By Gbenga Olarinoye
The Oluwo of Iwo is among the leading traditional rulers in Osun State because of the importance of Oluwo stool in Yoruba history.
According to the hierarchy of traditional rulers in the Osun State Council of Obas, the Ooni of Ife is the Chairman of the council while the Owa Obokun of Ijesaland and Orangun of Ila are Deputy Chairmen. The Ataoja of Osogbo, Timi of Ede, Oluwo of Iwo and Ogiyan of Ejigbo are Vice Chairmen.
On the evening of Monday, 18th February, 2013 when the news of the demise of the immediate past Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Asiru Olatunbosun Tadese, Ariwajoye 1, broke, many people in the ancient town of Iwo especially the indigenes were downcast because the reign of the late Oluwo, according to them witnessed remarkable and tremendous achievements.
After late Oluwo’s burial the following day amid tributes and sobbing by relatives and indigenes, there came an intense battle over who succeeds late Tadese as at least 10 princes from three of the five ruling houses eligible to ascend the throne of Oluwo threw their hats into the ring.
There was dispute among the princes over the number of families eligible to contest the stool in spite of the Osun State government pegging the number at five.
Historically, Iwo had three ruling houses namely- Alausa, Adagunodo and Gbaase. But with the amended 1988 Chieftaincy Declaration, the number was increased to four with the carving out of Ogunmakinde Ande ruling house from Alausa ruling house. By this declaration, it was gathered that, the stool of Oluwo of Iwo was to be rotated among the four ruling houses in the following order-Adegunodo, Gbaase, Alausa and Ogunmakinde Akin.
But this declaration by the government did not go down well with three of the ruling houses namely- Gbaase, Alausa and Ogunmakinde Ande who headed to court to challenge the declaration, particularly the rotation order in the suit no: HIW110/210.
The four ruling houses were said to have met and resolved to settle out of court. Consequently, they resolved to abide by the 1988 amended chieftaincy declaration and use it for the selection process of the next Oluwo.
The Gbaase was agreed to be the next to produce the Oluwo. To this end, seven contestants emerged from Gbaase ruling house. After about two years of intense contest and selection processes of which left the people of the town waiting for the announcement of the next Oluwo.
The joy of of indigenes and residents of Iwo land knew no bounds on Monday, 9th of November following the approval of the appointment of Prince Abdul-Rasheed Adewale Akanbi of the Gbaase ruling house of Iwo as the new Oluwo of Iwoland by Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
The letter of appointment of the new monarch for Iwoland dated 9th of November, 2015 was signed by the Secretary to the state government, Alhaji Moshood Olalekan Adeoti.
Confirming the development, the Director of Bureau of Communication and Strategy in the Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon said the appointment of Prince Abdul-Rasheed Akanbi as the new Oluwo followed due process after the completion of necessary procedures by the king-makers.
The new Oluwo, a Canadian based contractor is the Chief Executive Officer of Prince Global Nigeria Limited and a childhood friend of the new Ooni of Ife, Prince Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi.
To show the happiness of the people of Iwo for the choice of the new monarch, the ancient city of Iwo stood still on Monday, 9th November, 2015 when the Oluwo-elect, Prince Abdul-rasheed Adewale Akanbi entered triumphantly in to the town for the installation and turbanning processes.
Major streets in the city, witnessed heavy traffic jam as the convoy of the Oluwo snaked through Ori-eru, Odo-ori, Ile-omosan and Ojaba axis of the city where people lined up the streets to welcome the new monarch.
The Oluwo in an open Lexus Sport Utility Vehicle raising his clutched fists to acknowledge cheers from people after about three hours drive to get to the palace was turbaned by League of Imam and Alfas led by sheikh Imran Adio. The turbanning ceremony was followed by the symbolic traditional decoration of the Monarch with “Akoko” leaf by the Oosa of Iwo Kingdom, Chief Bello Orobimpe.
Traditional gunshots rented the air by Iwo traditionalists heralding the reign of the new Oluwo of Iwo thus signalling the completion of the first phase of the monarch traditional rights.
