Thursday, December 10, 2009

A short gun marriage and honey moon that will not last by Dr.Wumi Akintide.

By far the most insightful, factual and brilliant appraisal of the Deji's ongoing crisis I have seen, is the Guardian Newspaper article titled "A monarch's many enemies, battles and victories" authored by Mr.Niyi Bello and published by the Guardian newspaper of November 13, 2009. I would urge anybody interested in the crisis to look out for that article and read. It was a masterpiece.

Mr. Niyi Bello has gone far beyond the call of duty, as a correspondent, to lay it all out in very lucid language. He has taken pains to brilliantly, fearlessly and dispassionately make the case of the King makers and the Deji's response to those charges better than any rejoinders I have read, but he has left out some gaps, here and there, that need to be filled, so readers can connect the dots and have a better understanding of all the issues at stake in the Deji's epic battle with his chiefs..
. What I am about to do this in this write-up is to fill those gaps, and to effectively render a second opinion on the crisis and how well or how badly the Mimiko Government has so far handled it and why? I hope the Guardian Newspapers will be kind enough to also post this addendum.

As I pointed out in my first article on the crisis titled "A Note of Caution on the Deji's dethronement" widely publicized on the Internet and some Nigerian Newspapers in the United States, I drew precisely the same conclusion the Mimiko Government has drawn, that the final authority to remove or keep the Deji in office or any traditional ruler, for that matter, is either the Government or the Courts. The recent case of the Olugbo of Igbo Nla in Ilaje Ese-Odo is a case in point.The king makers and the chiefs taken together do not have the power or the authority to remove the Deji. But they could make a unanimous recommendation to the Government, and if the recommendation is not expeditiously acted upon, for any reason, they could make Akure difficult for the Deji to rule by boycotting his palace and refusing to co-operate with him in many other ways. It is clear to everyone including the Deji, if he is wise, that Government support alone cannot sustain him in office. The dynamics of that office demands that he earns the support, the respect and the loyalty of his own people. If he loses their respect and support, he is done. Period. No Government however powerful can manufacture that support for him. The Deji has to realize that he only remains an asset to the Mimiko Government, if his people support him. He will soon be seen as a liability to the Labor Party and to Governor Mimiko if he has lost that support. The Deji has only one vote just like anyone else. His worth and value are measured by how many of his people he can lure into the ruling party. He will remain a naked and lonely Emperor if he cannot lay any claim to that. It is only a question of time before the Governor and his Government abandon him, if they know he is of little use to them..

I placed special emphasis in my first article on"Due Process" which has to be followed and I caution that the king makers should act slowly and be right rather than act quickly and be dead wrong. The king makers have the power to recommend to Government on whose selection should be ratified as the Deji. They also reserve the right to withdraw that recommendation, if they are persuaded, the present incumbent is a wrong choice like happened in the case of Ileri Oluwa whose selection was torpedoed overnight, because his own family had disowned him after using him to establish the legitimacy of their ruling house because he has provided all the cash needed to do that.
Ileri Oluwa's case is very similar to what has happened in Osooro Kingdom which used to be a merger of Ilutitun and Idepe in Ilaje/Okitipupa area where Kabiyesi Idepefo was the one who single handedly fought the Bajowa Dynasty to break away Idepe from Osooro Kingdom and to establish Idepe kingdom with him as the pioneer Oba. Some powerful elements in Idepe are today raising doubts about the legitimacy of Idepefo himself and questioning his claim as a prince at Idepe. Can you believe that? That happens all the time with our people. There is a legal way to remove the Deji or start the process without encroaching on his right to self defense in a country governed by the rule of Law. No rational or self-respecting Government and Governor can force any traditional ruler on the king makers and the community at large, if the people remain firm and resolute on what they have decided, and if they strictly follow the laid down procedure for achieving that goal. Two wrongs don't make a right.

