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Ondo traditional rulers do not earn any stipend from government –– HRM Oba Amos Sunday Ogunleye


HRM Oba Amos Sunday Ogunleye

According to local history, Eriti in Akoko North-West of Ondo State has existed well over 600 years. Eriti people are said to have migrated from Moreke Quarters in Ile-Ife, together with Ilesa-Omu.

Ilesa-Omu, according to the same story, was an elder brother to Amomo-Eku, founder of Eriti Kingdom. Amomo-Eku was said to be a hunter and had accompanied Ilesa-Omu on an expedition to Omou, which was a virgin land.

People of Eriti Kingdom are predominantly farmers. Most of the yam grown in Ondo State is from Eriti Kingdom. Eriti people are also into brewing of palm oil and cassava farming.

HRM Oba Amos Sunday Ogunleye, The Eleriti of Eriti, Akoko North-West in Ondo State told Palace Watch that traditional rulers in Ondo State are yet to earn 10 percent of revenue generated in their local governments as decreed by late Gen. Sani Abacha. He explained efforts aimed at boosting agriculture in the community.

“Do you know that the 10 percent of total revenue generated in traditional rulers’ local government areas, which the late General Sani Abacha’s government decreed should be given to traditional rulers across the country to run their domains has never been paid to any traditional ruler in Ondo State? During his tenure, Governor Olusegun Mimiko told us pointblank that his government was not in a position to pay us five percent, talk less of 10.

Throughout his time, we never got anything. The present government is equally saying it is not in a position to pay this money, even though the First Class traditional rulers in Ondo State have met to deliberate on it, there has not yet been any response. So, we have not been able to do anything to actualise this policy, which some other traditional rulers from the North and Lagos have been enjoying over the years.

“The First Class Obas in Ondo State meet once a month to deliberate on issues that concern them, the government and citizenry. His Excellency Governor Akeredolu has made it very clear to the Obas that he can’t pay such money yet because of the economic meltdown.

Interestingly, other governments in the Southwest are paying this money to their own Obas. Our friends who are Obas in the Southwest up to the North tell us what is happening in their various states. As we speak, there are no elected local government chairmen in the whole of Ondo State. What we have in place are Caretaker Chairmen installed by the government. One can’t even talk about internally generated revenue (IGR) with them.

Once, I made an attempt to speak with the Caretaker Chairmen around here, when we needed something, and he told us he has no powers whatsoever to do anything, that if the need arises for him to buy a biro, he has to contact Akure for an approval. This is the situation we are confronted with.”

“The youths that were once redundant are returning to active farming. Most farmers in Eriti Kingdom have now embraced full-scale mechanised farming, which is quite encouraging. People are becoming more active and busy in their farms that they have little or no time for crimes. The time that would have been spent on settling crises and other related disputes is now being used for more purposeful ventures. This gives my Council of Obas and I ample opportunity to look into various methods of assisting them to improve on what they are doing.

“The communities across the kingdom are now very busy. Those who are not directly involved in farming activities are engaged in trading. They are directly into farm produce. They buy such stuff as yam, palm oil and garri and carry them to far places like the East and North. Some Igbo traders now regularly come here to buy farm produce for sale in their own places. We are very happy about this development.

“Interestingly, only recently, a group of Nigerian businessmen and women from Akure and Lagos came to me, saying they want to acquire vast hectares of land for farming purposes. We are still talking. Some others just got 100 hectares.

“For my people to obtain loans for farming, Ondo State government has asked us to immediately organise ourselves into groups such as co-operative societies, which we are already doing. The APC government has begun to arrange people, especially farmers to come together so they can be given soft loans for farming.

“Although I am neck deep into the organisation of these activities to make my people and place better, there is nothing tangible coming from government to me or any other First Class traditional rulers in these areas. We are just living from hand to mouth. I am only lucky to have some individuals from my area that have been of tremendous assistance to me.

“In this area, especially in my kingdom, we do not have problems with Fulanis residing and operating in these areas, most probably because they are Yoruba Fulanis. They are mostly from Ilorin and are very friendly. I regularly hold meetings with them. I even have their personal telephone numbers, just like their ‘Arodo’ leaders also have my numbers. We do not share borders with Ilorin though.

Eriti has borders with Kogi and Ekiti, but even at that, we have a large number of Kwara State Fulanis in my place. We have lived peacefully with them over the years. They grow most of the tomatoes we consume here alongside beef. They buy our palm oil. The secret about this is understanding on both sides. They interact with us as if they are natives. The only thing we have not done is to inter-marry.”

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