Many sons and daughters of the Owu Kingdom in Abeokuta, Ogun State, have expressed concerns over the failure of the state Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, to announce the name of the new Olowu of Owu, two months after the names of seven candidates were sent to him by Kingmakers (Afobajes).
The Owu indigenes and other concerned members of the public are calling on the Governor to immediately perform his statutory duty under the law to reduce the growing tension his inaction on the sensitive matter is already generating.
They particularly asked him to name the new Olowu to avoid the interregnum which occurred between 1987 and 1994 when Oba Michael Oyelekan newly selected Olowu died in Ipebi, leading to internal conflict among and within the family and kingmakers, preventing the Owu from having a king until when late Oba Adisa Odeleye, a renowned architect was crowned.
The Olowu stool became vacant, following the demise of the late Oba Adegboyega Dosumu, who joined his ancestors on December 12, 2021.
The veteran TV producer ascended the throne in 2005 as the 13th Olowu after Oba Adewale Adisa Odeleye, Lagbedu 1 who transited to glory in 2003.
Already, following a directive from the Abeokuta North Local Government through a Public Notice, entitled: ‘Filing of Vacant Stool of Olowu of Owu, Abeokuta,’ and signed by the Secretary to the Local Government, Odusiji Kabiru Ayinla, mandating the Otileta Ruling House of Owu Kingdom to nominate qualified candidates to fill the vacant stool, seven princes from five compounds that made up the ruling house have been nominated.
The Notice issued by the Local Government reads, “The appointment process of filing the vacant stool has commenced in line with the directive of the State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, in its Letter Reference Number CHM1/4T2/241 dated 21 February 2022 and the Provisions of Chiefs Law of Ogun State 2021, and it is the turn of Otileta Ruling House to produce candidate or candidates to fill the vacant stool.
“Furthermore, the Otileta Ruling House is hereby required by Sections 15 and 16 of the Chiefs Law, Laws of Ogun State, 2021 to convey a meeting of the ruling house within 14 days from the date of this notice i.e., between 2nd March and 15th March 2022.
In compliance with the notice, the ruling house conducted an in-house interview for interested 12 candidates on Wednesday, March 9, after the process seven were cleared and recommended to the Owu Kingmakers.
Those whose names were submitted to the Kingmakers are Dr Adegbemi Adewale, a PhD holder from Ile Aderinoye, Princes Adelani Oladimeji from Ile Omo’le Efon, Matemilola Adelola from Ile Soke and Olatidoye Olaniyi from Soke.
Others are Princes Adeyanju Bakinson from Ile Otopo and Princes Abiodun Obadayo Amoo Soyele. from Ile Lumosa and Adesina Adelani from Ile Soke.
Also on March 30, 2022, the candidates were further screened by the Kingmakers led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the Oke Ago-Owu, Palace of the Olowu.
Obasanjo, who is the Balogun of the Owu kingdom led other Kingmakers in the statutory selection process, which lasted for about seven hours.
However, hundreds of the sons and daughters of the kingdom who had thronged the Oke Ago-Owu, Palace where the Kingmakers interviewed the candidates, hoping to receive an announcement of the Olowu-elect were disappointed as no such announcement was made.
Instead, the Kingmakers informed the people they have forwarded the list of the elected candidates to the state Governor for approval and announcement of the new Olowu.
Chief Obasanjo was quoted to have said that the outcome of the screening lies on the shoulders of Governor Abiodun whose statutory duty is to announce the new Oba.
However, since the conclusion of these processes, the state has kept silent and all attempts made by concerned indigenes and other interested members of the public to know the position of the Governor have proved abortive.
The delay is already generating serious controversies and unnecessary disputes among the ruling house and many people believe that if the Governor continues to drag his fleet the situation may become intractable.
The first sign of trouble was when one of the Princes, Sunday Adelanwa, called on kingmakers not to politicise the selection process.
This was followed by a protest led by the Laara family against the selection process of candidates for the vacant stool, they accused the leadership of the Otileta ruling house of marginalisation.
The family had expressed displeasure over an alleged marginalisation and negligence by the Otileta ruling house for not allowing members of the family to participate in the selection process.
Also, two families from Ile Omoleefon and Aderinoye of the Otileta Ruling House rejected the alleged nomination of one Prince Saka Matemilola as the candidate for the stool.
The two royal families, represented by a prince, Tajudeen Adelani, and a princess, Aminat Adesina, have separately petitioned the State Government, warning against the appointment of Matemilola, who they described as a non-indigene, as the Olowu of Owu.
Adelani and Adesina, in their separate petitions to the Ministries of Justice, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, claimed that Matemilola “is a native of Ibadan in Ibadan North East Local Government Area of Oyo State.”
They insisted that the candidate had alluded to his Ibadan indigeneship in an affidavit he swore to dated May 15, 2000, at the High Court Registry, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
In his response to the allegation, Matemilola described the affidavit where he swore to be a native of Ibadan as “correct and consistent.”
He, however, declined further comment on his alleged non-indigene of the Owu kingdom.
This revelation has infuriated many sons and daughters of Owu to be hell bent on rejecting the imposition of any questionable candidate on them as their king.
Some also questioned the sincerity, dignity and the loyalty of the Afobajes to the cause of their kingdom.
With these developments, the government must come out to make its position public so that these tensions and controversies would not derail the peace and unity of Owu Kingdom.