Ibolos of Kwara form parley for peaceful co-existence
The formation of Ibolo Peace Parley (IPP) may eventually be the needed elixir for durable peace among Ibolo communities of Kwara State, wrongly stigmatised as notorious for violent disputes over land issues.Whenever such disagreements occurred, dangerous weapons were used to settle scores, leading to incalculable loss of lives and wanton destruction of valuable property on both sides of the warring factions. Indeed, the general assumption is that, but for the people of Share in Ifelodun LGA of Kwara and their counterparts at Tsaragi in Edu LGA, no other community is as volatileas the Ibolos.
The major roads linking the communities were usually closed by warriors on both sides, just as the bush paths linking the communities were deserted for fear of attacks comparable only to that of wild animals in the jungles.Successive state governments would then follow with their usual refrain of condemnations of the “unfortunate incident,” warning against recurrence, with prompt setting up of Committee of Enquiries, with well articulated terms of references, “as a means of finding the immediate and remote causes of the crisis.”
In most cases, these panels, headed majorly by serving or retired Justices of the state’s judiciary, would equally be asked to proffer solutions to the age-long disputes.However, despite all the measures put in place by the governments, including payments of compensation to warring parties, it appeared as if the issue was being scratched on the surface. Before long, the news of another serious crisis would spread like wildfire among the groups.
But IPP President, a medical practitioner of note, Dr. Funsho Oladipo, said the recent parley has come as a permanent measure, aimed at ending all age-long hostilities among the Ibolos.Oladipo said at Ira in Oyun LGA of the state: “There are two pillars that make any community or nation great and these are peace and economic empowerment. However, certain measures have to be put in place before they can be achieved. This is the simple message of IPP to the Ibolos. Already, we have set up sub-committees to look into how this can be done. It has been structured in such a way that the sub-committees will come up with proposals that will make the objectives work in the two LGAs (Offa and Oyun)
“We learnt that a group had done what we are trying to do now in the past and failed. Ours will not be like theirs, because we are genuinely moved and committed to end hostilities among our people. We are not partisan; we are successful professionals in chosen endeavours. We are not interested in any gratification. An Erin-Ile man should move freely in Offa, while an Ipee man should not be afraid of making an Ijagbo man his friend. We are for peace and we believe that we should pass on the baton of peace to our children.”
“Already, plans are in top gear to encourage the communities to upscale sporting activities among themselves and showcase their rich cultural essence before the end of this year. The event would be rotational among major communities in Ibolo. Besides, we are looking beyond sports, as we are looking for economic advancement of our people. We need to harness their potentials towards industrialisation and intermarriages.”Successive internecine wars among the people had been majorly over land issues.
The IPP, headed by Oladipo an Offa man, consists of 20 members from each of the over 20 communities across the Ibolo kingdom of Kwara. The Secretary is Mr. Gbenga Ojo a lawyer from Erin-Ile, in Oyun LGA of the state. The Ibolo people traced their progenitor to Ile Ife now in Osun State. It is unarguably believed that the population of the Ibolo people of Osun outweighed those of their kith and kin in Kwara.
It would be recalled that Offa and Erin- Ile people had over some years been enmeshed in bloody clashes over land boundaries just as similar clashes had pitched the Offa people against their neighbours like; Ijagbo and Ipee. The said crises had according to sources led to the filing of divorced suits between couples of origins traceable to the warring communities. Besides, many of the communities at present, have litany of pending cases in courts of various jurisdictions.
But the IPP said such “unfortunate” clashes that claimed several lives and wanton destructions of property among the Ibolos would soon become a thing of the past.According to Oladipo, “we are committed to putting an end to all these enmity among brothers and sisters who are only separated by boundaries. We are true lovers of Ibolo who assembled ourselves to form this wonderful association to end frequent clashes among our people.
The members of the group, majority of who are professionals outside the state later took the crusades to all the traditional rulers of the Ibolo settlements.Oladipo said the visits to the monarchs were imperative, for IPP members to seek supports from the rulers and sensitise them along the group’s missions and visions.Palaces visited include, Onigbonna, Elemona, Onira, Inoja, Igosun, Ijagbo, Elerin, Olofa, and Onipee. All the monarchs applauded the convener of IPP, just as they promised prompt exposure of all troublemakers and land grabbers in the domains for prosecution “if they fail to stop their nefarious activities.”
