The Alafin of Oyo who prides himself as the custodian of Yoruba tradition was last week on behalf of other revered Yoruba monarchs including the Ooni of Ife, the Awujale of Ijebuland, and the Alake of Egbaland, compelled to write a letter to His excellency Governor Kayode Fayemi because of ‘the treatment being meted to the Ekiti traditional institution and its overall effects on the Yoruba culture’.
The Obas expressed sadness over the governor’s query to‘the 17 Ekiti traditional rulers of high esteem in Yorubaland”, for no other offence than their refusal “to bow their heads under their subordinate”.
It was in their view ironic that while his (fayemi) predecessors in office and ancestors of thesecrowned Obas and their subjects displayed uncommon patriotism,courage and commitment to confront the intimidating military prowess of Ibadan army for 16 years (1870-1886), Fayemi as a beneficiary of the legacy bequeathed by these kings of Yoruba history is now embarking on an exercise that will rubbish the contributions of his ancestors”
Although governor Fayemi, like the rest of us is not without some of his own character flaws, but that undoubtedly couldn’t have been his intention when he set out on his ego trip that led to last week’s unnecessary and avoidable confrontation with his fathers.
This perhaps explains why his picture in full prostration before the Alafin like a Yoruba true born during his damage control visit adorned the front pages of some Nigerian newspapers last Sunday.
The visit was made more urgent because the embattled Alawe who Fayemi was trying to please by all means including proving he is greater than his fathers,had sent an ill-advised letter in his capacity as governmentrecognised chairmanto Governor Makinde of Oyo state asking him to”stop the Alafin from his meddlesomeness in the internal affairs of Ekiti Obas”.
Butthe position of both Fayemi and Alawe remains unassailable. We are a Republic. The age of divine rights of kings or monarchical absolutism died with King James of England (1603-25)and buried with the Glorious Revolution (1688—89)..
By the virtue of our constitution, the Obas’ traditional oath is to the subordination to modern political authority. Obas’ fear of governors is therefore the beginning of wisdom as Lamido Sanusi, the recently deposed 24thEmir of Kano discovered too late.
But just as our elder statesman, and the Nobel Laureate, prof. Wole Soyinka, a man of culture himself said of Dr Ganduje of Kano after his deposition of Emir of Kano two weeks back, Fayemi’scurrent war with his fathers seems to indicate “he has no friends that could have saved him from himself.”
You don’t prove you are greater than your father because it is settled in Yoruba philosophy ‘that a child brought to the world who does not strive to be greater than his father is brought to the world in vain’.And by our tradition, it doesn’t matter whether you are right or wrong, we don’t disrobe our fathers in the public.
Or as the Holy Bible put it “Whoever honours his father will be gladdened by his own children. O son, help your father in his old age and do not grief him even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance and not despise him. For a kindness to a father will not be forgotten” Book of Sirach 3: 12-14.
And what are the facts? 17 of the 22 Obas in Ekiti had rejected Fayemi’s appointment of Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi, as the new chairman of Ekiti Traditional Council claiming he was politically promoted.
They on August 9 instituted litigation asking the court to reverse Fayemi’s action on the premise that Alawe was not recognised by statute to chair the council adding that, they,as members of (pelupelu) had the exclusive rights to head the council, among the 22 members, in line with the extant tradition and the State Chieftaincy Laws.
However, five out of the 17- Onisan of Isan Ekiti ; Attah of Ayede-Ekiti,; Onitaji of Itaji-; Owa of Oke-Imesi, and Arinjale of Ise-Ekiti, back-pedaled. The remaining 11 including Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oloye of Oye Elekole of Ikole Elemure of Emure Ajero of Ijero; Alara of Aramoko,. Ogoga of Ikere-Ekiti,; Olomuo of Omuo, Alaaye of Efon; Ologotun of Ogotun and Olujudo of Ido-Faboro, however sticked to their resolution to shun the council meetings and government functions chaired by Alawe.
But Governor Fayemi, a beneficiary of judicial due process was unwilling to let due process run its course. Accusing the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti of “holding illegal meeting of dissident Obas in his place and plotting against the government”, on his directive , his state attorney General , Fapounda directed a query dated March 11, be issued to the 11 aggrieved monarchs “demanding explanation for their prolonged absence from monthly meeting and state official function for the past six months”. From the above, it is apparent Fayemiwill pay a political price even he wins the argument.
Besides lack of friends to safe him from himself, it is also possible Fayemi assigns too much weight to his prodigious intellect and supreme confidence in his ability to make friends in high places while taking the loyalty of close friends and those who fought in the trenches with him for granted.
If this as his political opponents say was his greatest undoing during his first coming, his current ill-advised muscle flexing with his fathers seem to confirm little lesson was learnt from his 2014 election debacle.
People in and out of Ekiti attested to his outstanding performance. Wole Soyinka who doesn’t suffer fools gladly was in Ado to identify with his people-oriented policies.
Week after week informed Ekitiindigenes sensitiseEkiti voters on why Ayo Fayose must not be allowed to prolong our nightmare. This column even went further to argue Fayemi did not need to campaign because of his self-evident achievements.
That other variables outside performance determine outcome of elections was brought home vividly when, a well-informed former editor of a national newspaper called from Ekiti on the eve of the election declaring with troubling finality that “Fayemi would lose tomorrow’s election”, adding for effect that “neither you nor Dr Olatunji Dareresides in Ekiti”.
Shocked and confused I had asked “if not Fayemi, must it be Fayose?” His disconcerting answer delivered with an unforgiving tone was “anyone but Fayemi, if only to teach him a lesson in humility”.
Nigerians now know Fayemi did not lose the 2014 election fairly. But that there was not a whimper from Ekiti people who had in 1983 joined others in the old Ondo state to chase their own son, the late Omoboriowo, the major beneficiary of what was then described by Walter Ofonagoro, as NPN ‘landslide and seaslide’in opposition strongholds was evidence enough that the people he served selflessly for four years were dissatisfied with him.I think Fayemi’s air of ‘I am in charge” simply puts people off.
More than a prodigious intellect and ability to cultivate friendship of the powerful,a politician needs to earn the trust and confidence of the lowly in societyand more especially among the Yoruba people where ordinary greetings have meanings and the led know their true leaders.