he newly crowned, (March 2013, celebrated July 2013) Owa Lobbo of Obbo-Aiyegunle, His Royal Majesty, Owa [Engineer] Samuel Oluleye Adelodun, Ataiyese Ilufemiloye I, goes beyond personal fulfilment of occupying the seat of his Ancestors; he is a passionate individual who has the interest of his people at heart. Owa Adelodun is an individual who always assail the challenges posed by his position as demonstrated in his last professional as the Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment, NDE. His records, as a goal getter, helped Nigeria to set the pace for winning war against un-employment, for succeeding administrations to sustain. He is a top-flight Engineer, a humanist, philanthropist, and a man whose strength lies in his power of ideas, experience, exposure, and logic, who is in a hurry to achieve development in Obbo Community.
As a thorough-bred engineer, he believes that the first step in tackling any problem is by identifying it. As he occupies the throne of his Ancestors, he knows how to mobilise those in line with his principles, to unsnarl resources in resolving the challenges facing Obbo-Aiyegunle, in addition to the Government programs.
He has assembled a crop of citizens of Obbo Community, both at home and abroad, whose experiences and skills cut across all professions, to his Think-Tank Team, under the leaderships of Adelusi Adeyemi and Adeyeye Oluwaseyi, as Chair and Deputy Chair respectively, with Femi Faseyi as the Secretary. His challenge to the committee, among others, is to identify plausible, erudite, veteran, and devoted Obbo citizens across the world, to develop criterion for commencement, rejuvenation, and nourishing an industrious Obbo Community in the C21st.
As the world is becoming a global village, Obbo community is in a hurry to catch up with the rest of the world which is one of the cardinal outlooks of the newly installed Owa Adelodun. He has called on the citizens and residents of the community to pick pieces of the available space and opportunity for development of the community in a bid to return Obbo Community to its position of leadership within the confraternity of Ekiti Kingdoms and in Kwara state.
He has been encouraged to use the same transformation initiative program of National Open Apprenticeship Scheme at NDE, which addressed the main issue affecting Nigerians Youths, on Obbo Community Youths. Use the youth issue to design and implement programmes for combating the isolationist policy of Kwara State Government on the Community, and evolve laudable programs to bring the quiet, peace-loving, energetically blessed Obbo community to the new modern world.
Owa Adelodun's Ancestors are on his liberation journey as endorsed by the founder of the Obbo Kingdom, Fasemi, a Prince of Ife, a hunter, and great warrior. Owa Adelodun support is graced by Owa Alasi Ajayi Aromoseninu Alade (1902-1926), Obbo-Ori-Oke, under who the Obbo kingdom split into two. Owa Ogunbiyi Atobatele (1927-1936); Owa Fadumila Aromokeye (1936-1939); Owa Ojo Otoyo (1939-1940); Owa George Fagbemi, Odundun (1940-1974); (Owa James Adeosun Faseyi, Oyiyoyewo I (1975-2012). They are already drumming huge successes of Owa Adelodun's peaceful reign.
Owa Samuel Oluleye Adelodun reign, 2013, will bring more progress to Obbo Community comprising of Obbo-Aiyegunle, Obbo-Ile, Ora, and Ejiu.
Obbo Community history would not be complete without a reference to the Asiwaju of Obbo Community, Chief Joseph Ojo Daniel, the first Child born in new Obbo, christened Obbo-Aiyegunle, has spent his life time toward the progress of Obbo Community. He has been a blessing to Obbo Community; Owa Adelodun owes the Community the challenge of bringing back Obbo Community where it is historically rightly belongs.
Obbo Community has fashioned products that have benefitted the Community, its neighbors, Local Government, the State, Nigeria; and across the Universe as some of its products have been the first among equals in their respective private and public in Europe, and most especially in the United States of America. The new Owa could liberate the Community from the shackles of the political leaders who failed to recognise and appreciate the good work of Obbo Community.
