The Sun News

Ugbo: A kingdom built on water

From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure

the founding of the town was not only unique but also spectacular in all ramifications. It is one Yoruba community situated on water and surrounded by water.
Ugbo kingdom made up of more than 250 communities has its foundation on water. Its uniqueness made it a centre of attraction for both local and foreign tourists. Many of them across the world visit the town.
It is also one of the oldest Yoruba settlements located in the southern part of Ondo State. Ugbo prides itself as the only oil producing community in the state. In fact, that Ondo is an oil producing state is as a result of the crude oil that flows in Ugboland.
Located in a serene environment with riverine topography, making access to the area difficult until the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC), came to its rescue some years ago by constructing a long stretch of road on the river. Until the road was constructed, visitors to Ugbo traveled on the river.
Ugbo today attracts tourists who also pay homage to the Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom, Oba Fredrick Enitiolorunda Obateru Akinruntan, Okoro Ajiga 1. He presides over the traditional and spiritual affairs of the town at his magnificent palace arguably one of the best in Africa. He holds the prescribed authority on the Ilaje kingdom, comprising of over 250 communities,
Oba Akinruntan said the founder of the town migrated from Ile-Ife, Osun State, to the present Ugbo. He was said to have been in Ile-Ife before Oduduwa and left on the instructions of Ifa oracle to found Ugbo at its present location.
Oba Akinruntan explained that Oduduwa met his forefathers in Ile-Ife before he followed Ifa divination and moved to Ugbo. He claimed that his fore fathers brought Sango, Obatala and Ogun from Ile-Ife where he had lived for several years before his change of location:
“The Ifa oracle told our progenitor who had been in Ile-Ife long before Oduduwa arrived Ile-Ife to move out of the town and go to a location where he would see water, fish and salt all together in the same place. He found this in the present Ugbo and resided there and that is where we are up till today.
“Ugbo’s Compound (quarters) is still in Ile-Ife till today. It is on record that our forefather was the first traditional ruler in Ile-Ife, so the Olugbo stool is the oldest traditional stool in Yoruba land. This can be confirmed by anybody. Go to Ile-Ife and you will see our compound there.
“It even took Oduduwa about 16 years to understand Kedu Language which the Ilaje speak. That was the language we were speaking in Ile-Ife when Oduduwa came to join our fore fathers. He later learnt the language and spoke it before our forefather moved from Ile-Ife. This is to tell you that the Olugbo is the oldest traditional ruler in Yoruba land.
“They claimed that Oduduwa was the progenitor of the Yoruba race, yet he met my great-great grandfather, Oba Makin Osangangan, the son of Oraife in Ile-Ife. If you go to Ile-Ife today, they will testify to this fact because a lot of books have been written to espouse this fact. I have over 200 authorities I can quote on this fact, because I travel far and wide to study. I went to Portugal, Germany and I visited the national archives in London.
“A son of Ile-Ife, Dr. Moses Ajetunmobi also wrote in one of his books that when Oduduwa arrived Ile-Ife, he met 13 communities and that Oduduwa came from Mecca. I was invited during the launching of the book and the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse 11, wrote the dedication to the book. The late Ooni wrote that he agreed to the findings of the erudite author.
“We had our sons and daughters in Ile-Ife. We had about seven quarters in Ile-Ife and the two major markets in Ile-Ife, Oja Ife and Oja Ayegbagun belong to my great-great grandfathers, Oba Osangangan and Oraife.
“The Aje of Ife belongs to our house. When you get to Ile-Ife, ask for Oke Remo and Ile Ero, you will see our people there.
“When Oduduwa arrived Ile-Ife, he met Oba Makin Osangangan who was my great-great grandfather in Ile Ero. It was my ancestor that received Oduduwa in Ile-Ife. The Yoruba history has been distorted for a very long time and it would take time before the record can be set straight. I am bold to say it that the Ugbo are the owners of Yorubaland and that is to set the record of the Yoruba history straight.”
Oba Akinruntan is also the convener of the Yoruba Obas Conflicts Resolution Committee. He said the people of the ancient town would continue to fight for their rightful place in the history of the Yoruba nation: “Ugbo kingdom which has 250 communities is the head of all Yoruba communities in this country.”
On his ascension to the throne, Oba Akinruntan said the Supreme Court declared him the rightful person to the throne after years of legal tussle: “My ascension to the throne of Olugbo, which is the oldest throne in Yoruba land was an act of God made possible by the court.
“The highest court in the land ruled on the matter. For a case to have gone to the Supreme Court, it means it had gone through different courts and the apex court in the country finally decided on the matter.
“I was presented as the candidate for the stool of Olugbo, when the stool became vacant following the removal of the former occupant by the Supreme Court. I ascended the throne and ever since then I have been enjoying the tremendous support and loyalty of all my subjects both within and outside my domain. There are 250 communities under my authority and all these communities are very supportive.”
The Olugbo who said he has every right to the throne, stated that it was on the strength of his right that he became the traditional ruler. He added that he had spent his personal money for the development of the town since he ascended the throne.
He claimed that all the intra-community roads with interlocking in Ugbo were constructed by him, adding that he has brought unprecedented development to the town with the establishment of various industries.
The residents who are mostly Ilaje speaking people have given support and co-operation to the Olugbo. A community leader, Mr. Ayo Ologun, said the town is blessed with human and natural resources:
“Hence, the unprecedented development witnessed, especially with the commitment of the Olugbo of Ugbo land, Oba Akinruntan.”
He maintained that the history of the town placed it above every other Yoruba town, stressing that the Olugbo has been a blessing to the community and the entire Ugbo kingdom since his ascension seven years ago.

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