Being a paper delivered at the 40th anniversary lecture of Ife Club 25
On November 25, 2017
Mr President, Let me start on a note of gratitude, to have been invited to speak to this august club at its 40th anniversary. Forty years in the life of any entity in our environment is indeed a milestone. Notwithstanding the challenges of our socio-political environment, it is gratifying that yours has not just survived, but I believe , thrived and might have a thing or two to teach others on survival strategy . Happy anniversary.
It is my first time of speaking to an Ife gathering of this nature, and in this capacity. And to tell you the truth, I don’t not know what qualifies me for this, except that Prof. Muib Opeloye, my President at the Ife Development Board (IDB) who has transformed to a revered brother, knows what I do not know, to invite me to examine the theme- The contemporary Ife issues: the way forward.
The fact that I have not spent thirty days at a stretch in Ile-Ife in the last 38 years when I left here in search of my own gold, makes the assignment a bit daunting.
Yes, I served on the Ife Development Board (IDB) of the late Prince Yera Adeyemo, Jide Elugbaju and Muib Opeloye, but every time issues of Ife were tabled, I had always had to listen to more informed persons on the subject, add my little contributions to whatever may be the subject of debate and return to base to earn my keep.
I am Ife. My ancestry is at akodi Ile Okiti in Okerewe with ancestral farm holdings in Okiti along the Toro-Oyere axis, deep inside the contested zones with our neighbours of Modakeke; a no-go area because of the perpetual rumblings in the forest.
I do have relationships here and there with some of the political actors here, but it is mostly social.
You begin to wonder the reasons for this preamble.
Well, there is a compelling need to front-load a caveat : that you need to moderate your expectations of my thoughts and presentation because, mine is essentially, the view of an outsider-insider, marginally involved, but interested in Ife affairs. The reason, being that if you are born of Ife and live outside of this community, and you hear the apolitical Yoruba romanticize the Yoruba story and Ile-Ife, then you appreciate our great and proud heritage.
So what will this paper speak to?
This paper will seek to review the Ife stor(ies)- the fears and the struggles, the location of our interests within the larger Osun community and push a thesis that Ife faces existential threat, politically and economically, unless it does a wholesale review of own strategy for inclusiveness for all stakeholders, to be able take our rightful place in Osun, Yorubaland and Nigeria . It is a thesis for consciousness, unity and progress as found in those words of exhortation of our Ife anthem, especially, the refrain:
Ifè Oòyè, E jí gìrì
E jí gìrì, k’e gbé Ifè ga
Olórí aye ni’fè Oòyè
K’á múra láti tè s’íwájú
Òràmfè On’ílé iná
Oòduà a wèriri jagun
E gbé ’fè lé’kĕ ’sòro gbogbo
Ilé-ifè ni orí’run ayé
Ìlú Oòduà baba Yorùbá
Èdùmàrè tó dá wa sí’fè
Kó máse ba ’fe jé mó wa l’órí
K’Olúwa kó maa ràn wá se.
Ifè Oòyè, E jí gìrì
E jí gìrì, k’e gbé Ifè ga
Olórí aye ni’fè Oòyè
K’á múra láti tè s’íwájú
Òràmfè On’ílé iná
Oòduà a wèriri jagun
E gbé ’fè lé’kĕ ’sòro gbogbo
2. Ilé-ifè b’ojúmó ti mó wá
Ìlú àsà on ìlú èsìn
Gbogbo Yorùbá e káre ’fè
Ká lo w’ohun àdáyébá t’ó jo’jú
Ilé Oòduà Ifè l’ó wà
Opá Òràn’yàn; Ilé-Ifè ni.
’ Boji Morèmi Ilé-Ifè ni
Ará, e káre ’fè Oòdáyé.
Ifè Oòyè, E jí gìrì
E jí gìrì, k’e gbé Ifè ga
Olórí aye ni’fè Oòyè
K’á múra láti tè s’íwájú
Òràmfè On’ílé iná
Oòduà a wèriri jagun
E gbé ’fè lé’kĕ ’sòro gbogbo
The stanzas are beautiful citations of our panegyrics. But I love the refrain the more because it arouses the spirit of Ife in all of us.