If the chiefs and the people by unanimity and consensus refuse to recognize or support their Oba or have anything to do with him, no Government can force them against their wishes. If the Government therefore decides to force such an individual on his people, such a Government runs the risk of being rejected at the polls in the next election because Democracy or winning is a game of numbers Such a Government would also have herself to blame when civil disobedience, violence and lawlessness get into the mix like the situation in Ugbo Nla today. How many people can the Governor arrest and put in detention?. I dare say that if all the charges that have been leveled against the Deji were leveled and proved against Mimiko himself, he would voted out of office like his predecessor in the next election. How Governor Mimiko handles this crisis says as much about him like it says about the king makers and the Deji himself.

I agree with the Governor that copy cats in other places like Upele could lead to anarchy that the PDP opposition in Abuja could use as an excuse to declare a state of emergency in Ondo State but that must not mean that Akure people must, for that reason alone, become captives to the Deji and whatever he has been doing to aggravate, provoke and oppress his own people like a dictator. The Governor has to make that clear to the Deji. Blaming the victim is not the way to go, if I were advising the Governor..
That is why I am describing the transient love feast between the embattled Deji and Governor Mimiko as a short gun marriage and honey moon that will not last, if the king makers and Akure people remain firm and resolute. Governor Mimiko will have to choose between the Deji and the people opposing him. If the Deji cannot be used by the ruling party as a conduit pipe to his people, he has become a liability to the Government.
A prima facie case would appear to have been made against the Deji from all we are able to see and hear. The Deji's response or defense has so far fallen short of credibility. He would need a lot more substance to break off off the double bind he has found himself. He is lucky the king makers are being faulted, for now, for not following due process, but that luck is likely to run out pretty soon as the king makers rethink their strategy, but the serious charges against the Deji have, so far, remain unanswered. Governor Mimiko ought to demand some credible answers to those charges before he puts his bet on the wrong horse.

Why do I say that? I say so based on history and precedents in Ondo State and all over Nigeria. If the great Olowo Olateru Olagbegi can be dethroned by a military Government in similar circumstance, so can Oba Adepoju Adesina. You could say it is much harder to remove a traditional ruler favored by the Government in power, but that individual would have to be a political juggernaut like the late Olowo Olagbegi, and not a little-known individual like the current Deji whose only claim to fame is the title he currently holds. If you take away the Deji's title from him, he has very little to hang on to. He could therefore be fighting the battle of his life as he now has his back against the wall ,if the truth must be told. Blackmailing the chiefs and the king makers can only compound his problems as more incontrovertible revelations and facts come out.

He, the Deji should have realized by now that his claim to be the reincarnation of Deji Odundun or Deji Ademuagun is hogwash. He is neither of the two, because he lacks the bravery and their charisma and will power. Deji Ademuagun's academic pedigree and personal appeal as a brilliant attorney was enchanting. He did not believe in voodoo as much as this Deji, and he was a quick study in the History of Akure, and he was better prepared to learn from those who knew our History. This Deji has made a horrendous mistake to ascribe to himself the posture or imagery ofOdundun Asodedero who had a power like a lion and decided to use it like a lion because he could. That was then, this is now. Deji Odundun would never have gotten away with his crimes against humanity, if he was crowned the Deji in the colonial era. Having his wife beheaded in cold blood for sharing a joke with him like I recalled in my book, the Lion King and the Cubs" would never have been tolerated in a country governed by the rule of Law. The days of feudal Lords are over. The Deji should have known that.

The late Kabiyesi, the Alaaye of Efon, it will be recalled, had committed a less egregious crime in his domain, and he paid the ultimate price. If the current Deji were a student of History, he would have learnt that his claim to being a reincarnation of Odundun could easily have put him on a collision course with the Law and with his chiefs and people across the board.. It is absurd that a man who has lived and studied in the UK for many years could come back home and not allow any of the fine attributes of the British people to rub off on him. I am really surprised. I had thought he was going to be a far more congenial Deji than he has turned out to be, all things considered. Those who think that the Adesida descendants are behind his current problems just don't know what they are talking about. He has himself to blame for all of his excesses in office. Students of History would understand that Akure people are not called "Omo a muda sile, mogun erun pa ni" for nothing meaning that Akure tongues are more lethal than the sword. If you are dancing to Akure music and rhythm, you have to constantly look back to be sure the music has not stopped playing. The incumbent Deji has failed to do that. That is why he is in problems today. Period.

