By Daud Olatunji
Though, the incident occurred in 2005 few days after the late Alake of Egbaland, Oba Oyebade Lipede joined his ancestors, the memory remains fresh in the minds of many people in Ogun State. Revelations about how the remains of late Oba Oyebade Lipede disappeared few hours after the monarch passed on was made by Chief Alani Bankole, father of former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, at the launch of his book titled “Alake of Egbaland: The Succession Dynamics”.
The launch attracted prominent people such as former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba; incumbent Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; ex-Speaker of House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; former Minister of Mines & Steel, Chief Sharafa Tunji Ishola, among others .
In his confession-like narrative, Bankole who is Seriki Jagunmolu of Egbaland and Oluwo of Iporo Sodeke /Iporo Ake, said he witnessed one of the most heart-breaking violations of long-held conventions during the performance of traditional rites of passage for late Oba Mofolorunsho Oyebade Lipede, the ninth Alake of Egbaland when the location of the remains of the late Oba got enmeshed in controversy.
“In the days of old, nobody would dare make such move,” Bankole said. Late Oba Lipede ascended the throne in 1972 following the transition of Oba Adesina Samuel Gbadebo on October 26,1972. He died February 3rd, 2005, after spending 33 years on the throne, aged 90 years. His death occured a few weeks after he celebrated his 90th birthday.
While revealing how the corpse of late Oba Lipede got missing shortly before the burial rites could begin, Bankole in his book said the transition of Oba Oyebade Lipede did not go on without some drama. Indeed, there was a mild drama between the kingmakers and the family of the late monarch, particularly the youngest Olori who was alleged to have taken the remains of the Oba away to the Kabiyesi’s private residence in the Government Reservation Area, GRA, in Ibara, Abeokuta.
“Traditionally, as soon as an Oba joins his ancestors, his family ceases to have control. So, the Olori (wife or wives) or family, do not have the authority to go near his remains, let alone take it away. The impasse was resolved when the kingmakers found the oba’s remains in one of the rooms in the palace, but that was not without a thorough search .
“If such thing occured, I would not blame the Olori or whoever was involved in such abomination because as it is popularly said, if you give a hoe to a mad person, he will till the soil to his side. I think that, we, the kingmakers should take full responsibility for all the drama that happened.
“I make this statement on the grounds that we should have been more proactive in our responsibilities. Ideally, the moment we begin to sense that the health of an Alake is deteriorating, all the occupants of the palace are supposed to be sent packing and the palace taken over by the ‘Omo-Iya-Marun.’
“Perhaps, I should state here that the palace does not belong to the Alake because it is actually owned by the entire sons and daughters of Egbaland and kept under the care of the “Omo-Iya-Marun.
“Aside the fact that we did not act according to the dictates of our culture and tradition, most of us arrived the palace late. So, we provided the ground for those traditionally ignorant individuals to violate the tradition or mildly put, make attempts to do the unexpected. In the process of searching for the remains of the oba, we were shuttling between the palace and the Government House for consultation because the Alake is not an ordinary Oba,” Bankole disclosed.
However, while revealing the intrigues that greeted the selection of the new Alake, Oba Gbadebo, the kingmaker claimed that the former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel had wanted another person as Alake. Bankole said Daniel wanted the younger brother of the incumbent, Adeleke Gbadebo, instead of his brother, Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo. He said that the former governor had tried every possible means to impose his choice and install his candidate as the monarch.
According to him, “Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo became Alake not through my effort alone. During the struggle, one of the contestants came to my house and told me that I was the only one blocking him and that everyone had agreed except Sarafa Ishola and the deputy governor.
“On the eve of the election, I got an anonymous telephone call who told me that the governor and the then commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs have decided to either scuttle what we wanted to do or make sure somebody else was chosen.
“I reported to Sarafa Ishola who called the then commissioner, the commissioner confirmed to him that they were taking some steps to install another person, but, I told them none of them was from Egba and that they should leave the Egba sons to handle their affairs.
“On the first day we wanted to do the election, the then governor was outside the country; Ishola ran to us in the palace around 12 midnight and that they have come to plead with us that the governor wasn’t around and wouldn’t want us to be on a collision course with the government, and we eventually listened to him.
“The truth was that the governor wanted somebody else and he didn’t hide it. After the election, the governor phoned me around 12 midnight accusing me of announcing the result of the election; and I told him I only announced the result of the election and not the choice of Alake and that he has the audacity to disagree or allow it.”
“He went ahead to write it in one of his books that the present Alake was not as popular as Adeleke, but most of you here are witnesses to what happened when the new Alake was announced and I have never seen such a tremendous support for Alake.
“He also revealed how he scuttled the plan by the then administration to announce the Alake-elect within seven days as against the provision of law which stipulated 14 days within which petitions are entertained.
According to him, the decision of the then administration was to create a lacuna and good ground for other interested parties to fault the selection of the Alake-elect. It would be recalled that Oba Gbadebo has continued to accuse the former governor of plans to remove him from the position”, he said.
In his remarks, the Alake acknowledged the role Chief Bankole played during the interregnum, saying, he was the only kingmaker that refused to collect a dime from him when he was seeking the throne . According to Alake, “more importantly when you are going to be an Alake, you give free
traditional gifts to all other chiefs, it is to be free, you are not compelled the same way you were given when you were being elected or before the election of all kingmakers the only one that declined anything from me throughout the six months, It was exactly six months after the death of Oba Lipede, that election was 3rd of August, Oba
Lipede died on 3rd of February, so for the six months,Chief Alani Bankole told everybody else I have collected my own , so go and take your own but, he never took any penny from me. For that singular reason today, I should show my love to him.”