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FEATURE ARTICLE

Dr. Wumi AkintideThursday, August 12, 2010
Wumione@AOL.com
New York, NY, USA

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SELECTING A NEW DEJI OF AKURE:
A WORD OF ADVICE TO THE 16 KING MAKERS (PART II)

Continued from Part I

have promised in my part I to this article that I was going to take a leave of absence on the Deji's affair for quite some time unless I have a compelling reason to quickly revisit the subject .


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I had to know as a student of History and a former Secretary to the only Asodeboyede Ruling Dynasty before it was broken into two in 1991 by Governor Sunday Olukoya for political expediency, and before it was rubber-stamped by the Agagu Government in 2005. I knew that selecting a new Deji at any point in my life time is never going to be a cake walk. There are bound to be twists and turns along the way. The process has always been prolonged by exigencies and contraptions sometimes beyond the control of the major players in the selection process. The process may be taking far longer time now than the period predating Deji Afunbiowo's era due to the incursion and influence of money and politics, and because as I said before in part I, that the older generation of king makers we had before, were far more honorable and less driven by a morbid craze to make money than their current counterparts.

Deji Odundun died early in 1890 after only 8 years on the throne. Before the year ran out Deji Arosoye was crowned. He, Deji Arosoye also made his transition in 1897 and less than a year Deji Afunbiowo Adesida who had run but lost to Odundun and Arosoye was literarily drafted and crowned the Deji because his nemesis Sao Apatapiti's objection to his selection was overruled by the unanimity of the remaining king makers as I pointed out in my book, "The Lion King and the Cubs, a biography of Deji Afunbiowo Adesida from 1897 to 1957. Deji Agunsoye Ademuagun Adesida was crowned the Deji at 32 within a year of the death of his father, and he made his transition in 1973 at 48. It took roughly 2 years for Deji Adelegan Otutubiosun Adesida to succeed him. When Deji Otutubiosun changed mortality for immortality in 1991, it took less than a year for Deji Ataiyese Adesida to succeed Deji Adelegan. He, Deji Ataiyese passed away in 1999 at 72 and it took nearly 6 years for deposed Deji Osupa to succeed him on November 26, 2005 for precisely the reason I have highlighted in this write-up.

There is no doubt that the older generation of king makers did demand and take their traditional kola like the current king makers, they surely did not live or die by it. They put the ultimate interest of the town far and beyond their own selfish interest. They did not profess or feign Christianity like the current ones. The great majority of them believed in Ifa divination and they were not embarrassed to publicly acknowledge that. The Ifa consultants of their own era were far more honest and dependable than the Ifa consultants of today most of whom are more like Professor Peller, the magician, in their instincts. The Ifa consultants of today live and die for money and plenty of it. If the price is right their Ifa could turn 180 degrees to knowingly pervert the cause of justice. There is plenty of blame to go around. and under no condition am I trying to put all the blame on the king makers alone who are only reflecting the current values of our present generation of Nigerians, myself included, who are decidedly worse than our forefathers and ancestors if the truth must be told.

I have just read online that a list of nine candidates from the Ojijigogun Ruling House has now been submitted to the king makers. I have also read a rejoinder by one aggrieved candidate named Arosoye who is presumably a grand child who is complaining that his name had been left out of the list, even though he had shown interest in the selection exercise. I am even surprised that the list is not more than 9, given the acrimony and the number of units bandied together in what is today called the Ojijigogun Ruling House. I myself happen to belong to that House as a grandchild of Deji Afunbiowo Adesida and a great grandchild of Deji Ojijigogun the progenitor of that Ruling House. The six individuals who are recognized as units in that household were Ojijigogun, Arosoye, Afunbiowo, Agunsoye Ademuagun, Adelegan Otutubiosun, Ataiyese Adebobajo.

