THE Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom in Ondo State, Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan, is a controversial personality.
While the dust of his disagreement with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, on the origin of Igbo people from Ile-Ife was yet to settle, his installation of “Yoruba Obas in Diaspora” has ignited another fire.
The three men crowned by Akinruntan are the Oriade of Georgia, Oba Bernard Shola Akinrimisi; the traditional ruler of Yoruba in Liberia, Oba Omobolaji Ogunkoya, Oodua Gbadewolu I, and the traditional ruler of Yoruba in the Republic of Ireland, Oba Saheed Ibrahim Adufe.
At the installation held at his palace in Ugboland, Akinruntan said, “I am ready to crown more kings from the Diaspora as long as I remain the number one king in Yorubaland. I am the custodian of the Yoruba culture.
“I am going to give more Obas in the Diaspora crowns. Many of them will get crowns and staff of office from me and nobody can query me. They know that I’m a special Oba in Yorubaland. My father, Oba Makin Osangangan, is the owner of Ife.
“I am the leader of all Obas in Yorubaland. I speak with thunder in my mouth and I make bold to say so. No one is above me in Yorubaland in as much as it has been accepted that we are from Ife. I am the one that Oduduwa met at Ife.
“I’m going to celebrate 10 years on the throne; people should go and prepare. I don’t want people to wear suit to my coronation anniversary because I’m a Yoruba Oba. The coronation will be a special celebration because I’m preparing for it and people will come from all over the country to celebrate with me”.
Responding on behalf of those installed as monarchs at the occasion, Ogunkoya appealed to the Federal Government to include Diaspora traditional rulers in the scheme of things so as to give them the financial wherewithal and moral rectitude to help their people.
Ogunkoya said, “The challenges in the Diaspora are many, but with our little resources, we will do our best. Meanwhile, one of the things we need to do in the Diaspora is to unite our people and give them a sense of belonging”.
While fellow Yoruba Obas chose to ignore Akinruntan on his action and outburst, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Aare Gani Adams, in a strongly worded statement, questioned Akinruntan’s claim as the number one king in Yorubaland and said, “What arrogance! What impudence! What uncultured remark! On what authority is he crowning Yoruba Obas in the Diaspora? Who told him that nobody can query him?
“He said he remained the number one king in Yorubaland. Which Yoruba history is backing this arrogance?
“What is Akinruntan’s position in Yoruba history? Does he think by parading himself as a rich man, Yoruba will respect him for trying to desecrate the land? Who does he think he is, embarrassing the Yoruba nation at every opportunity?
“Which Northern Emir abuses the Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, Shehu of Borno or Emir of Zazzau? Which Northern Emir distorts the history of the Emirate the way Akinruntan is trying to distort Yoruba history? What exactly is the matter with this featherweight who classifies himself as the best thing to have happened to Yorubaland?
“Does he learn from history at all? What exactly is responsible for this arrogance coming from an Oba who is, traditionally, constitutionally and spiritually, mandated to protect Yorubaland? Does he think this arrogance will take him anywhere?”
The Aare urged South-West governors and other traditional rulers to call the Olugbo to order
He submitted that the monarch is a danger that can destroy “our tradition if something is not done urgently”.
Adams went on, “Oba Akinruntan, installed some characters as Yoruba Obas in the Diaspora in his palace in Ugboland. Such desecration of Yoruba culture and tradition was brought to my attention by one of the persons who called me, who likened the conduct of this monarch to ‘Sigidi’ in Yoruba culture, who, out of nothing to do or sheer pride, said it should be taken to the stream or river.
“Millions of Yoruba were shocked when they heard that Akinruntan, installed so-called Yoruba Obas in the Diaspora in his palace in Ugboland.
“As the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, I swore, during my installation in January 2018, to always protect the name and project the image of Yorubaland.
“That is exactly the purpose of my intervention at this moment.
“This impudence is fraudulent; a clear and present danger that can destroy our tradition if something urgent is not done immediately.
“What the Olugbo did, he did it single-handedly, against the wishes of all the Yoruba Obas in Nigeria as a whole.
“If Akinruntan is a student of history, he will know that those who tried to betray the Yoruba race never ended well. Against all known laws and customs of our land, Akinruntan ‘crowned’ three characters living abroad who are not even known by Yoruba living at home and abroad, as traditional rulers. The three ‘chiefs’ have no royalty in their blood.
“As the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, I want to tell Akinruntan that he only crowned these characters as chiefs in his domain, not as Yoruba Obas in the Diaspora, because he doesn’t have the power.
“It is fraudulent, it is an affront on our history and we will not allow anybody to distort our history.
“In the same vein, I think all the socio-cultural groups in Yorubaland, including Afenifere, Yoruba Council of Elders, Yoruba Unity Forum and other notable groups in the South-West should raise their voices against such fraud. It is our responsibilities to protect our history, and put our records straight.
“He refers to himself as Chairman, Yoruba Obas Conflict Resolution Committee. Is it not funny that he is the one creating tension in the land with his attention-grabbing publicity stunt?
“I want to tell Akinruntan that nobody can buy the Yoruba, at home and abroad. You cannot gain respect by attacking other Obas, especially those senior to you.
“One of those characters he ‘installed’ as Yoruba Oba in Diaspora, Saheed, hails from Ila-Orangun”.
Adams issued a warning to scholars encouraging Akinruntan when he said, “More importantly, I will like to tell some of the professors Olugbo is using to desecrate the traditional institutions to desist from such acts as that can later haunt them in the future”.
He added, “Akinruntan, you are climbing the tree higher than the leaves”.
No comment – Ife palace
Contacted to react to the installation of the Obas in Diaspora by the Olugbo, the Chief Press Secretary to the Ooni of lfe, Moses Olaifa, said, “We don’t have any comment on that for now. I don’t have the mandate of Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi to speak on any Oba installing Yoruba traditional rulers outside the country.
“When the appropriate time comes, the palace will react accordingly”.
However, the Yoruba Obas Forum (YOF), in its reaction, frowned at the installation.
“This singular act is an aberration and Oba Akinruntan needs to be called to order”, the forum said.
“The attention of the Yoruba Obas Forum, being the umbrella body of over 200 Obas in the South West and North Central regions of Nigeria (comprising of OSUN, OGUN, OYO, EKITI, ONDO, LAGOS KOGI, KWARA STATES of Nigeria), has been drawn to the recent illegal, unwarranted and unprecedented endorsement and installation of certain persons as Oba Yoruba of Liberia, Oba Yoruba of Republic of Ireland and Oba Yoruba of Atlanta, Oba Akile of Dallas by Obama Akinruntan.
“It is apposite to state, categorically, that the Yoruba Obas Forum strongly and vehemently rejects this sacrilegious endorsement and purported installation which is not only illegal but also alien to the Yoruba custom and tradition.
“We state, unequivocally and without fear of contradiction, that the purported installation is an affront to the Yoruba tradition and a desecration of Yoruba custom and tradition.
“It must be made crystal clear that Oba Akinruntan does not possess such power, under any guise, to endorse, install, or crown anyone as Yoruba Oba outside his domain.
“Consequently the purported installation and coronation is declared ultra vires, illegal, void and of no effect whatsoever and cannot stand the test of time.
“We as a body hereby disassociate ourselves from this illegal and caricature installation and we consider it as abominable and highly condemnable act.
“We hereby call on His Excellency, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, to cause a discreet and holistic investigation meted with decisive action against him and to call the Olugbo of Ugbo to order and compel him to rescind his illegal action, so as to prevent future occurrence.
“Consequently, we hereby call on Oba Akinruntan to immediately reverse the purported installation with a public apology
“All authentic Yoruba Obas are hereby requested to ensure that none of these illegally crowned Obas is permitted to dress, talk, assume or act like Obas anywhere on Nigeria soil and, if they do not retrace their illegal steps, should be considered outcast in all parts of Yoruba land and by all Yoruba indigenes worldwide.
“We equally like the concerned embassies as well as the general public to take notice of our stand”.
Meanwhile, Akinruntan, in a response to Gani Adams’ attack, said he has “the capacity to endorse and authenticate the Obas in Diaspora.
Speaking through his Director of Media, Otunba Adeyemi, the Olugbo said, “Oba Akinruntan has not set a precedent by endorsing the Obas in Diaspora. As a paramount ruler and prescribed authority, the Olugbo has the capacity to endorse and authenticate the Obas in Diaspora.
