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Being king without constitutional powers is extremely difficult — HRM the Eburu of Iba

By Gabriel Omonhinmin
25 August 2019   |   4:11 am
Iba in Ifelodun Local Government Area Council of Osun State migrated from Ile-Ife. Iba people are from the lineage of Ooni Obalufon Osangangan, who was the 4th or 6th Ooni of Ile-Ife.

Ebura of Iba

Prince Adekunle Adeogun Okunoye Oyedeji ll was born 51 years ago to Prince Joseph Adeboye Okunoye of Oyedeji Alamu Ruling House of Iba in Osun State. He was unanimously nominated by the kingmakers and appointed an Oba-elect, with little or no opposition.

He holds a doctorate degree in Computer Science/Information Systems at the University of Turku, Turku Finland. He worked with the defunct Credit Bank in Lagos, Nigeria, and Quantum Associates, Banjul in The Gambia and in the United Kingdom. He was at the Medical Research Council Laboratories (MRC) in Fajara, The Gambia, when he was appointed the Eburu of Iba in 2016.

• Councils Are Too Reckless To Have Autonomy
• Monarchs Have No Budgets To Run Their Palaces

Who are the Ibas? From where did they migrate?
Iba in Ifelodun Local Government Area Council of Osun State migrated from Ile-Ife. Iba people are from the lineage of Ooni Obalufon Osangangan, who was the 4th or 6th Ooni of Ile-Ife. So, for all those who care to know, Ile-Ife is our ancestral home. We, therefore, have a very strong link with Ile-Ife people, as we belong to the old Ife dynasty. But administratively and in recent times, we are under Oyo Kingdom that controls the Osun division, of which we are part.

We are predominantly an agrarian community. We are into big time tomato, cassava, potato and maize farming. We are also big in the areas of cash crops— cocoa, palm oil and plantain. I must confess I take great pride in celebrating the rural-ness of this community.
But sadly, we don’t know our population, as we haven’t got the exact statistics that can tell us the actual population of this place. I am not, therefore, in a position to estimate our population. The figures the National Population Commission (NPC) have given us over the years did not correspond with what we have on ground. As far as I am concerned, those figures are not reliable at all.

Presently, I belong to the Osun State Council of Traditional Rulers headed by the current Ooni of Ife, the Arole Oodua, Ooni
Adeyeye Ogunwusi. And under his able leadership, Obas in Osun State have been meeting regularly. It is wrong for anyone to assume that the Osun Council of Traditional Rulers has not been meeting. We began meeting immediately the current Governor, His
Excellency, Adegboyega Oyetola assumed office.

In January this year, immediately the Governor met with all the obas in the state, the Osun State Council of Traditional Rulers began to meet. So far, we have held five meetings and missed two. These meetings have brought about so much understanding among the traditional rulers in the state, and we have also begun to understand ourselves better in all that we do as obas.

How have you been coping since becoming the Oba?
I must say it is God’s grace that I am still here. I was virtually co-opted into this position. Governance isn’t an easy task. I have survived so far, due to my total dedication to this assignment. In dealing with many people, there are so many factors one has to put into consideration before reaching an acceptable conclusion on all matters.

Being a king under the present dispensation is extremely difficult, because no king or oba has constitutional powers backing him. So, from the foregoing, what the oba does is nothing more than exercising what I call ‘moral influence.’ From this, the monarchical institution is daily sustained by the people’s acceptance of the institution. So, I would say things are a bit okay, though somehow very challenging.

There is so much I would personally want to accomplish, to hasten my domain’s development. Unfortunately, however, I don’t have money to do them, as I do not have any budget. It is the same problems most obas and kings across the country are facing. To run a palace on a daily basis is quite difficult.

In this regard, traditional rulers must not fail to thank the late General Sani Abacha, who decreed that five percent of the Local Government Allocations be handed over to obas and kings. Presently, obas do not have any share in what Local Government Area Councils generate internally as revenue in our domain. It would have been very nice, if five percent of the IGR in our domain were added to the money given to us to run our palaces.

With the very little revenue we get from what comes to Local Government Councils, it is extremely difficult to run traditional institutions across the country. Here lies our dilemma.

Before now, I was all for local government autonomy. But knowing what I know today, and from the information available to some of us,
and from our past and present interactions with politicians, who head Local Councils across the country, the recklessness at local government level is far more serious than what obtains at state and Federal Government levels.

I would have expatiated on the issue, but I want to exercise some restraint, because I don’t want one young man to wake up one morning and call on me to come and substantiate my allegations with documents, even though the whole world knows what is going on at the local government.

My take, therefore, is that it will be extremely dangerous to allow huge sums of money to go directly into the hands of incompetent and mostly illiterate people, who make up the bulk of the people running our local government area councils. It is going to be a very big problem, if this is allowed without putting in place stringent
measures to checkmate them.

Just go round my local government area council, as an example.
You’ll discover that most of these council Chairmen are doing practically nothing to develop their respective areas. Sending their allocations through state governments is a far better option, which produces more results.

Let us assume that the little sum that gets to the local government chairmen through their state governments is never properly managed, as it is shared as soon as it comes in. This type of atrocity is daily committed, even when there is direct supervision from state governments. You can, therefore, imagine what will happen, when huge sums are sent from the Federation Account to local government without any form of supervision.

On the plus side, now that an attempt is being made to give local government area councils autonomy and empower them financially, it might help to attract qualified persons to administer local governments. But presently, the qualities of the characters that manage local councils across the country are nothing to write home about. And if a traditional ruler in his domain attempts to correct this, he is blackmailed outrightly by these politicians.

What they do at the local government level is just like a syndicate. There is no extent they can’t go, when a traditional ruler tries to correct them. I am not at all in support of money going to council chairmen directly without any regulation. It’s just like going from frying pan to fire.

Very many of these council chairmen don’t have any idea of what to do when they get to office. At least, when a man or woman is seeking office, he or she should have a basic plan on what to do, when elected into office. I had tried in the past to rub minds with the council chairmen in my domain, but they didn’t listen to me. All that I have been saying is in context of what is happening in my own area of Osun State. When you question things, the council officials don’t even want to talk to you as an Oba, once you raise such issues.

All the infraction by council chairmen is taking place because there is nothing legal that permits traditional rulers to make inputs into what council chairmen and councilors are doing. Whatever relationship there is between Obas and council officials is informal. The only way these brazen infractions can be stopped is for the state
government to further strengthen its oversight functions.

What developmental plans do you have for your domain?
My primary concern is how to develop Iba. Immediately I ascended the throne, the first move I made was to call for a development summit among my people. The summit, I must say, wasn’t quite as successful as I would have wanted. I took time to prepare a strategic plan, detailing where we are now and where we ought to be. I sent the document to all my people home and abroad, but surprisingly, there was no response.

I sat all through with a consultant to draw up a 10-year development plan for Iba, but the document did not get adequate response from my people. We surely need income to be able to carry out our plans. I, therefore, tried raising funds, as we have to rely on the generosity of our communities and our people. We were not able to raise the type of money we wanted to develop this place the way I want it.

It is my belief that my people don’t just have money. But if we must develop at the pace we want, we can’t continue to rely absolutely on government to do things for us. This is part of the reasons I will continue to make efforts to raise adequate money for the development of Iba. If we were as lucky as other communities where you have many rich individuals, the task would have been much easier for me. The money is trickling in, but the responses have not been so encouraging. No matter what, I will keep trying, as we must develop Iba during my reign by the special grace of God.

The few Iba sons and daughters that have the money have been participating in all our projects. As far as I am concerned, development is a complete thing. We must, therefore, do all within our powers to support Osun State government. Osun State government is doing its utmost best to develop Iba.