To avoid trouble in Owu kingdom in Ogun State, the indigenes of the town have warned the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, not to appoint a non-indigene as the traditional ruler over them.
Not a few sons and daughters of the town are worried by the impending crisis should the governor embark on what they perceived as avoidable sacrilegious traditional assault.
More worrisome to the people is the delay by the state government in naming a new Olowu of Owu, two months after the names of seven candidates were sent to the governor by the Kingmakers.
Consequently, the Owu indigenes and other concerned members of the public have are called on Governor Abiodun to immediately perform his statutory duty under the law to reduce the growing tension his inaction on the sensitive matter is already generating.
Specifically, they asked the governor to appoint a non-controversial Olowu and 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.
Recall that 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.
In compliance with the 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, the Otileta Ruling House conducted an in-house interview for interested candidates from the five compounds that made up the ruling house on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. After the process seven Princes were cleared and recommended to the Owu Kingmakers.
Those whose names were submitted to the Kingmakers are Dr Adegbemi Adewale, a Methodist Church Arch Bishop 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 Obadayo Soyele from Ile Lumosa and Adesina Adelani from Ile Soke.
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 Owu kingdom, led other Kingmakers in the statutory selection process, which lasted for about seven hours.
Sons and daughters of the kingdom who had thronged the Oke Ago-Owu, Palace where the Kingmakers interviewed the candidates, had hoped to receive an announcement of the Olowu-elect but 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 government has kept mute. All attempts 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 houses. Many people believe that if the Governor’s foot dragging continues, 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 who 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 Prince Tajudeen Adelani, and 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 being an Ibadan indigene in an affidavit he swore to on 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 to a large extent, infuriated many sons and daughters of Owu who are hell-bent on rejecting the imposition of any questionable candidate on them as their king.
Many Owu indigenes wondered how and why the kingmakers in the first instance, failed to do background check on the candidates until the discovery.
Chief Okanlawon Somoye in his comment said: “It is surprising that someone who had sworn to an affidavit of being a native of Ibadan for whatever reason should be invited for screening to be entrusted with the traditional and cultural affairs of Owu kingdom. For a pot of porridge, such a person can sell off the people.
“The king makers should be seen to have the interest of our kingdom at heart and avoid anything that can tarnish their reputation at all times.”
Another stakeholder who preferred anonymity said “The Governor should ensure that a non-indigene is not made an Olowu to avoid unnecessary crisis in the peaceful town”.
She wondered if there is no candidate without any blemish among the princes screened that can be appointed, adding that everything should be done fairly and transparently to ensure that the Olowu elect is the right candidate because anything contrary may result in litigations.
Another indigene said political or religious sentiments should not be mixed with the much-respected Owu traditional stool as being rumoured in some quarters.
Some have questioned the sincerity, dignity and loyalty of the Owu Kingmakers to the cause of their kingdom in the face of all rumoured developments. They said the government should come out with an untainted Olowu-elect to avoid derailing the peace and unity of the Kingdom.