– Thursday, October 19, 2006 – From Moshood Adebayo, Abeokuta
•Olowu abolishes chieftaincy titles related to confraternity
The appointment of Oba Adegboyega Olusanya Dosunmu as the 13th Olowu of Owu-Abeokuta was dogged with controversy. Even almost one year after, he is still relishing in controversy through his actions and deeds.
An evangelist, Oba Dosunmu has stopped conferring Ogboni chieftaincy titles on his subjects or anybody for that matter. This is against the existing norms and has generated controversy in many quarters.
The royal father did not stop there. He appointed and installed 12 coronet Obas which pitted him against the two paramount rulers in Ogun State, the Olota of Ota, Oba Moshood Akanni Oyede and the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.
Aside from these, Oba Dosunmu, in the past one year, has conferred more chieftaincy titles on people, both within and outside the state, than any known traditional ruler in the state.
Speaking with Daily Sun, Oba Dosunmu, who is one year on the throne, described changing the system in Owu Kingdom, particularly as regards chieftaincy titles system, as the greatest challenge since ascending the throne.
“I decided that we were not going to continue with the Ogboni system, which is the system everybody runs in Egbaland. That did not go without powerful and strong challenge from some quarters.
“There were many quarters that did not like it, but I believe strongly that Ogboni system is not part of our own culture. It is not part of Owu culture and tradition. We have plodded along with it for a century and a half, but we have not succeeded actually. Every township in Abeokuta which runs this Ogboni system does not have Ogboni houses.
“For example, we (Owu) don’t have an Ogboni house. There is no enclave in Owu where people decide things in secret. The Owus are known to be Igbimo people. The typical thing about Owu people is that we meet and openly decide what we want. That has been our culture and tradition. That has been our way of life and we understand that system so well that we don’t falter with it. People can see us taking decision, arguing and not fighting. I don’t have Ogboni titles anymore in Owu kingdom. There are no longer Ogboni titles. We are all ologuns (fighters).
“We fight for the right cause at all times. We fight for our rights under any circumstances and we do that without really going into any diabolical method of getting rid of one another. We have gone back to that. We have also set up a cabinet of eight people. In other words, it is devolution of power that’s on in Owu now. Today, Olowu is not just the Olowu, the dictator who says this and that is it. All the decision that I make is made by all – the Olowu-in-council and all sections of Owu are involved. To operate an administration of that kind is a great challenge and thank God we are succeeding.
The Olowu, who described the day he ascended the throne as remarkable, recalled: “The heavy crown which I designed myself was like pushing, pulling me on. I remember at a time I had to tell my Balogun, who was on the right and other chiefs on the left that they should hold me because of the way the crown was pushing me. It was a physical trial, a physical exertion. It was a very trying one for me.”
On being described as President Obasanjo’s stooge, the Olowu, who is a childhood friend of Obasanjo, said: “I have answered this question several times. I don’t know what you are talking about. I’m the president’s Oba. He’s an Owu man. I’m the Oba all over Owu. I don’t think there is any big deal”.
On the appointment of coronet Obas by him, he said that he had no apology to make to anybody or group, adding that he acted within the prescribed authority given to him as a monarch.
“Let nobody or group make hues about the appointment, I have acted within the law that established the position of Olowu of Owu. I have not made an Alake or made another Olowu or Agura of Gbagura. I have not made another king or conferred the title of Agura of Gbagura on any other person, but I converted the titles of Baales to coronet Obas. They (coronet Obas) remain chiefs not recognised by the law as Obas”.
“I’m not anybody’s puppet (apparently making veiled reference to Obasanjo). It was wrong to say that the installation of the coronet Obas had the backing of President Obasanjo. I can’t deny the fact that he is my Balogun and a long-standing friend.
“The Baale is a minor chieftaincy. Government recognizes this but it is not the right of government to confer this on people. It is the business of a recognized Oba. That does not make me lawless and irresponsible. To be called a controversial Oba, that’s not my business. It is the business of those who are saying I am controversial and who can stop them from doing their business if that’s what they want to engage their lives? Let them go ahead and do it. It is not my business. We have done what we have done according to the law and the tradition of the land.
“If you call me a lawless Oba, I am not bothered, neither is it my business. I did what I did according to the tradition of the land. President did not write the constitution of Nigeria. It was not the president that conferred the title of Olowu on me, it was the governor of the state who conferred the title on me’, he said.
Asked to comment on the supremacy between the former Alake and the then Olowu, Oba Dosunmu said there was no basis for rivalry between the late Obas because “Alake is the Alake of Egbaland and paramount Oba of Egbaland.
Okay, if he’s ruling Egbaland and they call him the paramount ruler of Egbaland, what’s wrong in that? I’m the paramount ruler of Owu kingdom. I hope you get me right.
“To be a paramount ruler means that you are the head of all high ranks in your place. That’s my interpretation of paramount. I regard myself as the paramount ruler of Owu kindgdom. That’s the truth. Nobody can change that. Of course, government may not recognize that, but my people know that as far as affairs are concerned in Owu kingdom, I’m the Olowu of Owu kingdom.
“Secondly, Alake with his paramouncy can’t come and install chiefs in Owu. He can’t. It is not within his right. Alake, can’t establish or make law for my people. He can’t. My people will not take their problems to the Alake, not even to the Agura who is next door to me”.
“Listen, over the years, many people have taken the law for granted. Many people thought that because it is this, it must be this. No! Listen, I received from the government of Ogun State an appointment to be the Olowu of Owu to rule with prescribed authorities to reign over Owu people.
What you are saying is that before I confer a chieftaincy title on anybody, “I have to go to Alake and tell him that I want to install chief or confer chieftaincy on people. This not so. Listen, he(Alake) has the same certificate that I have in my hands. We all, for example, have gone to WAEC to take examination and everybody has come out in flying colours with Grade 2 and you are saying that before I look for job, I should come and tell you. You have Grade 2 and WAEC, I also have Grade 2”.
“The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria rules over 36 states including Abuja . Does he go to every state to choose for them their commissioners? In Egbaland,the Obas that are here, are here on their own volition. We are all settlers. The Egba did not bring us here as their slaves. I do hope you will appreciate that. Neither did Owu bring the Oke-Ona here as slaves. Everybody is on his own”.