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Iloko-Ijesa: When will grave-dancers allow late Olashore’s spirit to rest?

Distinguished readers,

When you go to churches, mosques or shrines, do not forget Iloko-Ijesa in your prayers. The town’s wheels of growth and communal development have suffered greatly in the hands of political forces who are hellbent in taking forceful and absolute control of its affairs.

Both the natives and residents of the town are mourning because people who were elected leaders with simple majority want the minority to control its affairs. Scholars say ‘losers’ don’t rejoice at the expense of the ‘winners’ but the case of Iloko-Ijesa is different.

The ‘dark forces’ and their ‘chosen one’ who lost in a clear contest have continued to jubilate both in secret and open because the ‘bright forces’ and their ‘chosen one’ are sad winners who could only watch the grand prize of the contest from afar.

Barely 9 years ago, Iloko-Ijesa lost her pride. They did not only lose a great king but the ‘architect of modern town’ was forcefully taken away by grim reapers. Late Olashore was a great father, developer, builder and everything positive to the town.

The Yorubas believe that kings do not die, they join their ancestors in the underground world but late Olashore’s case seems to be different. Some powerful natives who are not only related by blood to the deceased king but are friends of the political forces in the state have disallowed the late Olashore to join his ancestors peacefully and they keep dancing on his grave, gradually eliminating his beautiful memories from people’s mind.

Have you ever visited Iloko-Ijesa? You can not take away the blessings of late Olashore from the ancient town. He built a first-class secondary school, erected a beautiful edifice as hotel, tarred roads and gave the sleepy town a beautiful face. There’s no single project which was successful in the ancient town that he has no hand in it. He did not consult federal lawmakers, council chairmen or aides of governors to renovate his palace. Late Olashore was not only rich but enslaved wealth.

Some months ago, one of Governor Oyetola’s aides told me that he was a beneficiary of Olashore’s scholarship programmes. He narrated how the late traditional ruler sponsored his education and rescued him from academic assasination. The then hustling young man is now an aide to the governor of a state. The story of this aide is very similar to the stories of many people who benefited from late Olashore’s generosity but have not had privileges to narrate their tales. He lived a life of service, communal growth and was deeply concerned about the progess of his people. He was a great ruler who put Iloko-Ijesa in its rightful place.

Late Olashore died on the 1st of June, 2012 but he is still roaming around the spirit world. A scholar once told me that when Yoruba kings die, they roam around and only reunite with their ancestors when there is a successor to the throne. Can I conclude that late Olashore has been roaming around the spirit world for 8 years? What a long trek! What are the sins of the late Olashore? Why would they subject the uncommon trailblazer to such hardship?

In 2015, there was an attempt by the traditional institution of the ancient town to install a new king but the installation was thwarted because the choice of the kingmakers and natives of the land was different from the choice of those who have friends in power. In an election which was supervised by government officials and other concerned bodies, two contestants battled with 12 votes. One contestant pulled 11 votes while the other pulled a single vote. The voice of Iloko-Ijesa gods is also the voice of the people and the choice of the kingmakers who represent each family responsible for choosing traditional ruler in the town is also the choice of the people.

The joys and happiness of the people were unlimited and they became hopeful that one day, the state government under the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola would present the staff of office to the ‘candidate and choice’ of the people. As the people were rejoicing, they knew not that the losers were planning to thwart the process. They (losers) got in touch with their friends in power and forcefully delayed the completion of the installation process which is the handling over of the staff of office. They made Iloko-Ijesa an orphan and successfully danced on the grave of the late king of the ancient town.

It is now close to 6 years that these forces denied the choice of the people and the contestant who pulled 11 votes out of 13 his right to the throne. Every attempt to resolve the crisis was frustrated. The Ijesa North Traditional Council made several efforts and visited every concerned individual who are the ones holding the progess of Iloko-Ijesa but all labour lost. These forces want two to be greater than eleven and they want to install a ‘sore loser’ as king. The gods are watching.

The contestant who pulled eleven votes did not win because he’s wealthy and has connections. You can not build a house in your town, set-up businesses and employ graduates, set-up a scholarship scheme for students who lack financial strength to further their students, relate with young and old in the town and lose the chance to rule as a prince. The gods are not blind, they juxtaposed the profiles, interests and participations of the two and aligned with the interest of the people.

Unfortunately, the Osun State Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs did not align with the interest of the people. The former commissioner of the ministry under Aregebsola administration also did not allow the choice of the people to stand. He was used as a destabilising tool and he was more concerned about his loyalty to his political leaders than the people. Now that Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has inherited the crisis, will he resolve the crisis and free Iloko-Ijesa from the captives of the mighties and its slavemasters or allow such injustice and disregard for traditional processss to thrive? Will Oyetola be able to align with the people’s choice and bravely hand over staff of office to their choice just like other policies he reversed? The stool of Iloko-Ijesa must not remain vacant and interest of a few must not be greater than a simple majority. I believe it is the responsibility of the government to allow the interest of simple majority to prevail over the interest of few. The gods of Iloko-Ijesa alongside the people are watching and they are unrelenting when it comes to justice.

Iloko-Ijesa can not grow or develop without its ruler because the progess of the town and the ruler sitting on the throne are interwoven. Any person who emerges as Owaloko will not only serve as a king but as a social, economic and political leader. Yes, the prosperity of the town, the throne, the people and whoever emerges as king are tied and they all work together. The last time I visited Iloko-Ijesa and circumnavigated the town, I was terribly shocked. Almost all edifices erected by the late Olashore are in sorry state. The heights of acceptability and greatness are gradually vanishing. The town is sleepy, residents/natives toil day and night to make ends meet yet they could only record limited personal growths not communal one. For Iloko-Ijesa to grow, there must be a king on the throne and for a king to be installed peacefully, it must be the choice of the people. Both the state government and people dancing on the graves of late Olashore and other kings who had sat on the throne in the past need to be cautioned and allow the will of the people come to pass.

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