No rift between Alake and Olota – Lanre Bashorun
Recently, there have been heated tensions, disagreements between a host of communities in Ogun State. These issues have since caused tension in major parts of the state, particularly between the communities and their leaders.
In this emailed interview with The Guardian, Seriki of Otta Lanre Bashorun speaks about Ogun politics, government, governance, power-tussle among traditional rulers, the supremacy battle of the Yewas, Egbas and Awori descendants and the rumoured rift between Alake and Olota.
What is the unifying factor and differences among divisions in Ogun State, especially traditional leaders?
The major factor the state government felt they did to unify the traditional council or division is the major factor that is causing the biggest unrest within the traditional institutions. The lumping of people with different heritage, language, culture and tongue together to make a single traditional council is a huge problem. It feels like we are sitting on a keg of gun powder. Let me be clear, in politics and other fields it is possible to group people together as the government wishes but not traditionally.
The typical example is the continuous marginalisation of the Aworis by subjecting them to be under some alien traditional council that is not the same with their life and living is just big trouble.
You can not put a tiger and a dog in a cage and put the tail of the tiger on the hand of a dog, it is an invitation to acrimony.
Mind you am limiting myself to the traditional institution’s situation because that’s the field at which you approached me.
Have there been any changes (whether good or bad) since Dapo Abiodun’s election as governor?
If there have been any significant changes since the inception of HIs Excellency Prince Dapo Abiodun government. I will like to affirm positive to that, in the history of Ogun State, an Awori person has never been picked or elected to the position of Governor or Deputy. Prince Dapo Abiodun has broken the jinx, he appointed our daughter Engineer Noimat Salako Oyedele from Otta as his deputy and again another position that has eluded us the Aworis in the past was that of the Head of Service again Prince Dapo Abiodun has also picked our sister TPL Amoke Chokor as the Head of Service of Ogun state.
Let me also let you know that the situation of infrastructures in Awori land has been a case of intentional negligence, but that has also been a thing of the past, the present government is seriously looking towards our decayed road and social amenities., matter of fact, two major roads that link Lagos and Ogun state are undergoing serious rehabilitation and will be commissioned soonest.
How has the governor influenced matters between traditional rulers?
Well, let me say, I see this present Governor as a very good listener and very dynamic. He is very unique in his style of governing, I believe he will stamp out the marginalization of all the ethnic units in Ogun state especially the Aworis. The Aworis are the most marginalized ethnic group on this part of western Nigeria. The government need to as a matter of urgency use his office and influence to let the Awori Kingdom be independent of the Egbas and the Yewas.
Are Aworis marginalized?
There is a saying that the Story of the forest has always favoured the Hunter until the Lion learns to read, write and speak. The Aworis have been marginalized for a very long time but the Awori have not been speaking out, or maybe it is due to lack of proper representation. In Otta we have a professor of Mass Communication as the Oba of Otta, a Barrister as the Oba of Agbara, and so on, the Awori has now started doing what they ought to have been doing for all these years.
The issue of Awori traditional council is a case that is long overdue, every Awori indigene is very passionate about this issue. I don’t see the point in putting someone in the prison and giving that prisoner all sort of amenities, the basic fundamental human right is freedom. We want our freedom. Most of this Awori throne is far older and superior to those that they are placing them under. The first Olota was installed in the early 14th century against some Obas that came in the late 18th century. How could one now see any sense in placing the whole of Awori under Yewas and Egbas.
We don’t have anything in common at all, listen we doing our Egungun festival right now, the Egungun happens to be one of the highest festivals in Awori land, you will never see the Alake to come and perform any rite in our land. Matter of fact we have traditions that Alake or Olu of Yewa cannot even witness, how then would they now want to lord over us or represent us.
There are rumours that there is a rift between Alake and Olota. Is this true?
There is no rift between the two revered Obas, the Olota has huge regard for his Majesty the Alake of Egbaland and I’m sure it is mutual. The major difference is that of cultural and historical facts. We have a throne that has been on record since 1621 I mean the first 1621 as recorded but we even have oral records that Olota has been in existence since single digits century. Olota is only trying to put things in perspective and order. You can’t expect to place the Olota of Otta in a traditional council that is far younger than him, mind you we are not talking about the individual but the throne. I’m sure you guys could dig out information about Otta and you will realise how Otta has been subjected to all sort of marginalization.
However so, Kabiesi Olota and Alake do enjoy a cordial mutual respect relationship. We only frown when Alake and other Egba obas will want to cross over like 5 to 6 local government areas to come and install Obas and Baales on our land.
What is the solution?
Awori traditional council is now, a council of Awori nation, traditional rulers with the same culture, same behaviour, same tongue, same heritage and same historical heritage. I don’t see any solution otherwise.