Ondo community receives, celebrates autonomy after 118 years

YEMIE FASH

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Ondo community receives, celebrates autonomy after 118 years

Okaland in Akoko Southwest Local Government, Ondo State has joined the league of communities across the state that parade two monarchs. They are the Olubaka of Okaland, Oba Yusuf Adeleye, and the Asin of Okaland, Iwaro-Oka, Oba Pius Omiyeloja Akande.

In Ikare, Akoko Northwest Local Government Area, the community is ruled by the Olukare of Ikare, HRM Oba Akadri Momoh, and Owa Ale of Ikare, Oba Adeleke Adegbite-Adedoyin II. In Owo, there is the Olowo of Owo, Oba Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III and the Olijebu of Ijebu-Owo, Oba Kofoworola Oladoyinbo Ojomo.

In Akure kingdom, monarchs in Akure North Local Government Area have been having a running battle with the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, Odundun II. Several attempts by the Akure monarch to install Baales and Olus in some communities had been rejected by the monarchs in those communities. Last month, the Akure monarch, who used to have authority over Isikan, lost the battle to install the next monarch after the demise of their king in February last year.

Oba Aladetoyinbo had acted on a Supreme Court judgement which conferred on him the power to appoint high chiefs in Akure and its environs and appointed High Chief Gbenga Adeyeye as Iralepo of Isikan, but the people kicked and insisted that the kingmakers selected Gbenga Adeyeye. The battle dragged on until May this year when the Ondo State Government presented a staff of office to Gbenba Adeyeye as the Iralepo of Isikan.

However, the people of Iwaro-Oka, last week, rolled out their drums to celebrate the official recognition of their king through the presentation of Instrument of Appointment and Staff of Office in May this year. This is the first time in 118 years that the Asin chieftaincy title would be officially recognised.

The celebration was fixed on the day the community was to celebrate its annual Umoteleru (New Yam) festival. It was a joyful moment for the members of the community as they thronged the streets in different attires, masquerades and dance groups.

In a colourful ceremony, the king stepped out and trekked to the Okunre Shrine to offer sacrifice and thanksgiving for blessing the community with bountiful harvest. Strangers were forbidden from stepping into the shrine.

Oral accounts stated that Oka people left Ile-Ife around the 14th Century under the leadership of Asin Akonye and first built his Palace at Igia which later moved to Odo-Iju, his present abode. The accounts said the Asin lost its reign in 1904 when the British rulers presented a staff of ofice to the Olubaka.

It said all efforts to make the British have a change of decision were rebuffed and the Olubaka changed its title from Olubaka of Ibaka to Olubaka of Okaland. It said some previous Asins were persecuted and driven out of town. Some were arrested, arraigned and made to pay fine.

An account reads: “What is very clear is that since 1904 when the position of Asin was usurped, successive Asins and their people have never relented in their struggle. The Asin, in pursuit of what rightly belongs to him, has traversed all the hierarchies of courts in Nigeria.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Chairman of Oka-Odo community, Mr. Jerome Orole, said the presentation of Staff of Office and Instrument of Appointment ended 118 years agitation for the Asin Chieftaincy to be recognised by the government.

“Ours has been a journey marked with thorns and thistles; a just cause marked with false accusations and dashed hopes. In spite of all the travails, a ray of light was seen at the end of the tunnel when all hopes seemed lost. Thanks to the Executive Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

“Mr. Governor is the listening type, one who does not want the innocent to suffer unjustly, one who wants to be fair to all and sundry.

“He is a man imbued with that human feeling and compassion;a man who does not want anyone to be deprived of his or her right. On his assumption of office as the governor of Ondo State, a strange assumption of anticipatory hope stirred in the hearts of Oka-Odo people, both young and old, male and female.

“The coming of Arakunrin Akeredolu brought us nearer the reach of justice. The governor saw the suppression of the truth, the oppression of the weak, the injustice meted out to a just cause and he decided that justice must be served at last. This is why Oka-Odo people are rejoicing today.

“The Governor has wiped away our tears which we have shed for more than a century,” Orole said.

On his part, the Asin monarch, who carpeted the federal government for not doing enough for the traditional institution in the country, called for more roles to be assigned to the traditional institution.

He called for the establishment of state police even as he promised to revive many traditional things that were abandoned or neglected in the past.

He said: “We are happy. I have to fasten my belt to bring development to my people. The federal government is not performing as regards traditional rulers.

“If we have somebody like Akeredolu in the federal government we will enjoy. Government at the central level is not doing well. Money is there but the federal government has refused to release the money.

“We have been neglected for a long time. Most of the things we have been doing have been neglected. We just had the throne that was taken from us since 1904. Most of the things we were doing before have been abandoned. We are trying to resurrect them and bring them back.

“I have nothing against masquerade. I have nothing Christianity. I have nothing against Muslims. All religions will be allowed in my community.

“I have said it. Tinubu will do well because he is very aggressive.

“We have taken our staff of office but at that time we had no time to celebrate so we shifted it to the new Yam festival.”

Chairman of the Coronation Central Committee, Elder Jerome Tolorunlogo, thanked traditional rulers in attendance for keeping the tempo of peace and unity in their respective domains.

“It has been a rancorous struggle since 118 years. Our opponents on the other side think they can oppress us. We now have two Obas in Okaland,” he said.

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