• 24 years on, Ogun community still in search of monarch
For the people of Ijebu-Igbo, headquarters of Ijebu North Local Government Area of Ogun State, efforts to have a new paramount ruler, Orimolusi, in the past 24 years have not always been successful. No thanks to rivalry, disunity, misunderstanding and litigations by the critical stakeholders to the throne.
The development has polarised the ancient town with indigenes queuing behind candidates of their choice. Daily Sun gathered that all the kingmakers charged with the traditional responsibilities of electing a new Orimolusi died one after the other, as the stool remains vacant for long.
There are two prescribed ruling houses, the Ojuromi and Ikupakude. The town is home to the late Afenifere leader, Senator Abraham Adesanya and chairman of Glo, Michael Adenuga. It also houses Molusi College, where the late social critic, Dr. Tai Solarin, once taught before founding Mayflower School, Ikenne. Senators Gbenga Kaka, Lekan Mustapha, Biyi Durojaiye and Buruji Kashamu are also illustrious sons of the town.
The last Orimolusi, Oba Samuel Adetayo, Ikupakude IV, joined his ancestors on May 28, 1994, 24 years ago. Since, there has been interregnum arising from disunity, misunderstanding and litigations by critical stakeholders to the throne.
The vacancy created makes it to be the longest interregnum in the history of the town reputed for long interregnum. The first of such according to Professor Layi Ogunkoya, former Vice Chancellor, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, was in 1887 to 1899 and the second was between 1905 and 1928.
Ogunkoya, who is also chairman, Ijebu Igbo Councol of Elders (IICE), founded in November 2017 to find amicable settlement to the lingering Obaship tussle told Daily Sun: “While the consequences of the earlier two interregnum belong to the past, the current one, to say the least is demoralising and embarrassing to the entire community and beyond. We watch helplessly as our glorious past is going into uncontrollable degeneracy, due to the absence of a unifying head and leadership for a prolonged period of 24 years.
“From insecurity of lives and properties that successfully crippled a once sprawling economic, social and cultural, life to infractructural and moral decadence, as a people and as a town, it has been a tale of woes till date. Now Ijebu-Igbo is in a state of de-javu, with deplorable conditions in all spheres of life. Divine intervention and the pleasure of men and women of immeasurable goodwill are required to navigate us through.”
Ogunkoya on behalf of the council appealed to the Ojuromi Ruling House, to align the contestants with the aspiration of the community to select and install a new Orimolusi by putting the town above self-interest. While assuring of unbiased, balanced and fair intervention by the council, he urged family members of the ruling house, who are seeking redress in court to withdraw in the interest of the town:
“It is on this premise that we crave the indulgence of the Ojuromi Ruling House and all concerned within and outside the ruling house to tow the patriotic path of honour, by eschewing bitterness, show love to one another and give peace a chance, by joining the council to prevail on the combatants, litigants or contestants to sheath their swords and voluntarily agree to withdraw all on going pending court cases.”
As the consenting authority, he also appealed to the Awujale of Ijebulamd, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, and Governor Ibikunle Amosun “to benevolently give the elders council their support to put the 24 years of despicable ugly past behind us and our great city, Ijebu-Igbo.
“The generality of our people believe enough is indeed enough. After agonising 24 years interregnum, likeable to an internecine war or internal struggle for traditional power that has seen the demise of all kingmakers and six out of the nine initial contenders.”
Indigenes also lamented the absence of an Orimolusi. Chief Yinka Odeseye said: “Today, Ijebi-Igbo is divided as never before. No love, no unity among one another. The issue of who becomes the Orimolusi has really divided us in a very big way like never before.”
Another indigene, Chief Bayo Dayo: “There are many things that a reigning monarch like Orimolusi should do for his town to enjoy peace and harmony. The absence of an Orimolusi has made this impossible for our town and as a people.
“That is why social vices alien to Ijebu-Igbo are now the order of the day. No Orimolusi in place to perform necessary rites for bad things to stop and good things to happen in Ijebu-Igbo. We have suffered some setbacks since the absence of Orimolusi.”
Otunba Foluso Adebajo also spoke: “Peace is greatly missing in our town. That is the truth; we must not deceive ourselves. A once peaceful town is now a haven for criminals; with youths, who take delight in thuggery, cultism, robbery behaving the way they like because there is no Orimolusi on the throne.”
The Palace of the Orimolusi in the heart of the town is an eyesore. It used to be the envy of other Ijebu towns. Today, it is not only a shadow of its old self, but a deserted edifice harbouring reptiles, wild birds, rodents among others. The palace walls are already cracking, with shattered windows, doors and dilapidated colons and strings of cobwebs adorning a palace that has no gate.
“The situation would have been worse than this if not for residents who use the palace field for social functions,” Mrs. Adeola Onafuye exclaimed.
Daily Sun gathered that the obaship crisis started when someone who allegedly hails from a female line of the Ojuromi house was picked by kingmakers, even when a prince from the royal house had also shown interest. This was against the established customs and tradition of the town, which state that this could only happen when there is no male. This development was said to have compelled one of the contenders to approach the court for redress and since then the town has known no peace.
Ijebu-Igbo is regarded to be one of the three earliest settlements in Ijebuland. Others are Ijebu-Ode and Ijebu-Imusin. It was said to have been founded around 15th century by migrants from Ile-Ife, cohabiting in separate five main quarters of Oke-Sopen, Atikori, Ojowo, Oke-Agbo and Japara along other adjoining satellite settlements.
The Orimolusi Dynasty that amalgamated the main five and other adjoining quarters was founded by Prince Onayelu. The Orimolusi stool, under the present Ogun State Chieftaincy Law is a first class title with prescribed authorities over several settlements.