Now, interrogating the theme: contemporary Ife Issues and the way forward is itself fraught with challenge of definition for me. Is this about ethnic Ifes , those born of Ife fathers, that we would like to see elected as governor of Osun state or appointed as the Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife or as chief executive officer of any of the MDAs either at the state of federal level? Ife like most Yoruba communities is patrilineal.
Is our concern about the city of Ile-Ife and its decaying infrastructure, begging for a massive urban renewal in the provision of roads with drainages, street light, water, public toilets and all of that?
Or is the concern about the Greater Ife, the political Ife federal constituency of four local governments of Ife Central (with headquarters along Ife/Ibadan Expressway), Ife East (governed from Oke Ogbo), Ife North (with headquarter in Ipetumodu) and Ife South with headquarters in Ifetedo)? Greater Ife has a full political representation in the Federal House of Representatives and comprises the big city of Ile-Ife, with majority ethnic Ifes and Modakeke, the Seven Origbo communities of Ipetumodu, Moro, Edunabon, Yakoyo, Ashipa, Akinlalu ; the towns of Ifetedo and Awolowo town (Garage Olode) and hundreds of villages.
Greater Ife has a very long list of communities that one individual cannot name at a glance and that indexes the wealth of Ife which is close to 50% of the wealth of the state of Osun, if you add the human capital with what is atop the ground and what is under the earth- agricultural resources and solid minerals.
Let us attempt to name some of the communities and I do invite you to take a look down the Greater Ife horizon and the possibilities therein: Please my pronunciation of some of the names.
From aba Abe through Aba Aderibe, Aba Aladie, Aba Alaja, Aba Baale, Aba Lowa Ada, Aba Lowa Iyelomo, Aba Oba, Aba Odeyemi, Jaiyeoba, Aba Oyalode, Aba Semolu, Aba T.O. Fede, Abiri Lasore, Akantioke, Aye Isale, Aye Oke, Dagbolu, Daranijo, Gborogboro, Ijimakin, Jaaran, Jackson, Obafar Ayeteju, Ogudu, Ogudu Famole, Olokemeji, Olorombo, Opa Aje, all around Abiri;
Aba Andrew, Aba Edunabon, Aba Kajola, Aba Ode, Aba Ojo, Aba Oni, Agbiri, Agbonkuta, Ajagbegun, Ajegunle, Albert, Aluti Erin, Apata, Ara Akinloye, Ara Joshua, Ara Oosa, Arugbosegbe, Eelu, Idi Ogun Wogun, Isayo, Ita Orunto , Jagun Osin, Obere, Onikoto Esera, Osi Luobe, Osi Sooko, Osiokero, Walode around Osi;
Aba ijesha, Aba Natha, Aba Oyingbo, Aba Steven,Aba Titun balogun, Agbonbiti, Agbo Paul, Alatere, Araromi, Arode, Eleweran, Elewure Oke, Elewure Isale, Garage Olode, Idi Ako, Idi Ogun Sanni, Labata, Odemuyiwa, Olode, Omidi Onipetesi, Omidire, Sekinde Isanlu, Sekunde Ibadan around Olode;
Aba Atibe, Aba Iresi, Aba Titus, Adeewale, Adereti, Ajebandele Lukosi, Alapadi, Anrodo, Atere, Aye Amodu, Aye Oba, Bolajoko, Ilako Oko Ere, Iyalode, Mode, Moro, Odo Ibule, Obagada, Okusu Isale, Okusu Oke, Yakoyo around Aye Amodo ,
Aba Aafa, Abewela, Adereti, Amu Fagbewesa, Amu Igbo, Apata Oloko, Apoje, Araromi, Atoba, Awurele, Esena,Iponrin, Kere, Oke Odo, Ologede, OlomuOba, Olomu Oja, Olorunda, Osogbo, Osogun, Poso Obutu, Poso Adedire around Kere;
