Feud of the Crown Custodians – Molashin Rises Above Conflict

Molashin Steps Up Above Chieftaincy Disputes:

In the afternoon of Monday, 20th January 2014, the 9th Omolasin Iwarefa Afobaje of Owu Kingdombholder in Abeokuta, since 1855, departed for the abodes of his ancestors.
Chief Olufemi Sunday Ogunlolu was 82 years old last October. He had held the title of Molasin for about 22 years, although the last 9 years of those were shrouded in official controversy!
It is noteworthy that Chief Ogunlolu as Molasin was one of the kingmakers caught in the web of legal friction that strained the ranks of the foremost 7 ancient citizens of the Kingdom at the selection and inception of the present royal regime of Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu, the 13th Olowu in the series at Abeokuta.

For the records, the great grandfather of the present Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was the 4th in the line of the kingdom’s Molasin Iwarefa kingmakers and title bearers in Abeokuta.

Seven Primus Citizens:

Omolaasin (Molashin) was the 7th of the original first 7 citizens of the ancient Owu Kingdom set up by Ajibosin (Asunkungbade) who was crowned as an infant as the first Olowu by Oduduwa, his maternal grandfather at Ile-Ife. Ajibosin is regarded as the 1st citizen of the Kingdom, a status still symbolized by his crowned descendants as Olowus!
In his wake come the Iwarefa Afobajes starting with Akogun as the 2nd citizen, followed by Obamaja, Orunto, Osupori, Oyega and finally Omolashin as the 7th in that order. Together they formed the Grand Senate and highest decision making council of the ancient Owu Kingdom!
This represents the classical heirarchy of the ancient institution headed by Ajibosin, then known as Omo-Olowu, son of Obatala and Iyunade, and grandson of Oduduwa, patriach of the whole of Yorubaland.
When Ajibosin was compelled to set out on his pilgrimage of exile from Ile-Ife after haven become a child-king, he was accompanied by 6 of the most faithful nobles and lords of Ile-Ife, personally handpicked for the exodus by Oduduwa himself to guide, nurse, and counsel the Royal infant until when he would be matured enough to handle the stately matters of Kingship wherever he would choose to set up his domain. These 6 accompanied by a retinue of citizens and servants set out with their royal ward to the land of Obatala, Ajibosin’s father who must have granted them land lease from his sprawling holdings of cotton plantations situated near the River Niger in present Kwara State to set up the first Owu Kingdom!
These 6 primus citizens were the original custodians of the crown of the Omo-Olowu granted by Oduduwa to his first grandson, Ajibosin, born of his first daughter, Iyunade, who married the roaming Ifa High priest, Obatala.
Ajibosin was the ward of these noble trusted Iwarefas who were to hold council for him as a Junta of Regents until he was ripe enough to exercise his inherent powers of Kingship as the first citizen of the emerging Owu Kingdom!

Conflicts around the Crown:

Recently, perhaps some 900 years after these beginnings which were later trailled by a kaleidoscope of experiences and happenings which had ultimately led some of the descendants of these noble 7 primus citizens and their entourage into the sprawling composite city of Abeokuta, a mighty challenge occurred…a vendetta!
A crack tore through the fabrics of these Owu crown custodians, sending ripples through their tightly knit ranks and slicing them in splinters along a sharply drawn divide!
So far there had been a general silence over the actual cause of the imbroglio that caused such a widespread misunderstanding amongst the citizenry of the kingdom in Abeokuta and beyond. Time may now be rife for an attempt at educating the public about the general cause of the friction, especially now that the last of the primary actors of the scene on the side of the Iwarefa kingmakers has gracefully taken a bow out of the stage!
In a nutshell, it all started after the death of Oba Adisa Odeleye of Owu Kingdom, the 12th in the succession of Olowus in Abeokuta…

Controversy in Kingmaking:

