By Bola Badmus, Tribune Newspaper:THE Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetola, on Thursday, in Lagos, said that the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedokun Aremu Gbadebo, from history and all available records, remained a junior traditional ruler in Yorubaland with his peer in Ijebuland being Dagburewe of Idowa, Ajalorun of Ijebu-Ife, among others.
The Awujale said this at the launching of the Endowment Fund of a professorial chair in Governance in his name to the Department of Political Science, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye.
The event was attended by eminent Nigerians, traditional rulers, including the Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, represented by the Deputy Governor, Chief (Mrs) Yetunde Onanuga; Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi; Oba Otudeko; former governors Segun Osoba, Gbenga Daniel and Niyi Adebayo; Olori Omo Oba Subomi Balogun, Chief Kessington Adebutu and Professor Akin Mabogunje.
The monarch was reacting to comments made recently by the Alake, when he received in his palace the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi.
The Alake had, while meeting with the Ooni in his Ake palace, on Sunday, listed the big five obas to include the Ooni, Alaafin, the Oba of Benin, himself the Alake and finally the Awujale, which the Awujale said the Alake denied to him and the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, when contacted on phone to find out if he actually said so.
“In a recent discussion between the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu and I, we also touched on the same issue and the Oba of Lagos told me that he too had asked Alake the same question, which he had denied vehemently.
“Regrettably, however, when the said statement, few days later, was continuously credited to Alake on the pages of newspapers, I expected him to deny it or issue a rebuttal, but he did not do so,” Awujale said.
The monarch, who said the document relied upon by Alake was the 1903 Gazette which was a mere newspaper publication and not an official Government Gazette, said the question one should ask the Alake is “Who categorised the Yoruba Obas and when?
“I challenge him to produce the said document of the said categorisation. It is a known fact that Alake was just a junior traditional ruler under the Alaafin at Orile Egba before he fled to Ibadan for refuge as a result of the war ravaging in Yorubaland then,” he said.
“Following the defeat of Owu by the Ijebu Army in 1826, the Owus became refugees all over Yorubaland. Some of the Ijebu troops that fought the war proceeded to Ibadan where they met Alake and sacked him, consequently forcing him to seek refuge at Ake in Abeokuta in 1830 where of course, he met the Osile, Olowu, and Agura already settled at Oke-Ona, Owu and Gbagura sections of Abeokuta township respectively.
“Even then, the Olubara of Oyo origin had always argued that all the aforementioned four rulers met him in Abeokuta and therefore claimed to be their landlord.
“To even refer to Alake as ‘Alake of Abeokuta’ not to talk of Egbaland, is a misnomer, as his control since his arrival at Ake in 1830 and till today is restricted to Ake section of Abeokuta.
“The official Government Gazette testifies to this fact. In short, the Alake from history and all available records is a very junior traditional ruler in Yorubaland. His peers in Ijebuland are the Dagburewe of Idowa, Ajalorun of Ijebu-Ife, Olowu of Owu-Ijebu, Oloko of Ijebu-Imushin, Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo and Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye,” Awujale added.