Royal rumble in Yorubaland: Akinruntan dares council of Yoruba Obas

Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Frederick Obateru Akinruntan

• As Ultimatum For His Recant Expires

An epic battle is in the offing among Yoruba Obas that may shake many palaces and kingdoms. It is the lingering supremacy battle and efforts to revisit the place of Oduduwa, widely believed to be the progenitor of Yoruba race.

The tone for the royal rumble was set anew by the Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Frederick Obateru Akinruntan, who has been consistent in his claim that his stool predates that of Ooni of Ile-Ife, thereby claiming to be the leading monarch in Yoruba land and the response by the Secretary General, Council of Yoruba Obas and Olojudo of Ido Osun, Oba Aderemi Adedapo, that gave Olugbo 94 hours to tender “unreserved apology or damn the dire consequence.”

The four-day ultimatum given to Oba Akinruntan expired on Friday and the oil magnate has not recanted his utterances. Indeed, there seems no hope of doing so, according to feelers from his palace. Palace Watch put a call through to the Olugbo and a senior aide of Oba Akinruntan, who pleaded anonymity for time being, said: “We have nothing to withdraw. We are waiting to see what Oba Adedapo will do after the expiration of the ultimatum he gave.”

Though there is apprehension in some quarters of what will be next line of action, unless Olojudo’s threat were his personal opinion, as some Obas said, during the week.

The Sabiganna of Iganna in Oyo State, Oba Saliu Oyemonla and Onikun of Onikunland, Ekiti State, Oba Olusola Olatunde were quick to dismiss the threat issued out to Olugbo by Olojodu as “un-royal and empty.” They argued that Olugbo has the right to express himself and “it is within his fundamental human rights to tell the history of his people as the custodian of the culture and tradition of Ugbo people. Whoever that is not satisfied with Olugbo’s version of the history should also tell his own story, but nobody can sanction any traditional ruler. The threat should be discarded because it is uncalled for.”

In fact, Oba Olatunde advised any monarch who is displeased with Olugbo’s claim to go to court of competent jurisdiction instead of issuing threats.The Iniyani of Iyani kingdom in Akoko North West, Ondo State, Oba Joel Sunday decried Olojodu’s ultimatum to Olugbo and described it as “abomination.” He also questioned the locus standi of Olojodu in asking Olugbo to recant his statement.

He said, “Who appointed Olojodu as the Secretary General of Council of Yoruba Obas, we are not aware of such body. I am the Assistant General of the Yoruba Obas Conflict Resolution Committee and I was never aware of such body. That’s why we can tell people to ignore such threat. Olojodu should be bold also to tell the story of his people instead of threatening a first class traditional ruler.”

For Oba Akinruntan, the history of Yoruba did not begin with Oduduwa. He said there are many historical facts that supported claims that Oduduwa migrated to Ile-Ife and did not meet the ancient town void as his (Ulogbo’s) ancestors received the “immigrant” at “Ile Ero” in Ile Ife. He claimed that his forefathers, Obamakin Osangangan had reigned in Ile-Ife before the arrival of Oduduwa and his group, which he said, made his stool superior to other traditional rulers in Yoruba land.

Indeed, the monarch from the oil rich riverine community of Ilaje in Ondo State had in August, last year published what he called an excerpt from his coming book titled: “A History of The Traditional Throne in Yorubaland” where he told his version of what existed in Ile-Ife before the arrival of Oduduwa. The book was part of ODU; the latest academic journal of the West African Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife.

However, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi had initially refuted the Ile Ife history as being told by Olugbo. He said, “If he (Olugbo) knows the depth of what is called Ife, he won’t be talking like that. He doesn’t know anything. But this is not the time to respond to that. Yes he can talk about the lineage of Oranfe, which is Sango’s lineage. They both came to this world twice.

“First, it was in the spirit realm and the second time, it was the physical. There is Ife oodaye, there is Ife ooyelagbo and the third is Ile Ife, now Ile-Ife. He does not know the story of oodaye, that is the Ife of the spirit. Everything that happened in the land of the spirit of the first happened again in the second Ife, so he could not link the two.

“At the first Ife, they were spirit, Oduduwa (Adua), it means prayer. Who doesn’t pray. That is the meaning of Oduduwa. He is called the mouth of God, words of prayers. If you go to the Arabia world, the Muslim world, it is duwa that they call prayers, which is Adura in Yoruba land. That is Oduduwa,”

For Olugbo, the oral tradition as being relayed by Ooni should remain in the palace court as the story of Oduduwa descending from heaven would remain a myth that academic historians had faulted.

But Olugbo launched the latest onslaught last week Sunday, in Ibadan, where he claimed again that he is the leading traditional ruler in Yoruba land. He said, “it is an insult for the children of “immigrants,”-apparently referring to Oduduwa- to refer to themselves as leaders and disclosed that the time has come to make public the “true story of Yoruba land”.

He said it was unfortunate that academic historians focused more on Oduduwa’s arrival at Ile Ife and were silent on the people Oduduwa met in that historic town.

