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Lessons of history for Oba Akiolu



Oba Akiolu

LAGOS or Eko, apart from being cosmopolitan, is the largest city in Sub-Saharan Africa, with population as large as Ghana’s. Apart from being the business hub of Nigeria, it is the second fastest growing city in Africa and the seventh in the world.

At the Legislative Council of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo man was the member representing Lagos between 1947 and 1951 and Zik later became the leader of the opposition in the Western Region House of Assembly between 1952 and 1953, before becoming member for Onitsha in the Eastern House of Assembly and later Premier of the Eastern Region House of Assembly between 1954 and 1960, after he had dislodged Professor Eyo Ita, the then Premier of the Eastern Region.

It is a common historical fact that Dr. Azikiwe, an Igbo man, would have become the first Premier and Leader of the government business of the Western Region in 1952 but for the deft political moves and sagacity of members of the Ibadan People’s Party (IPP), who won all the six parliamentary seats in Ibadan.

Of the six elected IPP members, only Chief Adegoke Adelabu, the stormy petrel of the Western Region politics joined the NCNC and the rest of the members – A.M.A Akinloye, Chief Daniel T. Akinbiyi (who later became the Olubadan of Ibadan), Chief S. Owoole Lanlehin, Moyosore Aboderin, S.A Akinyemi opted for the Action Group to swell the ranks of the 38 elected members, to enable the Action Group form the government of the Western Region to the deep dismay, bewilderment and consternation of the NCNC who had thought that their leader would lead the first regional government and become the first Premier of the Western Region.

The NCNC/Independent had 25 members, IPP, six (6); Ondo Improvement League, two (2); Out Edo candidates won the three (3) Benin seats, namely Chief S.O. Ighodalo, Chief Humphrey Omo-Osagie, Chief Chike Ekwuyasi. Ighodalo opted for the AG while the latter two went to the NCNC.

The three AG secretaries, who had run as independents, were Chief M.O. Awosika from Ondo Improvement League and Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola (Independent, Ijebu-Ode) and Chief Osuntokun from Oke-Imesi Ekiti had swelled the number of the AG elected members.

All these transactions had taken place before the inauguration of the Regional Parliament in 1952, unknown to the NCNC. The AG had successfully lured 20 victorious candidates of the smaller rival parties to form the Regional Government of the Western Region from its 38 members, thus truncating the ambition of Dr. Azikiwe in the region. It was a masterstroke and Dr. Azikwe, till death, could not get out of this shock.

The AG-led government, by way of compensation, appointed Chief A.M.A Akinloye as the Minister of Agricultural Resources. The battle line had been drawn and Dr. Azikwe – the Owele of Onitsha, had no choice than to go back home, that is to the Eastern Region.

Professor Eyo Ita, though from the minority group of the COR (Cross River, Ogoja River axis), was at this time of Dr. Azikwe’s travails in the Western Region, Leader of Government Business, Eastern Region of Nigeria and was in office from 1951-1953 when he was supplanted through intrigues, manipulations and subterfuge by Dr. Azikwe who was the leader of opposition in the Western Regional Assembly to become the Leader, Government Business of the Eastern Region in 1953.

The NCNC was then majorly referred to as the Igbo Party, whilst the AG was usually referred to also as Yoruba Party.

In the heat of the Regional crisis in 1962, the member representing Ajeromi/ Ifelodun/Badagry in Lagos was an Igbo – Hon. E. Ebubedike, from Ozubulu in present-day Anambra State. Ebubedike on May 25, 1962 was the honourable member who broke the maze – the insignia of authority of the Parliament and threw it at the Speaker of the Parliament – Prince Adeleke Adedoyin, which ignited the fracas that eventually led to the closure of the Parliament and the eventual declaration of the State of Emergency in the Western Region on May 29, 1962. This incidence later snowballed into military take-over of January 15, 1966.

It is a funny coincidence that the same seat held by Hon. Ebubedike, an Igbo man, in Ajeromi/Ifelodun/Badagry Constituency in the First Republic, has now gone back to Mr. Oghene Egbo, who recently won the Amuwo-Odofin Federal Constituency of Lagos on the platform of PDP in the March 28, 2015 federal elections.

