By Owo People’s Conscience Group
When on Thursday, the 31st day of August, 2023, a publication was made by our Group in reaction to a letter written to the Governor of Ondo State by HRM, Ojomoluda of Ijebu Owo, we were not mindless of the ripple effects that would attend the release. The fact that the inciting document got to the public arena and its concomitant negative optics are enough to unsettle those who are behind it.
Before furthering our position on the first version of this publication, it is instructive to set some records straight. The name of our Group as incorrectly written in a response letter by Ojomo-in-Council, as “OWO PEOPLE’S CONCERNED GROUP” is a misnomer of our real name as written above, right below the heading of this edition.
We would not trivialise a very important matter that borders on the collective unity and peaceful coexistence of all Owo people by giving attention to the name callings which formed part of the response letter under review, where disparaging words, such as “faceless group….. mischief makers..” etc were hurled at us in a calculated intent to play down the substance of the raging issue. We would leave that as a task for another day.
OUR VIEWS ON THE REACTION OF OJOMO-IN COUNCIL
Having regarded the letter written to the Governor by Ojomoluda as too caustic, the reaction from his Council was designed in no less a pattern.
Rather than de-escalate the needless tension created by the letter, the response came with interrogations, conjecture and half-truth.
It questioned where we were as a group, during 2021 Igogo Festival, when Kabiyesi, Olowo of Owo refused to enter Kabiyesi Ojomoluda’s palace. To all Owo people and other spectators that witnessed all that happened during that year’s edition of the festival, nothing can be farther from the truth.
However, the old practice of ceremonial visit by Ojomo to Olowo’s Palace on the eve of the latter’s Igogo’s celebration was overtly snubbed by the former. This uncooperative stance among other similar reasons might have informed Olowo’s decision, according to our source.
Another point of interest in that reaction is the allegation of coveting Igogo support funds from the “Government of the day and NGOs” by Kabiyesi Olowo. In our findings, the allegation was dismissed as a fabricated lie orchestrated to smear Kabiyesi Olowo’s name.
According to a top palace source, who is one of the aides to Olowo of Owo, no money in any guise was given to His Imperial Majesty, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye 111, by Ondo State Government or any NGO whatsoever, as support funds for Igogo Festival since he ascended the throne in 2019, till this day. He went further by challenging the accusers to show their proof, if any.
Though our source explained further that concerted efforts are being made by Kabiyesi Olowo to attract sponsors – both public and private – to boost the celebration and, when those efforts begin to materialize in the near future, all the stakeholders shall be carried along.
Still on the reaction by Ojomo-in-Council, a tacit and terse reference was made to the newly created LCDAs which according to the Council, was not as important as the issue of Paramountcy to Olowo. Another Palace source, this time, a Chief, who incidentally was one of the representatives of Olowo to the Public Hearing organized by the Ondo State House of Assembly for interface and submission of memoranda by natural rulers in the 18 Local Governments in Ondo State was on hand to explain in detail, the position of Kabiyesi Olowo on the development.
According to him, Kabiyesi appreciated the State Governor, Ararkunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for taking such a bold step in the right direction.
He added that Kabiyesi equally described the development as long overdue and Owo, like the famous Oliver twist, still desired more. As for paramountcy, our source went further to explain the near untoward incident that unfolded at the venue of the event that day as follows:
“Each Local Government was allowed 5 reps only, with 2 out of the 5 allowed to talk. While other Local Governments spoke in one voice, asking for more LCDAs and making case for paramountcy for their most senior monarchies for the protection of their cultural heritage and cementing of their unity, Owo case was an embarrassing outing when almost 7 traditional rulers and other representatives came out and crowded the podium.
As if that was not enough, Kabiyesi Ojomoluda practically seized the microphone and denied the representative of Olowo to speak first. Having done with his speech and the mic was later handed over to Olowo’s representative who in his remarks appreciated the State Government; asked for more LCDAs and as well as paramountcy for Olowo.
Shortly afterward, to the utter chagrin of all the participants in that hall, Kabiyesi Ojomoluda came back to the podium, got the mic again and bellowed “no to paramounty” in a repeated manner that is suggestive of deep acrimony. Everyone in the venue was dazed, according to our source.
In Owo People’s Conscience Group, one of our missions is the resolve to say the truth, stand by it and project same, no matter whose ox is gored. Consequently, anytime an attempt to doctor and distort our history is noticed, we have the self-imposed duty to fault such a move and straighten the narrative.
Therefore, it behoves us to denounce here, the expressed claim in the reaction that Ijebu Owo is one of the Nine Communities (Utoro Mesan) that make Owo federacy. Rather, Owo metropolis including the 5 Quarters therein (including Ijebu) is counted as one and the headquarters of the Nine Communities. The eight others are:
1). Udasen (Ilale)
3) Ifon (now in Ose LGA)
8) Upenmen (which is usually illustratively referred to as the 9th. Upenmen o se okesan Òghò).
It is therefore a brazen attempt to corrupt history when a time-tested fact is being twisted.
The reason as conveyed in that publication is a mere placebo with little or nothing to de-escalate the tension generated by that letter which was written, apparently without consideration to the condition of our son, the Governor, whose quick and sound recovery we are all praying for at this trying moment.
Another curious point in the letter is the use of “Olijebu of Ijebu” title, which up till today, is neither known to our culture nor in any Government gazette.
It is important to air our opinion too on the widely circulated reason for that letter of threat which has induced unnecessary tension and concern among our people both at home and in diaspora, that Ojomoluda was not properly and timely informed of the planning arrangement of 2023 Igogo Festival.
This claim remains suspect to discerning followers of unraveling events in the past few years and should therefore be regarded as nothing but a contrived alibi to conjure an excuse for a deliberate action. One wonders how Kabiyesi Ojomoluda was informed in 2019 when he participated in the festival with the expected degree of pomp!
The above copious explanation became necessary to deconstruct the figments of concocted points raised in that publication authored by Ojomo-in-Council.
OUR POSITION ON THIS MATTER AND OTHERS THAT MAY RELATE TO IT NOW AND IN FUTURE IS PREDICATED ON THE FOLLOWING HEXAD
1). The sacred need to maintain the sanctity of our cultural heritage by guiding the trajectory of our beautiful, unique and ancient history and use same to foster unity, peace and development.
2). To make it abundantly clear that, irrespective of who is occupying the exalted stool of Olowo of Owo, such an occupant is not a primus inter pares but a numero uno among all the traditional rulers in Owo Land.
3). That an average Owo indigene is an embodiment of a hybrid with diverse backgrounds. Therefore, the “we versus them” dichotomy by leaders who are whipping up clannish profiling at the expense of common unity must be condemned.
4). That Igogo remains a cultural festival of Owo people, irrespective of where they live and belong in Owo, and any attempt whatsoever, to restrict Olowo”s and Owo people’s movement before, during and after the festival shall not only be seen as a violation of their rights as humans but equally as an abomination that will be resisted.
5). That just as this Group revere the stool of Olowo of Owo as the symbol of our collective heritage as a people, in the same vein, we hold in high esteem, stools of other traditional rulers in Owo Land. Therefore, we enjoin peaceful relationship among our fathers and harmonious coexistence among all Owo people.
6). Lastly, we find it extremely difficult to differentiate between an Owo person and Ijebu Owo person. We all remain inseparable Owo kith and kin forever. As a result of this fact, we implore all our brothers to refrain from proxy war and avoid being used as cannon fodders.
We are better and stronger together.
May God bless us all.
E Signed by: