Query: Much ado about nothing

Query: Much ado about nothing

Adelakun ADETUTU

It is quite amusing how there has been a commotion surrounding the query issued to the Chief Imam of Ogbomoso, Sheikh Teliat Ayilara, by the town’s monarch, the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Ghandi Afolabi Olaoye Orumogege III. Media outlets are constantly focusing their attention on Ogbomoso in search of updates on this contrived controversy. I perceive it as contrived because it is a mere facade, a combination of deceptive and skillfully orchestrated actions by those who disclosed the information to the media. They are likely reveling in their success now. What started as a routine issue has now escalated into a public outcry (albeit by a small faction). However, it is certain that this situation will eventually pass.


I decided to check on the meaning of “Query” before embarking on this voyage. Query simply means to ask, inquire, to clear a doubt. But how it has become a big deal is puzzling but laughable. But as a programme anchor/analyst noted in a newspaper review in a Lagos Radio Station Friday, there is more to it than meet the eyes. If someone is issued a query, it only means that person is relevant, he is important to an organization or institution. Nobody issues query to someone who is extraneous or impertinent. For Soun to have issued query to the Chief Imam only shows the importance of and eminent position the cleric occupies. It shouldn’t have become a matter for media outrage. But like l posited it only indicates it’s orchestrated to manipulate the matter on ground, to whip up sentiment and sympathy sinisterly, leveraging on the card of religion.

Many have reacted to the issue pouring venoms on the monarch, denigrating him, bashing him and calling him names, making all manners of spurious analyses that he crossed the red line. What red line! Some even lashed out at the Christian faithfuls saying would His Imperial Majesty have issued a query to a Christian leader? Will a Christian leader be required to obtain permission before embarking on pilgrimage to Jerusalem? Yes, that might not have happened but issuing of query to an Imam by a monarch only portrays the importance with which the office of the Imam is held, with reverence. Moreover, it is an outcrop of the way the Islamic religion is organized, closely associated with monarchy, unlike the Christian religion which is loosely associated with it. From time immemorial, especially in Yorubaland, Obas/Baales are deeply involved in the affairs of Islam since its advent unlike Christianity which has been largely independent. The close association has its positive and negative sides, of course. One of the positive sides is that it makes Islam tethers on the edge of being the communal religion. Or why will an Oba be involved in the appointment of a Chief Imam? Why will his installation have the imprimatur of a traditional ruler? That is what the present day Obas met on ground, it is not their orchestration. And like a prominent indigene of Ogbomoso once asserted, “He who hires can fire!” From historical data, the Soun family founded the Ogbomoso Central Mosque, owns the land and building and so the ruling dynasty has inalienable right to approve who leads the revered place of worship. In addition, the Soun institution ratified the families occupying the position of Chief Imam. That is the structure inherited by Oba Ghandi. The institution of the Soun instals the Chief Imam of the town just like every Muslim faithful holds responsibility for whoever leads in a mosque he builds. Perhaps, the Soun was “misled” to act in such way on the ground of the foregoing. It is not possible the gentleman Oba means any harm or violation of the Islamic religion as being insinuated. He has reiterated several times that he holds no grudges against any religion and his actions prove so. Thus, the issuing of the query is merely in accordance with tradition. One can deduce that the dog is being called a bad name just to attempt to hang it. Oba Ghandi cannot be hung. Not at all.

However, what has been happening is an indication that it is perhaps time to divest the monarchy from religion to avoid uproar like these in the future, it is needless.


The fundamental problem in this case is the issue of origin of the Imam Ayilara when the family who produced him came forward to claim he’s not a bonafide member of the family. The family disclaimed and disowned him. This even predated Oba Ghandi. The family wrote a petition against the Imam demanding a probe. That’s the genesis. Why will the family, a prominent Muslim family of Alfas and Imams, seek the intervention of an Oba who is a Christian if not because of the deep interwoven relationship existing between Islam and the Soun institution? Whatever steps he takes in the circumstances, it is a difficult call. Sadly, many commentators did not bother to ferret out the fundamentals, they only plunged into the discourse, addressing just the intricacies, inadvertently playing into the hands of those who weaved the loom and becoming their willing tools.

But it is a price of leadership. If His Majesty is sincere and genuine in his actions this gory bashing will turn into glory. Truth will prevail.

Oba Ghandi is an Oba with a vision and mission, who possibly did not envisage distracting moments like these. Nobody is all knowing, we are all prone to vulnerabilities and “missteps” if this present scenario is a misstep. But l see it as a mere diversionary tactic of those opposed to him and to his occupation of the exalted throne of Soun. The present script was concocted and stage-managed to get at him and shred his brand. But it is nothing, he has overcome, the Souns always overcome. The traducers have only succeeded in shoring up his popularity, negatively now, but it is certain to turn positively as long as he is borne by a good heart and the love of his domain. There can’t be two kings in a domain. His forebears founded and successfully preserved the town in spite of fierce wars to overrun and conquer her.

Oba Ghandi’s strides show flair for development anyway. He has been partnering governments in a selfless manner in many areas to up the stake, he is committed to development and has shown this in word and action. He is poised to leave an enduring legacy, he is so much obsessed with that goal and perhaps why his flanks were left open and exploited to initiate the many onslaughts against him now. He is a modern Oba, not a “hawk” but a “dove” and it is probably why the matter degenerated so badly to the extent he is being threatened – in fact, l read a social media post by someone saying gleefully and audaciously that if the Oba is not careful the conflagration will “consume” him. Imagine the preposterousness and stupidity! The energies often devoted to defend religious leanings if devoted to changing the narrative will birth a prosperous country.


The vast majority of his subjects are dismayed, because they are humans, by this turn of event, nevertheless, they are not down. Times like these do come in life’s trajectory but they soon pass away, and sun often shines and light often beams again. A larger percentage of His Majesty’s town’s people are with him, strongly enamoured with his developmental strides and passion for their home town, so, the media trolling they only see as a bemusement destined to pass away.

But as l opined l think Islam should be disburdened of monarchy in communities such is entrenched to avoid unnecessary conflicts. After all and truly, Obas have no business with the appointment of chairmen of Christian Association of Nigeria. That bind also should be severed because of periods when Christians will rise to the throne, so that the tie will not become an albatross. So that religious card will not be flippantly played against them.

In Ogbomoso, Oba Ghandi remains our beloved, he might have his shortcomings and weaknesses like all mortals, but he is highly revered. All the dirts of the world might be gathered to smear him, but it will be of no effect, because he is respected by and adored by the vast majority and it will remain like that as long as he treads the path of peace and development. It is high time Nigerians played down the issue of religion and instead rallied for development. But can we?

Meanwhile, this moment will pass, certainly!


Adetutu sends this piece from Takie Ogbomoso

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