By Dayo Johnson
AKURE — WHY is the traditional ruler of Akure, the Deji, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, fighting many battles at the same time? This is the question that is begging for answers across the state. Many are of the view that the Oba may be biting more than he can chew while others believed that recalcitrant subjects needed to be whip to line in the interest of peace in the community. Oba Aladelusi according to some traditional chiefs needed to stamp his authority to avoid being seen as a toothless bulldog who can only bark but can’t bite.
They said that the town is in support of the Oba’s bold move to assert himself unlike before when everybody used to do whatever he or she pleased about the traditional stool. While his “fight” with the Igbo’s in the state still ranges, the supremacy of the traditional ruler is been questions in some Akure communities.
His opposition to Eze Ndigbo title: Only last week the Oba Aladelusi wielded the big stick when he issued a month notice to the erstwhile title owner, Gregory Ilohehika to consider accepting the title of “Igbo Leader” or “Onyedu Ndigbo” as against the proscribed title.
Leadership of the Igbo
Before now, the Oba and the title owner Ilohehika have been at loggerheads over the leadership of the Igbo in the state and this had led to bad blood for months. To show that he is in charge, the Oba “derobed” the title owner of the Eze Ndigbo and this further angered the Igbo who insisted that Ilohehika was elected and would remain.
Oba Aladelusi went further during the week to stamp his authority by issuing the month notice to the erstwhile title owner, Gregory Ilohehika to consider accepting the title of Igbo Leader or Onyedu Ndigbo as against the proscribed title. To make it official, a letter has been forwarded by the Oba to Ilohehika to acquit him of the renaming of his title.
To show his seriousness, the traditional ruler said in the letter that; “It should be noted that this is the newly approved traditional title for any Igbo leader within Akure and its environ. According to a statement by the Oba’s Chief Press Secretary, Micheal Adeyeye, said “a month notice has been communicated to Mr. Gregory Ilohehika to accept this in good fate taking effect from February 1, 2016.
“Based on the amendment, Mr. Gregory has been advised to apply in writing for this new title if he is still interested. Failure to comply with this directive shall amount to rejection of the new title. In view of the possible rejection of the new title, the Igbo community shall produce another Leader from among at the expiration of the ultimatum. His Majesty remains committed to ensuring peaceful and harmonious relationship with the Igbo community and all other non-indigenes in Akure Kingdom.
However, the Igbos have rallied round their leader, Ilohehika, insisting that the Deji has no right to change the nomenclature of the Igbos in the state under any guise. Some Igbo leaders who spoke with Vanguard in confidence said that the Oba “seems to be biting more than he can chew on his war against the Igbos in the state.” They wondered why the Oba would not soft pedal on his “hatred” for the Eze Ndigbo in the state insisting that he can’t be removed until he completes his tenure.
According to them the title of Eze Ndigbo is in existence in other states across the country and wondered why the Oba would want to rename it in the state. Reacting officially, the President and the state Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chiefs Okechukwu Okorie and Alloy I.K Anoliefo respectively said, “We have considered the title of Eze Ndigbo as adopted by the Igbos outside Igbo land as sacrosanct and non-negotiable and that the title is widely recognized and used both within and outside Nigeria as approved by the association of Ndieze Ndigbo N’uzo Ije and Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide which are the parent bodies.
“It was unanimously agreed that the Igbos in Ondo State, as a body, is standing by the position of the parent bodies on the use of the title as adopted by the Igbos in diasporas, and that Sir Gregory Iloehika having been installed remain the only recognized Eze Ndigbo.” They said the leadership of Iloehika as the Eze is not limited to Akure, the state capital but to all the 18 Local Government areas of the state as he was duly elected in keenly contested election by the entire Igbo across the state.
Culture and tradition
The use of the title of ‘Eze’ outside the South-east geopolitical zone is not to rival monarchs in any state but to preserve their culture and traditions. “We have resolved to live peacefully with our host communities without tampering with the culture and tradition of the people.” They said that “the choice of the title was in conformity with the agreement reached by the Igbos in diapora in order to preserve the culture and tradition of the people who are living outside the Igboland.
According to them the “Ohaneze, being the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization like the Arewa and Afenifere would want to preserve the language, culture and tradition of their people wherever they may find themselves. They, therefore, warned the Igbos wherever they may be living to respect their host communities and not engage in any act that can bring the Ohanaeze Ndigbos name into disrepute.
The Isinnigbo community Oba controversy
However, as if that was not enough, another communal crisis is looming following plans by the same Oba to impose a traditional ruler in Isinnigbo Community which is in another council area of the state.
An unconfirmed source said that one person was feared dead during the exercise while many others were injured in a melee that ensured during the exercise last weekend. The Oloba of Oba-Ile and Chairman of Akure North Local Government Chieftaincy Committee, Oba Joseph Oluwadare Agunbiade and Isinigbo. Community last week raised an alarm of an impending communal violence and called on security agencies to wade in to prevent bloodbath.
Oba Agunbiade called on security agencies to prevent the looming communal violence if the plan of the Oba is allowed to suffice. They alleged that the Deji planned to impose one Sule Ojo as Olu at Isinigbo community and vowed to resist such action with their last blood. The Oloba and the Asinigbo of Isinigbo, Oba Samuel Adeniji has, therefore, asked the state Commissioner of Police to stop the plot by the Deji to upgrade a quarter at Isinigbo to an autonomous Ayetoro community.
The traditional rulers in a petition written by their lawyer, Femi Emmanuel Emodamori & Co Chamber, addressed to the state Commissioner of police, Mrs Hilda Harrison, said urgent step should be taken in the interest of peace in the two communities. They advised the police and the DSS to stop the Deji’s move to avoid unnecessary breakdown of law and order because the Akure monarch’s action was a clear violation of Section 18 of the Chiefs Law, Cap 27, Volume 1, Laws of Ondo State, 2006.
Chieftaincy laws of Ondo State
“The prescribed authority approved by the government to appoint and install any minor chief in Isinigbo, Igoba, Oba-Ile and Owode Communities which are all within Akure North Local Government Area under the chieftaincy laws of Ondo State, is the Oloba of Oba. The Oloba who is now the Chairman of Akure North Local Government Chieftaincy Committee, His Royal Highness, Oba Joseph Oluwadare Agunbiade, NOT the Deji of Akure whose chieftaincy domain is Akure South Local Government”.
They equally called on the state government, Akure North local government to stop the action of Oba Aladelusi as this was capable of igniting unrest in and around the state capital.
But responding, the Deji of Akureland, Oba Aladetoyinbo said the proposed installation of Chief Ojo Sule as Olu of Ayetoro in Isinigbo was legal and followed due process. Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Micheal Adeyeye, the monarch said his paramouncy covers both Akure south and north, adding that he had not committed any illegality on the matter.
As the Oba is firing from both sides of the cylinder, stakeholders are quick to plead with him to watch his back as he would need to carry everybody along in the task of building a sane society.