In the politics of Lagos and its environs, the Igbos and its acolytes have always held sway. Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu (Pekelemesi), Chief Theophilus O.S Benson, Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya, Chief Olu Akinfosile were distinguished and notable Yoruba politicians in their life-time and were equally close confidants of the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe. T.O.S Benson (Nigeria’s first Minister of Information) had earlier won the Yaba Federal seat for the NCNC and in 1964 ran again as Independent Candidate to defeat his former Constituency Secretary, Maduagwu Moronu, an Oba man of the Igbo clan; as a candidate for Yaba Federal seat.

Oba Adeyinka Oyekan II (February 1965 – March 2003) was the immediate predecessor of Oba Rilwan Akiolu, who was member of the Western House of Chiefs, during the Western Regional crisis which resulted in the loss of lives. He was regarded as a pacifist and a bridge- builder during his reign as Oba of Lagos. He was amiable and easy-going and was one of Nigeria’s early pharmacists, having read Pharmacy at Yaba College of Higher Education, Yaba Lagos.

His immediate predecessor, Oba Musendiku Buraimo Adeniji Adele, Oba of Lagos, Vice-President of the Nigerian Senate, the Federal Upper House in 1960 and President, Lagos Town Council was awarded CBE (Commander of the British Empire) and KBE (Knight of the British Empire) in 1956 and 1962 respectively by the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II. He was a completely detribalized Oba, having worked as Provincial Treasurer in Kano.

Oba Rilwan Akiolu II, the current Lagos monarch, has a lot to learn from these two distinguished forebears and rulers, who in their lifetime, were noble, humble, resourceful, amiable, charismatic but not autocratic.
Perhaps, we need to remind his imperial majesty of the immortal words of George Santayana, “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat its failures.”

It is against this backdrop that the diatribe of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the other day against the Igbo in Lagos really calls for wide condemnation and public reproach by peace-loving Nigerians. The hate speech apparently shows a complete lack of understanding of the history of Lagos by the Lagos Potentate.

•Kehinde is a lawyer and former member of the House of Representatives.




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  • O’seun Ogunseitan

    Is it not curious that other nationalities are still to represent the Igbos in Igboland, even 53 years after they started representing others in lands that are not their ancestral lands. Also in Yorubaland some of today’s adults grew up to know Baba Kano and Mama Ganye as relations who settled in northern parts of Lagos. How come there are no Mama Onitsha or Baba Enugu. It is definitely not because these eastern lands hold no inviting economic fortunes for non-easterners to seek. To be fair, today’s issues demand serious introspection from the Igbos in how they relate to people of other tribes particularly when issues bother on money.

    • chris angarabiri

      Have you bothered to ask your elders why many of them will not venture into igbo land and those that ventured excelled. Ask your elders who was the first mayor of Enugu; they will tell you that he is a yoruba man. It’s unfortunate that those who refused to understand that ethnic politics was introduced into nigerian politics by the Sage; Chief Awolowo of blessed memory (love him or hate him he still remained that president that nigeria never had; though because of small snag in his temperament) when he instigated cross carpeting in nigerian politics. If you have balls or as Warri people will say (if you get liver) go to Igbo land and struggle just like they go to any where in the country and excel. It’s not because the Igbos don’t accept people; it’s just that the competition in Igbo land is very high and only the fittest survive.

      • Yorubaronu

        There is no need to exaggerate your wondering nature to all and sundries. Your problem is that your have forgotten the high crimes that come with your territory and the distrust you have for people that can not participate in your age grade ceremonies, you have also forgotten the forbidden lands issues that bar ”foreigners” from purchasing.
        I will not fault you on self importance but i am just curious why most of you do not stay behind and make a living if it is just a struggle all day long without returns on investment. Why do your parents go about looking for easy ride which you can not dare do in your own domain.
        Do you know that other peoples domain that seems calm and calmer for you than your environment do have their own challenges too? Is it because they are not that hawkish and mean. Good luck to you as people are getting to know you well in your true colors.
        But remember some are born with gold and others are to work hard to get an ounce of it. I know the one i belong. Please keep your struggling life to yourself and your environment. You do not have to be mean and wicked to be human. I have seen a lot of you lots i am afraid i am not impressed with your kind of aggressive business,
        I would rather have my environment clean and decent than having it scattered with a whole lot of rubbish from gods no where you got them from.Your business ethics are faulty to the tilts and i am to say there is no format. I think you need to work on that. just my take. .