Perhaps if Ifa divination which was the ancient order for making new Kings had been employedbonce again in the selection process for a succeeding Olowu, the ensuing conflict may have been averted, as the oracle would have likely been more definitive about the directives to be adopted for the selection…but then, we are in modern times and Kingmakers’ guidelines now tend to emanate from laid down traditional Chieftain Laws of the State rather than suggestions stemming from an unseen animistic entity who speaks through patterns and symbols depicted on a Divination Board, and interpreted by its anointed native priests!
At the time of the interregnum, the Balogun of Owu Kingdom, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was the president of the Federal Republic, and was generally regarded (rightly or otherwise) as regent and custodian of the Owu Palace. He issued directives to the kingmakers about the prescribed parameters to be adopted in the selection of a new monarch in line with the State’s chieftaincy laws and regulations, as the story is told.
This time, the onus was to fall on the Royal family acknowledged to produce the next Oba, the Amororo House, who initially fielded some 5 or 6 candidates.
Apparently the Kingmakers opted to exercise their own prerogatives, choosing largely to disregard the directives albeit with somewhat valid arguments about their rights to choose freely according to their conscience and preferences. After all, they reasoned, if the process was to be so automatic, what use then is the institution of Kingmakers? A programmed computer would easily do the job better!
The outcome of this dissention was a choice of candidate not favoured by the legally prescribed regulations. A conflict ensued when the kingmakers opted to hold their grounds and not retract their original preference, and the umpire, the Balogun Owu (himself a kingmaker since the political inclusion of Baloguns from the time of Akin-Olugbade), insisted that they must do a retraction, employing all the authority at his disposition to ensure compliance for the sake of sanity and preservation of the legal prescription on such matters.

Selection Clauses:

So what are these prescribed selection clauses that created the sharp divide?
It is reported (I never saw the edict) that a candidate must be preferred if he is male, and issues from a male lineage.
It is even better preferred if this candidate issues from a lineage which had previously worn the crown of the Kingdom.
In this guise, it is said that Adegboyega Dosunmu who eventually ascended the throne after much controversy was the only candidate who qualified on both counts, being of a masculine descent, and also direct grandson of a previous Olowu of the same surname, Olowu Adesunbo Dosunmu, the 6th Olowu in Abeokuta from 1918-1924, thus he shouldn’t have been opposable by any of the other candidates!
Therefore when despite all these odds and entrities, the kingmakers’ votes still went to the ‘unqualified’ opposition, the umpire lost his cools as was reported, and adopted highhanded military tactics!
Allegations and counter-allegations of improprieties and/or favoritism on both sided of this divide rapidly followed and the State Government had to step in through dissolving the body of kingmakers and instituting an emergency panel of some Owu chiefs to take over the selection functions.
So, what right did the government have to interfere?

Prescribed Authority:

The government of Olabisi Onabanjo had withdrawn its prescribed authority from the stool of the Olowu in the 1970s at about the reign of Oba Adebowale Oyegbade, when there were some fracas involving the then Balogun. Following a 13 year interregnum which eventually resulted in the enthronement of Olowu Adisa Odeleye, the Owu palace had neglected to institute a restoration of this withdrawn authority which forbade the stool of the Olowu from appointing anybody to the order of chiefs in the kingdom. Consequently, all chieftaincy appointments made by Oba Odeleye who was crowned after the withdrawal of this prescribed authority were null and avoid according to law, regardless of the fact that he wasn’t privy to the disputes that brought about the injunction.

Annulled Chieftains:

After the 13 year interregnum, the only surviving Kingmaker in the Kingdom was the Orunto, the other remaining kingmaker, Chief Adeyemi, the Obamaja haven died not too long before the selection exercise commenced.
So, the new Olowu Odeleye had the singular distinction of haven been officially selected by only one kingmaker out of a total of eight the kingdom now paraded! Even the Orunto was soon to join the realm of his ancestors after his solitary achievement.
Olowu Adisa Odeleye was thus saddled with the unique task of appointing virtually singlehandedly the entire Owu Traditional Council, including the entirety of the 8 Kingmakers comprising all the 6 Iwarefas who form the core of the Afobajes, plus the Olosi (Olowu’s Ifa diviner), and Balogun who were recent additions during Oba Gbadela Ajibola’s reign that make up the team of eight!
Alas, these appointments by Oba Odeleye were to later become a mammoth exercise in futility as he had not procured the Prescribed Authority from the Ogun State Government to do so. Throughout his 10 year regime, he had neglected to seek a restoration of his royal right that was withdrawn from him even long before he dreamt of ascending the throne!