Aba Mama, Aba Mathew, Aba Pastor, Afolabi, Agbaje, Agbele, Ayetorojera, Ajebandele Dadehan, Araromi, Atetedaye, Awosiyan, Bolorunduro, Elegberun, Fasure, Idi Ogun Sanni, Idi Ogun Adedire, Ita Agba, Kaledun, Mefoworade, Obajida, Ologbenla, Olomidudu, Omifunfun, Onigbodogi, Orinsunmbare, Poyika Ogunleye, Poyika Onikoko, Sekunde, Sukulubi around Omifunfun;
Aba Mathew, Aba Oba, Ajebandele, Akinyele, Alaba Meta, Amula Odunlade, Amula Saliu, Amusan, Baba Eko, Bolorunduro, Camp Obele, Fadaka, Fariola, Gbengbeleku, idi Ogun, Ikeketu, Natha, Osesan, Ogunsakin, Oke Owena, Okoro Elusoji, Okoro Isiah, Olorombo, Otu Alayinde, Sunbare, Yinmi, Yinmi Oja around Oke Owena;
Aba Aliyu, Aba D.F. Kolajo, Aba Dada, Aba Faro, Aba Golu, Aba Ife, Aba Raji, Adesigbin, Ago Olowu, Adegbirin, Akeahanran, Asawure, Baba Ibadan, Bolorunduro, Egbejoda, Ere, Erinoke, Fabamira, Fadeyi, Idi Obi, Ifetedo, Imalefalafia, Jagilegbo, Kole Akinjola, Kongo, Lusoye, Odebunmi, Ogbon Ayesan, Ogedengbe, Okesoda, Ologiri, Oloparun, Omosebi, Onikanya, Orafidiya, Oragbade, Oriola, Surulere, Taroko around Ifetedo ;
That is in Ife South.
In Ife East , We start from Aba Ode, Adedeji, Adekunmi, Agidi. Ajiboye, Akande, Aladanla, Alafia, Alagba, Amugba, Apaana, Arikeyansi, Akinola, Asabi, Asamu, Ata Mogaji, Awere, Ayankunle, Baala, Baale Sango, Dare, Doya, Elegudugbe, Fagbemiro, Fagunwa, Famia, Famia Adegunle, Famia Oja, Fasanu, Gorogoro, Idi Iroko, Isaleye, Jabata, Jatina Egbeda, Kilanko, Kinkinyinhun, Lemomu, Makinde, Obalejugbe, Odogbon, Oduranin, Ogundijo, Okuomoni, Ologede, Olookun, Olooyo, Omikoto, Onipasan, Onikooko, Onirungbon, Omisooro, Ogun Akala, Owode, Oyo Onikeke, Rogorogbo and Salako around Famia;
Aba Adetipe, Aba Arubudi, Aba Dejo, Aba Gbadamu, Aba Kendere, Aba Obalara, Aba Onigbo, Aba Osunremi, Aba Salami, Aba Tiamiyu, Agboro, Aborisade, Akinbade, Akire, Alapata, Amukegun, Aniwe, Apamu, Apata Oloko, Asujo, Atumo Amu, Baba Ene, Dagbolu, Dairo, Fadehan, Fagbesa, Fanikun, idi Seke, Idioro, Ilabarin, Isanlu, Jereja, Kilibi, Ladapo, Obeyin, Odelade, Olu Igbodo, Womonle, Idita, Iyekere, Onibambu, Oyo, Toro, Abebi, Okiti and Ori okuta around Famia and Oyere.
In Ife North, we have Ipetumodu rural and Adara, Ade, Adesina, Agbonmi, Agodo. Ajala, Akibiti, Akingbade, Areago, Asalu, Atula, Baadofin, Egbinrin, Fadipe, Fagbemi, Fawei Baale, Igbira, Igbira Iwaro, Lamiriki, Majaroyomi, Mojalao, Oba, Ode Awosun, Ogun, Oguntoyinbo, Ogunwale, Oke, Oke Ladugbo, Ologbo, Ologiri, , Olorode Ageye, Olunle, Olunloye/Akinwowo, Peleyeju, and Yakoyo around Yakoyo town;
Aba Igbira, Aba Keesa Baje, Aiyetutu, Akinalu, Alabameta, Alasa, Amina, Ashipa town, Awotunde, Balogun Aderibigbe, Eiyentale, Eleeru, Eleesan, Erinyes, Fagbore, Godowe, Idi Asa, Ige, Ita Agbede, Lemomu, Morakinyo, Oba Giun, Ogangan, Ogundijo, Oke, Otunode, Segi, Tafa, Titus Aba Store and Wasinmi around Akinlalu;
And around Edunabon , we have:
Adanrin, Ade, Afon, Agada, Akinobu, Akunra, Alalara Anusun, Alawiye, Amoloye, Amula Orile, Apesibiti, Balogun Olobiribiri, Ejemu, Elewure Alagba, Elerin, Isule, Lamba Agbere, Loode Olokuta, Morayin, Ogbaagba Alagbede, Ojurejo Olorijo, Ologungun, Olorombo Gboloku, Onikan, Osifila, Osun and Pakolo.
