Saturday 28 August 2021

Notes on the new Olu of Warri

The story of the recent emergence of the Olu of Warri is an amazing cobweb that cannot be touched without the soul of the Yoruba people all over the world.

It is a story that should touch the heart of any Yoruba leader that is conscious of Yoruba history and who understands what power is.

From last Friday to Monday, I barely slept for three hours, all night it was calls and calls and meetings because of this issue-Just a small  me!!!

The newly picked Olu Prince Olusola (Tsola) Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko from the Ginuwa 1 Ruling House has a Yoruba mother. But there was a stiff opposition on that note from the conservatives.

One of the, a highly respected leader and Chief, Emami and  others were opposed to him. When the President of Itsekiri Congress called me that I should do something, so that they would not stop the man with Yoruba mother, I knew the meaning. I am a student of history, culture, power and politics.

 Itsekiri has some 25 to 30 percent of Nigerian oil. The land is about two hours on sea drive to Lagos. That there is not regional cooperation between Itsekiriland and Lagos is a big shame, either from security, cultural or economic perspective.

 Historically, there are 5 clans in Itsekiri- three of them from Yoruba and two from Igala and Edo. The Itsekiri law says any Olu MUST have Itsekiri or Edo mother. I love this. The idea is to preserve the purity of the royal blood so that you hardly would have someone that will enslave or sell the people now or in the future.

The new Olu has Yoruba mother, so they opposed him.That was too bad. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo never joked with Itsekiri. His last public assignment was the installation of late penultimate Olu of Warri in May 1987. I remember seeing him on NTA and a report that someone nearly stepped on his feet among the surging crowd. When Awo died, Warŕi received his body to lie in state on the extension of his ancestral land. No Yorubaman has ever been given such a rare privilege. I suspected some forces outside Warri may be behind attempts to stop the new Olu with Yoruba mother.

Since Awo died, we have largely had leaders without any sense of history. They don't know the history of the people they claim to lead. This week, election will hold in Benin Republic. The contesting Yoruba people there came to me. We tried to reach those politicians who could help. They do not understand. There are some 1.5million Yoruba people in Benin Republic who are indigenous to that country, same with Togo and the Ga people who own Accra. Yet, these leaders read about Sokoto state signing security agreement with Niger Republic and the bilateral relations between Bornu State and Chad. They do not know the significance of a Yorubaland emerging the President of Benin Republic. In Ivory Coast alone, there are some 3million Yoruba people. Our political leaders do not  care about them. In any case, do they even care about some 10m Yoruba people in the North? No. I was in Bornu, Kaduna and Kano. In the North East, no one cares about the many Yoruba people killed by terrorists and their anguish.

They are not even smart enough to appreciate the electoral value of such a huge population of Yoruba in the North, if only for their own interests.

This would never happen to any Fulani leadership. The Fulani are smart, keen and efficient when you are talking of power equation.

On this Warri issue, they would have sent five Emirs to Warri until their own emerged.

Too bad. So, when I got the frantic call, I didnt know what to do. Who would I call? No Yoruba think tank. Every leader sees himself as a thin god, no coordination, no Lowest Common Factor, amidst several naive advisers who think only of wealth and not sustainable livelihood and not even protection of the same wealth.

The Yoruba link with Itsekiri had been severed after Awo's demise though sustained by Pa Adesanya and Pa Ajasin, two last icons who had a deep sense of history, same with Yoruba link with Oworro-the owners of Lokoja-Ilu ko Jo and Ogohi, Okun all in Kogi, and Olukunmi in Delta.

I met one of the last titans of Oworro, Baba Hassan. He is now late. He told me in the days of Awo, they used to attend Yoruba meetings but the link was lost after Chief Bola Ige's death, he said.

So I started making calls amidst depression caused by Yinka Odumakin and Innocent Chukwuma's sudden death.

I could not reach LASG. The Chief of Staff, an excellent man could not be reached. He was the only one I knew could spin something.

I have no access to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Even If I have, does he recognise the strategic importance? Will he ever do anything? I was not  sure!

I sent a mail to Ooni not sure he would see it. Then I called his Director of Media, Moses Olafare, a deep, young man who is my honorary Professor on Yoruba matters.  Olafare is an exceptional character and I thank God he occupies such important position to the Ooni.

I was lucky. He took the case immediately to the Ooni. Olafare deserves a trophy.

Thank God. The OONI got the message. He is a remarkable Oba who has an impressive knowledge about his people. The request of Itsekiri was for Ooni to assert the Yorubaness and also send high powered delegation to the Itsekiri General Global Congress slated for Monday, the second day after Ooni was contacted.

Impossible, I thought, less than 24 hours notice. Alas, Ooni got the message and rose to the occasion in a remarkable manner.

He forgot about everything and faced the critical issue at hand. Mogaji of Ibadan had also risen to the occassion when I called him, a very articulate and intelligent man.

Few hours after, Olafare told me two Obas would attend. I could not believe it.Would they use Egbe? Warri was far by road.

Ooni had delegated Oore of Osun, HRM Oba Adekunle Adeagbo, a wonderful natural leader and another Oba from Osun, HRM Oba Akinola Akinrewa to represent Arole Oduduwa, Adimula Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja 11.

I went down on my kneels: God, thank you. You did not disgrace Yoruba people. 

May God honour Oore and  Oba Akunrera. Oore travelled immediately through the night. They called me from Warri that Oore had arrived.

The second Oba, who was HRM Olubosin of Ifetedo left Osun 3am and reached Warri 9am. They attended the event and asserted that Itsekiri are Yoruba in the face of thousands of Itsekiri people.

Seeing the Ooni sending powerful delegation, the opposition went into coma.

May God bless Yoruba Nation with the right leadership at this critical time. Amen

By Adewale Adeoye

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