“The endorsed Obas who are Oba Saheed Olamilekan Adufe (Oba Yoruba of Ireland), Oba Shola Akinrimisi (Oriade of Georgia) and Oba Omobolaji Ogunkoya (Oba Yoruba of Liberia) are Yoruba royal ambassadors who should be encouraged.
“Otunba Gani Adams is a chief in Yorubaland who lacks the traditional competence to challenge any monarch in Yorubaland in the absence of the Alaafin, talk less of a paramount ruler in the person of Oba Akinruntan.
“Aare Ona Kakanfo has jumped the gun and he is largely advertising a lot of ignorance. He cannot address the Olugbo in the manner he did. As a chief, he has indeed overrated himself by addressing governors and monarchs too.
“Nevertheless, kabiyesi is absent and that will necessitate that an appropriate response be issued at a later time, shortly”.
‘We stand with Ooni, Alaafin, Awujale’
On the controversy, Oba Segun Ogunye Ojotumoro of Abigi Ijebu Waterside, Ogun State said, “It is a terrible action by the Olugbo. It is an act of trespass, in law and in tradition. Every Oba has a gazette. Olugbo has a gazette that only allows him to operate within his domain. And the highest he could do is to work in Ondo State and his subjects do not call him Imperial or anything rather than an Oba. Our attitude to it as members of Yoruba Obas Forum is that he does not have that power to confirm Obaship on anybody in Disapora. You don’t give what you don’t have. It is unfortunate that he is acting that way and we see it as an absurd to Yoruba kingship institution.
“On the issue of hierarchy, my reaction is that all of them should stop the battle for supremacy. We already have three of them that history supports: the Ooni of Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo and the Awujale of Ijebuland. We have never had it that Olugbo came up with his own history of Yorubaland. Whichever way you look at it, we are all Yoruba. We will keep working for peace in the land and should stop the unnecessary war of supremacy and distortion of history. I don’t think it is right”.
Oba Adedayo Shyllon-Sogbulu, Alagbado of Agbado, on his part, said, “In Yoruba land we have only one Ife king who is the Ooni overseeing the cradle of the entire Yoruba race. Olugbo is a king in Ugbo and not the Ooni of Ife. His kingdom migrated from Ife on his own accord and cannot claim to be the number one king in Yoruba land. On endorsement of certain people as kings, he has no power to do that. “Every Oba has regulations that guide him. He is restricted to his domain. He is Olugbo of Ugbo in Ilaje Kingdom. The Ilaje Kingdom has superiors. He is not even the paramount ruler of Ilaje as a kingdom. Secondly, the people he installed as Oba are not of royal blood, not from Ilaje Kingdom and also not living in his domain. No Oba has the power to install anyone outside his authority. His action is illegal and condemnable. We have made our opinion known and also will have a conference to that effect”.
Oba Adeoya Gbenga Oyinlola II, Aare Ofikiland of Oyo State, said, “As Nigerians, we follow our customs, traditions and the rule of law. We have our territories and everyone follows rules. In Yorubaland, we have three imperial kings, the Ooni of Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo and the Awujale, and they are those that are traditionally invested with such powers to recognise and install any Oba to that effect. And, again, we condemn, in totality, the action of the Olugbo. It is an affront on the tradition and values of Yorubaland.
In our conference, held sometime, last year, we agreed that no Oba outside the Yorubaland should be installed without the consent of the Ooni and Alaafin. Traditionally, before you can become an Oba in Yorubaland, you must conquer a territory or come from a royal lineage and pass through the kingmakers’ protocol. You can be a Yoruba leader outside the land but not an Oba. Olugbo’s action is Illegal because his office is gazetted and does not have the power outside his domain to do that. We have called on the Ondo State government to look into the matter and call him to order because he holds the tradition and value of the Yoruba race at a stake”.
Oba Idris Oladele Friday Kosoko, the Oniworo of Iworo land, Lagos State, said, “As a custodian of tradition and values, I am totally against the installation of any Oba in a foreign country. It is a wrong pattern of leadership and we, as Yoruba Obas, condemned this particular action, last year, during the Heritage Convention of Yoruba Obas held in Osun State. We resolved in writing to foreign embassies not to accord any person parading himself as a Yoruba Oba without a domain in Yorubaland. Besides, we have ambassadors and diplomats representing our interests in any foreign country. A person of influence can be a Yoruba leader but not an Oba. Olugbo did not do it right”.