The Janjaweed tendencies of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appears not to be knowing any bounds these days with the aspersion cast on Yoruba traditional rulers by none other than the leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who described a majority of them as “useless.”
If Tinubu, who styles himself as the Asiwaju of Yorubaland (meaning leader of the Yoruba) can describe a majority of the traditional rulers of his own race as useless, it then means that the rest of us should not be blamed for describing the Yoruba as such because their leader has taught us.
It is not clear that the leader was under influence as some like to suggest behind his back, because he was clear headed enough to single out three Obas from his latest umbrage. He said that “there were three good traditional rulers in Yorubaland” (he actually did not name the third). Among the upright were Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona and the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu.
Scathingly and without mincing words, the strongman of Yoruba politics rather uncouthly and unislamically thundered at a special prayer session held at the Central Mosque in the city in Ijebu Ode: “I remember in 1991, 1992 and 1993 during the military junta, when the Yoruba was the target of the then government. They thought they could silence you; they planned to kill you; they planned to remove you through a local government; but they failed. They did it to Sultan of Sokoto and they succeeded.
“You stood by us; you stood by the truth and despite all humiliation, depression and attack, you remained resolute. I will never forget when you invited us to your palace for one of our meetings. When we got there and we were about to commence our meeting, we were told that soldiers have surrounded the palace with guns. You told us then that there was no problem and we should continue our meeting.
“You said they don’t know that there are many ways into the palace. After our meeting, you opened another door for us and nothing happened to us. You are not part of the useless Obas in Yorubaland who will sell out; we know them and it is not yet time to mention names. In Yorubaland today, you are the best monarch and that is not contestable. The good Obas’ in Yorubaland, who are forthright, firm and stand by the truth are not up to five; they are just three. Oba Awujale, Oba Akiolu and another. May you live long in good health and abundant God blessing.”
With these comments, there is no doubt that most Yoruba Obas will sweat through the wrong places if Tinubu’s party emerged at the centre in Abuja. Why Tinubu proceeded on this politically suicidal mission of blaspheming the Yoruba traditional rulers, who are more or less considered to be gods, is left to be seen.
Already, as part of the damage control, most media houses screened off Tinubu’s comments from the stories they caused to be published, fuelling the suspicion that the well-oiled propaganda machinery of the Asiwaju was working overtime. Only time will tell if the traditional rulers will take their pound of flesh at the appropriate time.
But one of the kings and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuwade Okunade, has lashed back, accusing the chieftain of acting rather cowardly when he ran abroad during the infamous rule of General Sani Abacha. This is coming even as another was boiling in Ogun State, according to political pundits over attempts by the Asiwaju to shortchange his son from becoming Governor in Lagos State.
Oba Sijuwade said last Thursday, in the presence of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, a known political son of Tinubu, as if sending him to his political father, while other traditional rulers were witnesses at a two-day conference of foremost traditional rulers in Osun State in Osogbo: “When our country was upside down, it was the traditional rulers in this country that saved the situation. If we left the country as politicians did, there would have been no state for the leader of APC to rule when he came back.
“Two among the three Obas mentioned by him were the best friends of the late military head of state, General Sani Abacha and among them, one was on the pay-list of the late General and
one lifted crude oil allocated to him by General Abacha. You can ask them; Abacha gave me money on more than one occasion, but I refused. And if you want to talk of the annulment of the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola’s election, these two/three traditional rulers should be properly investigated, because they were neither here nor there.
“If any of our leaders wants to make a categorical statement on an important issue like the Oba in Yorubaland, he should please try to check records to know exactly what each one of them has done, because there is so much blackmailing and, fortunately, the late Abacha’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) is alive and he is in a position to tell the world the obas who were close associates of his late boss.”
Another APC chieftain and Ogun traditional ruler is fighting a different kind of battle that may see to the decimation of the party of many colours. He has accused the Asiwaju of using his vice presidential ambition to cause religious crisis in Lagos. A father of an incumbent who wants to succeed Governor Babatunde Fashola in 2015 is credited to be mobilizing Moslem clerics against the Asiwaju for preferring another non-indigene Christian to his Moslem son. He is said to be threatening to go public if he proceeds with his agenda. It is not only this politician that has a beef with Tinubu and one of his three good Obas, Rilwanu Akiolu.
A political group, Visioners of a Good Lagos, which came under attack sometime back for suggesting that there was a ploy by Tinubu to foist his preferred choice of candidate on Lagos, again went verbally ballistic pounding the chieftain and the Oba. Speaking on behalf of what the group describes as phantom Lagos elders, Akiolu said last Friday that Ambode was the choice of the elders. “I will not lie to you. The elders of Lagos have met and they have said that Ambode should be governor. The elders have said Ambode should be the next governor of Lagos State. Other aspirants have the right to aspire too. But I will not open my eyes and allow the son of the Oba of Ewekoro to be the governor. But all things are in the hand of God Almighty,” Akiolu said at a book launch.
But the Visioners spokesman, Mr. Bambo Akin-Johnson, fired back, describing the “good” Oba as Tinubu’s business partner. He said further: “But today, that would no longer be an issue. That they have come out of their hiding is good for us. It has vindicated us and exposed them. It shows there is more to this satanic endorsement than meets the eye. Unfortunately for them, they have made their antics known early enough and the better for the challenge ahead.
“The monarch has clearly out-stepped his bounds; he has bitten more than he can chew and has taken more than he really can contain. He has stepped on the sensibilities of the electorate by usurping their rights to choose through their votes, their choice governor. If Akiolu wants to play politics, he should take off his royal robe and prepare for a dog fight by stepping on the arena? To think it is part of his role as a traditional ruler to determine the choice of a democratic governor because he and his business partner want to appropriate the state is a dream that will never be reified, not in 2015 or thereafter.
“It is particularly shameful that a Lagos Oba of his level would come down to such a level to run errands for phantom elders all in the name of economic survival. Has God not been good enough to a man who was not originally from any of the royal families in the state to be made the Oba of Lagos? But now, it is obvious they want to make this state a haven for non-indigenes and milk her resources and even bequeath it to their cronies.” Without knowing it, the Visioners, for whatever they are worth, have shown the world what it means to be a good Oba in Yorubaland in the eyes of this leader.
Written By Abba Adakole