By: Rahaman Onike
Since the day the video clip of the controversial encounter and subsequent snubbing of Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi , the Ooni of Ife, by Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos, became public knowledge, the outcry as result on new and social media has been alarming. Some people are taking the advantage of the anomalous situation to fudge the history of Yoruba to satisfy their whims and caprices. I feel strongly to lend my viewpoints on the raging issue as a counterpoise.
As more and more people particularly the public intellectuals are reacting to what I described as an unbecoming conduct of Oba Akiolu, one is still thankful to God that Ooni Adeyeye was able to display maturity and accepted the outrage with large heart. The scenario would have ended up as a calamity not only for the duo but the entire Yoruba race assuming Oba Ogunwusi had responded with equal fatuousness.
With the video that has gone viral on the social media, the sympathizers and lovers of Oba of Lagos have been put to shame, for the shameful conduct is undeniable and has exposed him to public ridicule. Obviously, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria as the organisers of the International Conference where the two Royal fathers had a doleful encounter would by now be regretting the discomfiture the incident had caused the professional group.
Whatever might have caused the snubbing of Arole Oduduwa in public by Oba Akiolu, the action under the circumstance and considering the wider implications on the unity of Yoruba race deserves condemnation. Indeed, this could equally cause discontent and disaffection among the Yoruba race.
If the two of them have any score to settle at all, it could have be done in privacy.
I have been so challenged since the eruption of the controversy which the situation had ignited by the brush-off given to Ooni of Ife by Oba Akiolu as several commentators have been using the shot to distort history. I subscribe to the belief and sentiments that royalty is not determined by age chronological factors. Every crowned king remains the traditional sovereign in his domain. Irrespective of the age at which the Ooni of Ife ascended the throne of his precursor, he cannot be denied his unique status and place in the history of Yoruba race.
However, the outpouring and declarative adjunct that Ooni of Ife is the number one in ranking and the most important traditional ruler in Yorubaland however remain a contentious vignette till eternity as Oyos and Benins will never accept such inaccurate rendition.
In a way, it would be considered quite unseemly for Oyos in particular to watch the history being distorted, values being rough-handled, muddied or treated with improper decorum without feeling a need to intervene.
For Yoruba race to achieve regional integration, unity and greatness, every component unit and ethnic group must come together to maximally harness the abundant and God freely given human and material resources for the region. Pursuant to this common goal and agenda is the perennial call for the unity of Yoruba race as being advocated by Ooni of Ife since he ascended the throne. Of course, the battle for supremacy among Yoruba Obas ought to have nosedived, if not totally knock off.
It is unfortunate that some public intellectuals instead of confining their commentaries on the malfeasance of Oba Akiolu as issue of moral etiquette, they mischievously extended it to supriority upshot to satisfy their personal idiosyncrasies. By giving preference to superimacy of Ooni over other Yoruba Obas at the detriment of ensuring peaceful coexistence among the various ethnic communities would not just cause further disunity among the people of the race, it will make the whole issue to become knotty.
Without mincing words, the ranking of the obas across ethnic boundaries will not only create an impression that there is an covert attempt at a form of shzerainty of one ethnic or nationality over others. At the end, the strategic objective of regional integration and development will remain a mirage.
In the final analysis, one major lesson learnt from the ugly hap is that every public figure needs to be watchful of his public conduct, utterances and image. From the whole episode and the aftermaths, there is no turn down to the fact that Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi is loved, respected and popular among the Nigeria’s elite and the commoners.
Whoever tries to ridicule the ebullient Ooni of Ife does so at his own peril as admiration for his exalted stool remains sacrosanct.
Rahaman Onike writes from Oyo. He is a public administrator, writer and author.