Some of communities mentioned above ( many of them wrongly pronounced); are far and distant to many of us when we talk about Ife. Many of us are limited to the familiar in Ilare, Eleyele, Ikoyi, Moore, Opa, Ilode, Okerewe, Oranmiyan shrine, Iremo, Aba Coker, OAU and Modakeke urban: Egbedore, Adeowo, Aranse Olu Koola, Oke Otubu, Oke Ola, Ayanshola, Alapata, Sangan, Iraye, Oke Amola, Ogunsua, Itasin and Esuyare quarters.
My guess, and I hope that I am indeed wrong here is that I may have been invited to interrogate Contemporary Ife issues as it concerns ethnic Ife whereas, we ignore Greater Ife at our own peril. Ethnic Ife must be respected with its aspirations met within Greater Ife. Greater Ife is vast. Greater Ife is big. Greater Ife is also rich. And I have a feeling that many amongst us the ethnic Ifes may not know the extent of our blessings within greater Ife.
Those who know are those permanently demanding for parity in the allocation of political units of administration with similar sub ethnic groups (LCDAs), especially in Ijesaland. The number of the units of administration, which is also used for resource allocation clearly falls far short of our stature and contribution to the commonwealth of Osun. It is a long struggle.
For me therefore, it easier to resolve the definitional conundrum of this engagement in favour of examining some contemporary issues about Ife and the way forward around Greater Ife while we also pay special attention to the interest of ethnic Ifes , who believe (and rightly too) that they are entitled to a fairer deal- politically and economically especially in Osun state.
Some of the issues that we call contemporary here are actually, age long ; they have simply refused to go away over time.
There are other good reasons for the resolution of discussion around Greater Ife.
One, our political actors must build consensus around issues that affect ethnic Ifes, and others in Greater Ife when they canvass for votes. That is what will be politically correct, otherwise those who feel that their interests are not covered will not come on board. And I doubt if the votes of ethnic Ifes alone can help achieve the aspirations of a better deal for the greater majority.
Two, some other clubs like Ife Metropolitan Club led by the Ashiwaju of Ife, Ashiwaju/Aro Alex Duduyemi has as deputy General Alani Akinrinade, a worthy chief of Ile-Ife, the complete Omoluabi Yoruba but a thoroughbred of Yakoyo community in Origbo . Theirs is cosmopolitan assembly pointing at advantages in Greater Ife.
And even great entrepreneural ambassadors like Dr. Rahman Adedoyin, Maye of Ife have pointed to the benefits of aspiration within Greater Ife with the location of the landmark Oduduwa University in Ipetumodu, part of greater Ife.
Our neighbours in Modakeke, unlike the people of Origbo might be particularly identity assertive, to the discomfort of ethnic Ife. Politicians, especially from outside Ife might be promoting divisions and exclusiveness as witnessed in the recent compositions of membership of some of the LCDAs just to harvest votes. ( AND JUST YESTERDAY, I READ AN ALERT BY HON. SAFIRIYU AKINWALE AKINWOLE , OSHA MINORITY LEADER THAT THE NEW WARD DELINEATION GIVES SAME NO 10 TO THE OLD 7 WARDS OF IFE EAST AND THREE WARDS IN MODAKEKE AREA OFFICE. IN MY VIEW, THIS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM PROMOTING IDENTITY ASSERTIVENESS IN OTHER PARTS OF GREATER IFE). And that is one significant, contemporary issue about ethnic Ife. But it is we that must be far sighted to hold together Greater Ife, if we are not to fall victims of those who divide to rule us. United we are strong, divided we fall.