Throwing the Missiles:

It is popularly said that, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough gets going’. Believe me, the people of Owu are never to be found wanting in that arena! It was even said to me once (by a late Olowu in Kwara State) that the Owu must always be engaged in battle. “When there’s no foe at war to be fought, he’ll direct his missiles at home to his own kind”, said the Olowu, “It is part of the bloodline heritage passed down from our forefather himself, the great Owu partriach, Ajibosin, alias Asunkungbade!”
On this occasion, the missiles were directed homewards to demobilise the opposition, the Iwarefa Afobaje, because the issue of the long forgotten ‘Prescribed Authority’ suddenly emerged from the cobwebs, purportedly dug out by the pro-Dosunmu faction of the conflict for the attention of the Government in order to drive home their determination to follow laid down regulations. All chieftaincy appointments of Oba Odeleye were thus instantly nullified by law. The interesting drama here was that the resultant annulment affected nearly everybody on both sides of the struggle as they were virtually all, save a handful, stripped of their titles…and official functions, all the major actors haven been appointed by Olowu Odeleye without the prescribed authority!

However, even in this, the desired effect was attained, as all the Kingmakers were thus stripped of their powers to select since they were all affected and thus no longer bonafide chiefs in the eyes of the State Government!

The stage was thus set for the very State Government to appoint its own selectors who were ordered to strictly follow the prescribed guidelines to select a new Olowu. Oba Adegboyega Olusanya Dosunmu thereby energed as the 13th Olowu of the Kingdom in Abeokuta.

Titular Restorations:

Immediately on ascention of the throne, Oba Dosunmu haven been conferred with a full restoration of the hitherto withdrawn Prescribed Authority by Governor Gbenga Daniel was quick to reappoint and thus restore the title of Balogun of Owu Kingdom to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, his staunch benefactor and childhood mate, right there and then on the podium in Coronation square at Ita-Iyalode.
Contrary to popular understanding, the new Oba subsequently issued a fiat to all annulled Owu chiefs to come forward for the restoration of their titles under the newly acquired prescribed authority. Many heeded the call, but a few including all the Kingmakers abstained swearing never to go for a second conferment of the same title as that would be tantamount to abomination and insult on their persons and office, they reasoned.
In time, Olowu Dosunmu toughened up in typical Owu fashion and revised his initial benevolent stance demanding for at least two candidates to be presented from the kingmaker families, a move that may be eyed with suspicion as a ploy to weed out the old brigade who failed to support his selection to the stool of Owu and continued to defy his moves for a truce!
On his part, the monarch may tend to argue that since Royal candidates for the crown are usually chosen by Kingmakers from not one, but a host of candidates presented by the ruling house-to-be, the crown too should be justified to choose from an array of candidates to be presented from the Iwarefa families instead of their choice alone being imposed on the whole community! Reasonable, logical and philosophical…but is it traditional?
Thus, yet again a new battle line was drawn by the feuding compatriots. Every entreaty had failed to budge both sides in the new faceoff!
In the case of the Molasin, as in a couple of others, their families stood solidly behind them over principles that it was their clans’ prerogatives to select and present their kingmaker candidates to the palace, for royal blessing and official installation alone, and not for the former to help them in selecting. This they said had always been the practise since the official institution of Ajibosin on the throne as Olowu when he became of age, in line with directives passed to them directly by Oduduwa. Thus an en-passe or stalemate ensued, which in the case of a few of the others, as is likely in the case of the Molasin, could only have been broken by death!

An Overview Philosophy:

My personal philosophy in all of these, for whatever it may be worth is that progress is only achievable through motion, and motion is facilitated only through changes. If these changes are forward looking, progress shall be achieved. If however the changes are lopsided, they will only result in negative motion with consequent retardation.
Changes, when they must take place, should do so delicately and slowly enough to be understood by those for whom they are intended so as not to generate disruptive ripples, which will end up decelerating the whole process and progress anyway!

