That brutal truth by head of kingmakers on new Soun of Ogbomoso by Ben George
The appointment of a new Soun of Ogbomoso following the demise of Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III JP, CON, CFR, the former Soun, on December 12, 2021, has expectedly generated furor, the incendiary for tension and anxiety. As at the last count the kingmakers have come up with a name as Soun-elect, which they have forwarded to the Oyo state government for final approval. But expectedly too, this did not go down well with some eliciting the extant uproar. The kingmakers, whose head is the Areago, High Chief Sobaloju Otolorin, has as a result come under intense scrutiny, denunciation and blackmail. In fact, information suggested as even alluded to by the Areago that threat to life and property is involved. The Areago stated, “They said they would come and burn my house, let them come,” while urging the aggrieved to allow peace and tranquility to reign. Chief Otolorin, who by virtue of his position as head of kingmakers is the next in rank to Soun, had no qualms exposing the behind-the-scene occurrences that led to the choice of Prince Afolabi Gandhi Olaoye to justify the action of the kingmakers, for which some disapprove of him today.
Many social media commentators, several article writers have aired their opinions on his exposé with some particularly taking exceptions to the Areago’s implied submission that integrity, uprightness and such other virtues were disregarded in picking Prince Afolabi Gandhi Olaoye as Soun-elect and that he was chosen solely on the plank of financial capability. However, I sincerely have a different perspective. In my own estimation, I rather will commend the head of the kingmakers of Ogbomoso for his boldness and frankness. Indeed, I will say without equivocation that his submission it was that has eased tension in the town and calmed frayed nerves because what I will term the “Areago Declaration” unfolded what actually transpired and what factors guided the choice of the kingmakers. Didn’t the Bible say “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free?” He bravely unveiled the truth and this has set the town free at least in the interim. Prior his declaration a lot of insinuations had pervaded the city, raising her temperature precariously; this thrived ominously because it was a tainted truth that jumped into the public domain. But saying the truth without minding whose ox was gored, not even his, is making temper to subside. That is the mark of leadership. To be ready to sacrifice yourself for the purpose of enthronement of peace is part of what makes a good leader.
Anyone conversant with the background or where Areago was coming from will appreciate his starkness in presenting the episodes. He had been under intense pressure, his character had been assassinated treacherously, religious sentiment had permeated the issue and so he was righteously provoked to bare it all. What is wrong in that! Lying, pretense and cover up have been identified as parts of the malaise that has made Nigeria comatose and prostrate. Because we like to call black white and vice versa. Should he have prevaricated to save his skin? He did what a man of honour should do. Whoever will bring him to judgment for his brutal truth especially as it relates to consideration for financial strength of each of the candidates should endeavour to ferret out the circumstances. There is nothing repugnant about saying it the way it is. If financial muscle is the factor that eventually swung the pendulum in Gandhi’s favour, so be it, what is wrong in that and in saying it? Something would have to be considered in making a final decision. It could be anything. The reality of the contemporary time is that the importance of money cannot be ruled out. Even the Bible affirms that “money answereth all things.” The fact remains that a poor man logically cannot be the traditional ruler of a community as extensive as Ogbomoso. The last monarch so much elevated the throne that a man of average means cannot practically succeed him without lowering the status. Many of the kingmakers were with Oba Oyewumi for years and must have been exposed to a lot of the inner workings of the palace which must have guided them in making a decision. What transgression is committed in revealing the truth about the situation of the palace? If they know the truth why shouldn’t they allow it to guide them to forestall future trouble? Who would want an Oba who will rely on handouts from his subjects and make himself a stooge, in this age? That is the absolute reality! Bare truth could be fear-inspiring to some; they will find it intimidating and unbearably discomfiting.
If hefty bank account played a major role in deciding who becomes the next Soun, that did not imply that other factors as integrity, unassailable character, love for the people and so on were jettisoned. If most of the candidates scored high on these indexes then something extraneous would as a matter of exigency become relevant. Birds of the same feathers flock together is a popular maxim, Gandhi is someone honoured by the then US President, Barrack Obama, in 2011, recognized by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001 and he is the pastor of the largest Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in the US, the function he has performed for not less than fifteen years without any record of untoward baggage or malfeasance against him, he is personage who relates well with personalities like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, and so, it goes without saying that such a person cannot be said to be bereft of integrity or is of questionable character. Moreover, his comments from the time the issue began have shown him as a simple, straightforward man without complexities and who does not thrive on ambiguities. He is unassuming and undoubtedly coming to Ogbomoso to take the traditional stool will make him suffer certain collateral damage; for he will have to forsake the comfortable life of the US for the hard-to-bear-life of Nigeria. But that is even immaterial.
The Areago did not hide under the dress of Ifa divination or consulting the deities to explain away the choice of Gandhi (who will even believe that in this age), people will still have alleged the kingmakers of subterfuge and the Ifa priest accused of compromise. This is the age people are skeptic, whatever does not favour them will be shot down with smear campaign. Furthermore, in all history it is not all Yoruba Obas that were chosen by the deities, many were picked based on the whims of a once superior monarch some of whom however went ahead to perform well. Toyeje, a former Baale of Ogbomoso, and who became Are Ona Kakanfo, was pronounced Soun of Ogbomoso by the Alaafin at Oyo, when he accompanied his uncle, Baale Olukan, who had a case to answer to Oyo. Also, why would the eldest son most times be given preference over the younger brothers in matter of ascension to the throne if it was all about consulting the Ifa? The path to rising to the throne is multi-dimensional. What operates today may not be fanciful tomorrow. It is subject to prevailing circumstances and unfolds under the dynamism that is life. But the fact remains that whosoever is destined to rise to the throne will fulfill his purpose in life; no amount of shenanigans will truncate it. It is in this wise that I will not join the crucifiers of Baba Areago, I will rather commend him for his truthfulness, which incidentally but significantly has cleared air on the matter and unwittingly made the anger of many aggrieved parties, who hitherto were not privy to what led to the decision, disperse and so are assuming a mellow mood. When leaders come out clean in what dictated their choices instead of attempting to maneuver the truth I think we will begin to have a saner society. In addition, princes nurturing ambition to contest the throne of their forefathers in the future should begin to chart a roadmap and strive to acquire the wherewithal that will, when the time comes, aid their cause such as wealth, requisite connection, influence, clout, integrity and so on. That is the emerging template; that is the reality; those crucifying the Ogbomoso kingmakers today if they also found themselves in similar shoes and circumstances I am certain will be swayed likewise towards supporting the most formidable candidate among the lots except other uninfringeable factors come to play such as when the inviolable destiny of one of the aspirants stands indomitably irrepressible in the way. The process of becoming an Oba has become an atari ajanaku (the skull of an elephant) that is not a luggage for toddlers or feeble adults.