The Ife features:
Ile-Ife the land of our forebears, is rich, historically; endowed with natural resources of fertile land and mineral resources and is never short of controversies.
For history and culture , Ile-Ife the “orisun”, the Source, is the reference-cum-rallying point in matters of Yoruba traditional belief systems and mode of worship. To the art historians and archeologists spotlighting the ancient city’s exquisite artworks in bronze and terra-cotta, the potential for authentic ethnological studies of Yoruba culture and by extension, Negro culture has highlighted the Ife’s cultural values. To the Yoruba in the diaspora who worship the Ooni like a god and many others, religiously connected through the ifa cosmos, Ile-Ife is it.
Every Oba in Yoruba land is surer of his crown if traced to Ile-Ife. The stronger the linkage to Ife, the more the authenticity. Ile-Ife, without the divisive partisan politics is a commonwealth every Yoruba cherishes.
With Ile-Ife’s preeminence in Yoruba history also comes the controversies on the place of its monarch in history and among other Obas. Some needless squabbles, if not distractions you would say as we are longer in the era of wars and empire building. Today, it is more about cultural emancipation and evangelism and that positions Ile-Ife as the global Yoruba asset.
If anything, what is important today is value addition to the lives of the denizens, by our claims and actions, not some vainglorious ego wars.
Mercifully, Kabiyesi Ooni Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11 has relegated such controversies to nothingness with his reach out for unity of all for the betterment of the larger society , particularly the youths.
And from across the River Ose, from the palace of the Oba of Benin Ewuare 11, has also come a latent rapprochement with his emphasis on the consanguinity of Ife, Oyo and Benin thrones. To him, his lineage commenced with Oranmiyan, making him the 40th Oba of Benin and not the 39th as erroneously projected earlier. The Benin dynasty and Ife and Oyo are cousins. And that should be sufficient for those who stoke distractive controversies.
Lands- our asset, our trouble:
Land is the biggest resource of Ile-Ife. This resource is also its greatest albatross, the cause of the perpetual strife with the Modakekes, and today a potential land mine with the political authority in Osogbo.
Our land is very rich for agriculture. In its bowels, great minerals like gold and tantalite are embedded – a reason the leadership of the community procured a mining license for the community.
Everyone wants a share of the wealth of the land. And that is the probable reason why some who had traditional leaseholds have unilaterally repudiated same because of the wealth of the land.
At a higher level, our government which thirsts for a higher internally generated revenue equally coverts the land and this may have been responsible for the frowns at the claims of Ife to its lands.
Before the last civil strife with Modakeke which President Olusegun Obasanjo brought to an end through the Olabode George Committee, Ifes were perceived as the festive, fun loving, Palmwine guzzling, laid back, indolent but mean land owners that were exploitative of their weak neighbours, the Modakekes. The profiling may not necessarily be scientific (AND TRUE), but that was the public perception, the perception that helped to range many from outside here against ethnic Ifes (DURING THE WARS WITH MODAKEKE) who, as landowners had exercised long leaseholds on land for people of all persuasions to prospect and pay rent called “ishakole .”
The Modakekes who lived in well organized clusters, especially along the Iraye-Famia-Oyere axis were pliant until the promulgation of the Land Use Act in 1976. Thereafter , they resolved to throw off the overlordship of the ethnic Ifes. That overthrow was final and fully expressed around 1980, the turning point being an armed revolt for “freedom” that engulfed the Ile-Ife metropolis, leaving a substantial part in ruin with a scar of lifetime to blight the community. Till date, skirmishes and rumbling continues on the farmland. (The latest are the series of letter to the Osun state Governor for a speedy intervention in village and land administration by both the Modakeke and Ife youths.) And I hope that we are not helpless about it.
Ifes are most unlikely to recover the lost farmlands, whatever they do because the Modakekes have gained by their actions and they enjoy public sympathy to express full citizenship without any discrimination whatever. If anyone is in doubt about this, he should drive either through the Our Lady Famia road or the Iraye-Toro road. There is perpetual fear for Ifes along that axis.