Disclaimer:
The above is the story in brief of the feud amongst the Crown custodians of Owu Kingdom in Abeokuta as understood by me, the writer, from reports, personal discussions and interactions with affected parties and sundry. While admitting individual interest in the matter on both sides of the divide, one as an installed chief of the kingdom under the renewed prescribed authority, and also as a Molasin Iwarefa family member and mover, the accounts rendered represent my unbiased personal understanding and summations alone. They do not represent or portend to represent any official views and may not be admissible for any legal proceedings whatsoever.

The 2013 Owu Day Festival Announced

Prince Adeshina, Chairman Planning Committee.

Prince Adeshina, Chairman Planning Committee.

The annual festival of Owu Kingdom, the Odun Omo Olowu, also known as Owu Day Festival which is usually featured in the first week of October anyway has been confirmed for Saturday 5th of October as the staging date of the 2013 edition.

The chairman of the Planning Committee, Prince Adekunle Adeshina, the Omoleefon of Owu Kingdom announced to his committee members at their recent meeting at the Owu Palace on Oke Ago Owu in Abeokuta that the Olowu and paramount ruler of Owu Kingdom, Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu has approved that date for the staging of the climax and highlight of the week long festival which crescendo is to take place at its usual venue of the Gateway Secondary School at Ita Iyalode in the Owu Quarter of Abeokuta.

It should be noted that this venue like many similar educational premises in Ogun State has recently been totally revamped and given a facelift by the government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, he himself an Owu man stemming from the Molashin compound on Totoro Rd, Abeokuta. All the roads leading to the venue have also been transformed into first class 8 – lane avenues backed up with blinding street lights as a part of the transformation of the whole city of Abeokuta amidst many other major cities of Ogun State.

As promoters of Owu cultural heritage, Owulakoda.com celebrates the milestone achievements of one of its sons, Governor Ibikunle Amosun in his milestone efforts of enhancing the image of the state, just as we also celebrate the laudable achievements of another Owu icon, ‘Baba Iyabo’ Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the Balogun of Owu Kingdom and former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who entrenched the nation solidly into its path of democracy, and reigned the longest and arguably the best in the history of the Nigerian nationhood.

Owulakoda also gathered that the 2013 festival is also being planned to be the best and most sophisticated by far in the series, with special emphasis being placed on outreach to both the Diaspora and the rurals. New special features are also being planned to complement the scheduled events of the day. The festival Programme shall also be remarkably overhauled and expanded into new realms while the World Wide Web shall feature significantly as a major tool of information dissemination.

In brief, one should expect the 2013 Odun Omo Olowu/Owu Day Festival to be simply stunning. Ba atiri!

December? Nay, It’s ‘WUcember

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The Owu National Convention has come of age. Hooray!

At 21, it has come back home to roost…where it started its journey 21 years ago!

An annual pan-Owu fiesta, it is usually hosted on a rotational basis among all Owu communities in Nigeria and the Diaspora on or about the first weekend of December, or is it Owucember?

This year Owu-Abeokuta its originator will host the annual convention on the 7th and 8th of December at the Gateway School festival grounds at Ita-Iyalode.

The highlight event for Friday 7th December is the Gala Night which kicks-off at 8pm for an all-night musical frolicking session attended by a live band, after an earlier business-as-usual going to the mosque and official meeting of all Obas and the RUOP Executives.

Saturday 8th also starts early with a church thanksgiving session, and then, the big stuff – The Convention proper – which promises electrifying cultural displays and drama, among other mind-blowing features and extras like scholarship awards and free medical diagnostics for all comers!

The convention brochure for this 21st outing also promises to be a true departure from previous ones – a true memorabilia of the Owu people that will glow forever in your reference library!

Oh! For the records in advance, the National Convention of Owu People was the brain-child of the late Balogun of Owu-Abeokuta, Barrister Akin Olugbade, which was taken to greater heights and permanently entrenched by his successor, Balogun Olusegun Obasanjo, the ex-President and Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces of Nigeria.