Obbo-Aiyegunle is one of the communities technically cut-off from the rest of Kwarans. The community is linked with Ekiti State, through Eda-Oniyo tarred road which is less than 2 Kilometers to Obbo-Aiyegunle. The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Fayemi, from Ishan, which is less than 7 Kilos to Obbo-Aiyegunle, has awarded (March 2013) Ishan-Obbo-Aiyegunle road.
That is an embarrassment to Kwara State Government for neglecting one its responsibilities by abandoning Osi-Obbo-Aiyegunle 11 kilometers death-trap road; that was constructed through community efforts from 1935-1938.
By deduction, the Kwara State Government isolation policy of Obbo community is a pointer to the community to join its kith and kin in Ekiti State.
Ironically, the isolationist Kwara State policy on Obbo Community was due to the delay of boundary decision between the West and North, or Southern and Northern Protectorates, until 1901, which eventually cut-off Obbo-Aiyegunle from its Kith and Kin in the West, now Ekiti State.
Kwara Ekiti used to be an integral part of the larger Ekiti ethnic group, the majority of who live in Ekiti State. Notably among the Yoruba subgroup that resisted Fulani conquest are the Ekitis. This was when some of the Ekiti Kingdoms of Obbo, Otun, Ishan, and Aiyede including most of the Igbominas were detached to Northern Nigeria.
Between 1909 and 1919 however, these towns and villages moved North and South of the boundary necessitating long protests, police patrols, and collective fines to keep these kingdoms where the Colonial master wanted them to be. In the end, Otun town had to be returned to the West (now Ekiti State) in 1936, leaving only Obbo Kingdom, with small bits of Otun and Aiyede Kingdoms in the North.
The Ekitis in Northern Nigerian (now Kwara State) occupies a land area of 576 square kilometers with a population of about 105,000 (2006 Census). It now constitutes two distinct Local Government Areas in Kwara State: Ekiti and Oke-Ero.
Furthermore Obbo Kingdom used to be part of the former Ekiti Parapo Confederacy which comprised of 16 crowned Ekiti kingdoms, "Awon Oba Alade Merindinlogun," which are (in alphabetical order): Ado, Ara, Efon, Iddo, Obbo, Ogatan (Ogotun), Oke-Mesi, Otun, and Oye. In the Ekiti Confederation, the Owa L'Obbo was fourth in rank with the Ore of Otun being the first in rank, the Ewi of Ado second and the Elekole of Ikole third. As a matter of historical fact, in 1990, the Olobbo was regarded by his peers as the fourth in seniority of the sixteen 'Crowned' Ekiti Chiefs, and that the Olobbo, otherwise known as Oba of Obbo was in 1912 called Owa and again in 1915 and finally Owa'lobo in 1912.
At the later stage of the confederacy, the Owa L'Obbo was virtually recognized as being an equal of, and jointly occupying the third place with the Elekole of Ikole. Ironically, only Obboland was left in the old Ilorin Province (Kwara State), where there was the Emirate Council over the Christian Obboland. In effect, the Obboland has not been accorded its equitable chronological place.
On the other hand, the Kwara State Government has no respect for the historical position of Obboland, as enumerated in one of the Community's petition of Owa L'Obbo of Obboland, to His Excellency, the Governor of Nigeria, in 1935, found in Hermon Hodge, Gazetteer of Ilorin Province, 101-102; and in Temple, Northern Nigeria Tribes and Emirs, 101-107, 20H; R. Palmer, and in notes on Ekiti History (Ekiti Kings) (Kaduna: National Archives, File #739/1919, 1917). History and tradition of the Ekiti people should be a major yardstick for grading any Oba if such an exercise is sustainable.
We realize that the government could not solve all the problems at its disposal; considering the unnecessary yard sticks in the government circles today using Religion, Ethnicity, and the newly added variable of "Oga on Top," have infiltrated into the public service. The Community is noted for its self-help development efforts through community projects; as mentioned earlier, the connecting road from Obbo-Aiyegunle to Osi was done from 1936-1938; same method with roads connecting Obbo-Aiyegunle with Eda Oniyo, Iye, Ikun, and Ishan-Obbo-Aiyegunle road jointly constructed with Ishan Community.
