OPINION: WHO IS THE MOST SUPREME AMONG YORUBA OBAS?
By Wasiu Aromire
Who is in search of the most supreme Yoruba oba? Again, for the umpteenth time, this trivial issue is being ludicrously raised. Though raising this issue has become the trademark of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, whether you like it or not, it has also become a mess that the Yoruba are being forced to deal with, even when their immaculate appearance is expected at a prestigious global outing. One keeps wondering, should this be what we are dealing with at this most challenging moment in the history of the Yoruba?
In 2016, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi reiterated his commitment to peace, progress and development across Yorubaland and Nigeria as a whole. Specifically, he stated his mission would be towards attaining "a more united Yoruba race and peaceful Nigeria". Laudable mission, one would want to say. Clearly, the double-edged mission is not only an area of pressing need but one such important area of need that only the seriousminded, the emotionally mature, and broad-minded can venture into.
It is against this background one would be worried that those missions may be extremely difficult to achieve by the Ooni considering the heavy toll the battle for supremacy being directly and indirectly waged against the most ancient stool he occupies will continue to take on his efforts to achieve the missions, no matter how hard he tries.
Of course, one must never discourage any leader who has elected to better the lot of the people despite the odds that are against her/him. Rather, such a leader should be encouraged in all ways possible. Yet, as one encourages the Ooni to remain steadfast against all odds, one may need to address the real issue behind the agitation for a label of supremacy by some Yoruba obas. It is important to draw the attention of these supremacist obas to the far-reaching consequences of their utterances and political moves, which no doubt have become obsessions by which they are easily identified.
Come to think of it, what is this issue and what exactly is in it? Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi would want to be recognized as the most supreme of all Yoruba obas! Just that emptiness! What a stinking gutter aspiration! Isn't that utterly shameful given the time in which we are and the challenges being faced across the country?
Let's, for a moment, suppose there is a big deal in the issue of recognizing Alaafin Adeyemi as the most supreme Yoruba oba. Suppose also that the matter is so serious that we need to suspend all our concerns for the safety, sanity and survival of our race. Shouldn't the matter be made clear for us to deal with?
For too long, the question of which Yoruba oba is the most supreme has been awfully presented and engaged by many a Nigerian news medium that has ever found the id-driven aspiration worthy of its attention and investment. This is largely responsible for the chaotic conversations that different interlocutors have had to engage in over this utterly demeaning concern.
What is the point being made here? The issue of "supremacy tussle", "supremacy battle", "supremacy contest" and all such nonsensical coinages does not arise except there's really a case of the challenger being faced in a battle by the challenged. Not all challenges thrown are worthy of acceptance. And any serious news media should thus be rightly guided as to organizing conversations around abortive challenges and and actual tussles. You challenged me to a fight, I saw no reason to take up your challenge, so I ignored your challenge. Where and when then did we fight?
What is the take home here? Let no battle be staged between Ooni Adeyeye and Alaafin Adeyemi on the pages or in the virtual domains of any news media so long as the challenge thrown by Alaafin Adeyemi is deemed unworthy of attention by Ooni Adeyeye. Play fair you guys! Aren't you as concerned about the existential dangers being faced in the country these days?
For a moment, recall that at the onset of the supremacy hullabaloo, 1976 specifically, only Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi was noted to have been uncomfortable with the decision of the then governor of Western Region of Nigeria, General Jembewon, to make the late Ooni Adesoji Aderemi the head of all Yoruba traditional rulers. Not until the nineteen eighties, during the reign of the late Ooni Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, did we see a battle take place between an Ooni and an Alaafin over who is superior between the two. Of course no record shows that Alaafin Adeyemi was ever joined in any issue of supremacy by the late Ooni Tadenikawo Aderemi, Oshinkola1. So, it is common sense inference that there was no contest, battle or tussle over who held the superior position between Ooni Aderemi and Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi.
Even at that, though the late Ooni Olubuse did take up the challenge thrown by Alaafin Adeyemi, the supremacy contest between both had some points of termination. At some points, Ooni Olubuse II had to harken to the advice of well-meaning Yoruba that he desist from joining issues with Alaafin Adeyemi over who was superior between himself as the Ooni and Oba Adeyemi as the Alaafin.
As matter stands today, Ooni Adeyeye's sturdy stance of indifference continues to defuse the contention that could enable such a contest. Hence, what this means is that Alaafin Adeyemi has consistently been the one poised for supremacy contest, having successfully activated one during Ooni Olubuse II.
Unfortunately, the virus of that unnecessary contention is being deliberately contracted by some Yoruba obas. But who cares if people in their immediate domains dont! It's a free world! But let no media outlet abandon its basic social responsibility of accurate representation of truth. There is a wide world of difference between what did/does happen and what did not/does not happen.
For emphasis and deeper insight, given Ooni's mature stance of no-contest, any supremacist oba should be ready to punch at the brickwall ad infinitum.
The choice for all Yoruba in the present circumstance lies between traditional leadership with "fatherly mentality" and "emperor mentality". If I must remind, I would say never have the Yoruba organised themselves with emperor mentality without monumental losses. Read between the lines of the narratives of your real and imagined empire epochs. Remind the empire-hungry that it's no longer dark here! Supremacists aren't celebrated again in any civilized society!
I suppose some of these supremacists claim to be Muslims? Even as Christians, we should hearken to the solemn call of Imam Shafit if indeed we care for peace in Yorubaland and the country as a whole: "Hundred of issues unite us, and only one issue divided us? Don't try to be triumphant in all differences; sometimes, winning hearts is more important than winning situations. Don't demolish bridges..."
Always, I wonder, I just wonder where that unbridgeable historical and relational gaps exist between Ile-Ife of Ooni and Oyo of Alaafin!
Even if circumstances of life have widely separated Ile-Ife and Oyo, shouldn't the task of the incumbent Ooni and the Alaafin be how to bridge such gaps?
It is high time we stopped sowing seeds of discord among close cousins! E j'ogun o min!
Comrade Wasiu Aromire,
3, Adekitan Street,