        • Fuzio

          Mr. ignoramus who tries to hide his ignorance under the pretext of lofty virtues. What is the percentage of Igbos who live outside Igboland? Tell the whole world. Nigerian census figures cannot not help you here. Your brother Obasanjo’s last census posited that there are more buildings in Aba than inhabitants. So you can not answer that based on census figures. The reaction of Yoruba’s to the presence of Igbos in Lagos follows a familiar pattern. These reactions are mainly due to envy and a inferiority complex. You can deny it all you like but that is the fact. The Igbos owe nobody including you any explanation of how or where they wish to settle as far as we are all in this sinking ship called Nigeria.

          • Proud Yoruba

            Oh yes you do, we don’t have to have you in our land, there is nothing in the constitution that allows it. We are not the violent type, so we have to get you out through economic embargo, when you are no longer successful in Lagos and other Yoruba land, you will leave. It is our welcoming and accomodating way that has kept you there this long, we don’t need you, and how can we envy people who are parasites in our. Land? You have absolutely nothing to be proud of.

            We are tired of you and you will leave!

          • Fuzio

            Ibos are not in Lagos by your invitation. They will also not leave by your insistence. That is a settled fact. If you don’t like it jump in front of a moving train. There is nothing you can do about it. If you think what happened in Port Harcourt can repeat in Lagos, then you are living in fools paradise. this is 2015 and not 1970. You will continue to pay rent to your Ibo landlord.

          • Proud Yoruba

            Ibo parasites are in Lagos only because we Yorubas allow it. Period. If you don’t see that, then you are not only a lazy parasite, but also a dunce. We did not invite you, but we gave you jobs, livelihood, and shelter, because we felt sorry for you. With a stroke of the pen, we can take it all back. We have plans in operation, you will find yourself back in your village before you know it. You can brag here all you want, but even you as a dunce know what is the truth.

            I suppose when Fashola deported your fellow parasites back to anambra, that did not happen, right? The only place you have a right to is your state of origin.

            What ibo landlord? You are too stupid to realize that any property you’ve bought is just a scheme for you to keep paying us ground rent so as to increase our IGR, so that we can keep developing our land, while yours remains a network of underdeveloped villages. Yorubas are always your landlord in our land, dunce. Go and ask your elders, they will explain it to you. You can’t outsmart Yorubas, because you are just too dumb! All mouth and no action, living like slaves in another man’s land, where is your dignity? You have nothing to be proud of, go back to develop your land!

          • Fuzio

            If you know the meaning of the word parasite, then you did not use it correctly in your post. The Ibos in Lagos are the engine of growth for that city. They are not sitting by the road side with plate in hand begging for alms or go to Alausa to look for government handout. Rather, they are out there bursting their backside day and night in an attempt to give their families a decent life. If you call that parasitic then you are beyond redemption. Yorubas did not allow anything. They are powerless to do something about it. Deep inside them they wish they could do something about it. The oba of Lagos already articulated that position for you. But this is 2015. It is only people like you (street urchins) who have nothing to lose that are bold enough to say it. The Ibos are not oblivious of this fact. They have contingency plans to deal with it should it come that.

          • Proud Yoruba

            See, it is because of your lies and bragging that we want you gone like yesterday. How can you come to a land that is thriving and most developed in Nigeria and start trying to take credit for its development? If you are engines, go and engine your own land now!

            You are parasites because you contribute nothing to our economy, yet you live off the fat of our land, you might as well be begging on the streets for all the goodwill that Yorubas have extended to ibo parasites, you bloody ingrates!

            You don’t know anything about our economy, but I can assure you that business and retail is not even 0.5% of our GDP, so what do you contribute again, Mr engine. You are wasting my time, I have nothing else to say to you except go and develop your own land, no one else will do it for you!

          • Fuzio

            Google “Adebayor’s astonishing accusations against his family” and then come back here and tell us why you are still proud to be Yoruba.

          • Fuzio

            It is only ignorant folks like you that delude themselves into believing that retail is the only thing that Ibos do. That is why I called you a street urchin. Traders are the easiest ones to come in contact with. If you are not, then you would have met a lot of Ibos in the other callings too. They are in Banking, Sports, Entertainment, Academics, general Commerce and Investments, et al. After the war, Awolawo used the unique circumstance of the absence of the Ibos in government policy making to corner these industries for his Yoruba people. But over the years the Ibos have single-handedly without anybodies help worked hard to level the playing field again. That is why lazy people like you want to go back to that era. Sorry pal, it won’t happen. It can only get worse.

