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Amosun, stirs hornets’ nest as he upgrades Baales to coronet chiefs in Awori land

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Ogun State governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun

Last week’s installation of 75 monarchs by outgoing Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun has sparked-off animosity in some of the affected communities in the state. 
   
The installation held on Monday, May 20, 2019 is seen as the Governor’s parting gift to his people with only nine days to the expiration of his eight years reign. It seeks to promote village chiefs, otherwise known as Baales, to coronet Obas.

At the installation held at the Obas’ complex hall, Oke-Mosan, Amosun who was represented by Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Taiwo Adeoluwa, said the move was part of efforts to enhance grassroots development and sustainability in the state.

Amosun said the gesture was his way of showing appreciation to the traditional institutions, for being part of his success story. He noted that, the promotion exercise fulfilled the requirements for upgrade of traditional rulers, as stipulated in sub sections (1) and (2) of section 25 of Chiefs laws of Ogun State, adding that all appointments and promotion followed due process and recommendations from their prescribed authorities.

He pointed out that the state had witnessed tremendous growth and development in the last eight years, noting that traditional institutions had played prominent roles in achieving this by ensuring that peace and stability reigns in their domains.

Despite the flowery language of the governor, communities where the elevation of Baales has taken place are not finding it funny. Those who had a glimpse of the list had warned government of crisis if it goes ahead with the installation.
   
Prior to the release of the list, the Aworis in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state had raised the alarm of alleged plans to impose Obas and Baales in some of their towns and villages by some Egba monarchs, warning that it will not accept the injustice.
 
Some of the towns the Aworis listed where the alleged imposition was to take place were Sango-Ota, Atan-Ota, Oke-Ore, Ijoko, Adekoyeni, and Meesan, among others.

What appeared, as a confirmation to their fears was the resignation of the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Jide Ojuko-an Awori man, few days after the alarm was raised.

In his resignation letter, dated May 14, he said he was resigning because of the directive of the governor on the issue of Obaship in some Awori communities in Ota state constituency.

He said the directive of the governor on the installation of some monarchs in his constituency was against his conscience, the wishes and yearnings of the Awori people that he represented in the governor’s cabinet.

“By my appointment, I represent my people from Awori stock, my local government and the entire state. After service, I will have no choice than to go back home and settle down with my family and my people with total peace of mind. Recent events are making me to believe that this plan may not be feasible if I have to continue serving in my present capacity as the Honourable Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. The ultimate, therefore, is that I shall become an outcast among my people.

“Sir, by my background as a civil and public servant, my training is to be obedient and loyal to my boss, but your recent directive on the issue of Obaship in some areas in Ota state constituency runs against my conscience, the wish and yearnings of my people that I represent,” the letter read.

But like a mild drama, three days after, Friday, May 17, 2019, the commissioner rescinded his resignation, noting that the governor rejected his letter.

In a chat with Journalists, he said: “The issues that prompted my resignation were being looked into. My resignation letter is a love letter between two lovers. The Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has rejected the earlier sent letter of resignation, which was circulated by the media.

“In view of this development, I am back at my desk and wish to place on record that the issues surrounding my earlier resignation are being looked into. Let me also clear the air that the content of the letter was being misinterpreted.

While I appreciate my good people of Ota State Constituency for their understanding, I remain the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs till the end of this administration.”

According to the list of the coronet Obas obtained by The Guardian, though new monarchs were installed in some of the Awori communities, only few have cases of imposition of non-indigenes.

But on Tuesday, May 21, just 24 hours after the installation ceremony, some of the communities affected publicly rejected the new monarchs.

Traditionalists, chiefs and residents of communities, towns and villages like Eruwon, Kajola in Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area; Olohunda in Abeokuta North Local Council and Ibese in Yewa-North Local Government vowed to prevent the monarchs from entering their communities.

While speaking to newsmen in Abeokuta, the traditionalists, including the Ogboni, Ologun, Olorogun and the Parakoyi of Kajola, said the new Olu of Kajola, Chief Akanji Sowonoye, was an impostor, whom the community will not recognise as their monarch.

The Oluwo of Eruwon, Chief Adisa Soyoye and Balogun of Eruwon, Chief Tade Sodipo, described Amosun’s action as shocking and faulty.

Soyoye said the people of the village rejected the choice of Sowoneye as their Oba, appealing to the Alake and Paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, to intervene in the chieftaincy dispute.

Both Balogun and Oluwo, however, threatened that if the government refused to reverse its decision on Sowonoye’s appointment as Olu of Kajola, they would take legal action against the new Oba.

Also, residents of Olorunda community in the Abeokuta North council area staged a peaceful protest seeking the removal of their new traditional ruler, Oba Segun Ogunsola, who they claimed is not an indigene of the community.

The residents led by Chief Odofin of Olorunda community, Rafiu Olabode, marched to the Governor’s office, Oke-Mosan, demanding that the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs should remove Oba Ogunsola from office.
 
Olabode, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, said they were aggrieved because the embattled monarch was imposed on them by a monarch whose jurisdiction did not extend to Olorunda territory.

The Seriki of Ota and spokesman for Olota-in-Council, High Chief Olanrewaju Bashorun told The Guardian that because of their outcry and people’s intervention, one of which was the resignation of the commissioner of local government and chieftaincy affairs, Ojuko, which was rejected by the Governor: “they watered the whole thing down.

In some of the communities, they did not install any Oba or Baale, but they still went ahead to install ‘foreigners’ in three or four Awori communities-Lemomu, Itele and Iju, where they installed the Egbas and Owus as Obas. We already have injunctions to stop them but they went ahead and installed the monarch, but we are challenging them in court. In all, they upgraded some of our Baales, we have to give that to them and thank them for that.

“We’ll go ahead to challenge the imposition on the communities in the court, we had an injunction against these imposition. The communities belong to Aworis, there is no way an Egba or Owu Oba will be ruling in Awori and over Aworiland, it’s not done traditionally anywhere in the world, it is alien to the Yoruba culture and we’ll challenge it in court because it is our land. There is no justification for it, people are just distorting the history and tradition of Yorubaland.”

When contacted, the Publicity Secretary, Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Comrade Tunde Oladunjoye told The Guardian that the installation of the traditional rulers will be reviewed and may not be binding on the new administration, as it will be reversed.

“We issued a statement weeks ago that where the outgoing administration has done any emergency appointments, installation of traditional rulers, contracts, commitments and what have you, that we will review and where due process was not followed, we will reverse. Nothing has changed.”

On the protest by aggrieved communities, Oladunjoye said: “It is good that the protests have started and it is good that it is the Police that issued a statement that some people want to disrupt the installation of Prince Dapo Abiodun. If it’s the party they’ll say we are playing politics, the protests that have started in the communities are part of Amosun’s efforts to cause problem during the inauguration and to cause problem for the incoming Governor.”

Calls were put through to the commissioner, Ojuko; he was yet to respond at the time of writing this report. A text message that was also sent to him was not replied.


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