In Iwo, Royalty Lacks Majesty

Oba Akanbi has done some many things to question his readiness for leadership and mental stability, since becoming a king, but nothing he has done is as ugly as his recent pugilistic treatment of another traditional ruler in the presence of the police and state government officials.

Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi / Photo credit: filsu.com.ng
Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi / Photo credit: filsu.com.ng
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Royalty and thuggery should be opposites, since majesty inherently comprises power and does not need force to thrive.

After an event in Osun State, where a king acted just as a thug, no longer can royalty be equated with majesty, and we should ask why.

The poster boy for this majestic descent is the maverick Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Rasheed Akanbi, who in the presence of law enforcement and state government officials, decided to use his fists to settle scores with a dissenting king, the Agbowu of Ogbagba, Oba Sikirulahi Akinropo.

This absurdity is a moment of pause, not just in Osun State, but for the nation; for we are desecrating esteemed institutions by allowing nefarious individuals to assume positions that should be a reserve of people of good character and nobility.

Traditional rulers embody our past, culture and belief systems.

At a time when traditional institutions are becoming a relic, there is no faster way to flush it down the drain of history than to make flawed individuals represent custom.

The Oluwo of Iwo has been a time bomb waiting to explode, having courted one controversy after another.

In fact, the path of the Iwo monarch has been littered with overwhelming wrangling.

At times, he makes it seem he manufactures provocative events to awe us as part of a disingenuous royal strategy.

Last year, he called upon those with magical powers all around the country to seek his consultation on how to loot the US Treasury – an obvious disregard for both law and decency.

Before that, he defied a court order by refusing to appear before a state judge.

The Oluwo wears a crown that resists decorum, morality and virtue in his public utterances and behaviour.

In pre-independence Yorubaland, any king who desecrated the throne would voluntarily abscond or commit suicide

In a manner hardly seen before, he is bringing royal highness to a majestic recession.

Oba Akanbi has done some many things to question his readiness for leadership and mental stability, since becoming a king, but nothing he has done is as ugly as his recent pugilistic treatment of another traditional ruler in the presence of the police and state government officials.

Iwo once had a king who was truly a king. The 14th Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Samuel Omotoso Abimbola II, who ruled between 1958 and 1982, was a federal minister.

Oba Abimbola was one of the most respected kings in Yorubaland.

The decadence in Iwo follows almost the same timeline as the rest of the society.

In recent times, we have been traveling down the road of immorality and absurdity, allowing bad people to ravage our souls.

While traditional authority, with rulers and chiefs, is held high as the bastion of culture and values, the institution is being corroded by corruption and greed.

As with many respected institutions, traditional systems continue being deprecated by people of means who can bribe the kingmakers to get what they do not deserve.

The result is that many of our traditional titles, either hereditary or honorary, are being bestowed disgracefully on rogues and thugs as well as miscreants and criminals.

At a time when traditional institutions are becoming a relic, there is no faster way to flush it down the drain of history than to make flawed individuals represent custom

In many of our domains, kingmakers have become greedy individuals, who seek to enrich themselves by giving power to the highest bidder without going through the normally rigorous and impartial process of selection.

Their choices are often predictable – the richest.

In normal times, traditional rulers are supposed to have been properly vetted to stand out as upright, thoughtful, wise and of exemplary character.

The throne they sit on is supposed to require calmness, wisdom and foresight to manage.

In pre-independence Yorubaland, any king who desecrated the throne would voluntarily abscond or commit suicide.

Today, a new generation of traditional title holders occupy seats from which they seek only to profit.

Material profit from state-owned land is what pushed the Oluwo into fisticuffs.

Drug dealers, fraudsters and thugs are representing tradition.

When they are not rulers, they have big chieftaincy titles, which they brandish as a badge of accomplishment.

Young people no longer have a reference for values, ethics, patience and hard work.

All the messages they get reinforce greed, grabbing and attributed status by any means necessary.

Even after the king of Iwo had messed up in full glare, he continued to rationalise his action.

The Oluwo of Iwo has been a time bomb waiting to explode, having courted one controversy after another

Instead of being remorseful and apologetic, and in spite of the preponderance of evidence and witnesses against him, Oba Akanbi defended his behaviour in his royal embarrassment.

But those who may have been following Oba Rasheed could not have been surprised.

He has been piling disgraceful acts since he got the stool.

He has been loud, rash, proud, uncouth, arrogant and disrespectful of all traditional requirements of his office.

Not too long ago, he was in Canada dressed up like Toronto’s rap artist, Drake.

When interviewed, the Oluwo replied that he was only required to uphold the demands of his office when in Nigeria. Outside, he can do whatever he liked.

How did we get here? How did we end up with a king who settles in the public, disagreements with his fist?

What bequeathed on us a leader who fights another king in the presence of an assistant inspector of the Nigeria Police and state government officials?

Materialism is at the heart of our problem.

It rules over our minds and value system, and it is eating deep into our cultural identity.

We have become a society where the presence of material wealth causes everything else to pale into insignificance.

This is not a problem of a particular ethnic group, but an issue spreading like Coronavirus across all of Nigeria.

Our desire for material acquisition by any means has made us one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

It is the reason why the kingmakers, not only in the city of Iwo, but all over Nigeria, are collecting bribes to enthrone candidates who obviously are unqualified for the staff of office.

Social status is no longer based on solid achievements, because money is the new king.

Give me any Nigerian who will not be able to get a chieftaincy award with enough money, and I will tell you such a person does not exist.

The ills of our society have spread into all esteemed institutions, be it the traditional, political, business, judicial, academic or religious.

How did we get here? How did we end up with a king who settles in the public, disagreements with his fists?

Recognition and status are cooked in a microwave, and nothing attracts deep respect anymore; for, our collective psyche is shallow.

The Oluwo of Iwo will not entertain any thought of exile or resignation.

Nothing in his background has prepared him to understand the institution he represents or the disgrace he has brought on his people and all Yorubas.

To him, it’s just another fight in a nightclub. He has been and will always be a flawed personality, a complete disgrace to the throne.

That is why he described his suspension from the council of traditional rulers in Osun State for six months as politics – a reprimand that is just a mere slap on the wrist, which emboldens rather than curtails him.

The Oluwo’s lack of class is in stark contrast to the behaviour and utterances of his victim, Oba Akinropo, who remarked: “I have been a traditional ruler for 24 years and I know the worth of the institution I represent.

Have you ever heard of an Oba exchanging blows or fighting? I can’t be part of that madness; that was why I held my peace.”

An ordinary citizen cannot beat up another man, and surely not in the presence of law enforcement and state government officials.

This is exactly what the Oluwo has done. By his acts, Oba Akanbi has broken and rubbished the law, and should face its full wrath.

Those who occupy positions of leadership should be more severely punished when they do the wrong things.

Give me any Nigerian who will not be able to get a chieftaincy award with enough money, and I will tell you such a person does not exist

For the sake our conscience and sanity, the traditional council of Iwo should send the Oluwo into exile, until he regrets, repents and is purged of his madness.

If the Iwo people will fail to do this, then the government of Osun State has a duty to suspend or depose him.

Oba Akanbi is a mad dog.

Regardless of whether the Iwo and Osun people decide to punish the rascal in traditional robes or not, he has committed a criminal offence and law enforcement must prosecute him.

No one is above the law.

Majesty does not override the rule of law.

It is an important message that will restore our faith in Nigeria.

Written by Tunde Chris Odediran

Tunde Chris Odediran studied and practiced journalism in Nigeria. He is now a Technical Communications and Information Technology professional in the United States.

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