To me, peace will come to Ife land when the state is honest with a programmed land register that recognizes traditional ownership and leaseholds; and encourages respect for sanctity of contracts where it is established that such exist, in the first place. This can be achieved by negotiations, not war; by consensus building and show of faith.
A sincere and honest land administration, especially of disputed farmlands will bring lasting peace. If I claim a portion, there must be an authentic, supportive narration to that claim. Then there can be decided a rental fee, if only symbolic, which may be added to the ground rent paid to the state and shared with the “landlord.” Such will establish ownership not overlordship and there will be shared economic benefits and communal concord.
The real pathetic story is on the Ife Native Authority Forest renamed the Shasha Forest by the state government. Ife claims ownership of the land- a claim supported by history and the law. The state government, by virtue of the Land Use Act which vests the trusteeship of all lands in the governor, repudiates the Ife claim.
By an official Gazette of the publication of White Paper dated 8th December 3016 and a letter of March 31, 2017 under the authority of the Secretary to the State Government, the Osun government ordered the vacation of the forest reserve by Ife farmers. In fact, Ife farmers are labeled as encroachers.
The 126 square miles of pristine forest of flora and fauna, which had existed since 1845 (inclusive of hunting and farming enclaves of Apoje, Onida and Laroka) was created by the Order of 1941 with six forest areas of F1-F6. In 1954, Ooni Adesoji Aderemi caused lots F1-F5 to be leased to UAC making Ife District one of the richest in Western Region. The revolt and controversy over the Aderawo Trading company which was prospecting lot F6, eventually led to the abandonment and loss of the entire Reserve and pauperisation of Ife for more than 40 years as land reverted to the state.
In the aftermath of the Ife/Modakeke war, the expulsion of Ife farmers by landlords in Ore and Ondo forests, Ooni Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse 11, sought and got from the government, thirty (30) square miles of the Ife Forest for Ife farmers, on the borders with the Ijebus; to also protect the forest from encroachment.
Today, because of alleged encroachment beyond the 30 square miles and the cultivation of cash and not food crops, the government in Osogbo has issued the White Paper published as Gazette No 12 of October 8, 2016 withdrawing the 30 square miles granted Ooni Sijuwade for Ife farmers; theoretically expelling the farmers . That is to be done with the aid of “native hunters not necessarily inhabitants of the adjourning villages.”
We hope this never happens, as there has been ongoing negotiations with the state government to see reasons and empathize with the Ifes.
(WELL IFE MUST CONTINUE TO ENGAGE IN THE MOST CIVIL MANNER ON THE LEGITIMACY OF ITS CLAIM TO OWNERSHIP OF ITS LAND. THAT IS WHAT THE EDES DO OVER ABERE AND OKE FIA WITH THE GOVERNMENT AND OSOGBO. THAT HAS NOT STOPPED GOVERNMENT FROM ACQUISITION FOR PUBLIC GOOD. ITS HAS NOT STOPPED OR DIMINISHED THE TRUSTEESHIP OF THE GOVERNOR OVER ALL LANDS IN THE STATE.)
To me, we must operate within the law. That Ife owned the land is a historical fact. That the Land Use Act vests the trusteeship of all lands in the governor, for public good, is a fact of law. That the Ifes got into the farmlands in the (SHASA) forest reserve upon excision to Ooni Sijuwade for the economic survival of traumatized Ife farmers cannot be a mistake. That they have gone in there to cultivate economic trees and not food crop is in continuation of their established economic lifestyle. ( IFE USED TO HAVE IFE INTERNATIONAL COCOA PRICE LIKE AKURE).
What cannot be right is to subvert the economic well-being of the farmers who remain law abiding within the excision zone. What would be wrong is to create and compound social problems by dispossessing newly established farmers on this farmland.
But we must also respect constituted authority and stay within established boundary and the law. We must not be seen to be undermining the authority of the political leadership in the state.
If there are agreed pathways to peace, all the parties to the dispute must respect agreed terms- the government, the traditional institutions and the people.
Negotiations and mutual respect will achieve the desired end for us.
And then Politics:
This is the tricky one: how to negotiate, acquire and use political powers within Osun state and for the benefit of our people of Ife land.
