MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Winnie Kodilonye
The Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has been called upon to nip in the bud crisis that could rock the existing peace in Owu kingdom over what is perceived as avoidable sacrilegious traditional assault.
Many sons and daughters of the Owu Kingdom in Abeokuta, Ogun State have expressed concerns over the failure of the state Governor, Prince to announce the name of the new Olowu of Owu, two months after the names of seven candidates were sent to him by Kingmakers.
The Owu indigenes and other concerned members of the public are calling on the Governor to immediately perform his statutory duty under the law to reduce the growing tension his inaction on the sensitive matter is already generating.
They particularly asked him to appoint a non-controversial Olowu and avoid the interregnum which occurred between 1987 and 1994 when Oba Michael Oyelekan newly selected Olowu died in Ipebi, leading to internal conflict among and within the family and kingmakers, preventing the Owu from having a king until when late Oba Adisa Odeleye, a renowned architect was crowned.
Recall that the Olowu stool became vacant, following the demise of the late Oba Adegboyega Dosumu, who joined his ancestors on December 12, 2021.
The veteran TV producer ascended the throne in 2005 as the 13th Olowu after Oba Adewale Adisa Odeleye, Lagbedu 1 who transited to glory in 2003.
In compliance with the directive from the Abeokuta North Local Government through a Public Notice, entitled: ‘Filing of Vacant Stool of Olowu of Owu, Abeokuta,’ and signed by the Secretary to the Local Government, Odusiji Kabiru Ayinla, the Otileta Ruling House conducted an in-house interview for interested candidates from the five compounds that made up the ruling house on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. After the process seven Princes were cleared and recommended to the Owu Kingmakers.
Those whose names were submitted to the Kingmakers are Dr Adegbemi Adewale, a Methodist Church Arch Bishop, Ogun State from Ile Aderinoye, Princes Adelani Oladimeji from Ile Omo’le Efon, Matemilola Adelola from Ile Soke and Olatidoye Olaniyi from Soke.
Others are Princes Adeyanju Bakinson from Ile Otopo and Princes Obadayo Soyele from Ile Lumosa and Adesina Adelani from Ile Soke.
Also on March 30, 2022, the candidates were further screened by the Kingmakers led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the Oke Ago-Owu, Palace of the Olowu.
Obasanjo, who is the Balogun of the Owu kingdom, led other Kingmakers in the statutory selection process, which lasted for about seven hours.
Hundreds of the sons and daughters of the kingdom who had thronged the Oke Ago-Owu, Palace where the Kingmakers interviewed the candidates, hoping to receive an announcement of the Olowu-elect were disappointed as no such announcement was made.
Instead, the Kingmakers informed the people they have forwarded the list of the elected candidates to the state Governor for approval and announcement of the new Olowu.
Chief Obasanjo was quoted to have said that the outcome of the screening lies on the shoulders of Governor Abiodun whose statutory duty is to announce the new Oba.
However, since the conclusion of these processes, it has been silence from the government, and all attempts made by concerned indigenes and other interested members of the public to know the position of the Governor have failed to yield any result. Rumours and counter rumours have since been the order of the day.
The delay is already generating serious controversies and unnecessary disputes among the ruling house and many people believe that if the Governor continues to drag his feet the situation may become intractable.
The first sign of trouble was when one of the Princes, Sunday Adelanwa, called on kingmakers not to politicise the selection process.
This was followed by a protest led by the Laara family who expressed displeasure over an alleged marginalisation and negligence by the Otileta ruling house for not allowing members of the family to participate in the selection process.
Also, two families from Ile Omoleefon and Aderinoye of the Otileta Ruling House rejected the alleged nomination of one Prince Saka Matemilola as the candidate for the stool.
The two royal families, represented by Prince Tajudeen Adelani, and Princess Aminat Adesina, have separately petitioned the State Government, warning against the appointment of Matemilola, who they described as a non-indigene, as the Olowu of Owu.
Adelani and Adesina, in their separate petitions to the Ministries of Justice, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, claimed that Matemilola “is a native of Ibadan in Ibadan North East Local Government Area of Oyo State.”
They insisted that the candidate had alluded to his Ibadan indigeneship in an affidavit he swore to dated May 15, 2000, at the High Court Registry Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
In his response to the allegation, Matemilola himself described the affidavit where he swore to be a native of Ibadan as “correct and consistent.”
He, however, declined further comment on his alleged non-indigene of the Owu kingdom.
This revelation has to a large extent, infuriated many sons and daughters of Owu who are hell-bent on rejecting the imposition of any questionable candidate on them as their king.
Many who spoke to our correspondent wondered how and why the kingmakers would in the first instance, fail to do background check on the candidates until the discovery.
Chief Okanlawon Somoye in his comment said,” It is surprising that someone who had sworn to an affidavit of being a native of Ibadan for whatever reason should be invited for screening to be entrusted with the traditional and cultural affairs of Owu kingdom. For a pot of porridge, such a person can sell off the people”.
“The king makers should be seen to have the interest of our kingdom at heart and avoid anything that can tarnish their reputation at all times.”
Another stakeholder who would not want to be named said,” The Governor should ensure that a non-indigene is not made an Olowu to avoid unnecessary crisis in the peaceful town”.
She wondered if there is no candidate without any blemish among the princes screened that can be appointed, adding that everything should be done fairly and transparently to ensure that the Olowu elect is the right candidate because anything contrary may result in avoidable litigations.
Another indigene said political or religious sentiments should not be mixed with the much respected Owu traditional highly esteemed stool as being rumoured in some quarters.
Some have questioned the sincerity, dignity and loyalty of the Owu Afobajes to the cause of their kingdom in the face of all rumoured developments.
With these developments, the government should come out with Olowu-elect devoid of any controversy so that these tensions, allegations and rumours would not derail the peace and unity of the Owu Kingdom.
Speaking with AtlanticNewsonline on the delay in announcing the new Olowu, one of the king makers, Chief Ishola Akinsipo who holds the title of Akogun of Owu Kingdom said “nobody can stampede the Governor and as you may want to know, it is not just the Governor signing. Some body can go to court to claim that due diligence was not followed because the approval would come from the State Executive Committee (Exco)even though the Governor represents the Exco.
“We are hopeful and confident that the Governor would do the needful. It is just that every government in the country is so busy with primary elections of their parties at present. They are giving attention to the elections but Governor Abiodun is a hard-working man and I am confident in his ability to get the issue sorted out accordingly.”