I recall Deji Afunbiowo, arguably the greatest Deji of all times, facing the first rebellion by his people in what is today referred to as "Ogun Okuta" The War of the stone pellets in which the Deji's palace was stoned because his people did not appreciate his support for the British colonialists' decision to introduce the payment of tax in Akure. It was explained to Deji Afunbiowo by the colonial Administration that paying tax was going to help Akure to grow and develop, but Akure people, at the time, in their ignorance, did not agree with the Deji's efforts to appease and persuade them to pay tax. It took the intervention of the District Officer (D,O) Ajele Agba and the Colonial Police Force to put out the rebellion on that occasion. Deji Afunbiowo did not commit any of the 20 serious charges the kingmakers have now leveled against the current Deji. He reigned for 60 good years without a break and Akure grew by leaps and bounds under his tenure. He did not improvise" the Omo ori ite" conditionality in the Deji's Declaration to permanently keep the throne to his family. He did it to uphold Akure tradition and to ensure that fake princes do not infiltrate our rank and file, or emerge to start asking to be crowned a Deji in Akure. Afunbiowo had been proved right again. Now the king makers have admitted they were misled into picking candidates that have turned out to be fake princes.
Genuine princes in Akure know themselves. The way we are going, an Okene or Imo or Zaki Ibiam man from Benue Plateau who has lived long in Akure and is filthy rich, could, one day, seek to be crowned a Deji in Akure like happened in 2000, and could happen again. Traditional rulers who run foul of their peoples' interest can be driven out of the throne. It happened to late Olowo. It happened before to Ewi of Ado Ekiti, late Oba Aladesanmi Anirare. In his own case, Deji Afunbiowo was among the individuals that helped him to reclaim his throne. Late Kabiyesi Adewumi the Ogoga of Ikere before Ogoga Oba Fabikun was driven out of his throne for much the same reason. There is nothing new in Akure people wanting to remove the Deji, if he has outlived his usefulness.. .

I recall Deji Ademuagun being summoned to Elemo's Court at one point in his 16-year (1957 to 1973) reign to answer to charges of high-handedness made against him by one or two individuals in Akure. Deji Ademuagun had attempted, at one point, to snatch the fiancée of a Reverend gentleman in Akure. He was accused of going to places under cover of darkness using the fictitious name of "Ojo Oru". The charges against him were not half as serious as any of the 20 charges leveled against the present Deji, and he nearly faced dethronement. He did not walk out on the Chiefs because he knew he just could not do it and still retain his title. High Chief Orisabinu Adedipe of Osun Oshogbo fame was the Elemo of Akure at the time, and High Chief Kole Oluwatuyi the Second was the Olisa. High Chief Falade, Ajoleyinogun, the father of current Odopetu Adelusimo Falade was the Odopetu. High Chief William Adu Falokun was the Sao, the General Officer commanding the Akure traditional forces GOC at the time. I waited outside the Elemo's Court with my father, Chief Samuel Akintide Gbangba who had come to the meeting to plead for leniency for the Deji. I was therefore an eyewitness to what transpired at the meeting. When the Akure Council of Chiefs and the people are united in their indictment of any Deji, no Government can stop them. Deji Adepoju Adesina should make no mistake about that. The Government can surely cause some delay, but it will have to buckle under pressure from the people. It is a prediction.

