Nigeria is an interesting nation. The amalgamation of the nation itself was an experiment which has many shades of opinions. As a way to make governance easy, Paramount rulers were engaged by the British colonial masters as the next line of authority. While the experiment really worked well in the North, the same could not be said in the West and Eastern parts. There were lots of issues generated. For instance Paramount rulers in the West and East did not command that high level of reference as it obtained in the North. Nevertheless, the experiment was managed till Nigeria got independence in 1960. Within the constitution, a certain provision was made for the paramount rulers at the local government levels.
Also a council of Oba as advisory role was also created in the west among others. With this, the provision was that Paramount rulers are fathers of everyone and they must not be seen to be actively engaged in Politics. This in in no way made paramount rulers apolitical, only that they must not be seen or openly declared their love for any political candidates as they must be neutral as the fathers of all.
The challenge with this position though is that reigning Governors or Presidents must ascent their signature before a new king can be Installed. This is a way made paramount rulers neutrality a big issue. He that plays the piper may dictate the tune. If a sitting Governor does not consent to a candidate, either because of personal interest or the otherwise, a paramount ruler can not be installed.
A love lost relationship between a paramount ruler and the sitting Governor/President may create trouble for any paramount ruler. During General Abacha’ regime, a Sultan of Sokoto was deposed and banished because it was rumoured his son was involved in a coup attempt.
A Paramount ruler who ascents a throne through the signature of a Governor sometimes can become so close, emotionally attached to such Governor or Political party. This is human as one is not expected to bite the finger that fed him.
With this background set, Oba Akiolu’s outburst on Sunday April 5, 2015 is now generating a lot of furore within Lagos political landscape and in Nigeria at large.The background information we had was that leaders of ‘Igbo’ communuty in lagos, a tribe from the Eastern Nigeria resident in Lagos, had paid a courtesy visit to Oba Akiolu, the paramount traditional first class ruler of Lagos due to fear of post Presidential election violence in Nigeria. As rumour had it, this was done to seek the ruler’s favour against post election violence that may be targeted at Igbo in Lagos State.
During their discussions, Oba Akiolu was quoted to be threatening the Igbo to vote Governorship aspirant of All Progressives Congress in Lagos State, Akinwunmi Abode.
Oba Akiolu ‘ s disposition was seen as tribalistic, unguarded and unbecoming of a leader in his status. The media, print especially gave the news a front page headline which irked everyone. Lagos is seen as as cosmopolitan city which is home to many Nigerian tribes. Lagos is the former capital of Nigeria and economic hub of the nation. It is in Lagos state alone that the so called non-indigenes are allowed to contest for the highest position – Governorship, among others. Non-indigenes had held several State Commissioners’ position among others. In fact Lagos is often seen as no man’s land. It is this sensitive nature of Lagos that made everyone sees Lagos as home. The Igbo as a tribe has many of their sons and daughters engaged in lucrative enterprises within the state. The Igbo nation is like the Jews in the USA. So such a gaffe by the paramount ruler of Lagos cannot but be elevated. Especially when election and choice of whom to vote for should be personal.
In addition to the above also, Nigeria is a highly divisive nation. The unity we all claim is too fragile. As much as we claim unity, as soon as one feels his ‘brother’ is been maligned, the equation will change. We begin to know that his friend is first from a particular town, within a local government, state and tribe. Nigerians are still far from the unity they claimed to have. The federal character and Quotas system is still dealing with us. Being a Nigerian must be seen in the daily attitude yet everyday this divisive, tribalism nature come into play in anything. In a nation where the seed of division is still strong in the minds of the youths, Nigerian has no hope.
Oba Akiolu ‘ s action and the attendant reactions have shown this. One can only trust that the real Nigerian spirit will overshadow this division. To understand the import of this, all you need to do is to follow social media discussion around this event since yesterday. Close friends, allies are now insulting one another just because a notable figure ‘misbehave’. One expects everyone, youth inclusive, to speak with one voice against this. Instead discussion had been routed through ethnic line. This is a shame.
Politicians being what they are have not been helping matter. Nigeria Politicians often play the ethnic card so they can get their ways through election period. One of the contending Political Parties in Lagos State had seen the opportunity in this costly mistake of Oba Akiolu. It is now a weapon to gain political vote and relevance. The Oba is known to have been attached to one of the candidates hence his ‘political godson’ must therefore suffered the loss of Oba Akiolu ‘ s ignoble utterances.
Instead of the general populace to speak in one voice by asking the Oba to apologise, many had called on the Political party he is said to be affiliated to tender unreserved apology on his behalf. While it is normal for All Progressive Congress to disassociate itself from such a divisive, tribalistic and hate speech but we feel it is not right to punish the sin of an individual on the entire populace.
We must understand human beings are prone to errors. That is why we are ‘beings’ and not been. In fact sometime it is very instructive to check the antecedents before we apportion blame of lack of objectivity on people. But before we proceed on this line of argument, we condemn in strong term such utterance from a high profile individual. To really add insult upon injury was the denial of the Palace Chiefs that Oba Railwan Akiolu never pronounced such words when it was already in public domain- both in audio and video. With this said, let us take a look at some of the reasons that might have accounted for Oba Akiolu’s emotional attachment to a particular party as well as his lack of neutrality or objectivity as the case may be.
Mr Railwan Akiolu, a royal son from the Lagos dynasty, was raised properly. He pursued and progressed in a career which saw him to almost the pick of his career as Assistant Inspector General of the Nigeria Police. His exist, some claimed was not palatable as he was sidelined for the highest position of Inspector General of Police by Power that be at the Federal government level. But as fate would have it, the position of the Paramount Ruler of Lagos, which he has a claim to became vacant through the death of Oba Oyekan, his predecessor. As we may know, there are always contenders to the throne from the royal families.
Some of these contenders are equally qualified for the position. The royal families normally present their best shots per time. Oba Akiolu then gained the favour of the Council of King makers and was nominated to the Governor for approval. According to information available to us, the power at the Federal level would not want his name to scale through but with the support of the then State Governor, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, things went his way. Oba Akiolu was enthroned and given the staff of Office.
Since then, it has not been uncommon to see the Paramount king always given support to whatever the former Governor, who is now a frontline leader of All Progressives Congress, is campaigning for. As human this is natural. Only that one expects a level of decorum from the Paramount traditional ruler despite the fact that he should not bite the fingers that fed him. He should also realise the position require he becomes a father to all and not only to those people who stood y him through hard times.
If we understand this background information, we guess it will be easy to forgive Oba Akiolu and move on after we have all spoken against this singular act. Unfortunately, this incidence had shown people do not only see with their eyes nor hear with their ears only. People often see, hear and assess issues from their minds. Information is first processed from excesses of the pain in people’s hearts and mind before they look at issues objectively. It does mean everyone who has over reacted in this issue also need healing of a sort. Our nation also need healing and the process must start now if Nigeria must reach the pinnacle of its glory.
Photo source: Nairaland