The sing song on the lips of almost every Ife since the commencement of the Fourth Republic is that Ife must produce the governor of Osun state. There is even a WhatsApp chat group that goes by such tag. It does not matter whether the outgoing governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola from Ijesaland is from the same senatorial district of Osun East political zone; in a state where there appears a consensus on rotation of power amongst the the three zones of Osun Central, East and West.
It is almost a political movement within Ife . And it is morally correct.
Osun state has four major sub ethnic groups: Ife, Ijesha, Oyo and Igbomia. INEC information kit actually separated Oyo sub group from Osun and added Osun as a distinct group within the state. Since the time of the old Oyo state from where Osun was carved out in 1991, Ijeshaland has produced Chief Bola Ige and now Rauf Aregbesola. Igbominas produced Bisi Akande, Osun produced Olagunsoye Oyinlola while Oyo produced Isiaka Adeleke. Ife has not produced a governor yet. So the quest for a governor of Osun state of Ife extraction is legitimate; although political power is not shared on the basis of sub ethnic groups per se, but on negotiations within the recognized political parties.
In terms of electoral strength, the four local governments of Greater Ife has 266,891 out of 1,407,222 valid registered voters (post March 2014 CVR). That is 18.96% of the registered voters.
Ijesas in Atakumosa East and West, Ilesa East and West, Obokun and Oriade which had produced Chief Bola Ige and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has a total registered voting strength of 200,694 or 14.2% of the total in Osun state. It is interesting that Ijesaland with its inferior electoral strength has six local governments and two federal constituencies compared to Ife’s four local governments and one federal constituency. Taken together, Ife/Ijesa has 33.16 of the state’s voting population.
The Oyos in Osun West comprising Ayedaade, Ayedire, Ede North and South, Ejigbo, Egbedore, Irewole, Isokan, Iwo and Ola Oluwa with electoral strength of 431,921 or 30.6% of the registered voters. They produced late Isiaka Adeleke as governor in 1991. Now, they think that rotation favors them after Rauf Aregbesola. It was the reason why they expressed their hurt at the demise of late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who many thought was the governor waiting in the wings .
The third senatorial district of Osun Central of Osun and Igbomina people comprising of Boluwaduro, Boripe, Ifedayo, Ifelodun, Ila, Irelodun, Odo-Otin, Olorunda, Orolu and Osogbo with the balance electoral strength of 460,603 or 32.7% of registered voters has produced two governors: Chief Bisi Akande from Ila and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola from Odo-Otin.
Ife remains the old sub ethnic group yet to govern the state, notwithstanding its contributions to the state.
Yet we all have seen the nexus between producing the political leadership of the state and the overall development of the constituency of the governor. If anyone is in doubt, he should ask the people of Ede who hold dearly that the short lived governorship of late Isiaka Adeleke emancipated his people. Not only did he opened up Ede, he facilitated strong incursion of his people into the bureaucracy and the public service. And that is where policies and programmes are formulated and executed.
A drive round Odo Otin when Oyinlola was governor was quite revealing in terms of infrastructural development. One of the first steps taken by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on assumption of office was to vote N3,323,274,086.00 reviewed to N3.7 for Ilesa township roads apart from the 10 km per local government road work subsequently done around the state. After Osogbo, the state capital comes Ilesha and Ijesaland generally in terms of special attention from the state. And it is our collective resources that fund these developments.
So Ife quest is legitimate. Unfortunately in politics, interests articulated via consensus building ( WITHIN THE POLITICAL PARTY ARRANGEMENT), rather than brute energy delivers political powers. Ife alone cannot deliver power to itself by itself. Ifes must build consensus at home in Greater Ife and then approach other zones with the legitimacy of their quest. Its in a basket: I give you give some, I take some.
Ifes must therefore agitate, propagate and convince others of the fairness and justice in the quest.
While the feet of Ifes must be firmly planted in all relevant platforms, ( POLITICAL AND SOCIAL), the politics at home (WITHIN GREATER IFE) must be free, fair, healthy and devoid of rancor and needless violence ( AND NOT ALIENATING). Whoever emerges in all all primaries/INTERNAL SELECTION ARRANGEMENT , must be the community ambassador in the state-wide contest. But he must go out with a well articulated Ife agenda of peace, development and growth for the the larger majority.