The Oluwo after the turbanning ceremony was led by traditionalists and chiefs to the “Ile Onto” to continue further installation rites before the crowning of Prince Abdul-rasheed Adewale Akanbi.
Speaking after the installation ceremony, Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti stated that the day is an historical day in the ancient town.
He held that the recent happening in Iwo is another indication of the commitment of the Aregbesola administration to one of his six-point integral plans of promotion of communal peace and progress. Adeoti said, “I salute the courage and understanding of all, this day is historic in the sense that Iwo in about three years ago was without a king, but we are happy that this day of a new king has come.
“We need the cooperation of all and sundry, I call on everybody to join hands with the new monarch in the task to build the town. Iwo can not afford to stand still, we must strive as we enter a new era to develop our land.
“I call on the people of Iwo most especially youths to rally round the new monarch and the state government for the development of Iwoland, the state and the country at large”, the SSG emphasised. Dignitaries at the installation ceremony included, the Asiwaju of Iwoland and former Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Gbadegesin Adedeji, former Commissioner for Agriculture, old Oyo state, Alhaji Bola Asafa, Octogenarian and Ekerin Oluwo, Otunba Ganiyu Aremu, Former Special Adviser to Governor Aregbesola on Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, among others.
Expressing his joy for the choice of Prince Akanbi, an Islamic cleric, who is also a bricklayer and an indigene of Iwo said: “We are so elated for the appointment of our new Oluwo. His choice is a right pen in the right hole. We pray he will live long in his reign. The people of Iwo are happy because our new Oba is a wealthy and industrious man and we believe that he will use his wealth of experience and opportunities to develop the town of Iwo.”
Also, the Second-in-command to Sokoti, the Oluwo’s traditional masquarader, Ariwogudun Fatai Omoolota believed that Oba Akanbi was predestined to rule the ancient city of Iwo.
He said: “Ifa (Oracle) has predestined his emergence as king. Ifa had told me that a young man would be the Oluwo and that is what the people of Iwo wanted. We pray he will not die young because he is the people’s choice.”
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun state who is also an indigene of Iwo, Chief Abiola Ogundokun hailed Governor Rauf Aregbesola for approving the appointment of the Oluwo.
He ruled out politics in the emergence of the Oluwo liking Oba Akanbi’s choice to that of his friend, the Ooni Designate, Prince Adeyeye Ogunwusi.
According to him: “For two years now, Iwo appears to have been forgotten but we thank God that he has remembered us today through the effort of our amiable Governor Aregbesola. I want to say categorically that there was no politics in the selection process of our new king.
“I am also proud of the choice of the new Ooni who is also my cousin. I therefore want to appeal to the people of Iwo to unite and support the new monarch. Let us forget about bitterness of the past and move on. We pray that our new monarch will live long and his reign will be peaceful and rewarding.”
A group, Osun Positive Force (OPF) has also commended the choice of Oba Akanbi.
In a congratulatory message by the group’s media director, Yinka Diamond said, “it is a great honour on behalf of OPF, to congratulate your Royal Highness on your well-deserved appointment as new Oluwo of Iwo, describing him as a man of great accomplishments whose integrity in the business community is unquestionable.
“We have no doubt that your appointment to this revered position of Oluwo of Iwo is ordained by Almighty Allah. It is our prayer that your reign will be long and be for the good of all, particularly in promoting communal peace and progress within and beyond the Iwo Kingdom.
“We are quite convinced that Your Royal Highness is equally well positioned to not only consolidate on the legacy bequeathed by your predecessor, but that Iwoland under your able leadership would witness prodigous socio-cultural rebirth and economic prosperity.
The group thanked the Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola for his confidence in youth as seeing in the recent appointments of Ooni of Ife and now Oluwo of Iwo.
Given the appointments of Ooni and Oluwo, the statement added that “it shows that the role of youths in nation building cannot be underestimated and urged youth to guard the trust repose in them.
It further commended other stakeholders who ensure that the process was transparent and void of rancour for people’s choice to prevail.