I have to believe that many of the 9 candiddates are non-omo-ori ite grand and great grand children of all the 6 individuals I have listed. The pure omo-ori-ite among them have to be mostly children of Afunbiowo, Agunsoye, Otutubiosun and Ataiyese

It definitely crossed my mind to submit my name for consideration even though my claim to the throne came from the female line thru my mother Princess Adediwura Aderemi Akintide nee Afunbiowo Adesida. I was encouraged in that desire by a great number of friends and fans who have read many of my series on the Deji and felt that I would make a good candidate for the position. I believed so too, and I immediately summoned a meeting of all my children to discuss the pros and cons of my interest and to advise my best course of action. I was persuaded out of it by a clear majority my children for very legitimate reasons from their own perspective alone. But that was not my only reason for not rushing home to file for nomination because I strongly believed till now that I am as qualified as any of the individuals running, and I knew I could make a difference if I did.

The major reason I listened to my heart and stopped short of filing for the nomination was because I thought it would render this kind of advice and most of the things I have written in my series on the Deji a little bit of a hypocritical self-service. Many of my readers and the other contestants might be quick to point out I was only seeking my own enlightened self interest and not speaking the truth as I knew it. That factor weighed very heavily on my decision not to run. I don't want to sound a little bit like Goodluck Jonathan when he decided to throw his hat to the ring as a candidate for the presidency of Nigeria despite his declared intention and determination to conduct a free and fair election that Nigeria and the whole world can truly respect. Certainly, Mr Jonathan cannot be seen to be a disinterested judge in his own case, given the level and intensity of corruption and electoral fraud in Nigeria. I still hold that truth to be self-evident and that is my big reason for not running as a candidate for the Deji's throne now.

Because I have taken myself out of contention, I believe I have crossed the Rubicorn and can boldly speak my mind about advising the king makers and telling the truth about the selection of the new Deji, given all the blunders committed in the selection not only of Ileri Oluwa as Deji-elect before Deji "Afesekubiojo" eventually got the nod of the king makers and Agagu Government in 2005.

Selecting the next Deji must be viewed with all seriousness this time. No stone must be left unturned this time around. If individuals vying for Governorship or the Presidency or even for for the post of Permanent Secretaries in the Federation are now required to take a competency test which "prima facie" sound ludicrous depending on whom you ask, it is now not too much to ask any of these candidates for the Deji's throne to at least do one or two debates on Television to be sponsored by patriotic organizations like the Akure Development Forum, Akure National Union, Akure Inner Circle and the great Akure Committee of Friends and some of the Akure National Union in Great Britain, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Mary Land and the Akure Progressive Association of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. There could also be individual patriots like me and so many others that I know who will be willing to financially sponsor such a debate for 90 minutes on Television.

It is true that power failure in Nigeria could conceivably make such a proposition a non-starter, but it is something to think about and I would volunteer to serve as one of the moderators for such a debate because I love Akure that much, and would go to any length to salvage her interest in every way I am able. Such a move will be a first in Nigeria, and it could go a long way to eliminate some of the charllatans asking to be crowned a Deji which is a life appointment. That will make sure that the selection is not going to be left to the king makers or the fake "Owonifa" consultants who are now legion in our various communities from coast to coast and from sea to shining sea. If I am saying that for anybody who will be a traditional ruler, you can imagine what I would canvass for those seeking political offices in our country

Traditional rulers hold their titles for life, and will pass it on to a generation of their children and grandchildren naturally. It is a very important position even though its proliferation has bastardized their global role across the country, but there are still a few good eggs among them who still hold and value their positions with enormous pride and integrity. I have just finished reading "Awujale", a biography of Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, Ogbagba the II of Ijebu Land. I could only scratch my head as I compare the Awujale with the thug who has just been deposed in Akure. It is time for Akure to craft a new template for how traditional rulers are selected and forget the pretension that dependable Ifa consultants or devotees still exist anywhere in our country.

