Following the declaration by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, that Benin monarch was the third in the ranking of kings in the South-West, the Palace of the Oba of Benin has stoked controversy over the supremacy saga.
In the ensuing controversy, the Esogban of Benin and Odionwere of the Kingdom (traditional head), Chief David Edebiri, said the Alake of Egbaland, goofed. He explained that the Ooni of Ife was a son of the Oba of Benin, adding that the stool of the Oba of Benin could not be compared with that of any Yoruba king.
Meanwhile, a traditional ruler in Osun State, Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, has faulted the claim of the Esogban, saying, “Ooni of Ife remains the number one ranking Yoruba oba.”
The Alake had declared that the Ooni remained the highest in the ranking of Yoruba obas while receiving the Ooni, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, in his Ake, Abeokuta, Ogun State palace, saying the Ife monarch is the highest of the five principal obas in Yorubaland. The Alake, who said there were five principal obas in Yorubaland, listed the other royal fathers below the Ooni to include: The Alaafin of Oyo and the Oba of Benin in second and third positions, respectively. Gbadebo listed his own title, the Alake, as the fourth while the Awujale of Ijebuland occupies the fifth.
In this interview, Akanbi, the Oluwo speaks on the supremacy of the Ooni in the South West:
On the controversy
There should not be any controversy on this matter because there is no basis for it. God owns the heavens and earth but He placed some people as His representatives. And the representative of the Yoruba is Oodua. He was the first monarch to use that throne and anyone sitting on that throne is the same father of the Yoruba.
Not all facts are true, but this is the truth. The Ooni is the first monarch in the South-West; even in Nigeria, he is the number one monarch. The power behind the monarch is so powerful that it depends on the person on the throne, that is, if the person understands the culture, history and how to compose it.
That throne is great; anyone who sits on that throne today must be respected as the father of the Yoruba. That is the respect they will give to their progenitor. How can the great-grandson of Oduduwa be the number one in ranking.? Okanbi was one of the Oduduwa’s sons and he gave birth to Oranmiyan who was the father of Eweka who was the father of the Benin monarch.
How is it possible for a great-grandson of Oduduwa to now be greater than his father in order of seniority? That is not possible. A monarch can do something that is great than his forefather but he cannot be greater than his forefather in rank. He can only still be the great-grandson. Though Oranmiyan had done great things; he was great warrior but he cannot attain the peak of Oduduwa.
For instance, my crown is directly from Oduduwa. I am a child of Oduduwa by birth, because my mother was the Ooni, the Luwo Gbagida. She was the one who gave the crown to Adekolatelu. She sent Adekolatelu to Iwo and told him: ‘Where you are going is the land of the parrots. If you don’t get there, do not stop’. He never found Iwo, he died kilometers away from Iwo. He didn’t know that this was the place. His great-grandson was the one that came and saw the land of the parrots. I can do more to be greater than my forefathers, but I cannot be Luwo Gbagida. The spirit can come inside me and I will become so powerful, but I cannot be Luwo-Gbagida.
So, the Ooni is the father of the Yoruba. Even Oranmiyan from Oyo became the sixth Ooni. Anyone occupying that sit holds the status of the progenitor. If anyone wants to fight for the throne, like Oba of Benin, all he needs to do is to state the ruling family he belongs to. If he wants to claim the stool, he should come back home as Oranmiyan’s son; if he doesn’t do that, he cannot get the stool.
Citing my case, I was once in Canada and all I will do if I want to ascend the throne of my father is to go back and say that I am from the Lafogido Ruling House. So the Oba of Benin can come and say that, as Oranmiyan’s son, I want to rule. If anyone wants to claim his father’s throne, all he needs to do is to come back home. And that was what I did when I wanted to ascend the throne of my father.
If I had remained in Canada where I came from, I could have started a place and say that I had my own Iwo Kingdom in Canada. And that is the same thing many did. They were the children of Oduduwa. They moved out of the original place. If I become an Iwo monarch in Canada, it can never be the same as of Iwo. So there is no controversy on the Ooni ranking as the first monarch in Yorubaland.