Other community projects included a befitting Palace and provision for its Owa; Owa Atobatele Memorial Town Hall; Health Clinics and Centers; and a Maternity and Dispensary built since 1965; Market Stalls; a host of Elementary and Secondary Schools; The Police Post; The Doctor's Quarters and a Surgical Theatre (built with the Cottage Hospital); the market stalls at the Owa Lobbo's Market; a Dam for water supply, while the community has spent over N3million towards its maintenance.
The Community involvement is part of its efforts in complementing the government infrastructural facilities in Obbo-Aiyegunle. We believe this type of efforts should be the direction of the Community-focussed programs, bailing out their citizens, not necessarily waiting on the politically or religiously motivated government elephant projects for their personal purposes.
Owa Adelodun's role, as the ruler of his people, is to embrace all political parties within the confines of the Constitution, and attract some developing programs and projects into the community. He should be the Father to all political parties as endorsed by his subjects without selling his birthright to any political party. He has to divert his attention to the seemingly intractable problems facing the community.
Saraki administration goofed on the grading of Monarchs in Kwara State; wrongly danced against the culture and tradition of the people towards the political and religious yardsticks of the players in the State, definitely against the State of Harmony.
It is also a known fact that the Owa Lobbo of Obbo-Aiyegunle was recognized and given a Second Class Staff of Office in 2002 along with the Olosi of Osi, Olota of Odo-Owa, Aloffa of Iloffa, and Elekan of Ekan Meje. The Staff of office was eventually withdrawn from all of them in 2003, by Saraki's administration.
While those of Olosi of Osi, Olota of Odo-Owa, Aloffa of Iloffa, and Elekan of Ekan Meje were returned to them in 2004, that of Owa Lobbo of Obbo-Aiyegunle was not returned and no reason was adduced for this action; and when it was finally done, it was with Third Class. Despite that the community remained peaceful with the believe that the Government would make an adjustment to the misplacement of historical fact.
What Obbo-Aiyegunle citizens are clamoring for is for Kwara State Government to recognize the status of Owa Lobbo of Obbo-Aiyegunle as FIRST CLASS.
From our earlier discussion, specifically derived from the Morgan Commission's report, it is a fact that contemporaries of Owa Lobbo of Obbo (Owa Olobbo) are accordingly recognized as paramount natural Rulers, Class A, (i.e., First Class) Obas in Ondo State, (now Ekiti and Ondo States) of Nigeria. Kwara Ekiti Chiefs are left at the wolf's hands.
Among the First Class Obas of Ekiti State of Nigeria, who are Contemporaries of Owalobbo in Kwara State, are Deji of Akure, Elekole of Ikole, Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Ore of Otun, Ologotun of Ogotun, Olojudo of Ido, Alaye of Efon, Ajero of Ijero, Alara of Ara.
While the position of Owa Lobbo in Ekiti History in order of rank are the First is Ore of Otun (Northern Provinces now in Ekiti State); The Elekole of Ikole; The Ewi of Ado Ekiti; The Oba of Obbo (in Northern provinces); The Ajero of Ijero; The Alara of Ara; The Deji of Akure; The Alaiye of Efon; The Arinjale of Ise; The Olojudo of Iddo; The Oloye of Oye; The Ologotun of Ogotun; The Ogoga of Ikerre; The Oloye of Okemesi (or Oloja Oke of Igbo Odo); The Onitaji of Itaji; and the 16th is the Onishan of Ishan.
The big question is that, would the current Kwara State Executive Governor of Alhaji AbdulFatah Ahmed correct the mistake of the past administration he inherited, as the political spectrum in Kwara State is changing like the Louisiana Storm.
Kwara State Government should recognize that grading of Traditional Rulers in the State is beyond the political or ethnic consideration or inclination, but a re-affirmation of their position along Ekiti Kingdom.
The State Government should realize that the Monarchs are the first contacts with the people, the custodian and voice of tradition, custom and value of the people. They are the interpreters of history and morality. There has never been any doubt that Royal fathers remain veritable tools for grassroots mobilization, cohesion, socio-economic and political development. In effect the State Government should respect, honor and accorded whatever befits the Traditional Rulers historically, not politically, as the Owa Lobbo deserves the First like its lineage in Ekiti State.
