to our culture and tradition.
(4) Issues on cultural promotion
Yes, it is true that any culture that refuses to be promoted and well placed would go into extinction as soon as possible. It is also true that we can promote our culture in a number of ways. But that should not be used as an alibi to throw the revered stool of a Yoruba Oba into the dustbin of history.
For instance, for more than two decades now, credible organisations like the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Olokun Festival Foundation (OFF) and Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) have been promoting Yoruba culture either at home or in the Diaspora.
Up till the present moment, none of the members of Council of Yoruba Obas in Diaspora has considered it necessary to take a cue from this laudable initiative, yet they professed to be promoting Yoruba culture.
(5) Yoruba Leader, not Oba in Diaspora
It must be stated also that in Yoruba Language, a leader is pronounced “Olori” while a King is called an “Oba”. Therefore, those ascribing the status of an Oba to themselves should know better that the process of installing an Oba, anywhere in the world, is not a tea dance. It is traditional, with lots of cultural and spiritual undertakings.
So it will make a lot of sense for those masquerading as Yoruba Obas in the Diaspora to eschew from actions that can discredit our traditional institutions.
There is no problem for settlers of Yoruba origin to have leaders wherever they found themselves under the sun. But it is sacrilegious and a travesty of Yoruba history and culture for such leaders to arrogate to themselves the position of an Oba.
Those Oba of Yoruba in Abuja, Adamawa, Kano, and Yobe and other states in the North, as mentioned in the statement, were installed by the paramount rulers, who by virtue of their positions are the constituted authorities that can install Yoruba leaders in their respective states. They aren’t Obas, they don’t deserve to be called Oba.
This is a misconception that needs to be corrected immediately. The ugly trend needs to be reversed as soon as it is possible. We must stop such a wrong precedence from repeating itself. We must not allow such act. That, exactly, is the point I am making.
(6) OPU as the torch bearer
Like every other Yoruba group spread across the globe, OPU, now in 84 countries, remains a formidable group of successful and prominent Yoruba sons and daughters in the Diaspora that share the same ideology on the need to move the race forward.
Part of our objectives is to protect the interests of the Yoruba race in our different countries. With this in mind, we are poised to defend the race against both internal and external forces.
And since its inception in 2011, OPU has been able to achieve its set goals and objectives.
As much as we will continue to spread the horizon of the group, we will never fall short of the already established standard of the group, not even to talk of forcing uncultured individuals, groups or associations to join the group at all costs.
As far as I am concerned, I have no personal ill feelings with any individual, group or council, but by virtue of my position as the coordinator of OPU in Europe, I will always support all our monarchs in putting a stop to this disgraceful act.
To the glory of God, I have an amazing personal relationship with all the top Yoruba Obas in Nigeria and I will never rest on my oars until sanity is restored across the Yorubaland.
From my findings, I know the person behind this. He is a faceless and highly ambitious Yoruba man, residing in Dublin, who impersonates as a Yoruba Oba. Therefore, no good Yoruba individual or group should associate with him.
Whoever desecrates his or her tradition and cultural identity is doomed. Besides, in Yoruba parlance, I will say: “Eniti Olorun ko fi je Oba, ti o fe je Oba, ajekun iya ni yoo je.” And I will never be part of that sacrilegious undertaking.
He hails from Ila Orangun in Osun State, therefore, I am appealing to His royal majesty, Kabiyesi Oba Abdul Wahab Adedotun, Bibire, to tell him to stop destroying the heritage of our traditional institutions and as well render unreserved apology to the respected stool of the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland.
Finally, let me say it once again that I owe nobody, either a group of people, association or council, any apology for my action or utterances against having a Yoruba Oba in any country outside Nigeria.
It is my belief, however, that those affected by my position and that of our group on this issue should see reason with me and allow the sleeping dog to lie peacefully.
. Being a statement from the Office of the Coordinator of the European chapter of the Oodua Progressive Union, Chief Victor Adewale Mobolaji, on the appointment of Yoruba Oba in the Diaspora.