He challenged any traditional ruler with superior historical facts to present it instead of engaging in arguments that will not educate people on the true history of Yoruba people.

He said, “It is a statement of fact that Oduduwa met some people at Ile Ife with a monarch and that was my ancestors, we are the aborigines of Ife. I am the leader of all obas in Yoruba land. I speak with thunder in my mouth and I make bold to say so. No one is above me in Yoruba land in as much as it has been accepted that we are from Ife. I am the one that Oduduwa met at Ife. We are the husband of Moremi Ajasoro. Anyone who wants real Yoruba blessing should approach me. I am the one bestowed with the power.”

Asked which of the various historical accounts of Yoruba land was authentic, since his own version was the latest of the series, the Olugbo said, “People should face the truth. My account of the history of Yoruba race is the most accurate and authentic. I have published a book on it already. Like I said, Oduduwa met my people in Ife. Don’t mind my critics who use Facebook to abuse me. The truth is that many of them are children of slaves.

“They don’t want the true story of their fathers to be told. Slaves don’t want history to be told. I am bold because I am not a son of a slave. My book is there. Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has accepted the book as the authentic history of the Yoruba race. I am about to publish another book on the same subject.”

Reacting to the claim by the Olugbo, Mr Adeola Oloko, who is the Director, Media and Public Affairs to the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji, said the Olubadan had yet to read Olugbo’s book on Yoruba history, saying that after reading the book, the monarch would be glad to respond.

He said, “Oba Akinruntan is the one telling the story in his book but the Olubadan has not read it. It would be proper for the Olubadan to respond after reading the book and consulting with the Olubadan-in-Council and other prominent Yoruba elders.”

But Olojudo of Ido Osun, who described Olugbo as a “rabble-rouser and an attention seeking monarch said Ooni of Ife would continue to be recognised as the leader of all monarchs in Yoruba land and warned the Olugbo to desist from rewriting the history of Yorubaland.

He said: “No one can rewrite the history of Yorubaland now in order to suit his purpose. His utterance is part of his royal rascality we are talking about. Does he want to rewrite history or what? The late Ooni Sijuwade made it possible for him to become the Olugbo. He must withdraw that statement within the next 96 hours, which is four days from now or face the consequence, what he is saying is abominable in Yorubaland.”

Expressing his dissatisfaction with the Olugbo’s claim, the Soun of Ogbomosho Oba Oladunni Oyewunmi, Ajagungbade III, declined to comment on the issue, as he did not see reasons for the Royal tussle.

Soun, who spoke through his private secretary, Toyin Ajamu, said as a first class oba and one of the oldest traditional leaders in the land, he would not place himself at a position where he would take on a fellow monarch or anyone on an issue that he considered irrelevant.
“Kabiyesi is over 90 years old. He hardly responds to issues that have no positive effect on his people.”

The Sabiganna advised the press to know how the issue of traditional rulers should be reported. To him: “I want to believe that many issues have been quoted out of context, besides, Olugbo has not said anything offensive to warrant asking him to apologise. I want people to go and read his book before passing comments. What he has been saying is that he has the most ancient stool, he is not claiming to be the leader of any oba. He wants people to know the history of his people. He is not doing any ranking but the truth is that the history of Yoruba is not complete.”

For the Onikun of Onikunland , Ekiti State, “The issue here is straight forward and it is not about minority or majority but about the true history of people. The issue of origin of Yoruba land is still unfolding and there are facts that many people did not know. I know that my forefathers are from Ile Orashi in Ile Ife. It is for me to trace my line and establish our relationship with Oduduwa.

“To me, we don’t need to quarrel over this matter, each traditional ruler controls his domain but that does not mean that truth must not be told, if Olugbo has told his history, I expect anybody with superior argument to make public his own.”

To the Aare Baamofin of Yoruba land, Afe Babalola (SAN), he said there was sense in Olugbo’s claim that Oduduwa met some people in Ile Ife when he came from the “Northeast, known now as Palestine” and some people hosted him in Ile Ife. He, however, added that does not support the claim of Olugbo as head of all traditional rulers in Yoruba land.

The foremost legal luminary said: “As Aare Bamofin of Yoruba land, the elementary history we did in primary school was clear that Oduduwa met some people in Ife and the claim of Olugbo is that Oduduwa met his people but the unfortunate thing is that we do not keep history as Israelites.

“If Olugbo is claiming to be the earlier settler and claiming that he is the leader of all Yoruba Obas that is another matter. In Ado Ekiti here, Ewi of Ado met some people in this land, but he is the leader of the town today. The headship can be by conquest, by submission or by acquiescence, but changing status quo now will be difficult.”

He, however, advised traditional rulers to be more concerned about the welfare of their people and how to better their community instead of dissipating energy on supremacy tussle. He said: “I have been talking and writing on the need to restructure this country to make life easy for our people. There are so many problems facing the Yoruba nation than this ego conflict.”

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