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The many colours of Ojude-Oba

By Kolade Larewaju
The annual Ojude- Oba, usually celebrated third day after Eid-el-Kabir, took place on Thursday in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, with sons and daughters of the ancient town trooping to the headquarters of Ijebu Division to pay homage to their traditional ruler, the Awujale, Oba Sikiru Adetona.

Chairman of the Ojude- Oba Planning Committee and the Baba Oba of Ijebu, Alhaji Liad Adedeji, in his welcome address, noted that the royal pavilion was specifically built for the festival  and that it was for the reason that the theme of the celebration was, “Ojude-Oba 2010: Soaring Higher and Higher”.

He explained that the festival started over 100 years ago when the first converted Muslims thought it fit to visit the Awujale to thank and felicitate with him for cooperating with them in allowing them to practice their religion.

From left; Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Awujale of Ijebu-land, Oba (Dr) Sikiru Kayode Adetona and Sir Adebutu Kessington at the Ojude Oba festival at the Awujale’s palace new parade Arena, Ijebu-Ode.

Groups made up of different age grades like the Otunbas and Oloroguns [war chiefs], other categories of chiefs and people of the town come out en_masse gaily dressed to pay homage to their king.

Streets were filled with canopies, roads virtually blocked, exotic cars on display and rare show of opulence on display by the people. The celebration was a study in display of tradition and culture wrapped in modernization.

The  Ojude Oba festival was with a remarkable difference considering the innovations brought into it particularly the use of the new N 2 billion royal pavillion of the palace extension constructed mainly for use during the celebration.

With about 5,000 capacity, guests were comfortably seated in an enclosure which looked like a modern sports arena.
Hitherto,  there was never enough space at the palace where the ceremony used to hold. The new pavilion itself, a study in architectural design, was built mainly from donations and N2 million levy paid by each age grade.

The age grades, called Regberegbes,  had enough space to sit while guests  were also comfortably accommodated.
The Awujale sat  at his side of the pavilion which had 650 customized seats provided by Globacom, the GSM service provider owned by a prominent  Ijebu son, Dr. Mike Adenuga. The horse riders had enough space to display  in front of the Awujale  and the guests.

Sponsors for the festival have also grown with Globacom official sponsor taking a ten-year sponsorship. Others are  First City Monument Bank [FCMB], UAC of Nigeria, Fan Milk, The Seven-Up Bottling Company and MutiChoice.

Unexpectedly, the festival was devoid of any political undertone which had hitherto characterized the last couple of editions where gubernatorial aspirants were jostling for recognition. It was, basically, for once, a festival for the people irrespective of political affiliation.

People who had no new clothes would either had to borrow while those without exotic cars hid themselves as vehicles on display by citizens and guest were a study in the beauty of wheels money could buy.

As early as 7.30 a.m., indigenes and invitees started trooping into the arena in anticipation of the commencement of the festival slated for 10.a.m.

The streets were filled with canopies from Folagbade Junction to Moborade Junction  a distance of about one and a half kilometres and the whole of Olisa Street. The Gbelegbuwa road,  leading to the palace and the palace extension, was  completely blocked to traffic by law enforcement agents leaving only Very Important Personalities to pass through while all the sides of the roads also had canopies.

Music was blaring from within the canopies leading to a cacophony of noise. The streets were filled with people.
The Inspector-General of Police,  Alhaji Hafeez Rimgim,  was represented by Deputy Inspector General Gani Dawodu who was accompanied by a Police Commissioner,  Mr. Yinka Balogun and the Ogun State Commissioner of Police,  Mr. Musa Daura. Also there were retired  General Adetunji Olurin, Chief Kessington Adebutu [Special Guest of Honor], Mr. Oscar Ibru, Senator Lekan Mustapha, Dr. Femi Majekodunmi, Mr. Gboyega Isiaka and several prominent persons including members of the House of Representatives.

The programme eventually kicked off at 10.05 a.m. with an opening prayer by the Noibi Adeen of Ijebuland,  Alhaji Salu,  while the Deputy Governor,  Alhaja Salmot Badru arrived at the venue at 10.18 a.m.

Ojude Oba starts with prayers by the Chief Imam of Ijebuode. This follows the parade of the Regberegbes, a unique and age_old institution established to weld the society into age groups, male and female for the purpose of bringing development and progress to the Community”.

The parade of the Regberegbes started before the parade of the Baloguns and Dodondawas on horseback with sporadic shooting, turning the place into a  colourful atmosphere. It was a spectacle of some sort. It was the peak of the festival.
A new innovation was brought into the parade with the award of N1 million and a trophy to the most oustanding group by Globacom. The award was won this year by the Egbe Obaleke Obinrin.

In his address at the ceremony, Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State expressed appreciation to the people of Ijebuland for their support to his  government in the last seven and a  half years and  when  President Goodluck Jonathan visited during which he said the Yemoji water project was commissioned.

He said  the promises he made during the 2008 edition of Ojude Oba had  been fulfilled especially with Yemoji water scheme which he said would provide water for the whole Ijebuland, adding that pressure testing of the scheme would end by 31  December  and that people should contact the Water Corporation for final connection. He said: “the challenge of getting water to Ijebu_Ode is a thing of the past.

There is water now. It a way of saying thank you”.

He lamented the deplorable roads in the area which he attributed to climatic changes and ceaselessness of rains, saying that he has identified 24 roads for rehabilitation in Ijebuland before the end of the year.

He said: “in the last seven and a half years, the Awujale paid a sterling role in the successes of our administration and I want to show our appreciation”.

Daniel, however, lamented what he called discourteous information about the state in a section of the media, saying that contrary to such reports, the state had never witnessed political violence and urged the people to vote for credible people and not those who have clandestine agenda in the 2011 polls.

People who had no new clothes would either had to borrow while those without exotic cars hid themselves as vehicles on display by citizens and guest were a study in the beauty of wheels money could buy.

The Awujale, in his message,  harped on the issue of Ijebu State and security, pointing out that  “since a year ago when we reviewed our desire to have a state of our own, progress continues to be made”.

“Accompanied by members of the Ijebu Traditional Council and other eminent citizens, we visited the Senate and the House of Representatives and were well received. There is no doubt that the concept and our case for the State is accepted and by that the National Assembly when considering the various proposals for state creation, will not find it difficult to identify the merits in our request for our Ijebu State,”Adetona added.

“Security continues to be a critical problem. We are convinced, however, that the Government through the police, SSS and all other agencies hold the key to our well-being on security. Police, the Local Government, all voluntary vigilante services must work hard to repel any onslaughts”.


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