At Igbonna, Olugbonna, Oba Abubakar Oloyede Soladoye described the conveners as “God sent.” While receiving the team, the Elemona of Ilemona, Oba Yusuf Omokanye, prayed that the body would be used by God to end pending cases of land disputes among the Ibolos. On his part, the Onira of Ira, Oba Abdulwahab Oyewale Oyetoro, said it is usually advisable to toe the line of peace at all times. He recalled how one Gbadebo Bello of blessed memory led the first peace move in Ibolo land and lauded his efforts. He urged the IPP group to embrace truth and see the problem of an Ibolo community as the problem of the entire Ibolos.
At Inoja’s palace, Oba Abdulganiyu Ajibade JP rued the late constitution of the IPP saying, “if this arrangement had been in place before now, we would not have had series of crises that almost made us into enemies of one another in Ibolo kingdom.” Olojoku of Ojoku, Oba Abdulrazaq Afolabi and Olukotun of Ikotun Abdulrazaq Adebayo Abioye shared Oba Ajibade’s view.
The IPP team was received at Igosun by the Eesa of Igosun, Chief O. Olatoke and some high chiefs, while it was the turn of nonagenarian, Onijagbo of Ijagbo, Oba Olagunju Adeyeye to host the Peace ambassadors at his palace.Adeyeye went down memory lane, as he observed that the existing agape love among the progenitors of Ibolo was lost, when brothers took up arms against one another over land issues.He said: “We are brothers in Yoruba land. We don’t know whether or not we should celebrate the advent of Islam and Christianity. Before these two religions were introduced to us, our forefathers who were traditional worshippers related better than us. Love of money has taken over our core values. We need to embrace ourselves as brothers and sisters.”
The Oba, while praying for the success of the IPP, urged the members to facilitate prompt resuscitation of moribund industries in Ijagbo, towards providing employment opportunities for the people.For First Class Oba Elerin of Erin-Ile, Abdulganiyu Olusookun the second, the Ibolos must shun pride and hatred for the IPP’s objectives to thrive. He recalled instances in the past, where supposedly joint heritages for the Ibolos were allegedly cornered by a major town within the kingdom.
He said: “So, land is not the sole causative agent of crisis among us. Before I was enthroned, I had friends with whom we did many things together in Offa and till date we are still best of friends. The crisis between Offa people and us transcends land issue. Offa people despise us. The 2013 crisis was not engendered by land issue. The magnitude of the arms stockpiled against us was unimaginable. Offa people do not reckon with us as part and parcel of Ibolos. We are from Ile-Ife in Osun State. I am a man of peace, which made the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to confer on me MFR.”
The monarch later prayed for the success of the peace parley, just as he encouraged more sincere forums between them and the Ibolos for the overall progress of the “brethren of common destinies.”Consequently, the IPP took the Peace Torch Light to Offa, where they were warmly received by Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi, the Esuwoye lV.
Oba Gbadamosi, also a prominent First Class Oba advocated dialogue, rather than war as to entrench peace among Ibolo communities.He said: “Dialogue is the best option to resolve any crisis in life. When I was living in the northern part of Nigeria, we interacted well as Ibolos in Diaspora. There was never anything called Offa or Erin-Ile thing there. We identified ourselves only as the Ibolos. My father’s best friend then was an Erin-Ile man. Some of his children are living with me till today. Unity is paramount for economic growth and peace. We must seriously pursue these two virtues.
“But be sincere in all your undertakings and say the truth with boldness. When you fail to do this, peace will distance itself from you. God has His plans for us all. Again, we need to work on those feeding fat in crisis in all our communities; those few miscreants, who grab lands for personal reasons and behave as if one town was annexing the land of another. They must be identified and handed over to law enforcement agents.”The IPP while rounding off its itineraries at the palace of Onipee of Ipee, Oba Adebayo Lawal, thanked him for his peaceful disposition to issues that concern the Ibolos. And like the Olofa, Oba Lawal warned that activities of miscreants should not be allowed again in any part of Ibolo Kingdom.
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