By Layi Deinde
The age-long expansionist battle by Abeokuta traditional rulers, especially Alake of Ake, Oba Adedamola Aremu Gbadebo, and Olowu of Owu, Oba Adegboyega Dosumu, against the Awori people, which the Olota of Ota, Oba Professor Adeyemi Abdulkabir Obalanlege, alongside other Awori monarchs are defending using empirical facts of history, legality and logic, over a bid to extend their frontiers to Awori-land.
This needs to be put in the right perspective, to avert fratricidal and communal conflicts between people who have cohabited for upward of a century.
For some time now, the Abeokuta monarchs have made surreptitious incursions into Awori-land basing same on fable unsubstantiated historical claims, whereas they are just exploiting the political advantage of having their sons in positions of authority. This they use to subvert the interest of others, to suit their selfish whims and caprices.
In recent times, in quick succession the Alake, in an interview was laying claim to Awori-land, based on the obnoxious:
* CONSENTING AUTHORITY: This was one of the misnomer the colonialists foisted on the Nigerian traditional institution, as well as,
* RIGHT OF CONQUEST of an imaginary war, possibly fought and won in their dreams.
Before the dust of his unfortunate concoction settled, his Chiefs, the Alake-in-Council led by Chief Lai Labode, also repeated the same gafe, all for the soul of the fertile and prosperous Awori-land in which so many of their sons can never deny its benefit, ditto the hospitality and magnanimity of Awori people.
The consenting authority they often lay claim to was a political misnomer done for administrative convenience among traditional institutions, this was not done in good faith as it has been utilised to score selfish points, futile attempt to rewrite history of people, communities and settlements; this they have used to balkanised kits and kins into different strange traditional and cultural groupings.
In the case of balkanisation of Ado-Odo, Agbara and Igbesa to Yewa Traditional Council, was it done out of conquest? Does that bequeath absolute powers to install Chiefs and minor Obas in the Awori towns on Olu Of Ilaro, being the Paramount ruler of the areas?
Their imaginary Gbalefa Peninsula is another laughable claim; as one of their wards they trained in formal education should help school them on the meaning of the word “PENINSULA” as a piece of land mostly surrounded by water, but joined at one end to a larger area of land. There is no piece of land and water similar in nature or close to description to a “peninsula”
The Ogun state government, through the office of the Surveyor General testimony refuted the claim in suit number HCT/122/2001 (MR OLATUNJI OLUYOMI & 5 OTHERS VS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE OGUN STATE & 2 OTHERS where the Government stated that: “The 1st Defendant avers that the towns and villages making up the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government is as contained in the map drawn by the Survey division of the Ministry of Works and Housing in 1987 and there is no town or village or a collection of towns and villages known as Gbalefa Peninsula.”
Awori people have had their unique traditional institutions in several of their towns, villages and settlements, worthy of mention are places like Isheri-Olofin a border Awori town between Lagos and Ogun States; the Aworis have been there since 1425. Likewise Ota that has been having her own traditional administration since 1621.
It is surprising to many rational minds how the Aworis now have to be subjected to the Ake people who came to a place once occupied by the Aworis but left in search of a more comfortable location (where the mud plate will sink) the source of the nomenclature *ÀWÓRÌ* as directed by the diviner “ADIFALA”. The Ake people settled there in 1830 and had their first monarch in 1854, named Sagbua Okukenu.
In a bid to paint a false picture of the Aworis as inferior subjects of the Egbas by all forms of mischief they began to concoct that they conquered the Aworis! What a laughable false claim? Have they forgotten that:
# Aworis are descendants of the great hunter *OGUNFUNMINIRE* grandchild of *OGABI* the famous river that criss-cross the Gateway state was named after him.
They should also be reminded of Awori ORÓKÌ, AFI ÌKÓTÍ YO OJÚ ÈGBÁ AFI PONPODÓ YO OJÚ KÉTU, an attestation to the bravery and fierceness of the Aworis in war! Falsehood is never perfect as it leaves lots of loopholes.
Alake of Ake in his claim said the war happened in 1841, whereas his Chiefs as led by Chief Lai Labode’s date of conquest was different, 1843. If they claim the war lasted between 1841 to 1843 it can not hold as it was during this period that the missionaries came to Ota in 1842, this was the period they built the Second Storey building in Nigeria.
There are questions the expansionists must answer:
# How possible for the Second Storey building feat to be achieved while the territory was going through war and being conquered?
# Who was their head that led their imaginary war?
* Was the war fought by the Akes or the Owus or a combination of both groups?
# Which Oba did they conquer and how was he treated, was he captured, was he sent on exile, was he deposed?
# The vague war they claimed to win, did they install a monarch or what, hope they are conversant with the *ILORIN* episode?
These they should offer logical answers to.
All the fallacious claims of the Akes on one hand and that of the Owus on the other are just disingenuous plot to fracture and impair bonds built over several years, as the Egbas and so many other tribes have thrived and benefited from the magnanimity and hospitality of the Aworis, which some few disgruntled mischief makers are exploiting.
A notable Egba son who doubles as a citizen of the World, former President Olusegun Obasanjo often reiterate his tenancy on Awori-land. It is surprising and inconceivable how his kinsmen would now turn around to lay bogus claim to Awori-land via manipulated history.
Well-meaning Awori people call on the government to wade in forthwith and stem any move that might divide Ogun State people with baseless concoctions of history and let every distinct sub-ethnic groups manage and administer their respective Kingdoms and Chiefdoms.
*Layi Deinde, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Ota, Ogun State.