Deji Otutubiosun Adelegan Adesida was probably the most despised Deji of all times. Akure people did not like him too much because they had wanted Prince Adebobajo, to be selected as the Deji, but 9 out of 15 king makers had voted for Prince Adelegan while only 5 voted for Prince Adebobajo and one kingmaker, late Chief Ojumu voted for late Prince Adedeji Adesida.
The Government, in her wisdom, went with majority vote to approve the coronation of Otutubiosun Adelegan as the Deji in 1975. The only reason Deji Adelegan could not be removed was because the majority of the king makers and the chiefs were for him, and a cross section of Akure people also supported him. He served till he died in 1991 because there was no unanimity among the chiefs. If the chiefs and the people were united against him, he would have lost the throne, even though the Government supported him. Above all, he was a great Deji by any standard. His record in office was second only to that of his father in Akure.History. You can quote me on that.

Deji Ataiyese Adebobajo Adesida who was a Commissioner of Police before his selection was a very law-abiding and disciplined Deji who was never accused of any of the charges leveled against the current Deji. I knew him better than all the Dejis before him. He was a gentleman to the core and I was one of his confidants. I recall Akure people complaining about traditional rulers who went on a delegation to Abuja on the invitation of former Nigerian President Sani Abacha. The President had wanted to show them his proof that General Oladipo Diya, his Chief of Staff ,had been implicated in a coup against him. The Deji was among the delegation, but knowing Akure people and where the majority of them stood on the issue, Kabiyesi Adebobajo would not join the delegation in issuing a communiqué condemning General Diya. He also refused to share out of the kickback that was used to compensate them by Abacha. Deji Ataiyese was a man who took his oath of office very seriously, and would never do anything to tarnish his good name or the fine legacies of the Deji-in-Council and the Institution at large.

All of these Dejis would be shivering in their graves to hear all of the charges made against the present Deji. The incumbent Deji would be deceiving himself if he places too much premium on the transient support Governor Mimiko is giving him so far. I support the initial stance of Governor Mimiko, but I condemn the fact that he was only blaming the king makers and the chiefs for not following the due process. In so doing, he has shown that if the due process was even followed, he probably would not have listened to the king makers or the genesis of their grievances and their deeply held grouse against the current Deji. The king makers have no ax to grind with the Mimiko Government per se. The target of their grievance is not Mimiko Government at all, it is the man they said they were misled to recommend for ratification in 2005. I cannot say what the Governor might have been telling the Deji in private but if he is so open in blaming the victim, he must be seen to be fair to both sides for him to be a credible peacemaker..

Some of the charges against the Deji have become subject of litigations in the Law Courts in Nigeria, as we speak. If they were not serious, how did those charges end up in Court? I do know of the charges filed against the Deji by one of my cousins in Akure. I am talking about retired military officer, Joseph Isijola who has taken the Deji to Court asking for a 20 million Naira in damages. What happens if the Deji is found guilty on such charges? What does Governor Mimiko have say on that?

Niyi Bello just drew our attention to a publication and an editorial in the Guardian Newspapers, not too long ago, when the Deji was lampooned for the position he took in the Cement Distributors Association grouse with a distributor who insisted on selling his bag of cement at controlled price of 1,600.00 Naira per bag in Akure. The Deji, for reasons best known to him, had sided with the oppressors and the extortionists against his own people as revealed by Mr. Bello. Governor Mimiko would be making a huge mistake to think that the king makers were just blackmailing their boss. They are not. There is some truth to their charges.

The Governor must remember that many of the king makers are old enough to be the father of the current Deji. They are serious-minded respectable individuals in Akure community quite apart from their titles. Retired Colonel Folorunsho David is a highly principled man. So is High Chief Adelusimo Falade, the Odopetu and so are High Chief Bolanle Adedipe, the Elemo, High Chief Amos Balogun, the Aro of Akure and High Chief Ojomu Oluyide and the new Asae not to talk of High Chief Asamo Olusanya, of the Ejua Group, High Chief Sao of the Ikomo group, to mention a few... The Governor would be making a horrendous mistake to dismiss their complaints with the wave of the hand. Like High Chief Lisa Bayo Akinnola in Ondo, these chiefs are not individuals to be taken lightly at all. To get to the bottom of this and to sue for real peace in Akure, Governor Mimiko must act as the impartial judge.and hear what the chiefs are saying.
The Governor must remember that the chiefs by speaking out against this Deji are like people riding on the back of the tiger. If they are not careful, they could all end up in the belly of the tiger when they disembark. The current Deji who sees himself as a reincarnation of Odundun could come back to hold them accountable one by one, using his big stick like he did to the Olisa, less than a year after his coronation. Those who do not learn from History are condemned to repeat it. The chiefs are no fools..