Have we mastered that art of negotiations and confidence building? What is the role of an apolitical but influential club like yours in consensus building around Ife agenda? What is the Ife agenda in any case?
I should say that the Ife quest is no different from the Oke Ogun campaign in Oyo state , the Riverine peoples campaign in Rivers , the Awori Yewa quest in Ogun.
But we must be strategic about how we go about it. If Nigeria could field Olusegun Obasanjo against Olu Falae in 1999 to assuage the feeling of the Yoruba, if we all could rally round the election of a President of minority Ijaw extraction in Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the way we package our aspiration can deliver to us what we want.
In this discourse, I have deliberately avoided the matters of disquiet and rumbles around the traditional institution for good reasons. (THE OBALUFE CASE IN COURT FOR EXAMPLE. THERE IS AN ORDER OF ASCENSION BY LAW. THERE IS PRECEDENCE. AND THERE IS THE ISSUE OF CONSENTING AUTHORITY.)
One, traditional matters should be resolved traditionally with firmness and wisdom. In all matters traditional, there are history, precedents and the law to follow.
Two, some of the issues are already before the court of law and comments on them will be subjudice. We know that we do not return from litigation and remain old friends.
Let justice, let fairness, let the truth, let wisdom guide our actions at all times. Because whatever we do today, is a matter of history for generations yet unborn .
I will like to conclude this engagement with quotes from two distinguished Ifes , late Balogun Bisi Omidiora and Dr, Rahman Adedoyin, Maye of Ife and President Oduduwa University, Ipetumodu.
Omidiora in his critique of the Ife response to the planned eviction of our farmers from the Shasha Forest Reserve warned:
“Enough is enough. Let us come together and adopt a common Mission Statement and Goal: The sustainability of peaceful coexistence among the people of Ife, Modakeke and Origbo, the unalloyed respect and recognition of our institutions, may they be our governor, our monarch, our state and federal representatives.
Our elders and elites must abandon a double column approach to Ife issues and speak with one voice…
Adedoyin on his WhatsApp had written sometime ago:
Ile ife needs a lot of prayers. We need to pray for whoever wishes to contest as governor from ile ife. Our problem is poverty and our ”leaders”. When our people see money, they will forget about the word ILE IFE. As we continue to source for a best candidate to be a governor from Ile ife , we need to pray. Why Iam not going to mention names, we knew what strained the relationship between late Ooni of ife and the present governor. Late Ooni was bent on the choice of Senator Iyiola Omisore. He did not hide it. But Ife was divided then by the ”awon alatenuje ifes called leaders.’’ The late Ooni had a total grip of ife, yet it never worked. Imagine our young, new and vibrant Ooni trying to play thesame ”game”. We have problems. But i know that many Ifes respect some Ife. Let us pray.
Dr Ramon Adegoke Atobatele Adedoyin. Maye of Ife kingdom.
I will always agree that we pray. Prayers wrought wonders and move mountains . But I am a Roman Catholic who also accepts that God Almighty has also given us the free will, to deploy our talents, strategically, and earn commensurate returns on our investments. While we pray, let us work , to realize our lofty dreams. Great strategy of inclusiveness, deft acts of negotiation, building a great and acceptable Ife brand that is trusted by all is the way to go.
May the Almighty God answer our prayer.
1 Nigerian Postcode Directory, 3rd edition 2011
2 INEC info kit for Osun Governorship Election, August, 9,2014
3 Osun State of Nigeria Gazette No 12. Vol.26
4 Letter to Ooni by Secretary to the State Government, Ref SSG 165/Vol.IV/378
5 Ife Community Status on Sasa Forest Reserve in Ile-Ife, a letter to Governor of Osun state by Ooni of Ife Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11,August 9, 2016
6 The ultimatum to surrender of the Ife Native Authority Forest Reserve to the Osun state Government on the Order of the Secretary to the State Government of Osun State. Lessons from the handling of the issue of the Aderawo Trading Company Forest Reserve on the 1970s by Balogun Bisi Omidiora (undated).