          • Yorubaronu

            Saint ignoramus, i know all the wondering nature of your people i wish you well. Carry on wondering and forget your root, sooner or later other people would overcome their ”inferiority and envy” and start to compete with you on their terms.
            Nigerians are coming to the east be rest assured and we are going to make the difference and we shall see how tolerant you are, okay.

          • O’seun Ogunseitan

            I am still curious as to why Igbos knowingly endanger their homestead by investing in other parts of Nigeria which they call a sinking ship which they are turning in to “eldorados” while refusing to turn their own lands into a super eldorado.

  • Yorubaronu

    This is not a lesson people are not already aware of. The land of yoruba give room for leadership to emerge, people of all tribes without hesitation. Yoruba people are very welcoming by their nature. It is likely due to the awareness already established in the society. The idea of allowing an obvious hostile visitor ride your horse can never be tolerated anywhere in the world, but in some places they do unfortunately.

    • Mazi JO

      You forget the Horse itself will be impossible to mount let alone ride. You have already contradicted yourself in, ‘The idea of allowing an obvious hostile visitor’. The Country was at its Nationalist formation stage; an adolescent yearning to flex its development capacity free of ethnicity. Can you think if Dr. Azikiwe was not betrayed backdoors in your enclave? Could it be our destiny today may have taken a sway for the best; the type we witness in the United States as we speak for the young man at the time was a product of that Democratic universe?
      On the reference of Regional crisis, there was none whatsoever in the Eastern Region. The North was calm as well. I am afraid he minced words which Region wisecracked their ruling houses with childish irritabilities among its people until things spun out of control. He mentioned Yoruba names that conjure nostalgia and had those elements in the write up prevailed in the Western Region, Nigeria should have been a heaven for all of us. The day Oba Akiolu in his Regalia apologises is the day the Igbo will acknowledge a lesson learned and forgive him for pronouncements unbecoming of a respected royal.

      • Proud Yoruba

        A Yoruba Oba apologize to dirty ibo parasites? That will never happen! Why not stage your protest and leave Yoruba land for good? We’ll all be very happy, thank you very much. Bye.

        • Mazi JO

          Dirt has its categories, my fellow Countryman.

      • Yorubaronu

        With an hindsight is possible not to allow the visitor to ride but what happens when you are not aware you are going to dinner with your enemy, i am sorry there is no contradiction whatsoever.
        On the tradition and generosity of the yorubas we are not to gloat about that, it has always been part of our DNA from time immemorial. but there is no way in Nigeria today that certain elements would make us to feel guilty for doing the right and being very good to other Nigerians.
        When it comes to politics i am yet to see voluntary acceptance from people from other parts of Nigeria how far we have come to having a ONE NIGERIA. i am afraid not much to say on that.
        If your interpretation of playing politics at the local level is to vote your opponent in is what will make you be a true Nigerian then how come in 2015 presidential election you voted on tribal lines. You see when we talk of the unity of Nigeria it has never been pronounced more than the yorubas. The recent election results were almost equal in the west between the PDP and APC, but why is it tough for the East to play as such? Are we still in 1952-62, please, you people should grow up and stop the fake and insincere lecture of holier than thou sermon.
        If playing politics is your grudge against the good people of yoruba you have missed the point. People have been crossing the floors since the beginning of parliamentarian elections in Great Britain, so tell me what is wrong in carpet crossing , are you saying to me that because it did not go your way we should have closed shop and go home. We need to reason before we pass judgement on other people.
        You want good life for yourself and i want good life for myself and we are competing on my home stead and my people decided to give me their support by crossing the carpet in the house to support me because it was allowed by law why would you call that ”childish instabilities” how dare you broke the mace, an instrument of law and you think that was not an affront against the tenets of the game. Please direct you anger to those who can not learn how to play politics and leave yoruba out of it.
        I am happy for the igbos they now have one small corner of Lagos as there own i think that is generous enough from the good people of LAGOS. You see we are still the NUMBER ONE PATRIOT OF NIGERIA. Tell me where else you can have that in the East. Okorocha was almost dealt with because he supported APC, Amaechi was dealt with because he supported APC. When are you going to grow up? Instead you keep on hammering on relics of the past like the oba of lagos palace.
        Yoruba have moved on, please join us and help develop Nigeria like the likes of Onu, Ngige and others and do away with sentiments. You can not undone what happened in the past you just have to move on, Just my take.