Oba Akiolu: How not to talk in public | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Oba Akiolu: How not to talk in public

Posted: Apr 11, 2015 at 6:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Yemi Adebisi, Acting Head, Literary/Arts

Before the advent of the Europeans, societies in Africa, especially Nigeria, developed a structure that accommodated various system of political administrations based on the peculiarities of their ethnic nationalities.



Traditional institution, for instance, was given a unique cognisance as a revered authority next to the Supreme Being.  However, traditional rulers lost the sacred role associated with their status in different post independent Nigeria administrations.

Apart from serving as link between the people and the government, they are responsible for maintenance of internal peace and security in their domains.

But critics from various climes have reacted frivolously against certain comments made by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu, six days before the governorship and house of assembly elections, holding today.

He allegedly threatened the Igbo living in Lagos with the curse that they will perish in Lagos Lagoon if they vote for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Jimi Agbaje.

He vehemently recommended Akinwunmi Ambode of the All Progressive Congress (APC) to them.

These statements, according to the critics could lead to break down of peace and tranquility in the state as well as affecting the political structure of the country.

Some said the Oba also failed to consider the implication of such threat to governance despite his vast experience as a former assistant inspector general of police during the Olusegun Obasanjo government.

The Oba of Lagos had on Sunday April 5, summoned representatives of Igbo traditional council in Lagos State to his palace and ordered them to vote for Ambode or face extreme hard times in the State including perishing in the Lagoon, business hostility and instant and mysterious death within seven days.

Hours after the utterances, the media was flooded with the shocking statement leading to attempted denial by the Oba’s palace.

This however met a waterloo when audio recording of the message was released to the media herewith:

“On Saturday, if anyone of you (Igbo resident) goes against Akinwunmi Ambode, who I picked, that is your end. If it does not happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it is not my father who gave birth to me. By the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future. On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, Allah goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water (Lagoon). For the Igbo and others in Lagos, they should go where the Oba of Lagos heads to.”

The Oba also commented on how Lagos has favoured the Igbo commercially, hence the need for them to cooperate with its political dictates.

“When they were coming to the State, they did not come with all their houses. But now, they have properties in the State. So they must do my bidding. And that is the bidding of the ancestors of Lagos and God. I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi (Agbaje) is my blood relation and I told him that he could never be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere you cannot do it here.’’

In a statement credited to both the Board Chairman of Intersociety, Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Head, Democracy & Good Governance Programme, Barr. Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, the claims made by the Oba could be misleading and might have amounted to an unwarranted threat to democratic society.

“It is a historical reality that Oba Rilwan Akiolu does not know the history of his lineage and Obaship in Lagos State. It is also a truism that everything about the Obaship of Lagos State is, is the handiwork of strangers. As a matter of historical empiricism, the word ‘Lagos’ is a Portuguese name meaning lakes or a group of lagoons. It was given to the area by the first Portuguese settlers in now Lagos State. ‘Eko’ means war camp and was used by the Benin Empire’s military expedition tacticians led by Prince Ado for the purpose of slave trade and military expeditions in now Ghana and Benin Republic.

“Contrary to Oba Rilwan Akiolu’s claims and boast, he does not own Lagos and its people including its elected public office holders. Rather, he is owned by the people of Lagos State including the Igbo living in the State. The Oba’s intolerance to due process, rule of law and democratic principles clearly manifested in the referenced court case filed since 2003 whereby he reportedly bottled the case and kept frustrating its hearing and determination for the past 11 years”

They therefore urged the Igbo living in the state and all over the Southwest not to be perturbed and intimidated. They implored them to vote for the candidates of their choice and conscience assuring them of peace and tranquility.

Following the utterances reportedly credited to the Oba, PDP, in Lagos State has requested for his immediate suspension until the governorship and state House of Assembly elections in Lagos State are concluded.

The party, which categorically tasked the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, to suspend the first-class monarch, explained that the suspension has become necessary in order to guarantee free, fair and credible elections in the state today.

The party noted that it had also alerted the security agencies to hold the monarch responsible for any attack on non-indigenes or PDP members in the state.

In his reaction, erudite scholar and Vice Chancelor, Federal University, Otuoke, Professor Mobolaji Aluko, said electorate should shun the threat and move the country forward.

His words: “There is always a great danger when a traditional ruler publicly dabbles into politics. He almost certainly would get his royal robe soiled and dragged through the mud. Thus, it does not matter whether the Oba of Lagos threatened Igbo in Lagos or not; he has no business holding political meetings with the so-calledezes of Lagos. Period! Of course, he can meet with them on other matters but any inclination of engaging in political pep rally, smacks of political partisanship which is patently wrong.”

Aluko frowned at the consequences that the oba’s utterances might eventual bring into the nation’s polity.

“However, since he appears to have backtracked and issued clarification, we should let it go and let things not spin out of control. The Biafra knuckle-heads whose main purpose online is to stir up ethnic hatred and endless Yoruba-Igbo feud should pack it up and find something else to do.”

Some observers were also worried about the calibre and status of the Igbo chiefs that went to Akiolu’s palace for the said meeting and what they stand to gain. The critics said Nigerians should ask for the testimonials of those who appointed these chiefs. They wondered that had the Oba given them money, would anyone have heard about it?