By the way, if you were to attend the venue in the custom-made adire uniform designated for the event (costs N2,000 for 6 yards), you may just be one of the lucky winners of certain surprises that may be lined up by the organizing committees!

A concise history of the Royal Union of Owu People (RUOP) and the complete convention time-table shall soon be posted here.

Further information available through the Secretary, Local Organizing Committee (LOC), of the 21st RUOP Owu National Convention – Tel : +2348033377642.

In conversation with Prince Adeshina – Chairman 2012 Owu Day Planning Committee.

The annual Owu Day Festival tagged ‘Odun Omo Olowu’ is no mean feat. Its implementation takes several months of gruelsome planning and mind-boggling expences for it to record a success. It is a week-long affair which this year will span from Monday 1st of October through Sunday the 7th. The highlight of the whole week as usual shall be at the Ita-Iyalode venue where variety shows and the Yam-cuttting festival shall be staged in the presence of the Who is Whos of Owu, Nigeria and the International Diplomatic services on Saturday 6th of October, starting by 10am.

The burden of ensuring a successful outing shall once again fall on the shoulders of Prince Adekunle Adeshina. Last year, he took over the planning of the annual festival from the ever-vibrant work-a-holic General Ekundayo Opaleye, the Balogun Erunmu who had successfully staged the event for many years and was literally screaming for relief in the form of a successor. Well, he got it – in the form of Prince A.A. Adeshina.

But…who is this Prince Adeshina?

Owulakoda.com went to town to unravel this myth! Below are excerpts of the respondent’s utterances during a fact-finding conversation between the Owu Peoples’ website, Owulakoda.com and Prince A.A. Adeshina in his tastily adorned Okelewo office on Lalubu Street, Abeokuta:

(Note: The statements reproduced below are not necessarily rendered verbatim, but represent the approximate intended thoughts and objectives of the respondent, as best as we can determine).

Prince Adeshina speaks:

“Yes I am aware that there was a lot of confusion in staging last year’s event. We had lofty objectives, we spent a lot of time at the planning stage, but i guess we measured below expectation in controlling and coordinating. Our team was new at the job, and we were all green and did not fully understand the intricacies involved, but at any rate we learnt our lessons the hard way and we are doing everything possible to block all loop-holes and dramatically improve on last year’s performance.”

“Oh! Mistakes in the programme brochure. I am personally spending more time with the printers this year and ensuring correct pagination, proof reading, and content layout. Suggestions are welcomed. You will see the improvements.”

“We are also going to make a more effective use of space and likely include some historical accounts similar to what was incorporated in the 2002 Owu calendar. The Olowu is currently on vacation, and I expect he will furnish us with some vital historical materials when he returns next week”.

“So far we have released posters, fliers and letters of the occassion, and all other areas of preparation are in top gear. The final stages of preparation will ensue when Kabiyesi returns from his annual leave soon.”

“This year we have even gone extra miles in mobilizing the people. We have visited all the Obas and Baales of the kingdom in their respective domains, inviting their opinions and suggestions, letting them know our intensions and how they can fit in and mobilize their populace for a combined effort in staging expectedly the most successful festival we’ve ever had so far.”

“We also held meetings with all the Alakosos in Abeokuta at the palace where we similarly let them into the broad picture of our plans, spelling out their expected involvements for successful management”.

“While we were on tour of the rural areas to meet the Chieftains, I hired the services of a proffessional photographer with his digital cameras to take photographs of the Obas and Baales in group with their chiefs. I did the same with the Alakosos at the palace. In fact the photographer is on a retainership to do photographic sessions at the palace. The object of this exercise is to build up a database of well-taken photographs which we can use at any time to improve the quality of our presentations at anytime we have a special event to stage in the kingdom. Any of our chiefs can just walk-in to the palace to have his picture updated, digitally.”

“We’ve had a few drawbacks in manpower, some vital members of the planning committee haven assumed new professional appointments which has compromised their available time, but nevertheless, we have not allowed that to get in our way as we have redoubled our efforts to compensate”.