Coincidentally the late Emir of Ilorin, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Sulu Gambari, Aiyelabowo V, who, as the Chairman of the Kwara State Traditional Council (or Council of Chiefs) on the criteria to be used in grading Obas in the Igbomina/Ekiti Division shortly before the 1970 grading of chiefs in Kwara State, stated that in its meeting minutes: "The Chairman, (the Emir of Ilorin) was of the opinion that only three Chiefs in the present Igbomina/Ekiti Division (as against 15 proposed and approved) were qualified for upgrading by reasons of historical position...the Olupo of Ajasse-Ipo, and the Olomu of Omu-Aran in Igbomina and the Olobo of Obbo in Ekiti."
Explaining further, the Emir noted that: "The Olupo was the leader of the section of the Igbomina who originated from old Oyo, while Olomu led the Igbominas who originate from Ila. In Ekiti area, the Ore of Awtun has been transferred to the West, it becomes obvious that Olobo was the most senior."
The Chairman further referred to the "Olobo who used to be carried in hammock in Ilorin as a mark of respect for his Seniority." In his views, it was wrong to grade every village head in Igbominal/Ekiti. This according to him is because: "the exit of the Oore of Otun to the West (now Ekiti State of Nigeria) in 1936, of course distinctly places the Owa'lobbo of Obboland in the first position over all the other Kwara Ekiti Obas''.
Chief C. O. Adebayo once reacted to the policy on grading of traditional Rulers in Kwara State when he stated, among other things, that, "Now that every recognized traditional ruler in Nupe land is first class, how come the Local Governments embracing the Ekiti of Kwara State have no first class ruler, whereas the quantification of history, a yardstick applied in Ilorin and elsewhere shows that Obas like the Owalobbo among others ranked high among beaded crown-wearing Ekiti Obas?"
Dr. A.R.W. Livingstone's Annual Report for 1916 (page 29 Vol.1.Par. 16) noted that "modernity should not be allowed to sway us away from history or tradition of recognizing the paramount rulers of the old Ekiti Kingdom to which the tributaries are supposed to be subservient". To sustain Traditional Institution in Kwara State, employing historical facts in the grading of traditional rulers will create greater peace and harmony among the Ekiti People and in Kwara State, most especially.
Doing everything possible to harmonize the State, should be one of the cardinal goals of the current administration; even though most Kwarans are of the opinion that it is an extension of Bukola Saraki's administration. However, there must be a point of reference as to the uniqueness of Alhaji AbdulFatah Ahmed's administration. We all subscribed to the continuity phenomenon for progress and development. It is a known fact when you distort culture and history, there is a way such history and culture distort such individual's life and generation.
Obbo Community is not mentally bankrupt as the past Kwara State administrations might have made it to be. Its citizens excel love, attached to their principles of patriotism, which might have been taken for granted by some Quarters.
Joint Efforts with the New Owa Adelodun is the way to go.
Any community that wants to move forward must eschew any form of acrimony that is capable of throwing any form of spanner into the wheel of progress of such community. The contestants for the traditional gizmo, occupied by Owa Adelodun, should support the progress the Community needs, as a matter of urgency, for every patriotic Obbo Citizens working together and harder. If there are differences, they must be ironed out in such a way that it will bring more progress to the Community. With the new Owa Adelodun, the sky would be the beginning of good things to come to Obbo Community.
Obbo citizens must eliminate their care-free attitude going by their academic and professional accomplishments. As the saying goes, "Of what use is the eye, if the mind be blind." Obbo should join forces and move the Community forward.
We are wishing the peace-loving, industrious, community of Obbo what they wish themselves in this modern jet age of progress with the newly installed Monarch, while wishing Owa Adelodun long life and robust reign in Obbo-Aiyegunle, marching the contributions of his Ancestors.
God helps those who help themselves.
Femi Ajayi is a Professor of Policy, Management & Conflict Resolution, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State