My next advice to the Akure king makers is to deemphasize the fact that age or youthfulness alone must be the criteria for selecting a candidate. It could still be a factor but not the most important factor. Character, education, integrity, track record, their sense of History and parentage if known and researched have to be major factors to be considered. Deji Afunbiowo became the Deji at 65. Deji Otutubiosun became the Deji at 68. Deji Ataiyese became the Deji at 64. Deji Ademuagun Agunsoye became the Deji at 32 and he died at 48 after 16 years and 23 days on the throne. If you compare the track records of these individuals, you will see why I submit that youthfulness alone does not necessarily make a wise, mature and responsible and proactive traditional ruler.

I recall Oba Adenipekun the Saki of Arigidi one of the youngest Sakis ever crowned in that town. I recall Oba Adeleye Adetunla, the Elekole of Ikole who became the Elekole at a relatively young age and has grown up to be one of the greatest Elekoles in living memory. So is Kabiyesi Sikiru Adetona, who became the Awujale at 25 and he recently celebrated his 50th meritorious years on the throne early this year. These few Kabiyesis have proved that age and youthfulness need not be a disqualifier . As a matter of fact, I have to recall the case of one little boy named "Ikeagbuzi" who was crowned the Obi of Agbor at less than 3 years of age, and he had to be assisted by a caretaker committee to help him in governing his domain before he was old enough to rule for himself. That was the exception to the rule, if I can call it that but it was adherence to the tradition and culture of the Ika Ibos that necessitated that, and I am not criticizing it. All I am saying is that age is important but it must not be over emphasized.

I am anxiously waiting to see the list of the candidates for the new Deji and who their parents were, and what contributions they have made to Akure in her evolution to a sprawling capital city it has become. I know one or two of them. Those I know the most come from the Adesida unit to which I belong and the Adegoroye wing who are all first cousins to the Adesidas, and they have as much right as the Adesidas to run and be selected for the throne. Pa Futuroti of blessed memory was the half brother of Deji Afunbiowo Adesida and they both ran for the throne three consecutive times. Nobody expected Afunbiowo to live for as long as he did after his coronation at 65. He reigned for no less than 60 years profoundly changing the course of Akure History as I narrated in my "Lion King and The Cubs.

Prince Ademola Adegoroye who is one of the contestants is a lawyer and politician and the third child of cousin late Lawyer Adedeji Adegoroye, a great patriot who loved Akure dearly and he went to great length to fight for Akure's development. Samething with his wife the mother of Ademola who was for many years a school teacher in Akure and now the proprietor of one of the best nursery and primary schools in Akure. She was a pillar of support to her husband in Akure. I can see Ademola as a formidable candidate for the throne.

The same thing goes for Prince Adebiyi Adesida whom I know the best because his father took my mother in his wings for many years like he did for many of his father's children, two out of whom later became the Deji in their own right. I am talking of Deji Ademuagun Adesida and Deji Ataiyese Adesida. The others were Prince Adeteye and late Prince Moradeyo Adesida. These princes all lived in the house of Prince JS Adegboye while they were growing up. Prince Adebiyi is the son of Prince J. S. Adegboye Adesida who was himself a heir apparent in his life time.

There is no way on earth that either prince Ademuagun or Prince Adebobajo Adesida or any Prince from the Adesida household could have challenged Prince Adegboye for the throne had he survived his father, Deji Afunbiowo. It was in recognition of that sentiment and love and popularity of Prince J. S Adegboye that his first son, late Prince Adewole Adesida was only a heartbeat from the throne in 1975 when the majority of the king makers, 9 out of 15 had decided to cast their vote for him to become the next Deji. Because he was considered a non-omo-ori-ite at the time, and because the omo-ori-ite provision has not been expunged from the Deji's Declaration, that was how come Prince Adewole delivered his nine king makers to give their support to Prince Adelegan who later became the 43rd Deji of Akure in 1975.

Prince Adewole, a graduate of the London School of Economics and an alumnus of Harvard University later retired as a Permanent Secretary in Ondo State and later as a member of the Ondo State Civil Service Commission before his death a few years ago. He was a prince among princes and I was proud to describe him in my oration at his burial in Akure as "the best Deji Akure never had". He later became the Honorary second Chairman of the Sergeant Akintide Educational Foundation for Scholarships for Children of Ex-Service men I have had the honor to immortalize the contributions of my late father to the second World War in 1993. He held that position till his death.

If any of his sons or brother is running, I would have no qualms supporting them with everything I got in recognition of their father's outstanding contributions and that of his late father, Prince J. S. Adegboye to the Adesida family in particular and to the whole of Akure. Prince J. S. Adegboye was, at one time, considered one of the first millionaires and philantropists in Akure. Prince Adebiyi Adesida is running for that office running on the coatails of his late father and Prince Adewole quite apart from his personal credentials and attributes for that office. I can say the same thing for any of the other Adesidas running. They all can run for that office based on the imperishable legacies of our progenitor, Deji Afunbiowo Adesida arguably the best Deji and the architect of what I call the golden century of Akure History from 1897 to 1997 and beyond.

Prince Adebiyi an Agric economist by profession did work for some time at the Obasanjo Farms at Otta, and he came to be close to Obasanjo for that reason. Those who may want to use the Obasanjo unpopularity with a cross section of Akure or Yoruba people to tarnish Prince Adebiyi's claim to the throne would be less than honest or fair to the young man. I am not a personal fan of Obasanjo. I have written articles criticizing him for a number of things he has done. I have also written a few praising him because hate him or like him, Obasanjo has become a force to reckon with in Nigeria and Yoruba History. There is one particular role he played in Akure History which I would like to honor in this write-up

But for Obasanjo's help and intervention, I strongly believe that the Justice Adenekan Ademola Commission of Enquiry set up by Governor Jemibewon in 1975 would have torpedoed the selection of Deji Adelegan and ordered a new selection exercise which could possibly have tipped the balance in favor of Prince Adebobajo Adesida who scored 5 votes of the king makers to the nine votes transferred to Prince Adelegan by Prince Adewole's supporters among the king makers while only one, Chief Ojumu voted for Prince M. A Adedeji. Someway somehow Prince Adelegan got the ears of Obasanjo as Head of State at the time. Before the announcement of the Commission's report Obasanjo invited Governor Jemibewon to Lagos and he literarily ordered him to reaffirm the selection of the Prince Adelegan who got 9 votes. Obasanjo told Jemibewon the man who got 5 votes should accept the verdict of the king makers and await his turn when his senior brother dies. Period.

That was the end of the Enquiry and the stalemate. Jemibewon ended the controversy and went to Akure to present Deji Adelegan with his staff of office. Many in Akure including myself hated Obasanjo for doing so, but the man did the right thing in retrospect, and I applaud him for that till tomorrow.

By the same token I hated Obasanjo for wanting to impose Agagu on the people of Ondo State by trying to blackmail Governor Mimiko. Obasanjo could easily have forced the hands of Governor Agagu not to go along with the decision of Sunday Olukoya to create the Osupa/Odundun Family because of his support for Prince Adebiyi at the time. Obasanjo did not do that, and that was how the deposed Deji Osupa was able to get his selection confirmed. Obasanjo is an enigma who has his own mind. That Prince Adebiyi worked for him and was very close to him should not be a disqualifier and anybody wanting to use that contact against the prince in this selection exercise are being clever by half. Being close to Obasanjo in that context should not be seen as a minus. Having Obasanjo on your corner must not be seen as leprous as it looks all the time. Keep in mind that the man is the first and only Yoruba man to be the longest serving President of Nigeria till now. He has got to have something going for him to go that far in our History. "Sukunmus Riranmus" that we are crying or shedding tears must not necessarily block our vision.

I am waiting to see where the pendulum is going to swing and what the king makers are going to do this time around. There is a lot of speculation and rumors making the rounds in Akure today as newspaper reporters slant their newspaper reporting in favor of the candidates able to grease their palms better than others. Don't ever believe everything you read online or in newspapers until you check it out or verify the information thru reliable sources. I urge the kingmakers to do the right thing this time as this may well be the last time most of them would have a chance to be asked to pick a new Deji. They must never forget that.

I rest my case.

Continued from Part I

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