Profile of Prince Adeshina:

His name in full is Adekunle Akanbi Adeshina. Male, tall, light complexioned with good looks. In fact to the trained eye, there’s an intricate aura of dignified royalty that emanates from him in gentle oozes! He is a sibling of the Otileta Ruling house of Owu, which qualifies him as a bonafide Prince of the Kingdom, in fact…he is the President of the ‘Koruwa’, the Council of Princes and Princesses of Owu Kingdom, which is represented by 5 members from each of the 6 Ruling Houses in the kingdom. In this capacity, he also deputizes for the Olori-Omoba in the Cabinet and Olowu-in-Council. The Olori-Omoba (currently Prince Bola Ajibola) is the overall leader of all the Princes and Princesses. In addition, Prince Adekunle Adeshina was installed with the princely chieftain title of ‘OMOLEEFON’ of Owu Kingdom in the year 2008 by Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu, a title that had previously been proposed to him 13 years ago by the late Olowu Adisa Odeleye, but which he had artfully side-stepped because he “wasn’t prepared for chieftaincy affairs then”. At that time, Oba Odeleye had scheduled 2 chieftaincy titles per Ruling House. The lot that befell the Otileta house were ‘Omoleefon’ and ‘Omoniinu’ titles.

He grew up in the commercial buzzling Lagos where he attended the St. Paul Breadfruit school on the Lagos Island, from where he proceeded to the Eko Boys High School for his secondary education. He then crossed the seas to England for tertiary education at the Polytechnic of North London on Holloway Rd, after which he proceeded to the University of Surrey in Guildford. He is a Mathematics graduate.

He had started early in his preparations for political, traditional and commercial leaderships: He was the Chairman of the Nigerian Students Union of London from 1967-70, President, Nigerian Students Union of U.K. & Ireland in 1971 to 1974, and also a representative of the West African Students Union (WASU).

His first employment was in London with the International Business Machines (IBM) with duties in Computer Programming.

He returned to Nigeria to join IBM (Nigeria) at Western House, Broad St Lagos, before they later moved to Lapal House on Igbosere Rd, Lagos. On quitting IBM, he went straight into his own private business. During the 3rd Republic experiment of General Babangida (IBB), he started making waves in politics as the Federal House of Representatives member for Abeokuta North between 1991 and 1993 “before we were all thrown out when Abacha seized control” (he retorted).

He was the founding PRO of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), which later synthesized to AC, in Ogun State, an office he held from 1998 to 2000.

In 1999, Prince Adeshina was appointed as the Chairman of Ogun State Teaching Service Commission. He was so favoured in the position that he was highly prevailed upon to take up the job again by Principals and Headmasters in the present dispensation, but tactfully declined “due to advancing age and the rigours of that office” (he added).

He is the current Chairman of OPIC (Ogun State Planning & Investments Corporation), an appointment he took up in March 2012. His responsibilities over the board of the corporation include Town Planning, Survey, Estate Management, building affordable houses to complement efforts of the ministry of housing, and managing the Agbara Estate Free-Trade Zone among others.

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Akinale Day 2011 Celebrations – Revisited

Oba Ogunleye presenting awards

The Akinale Day 2011 feature has just been re-introduced on Owulakoda.com.

Why???

Well, in case you did not notice, the link to the article from this blog did not work…and the full story was inaccessible.

It was also discovered (after a royal intervention) that all the links in the “Festival News” category of Owulakoda Magazine homepage are presently static and will only lead you to a blank page. Unfortunately, the Akinale Day story also belongs to this category. As a result of these misnomers, the story could not be read by numerous visitors…so we have decided to reintroduce it after haven found a roundabout way of circumventing the problem which for some uncanny reason is still defying solution. But we too are not relenting!

You can now click on the link below which will take you to a duplicate page of the story that we have created in order to side-step the link bug. Please avoid linking from the ” Festival News” category as the problem still persist there. However, linking from the “Featured” slider at the top of the magazine homepage or the “News and Events” category areas will promptly get you to the article.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Click here to Read full story of “Akinale Day 2011 Celebrations”