Governor Mimiko fears the possible declaration of a state of emergency in Ondo State by the PDP Government in Abuja looking for ways and means to take Ondo State back from the Labor Party by using the crisis in Akure and other places like Upele to forment trouble in Ondo like they once did in Ekiti, State, some years back. It is that backlash that Governor Mimiko fears the most, not the crisis the Deji is facing. This Deji must understand that, if he is wise. He must go down on his knees, so to speak, swallow his pride, and make an ironclad guarantee that the Chiefs in particular are not going to be victimized and punished one by one if the chiefs are persuaded to bury the hatchet and forgive him. The Deji cannot be removed unless the chiefs are united against him, but each of the chiefs can be removed one by one by the Deji, if he decides to play the Odundun on them after his bail-out by Governor Mimiko who is only going to be in office for 4 to 8 years, assuming that he wins a second term. The chiefs are all aware of that cul-de-sac and the suspension notice he served the Olisa within six months of his taking office. He could do it again.

It was Commander Ebenezer Obey who once composed a song stating "there is little or no modicum of respect for a king who does not have one "Olori". By the same token, if all Akure chiefs refuse to have anything to do with the Kabiyesi, and they abandon the palace completely, how is Deji going to function? He would probably go ahead and remove all of them like Olowo Adekola Ogunoye once did to Owo chiefs who were not loyal to him. Where is that going to lead Akure? It is a legitimate question to ask before it is too late. Governor Mimiko who is currently saying he wants peace in Ondo State must realize that peace can only come when there is justice.
Governor Mimiko may not know or understand the next point I want to make before I end this article. At the annual "Ikunle Ceremony" always held in the Palace, all Akure Chiefs without exception, are required to take an oath of loyalty to the Deji every year. With what is going on now, how many of those chiefs can, in good conscience, take such an oath after the announcement they have openly made against the Deji. The Deji is under no obligation to take such an oath before any of his chiefs. That was one big reason the Osolo of Isolo and the Iralepo of Isinkan who have now been elevated to minor Obas in Akure, could stand their ground and say they want to be recognized as Obas in their own right, regardless of any objection by the Deji and the Akure Council of Chiefs. Our founding fathers were not as naive as we thought They instituted the oath-taking ceremonies not only for the chiefs but also for all "Oloris" in the palace to minimize acts of disloyalty to the Deji by his chiefs and many wives. I mention this last point to let Governor Mimiko understand that the issue at stake are much more serious and complex than what you all read on the Internet or the pages of Newspapers..This Deji may well invoke his right under our tradition that says the Deji can pick anybody to fill a vacant post of the Olisa in Akure because previous Dejis have done that with impunity in the past, and they have gotten away with it. The same thing goes for the Sashere title in Akure. The Deji can pick anybody he wants for that title like Deji Afunbiowo once did in selecting one of his former palace servants, late Sashere Gidi, Olowu Opotopata. Deji Adelegan did it by picking late Sashere Robert Akesogie Agbayewa to compensate him for his support when he was vying to become the Deji.

If this Deji decides to invoke such rights after this crisis is settled, what is left for the chiefs to do? It is a legitimate question to ask. Those who want this crisis settled quickly and permanently must remember that. I still believe the crisis can be settled, but as an Akure historian, I would not like the chiefs to be ambushed by a Deji who takes special pride in being toasted as the reincarnation of Odundun.. Need I say more?
I rest my case.

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