The royal diatribe between the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo and the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, worsened yesterday with the Alake insisting that the Awujale remained the last in the echelon of major Yoruba traditional rulers.
Alake said his earlier listing of the Awujale as occupying the last position after the quartet of the Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Benin and Alake of Egbaland “was supported by documentary evidence and I therefore stand by my position”.
Oba Adetona, at an event in Lagos last Thursday, claimed among other things that the Alake was a junior chief in Egba forest under the Alaafin and that Alake is also of the same status with some Ijebu obas such as the Ebumawe of Ago -Iwoye who are under his (Adetona’s) jurisdiction.
But yesterday, Oba Gbadebo, who spoke through 22 Egba chiefs, including 15 Ogboni chiefs who gathered in Ake Palace, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, to reply Adetona, said the ranking of the Yoruba traditional rulers was carried out in 1937 by the then Ooni of Ife.
Reading a prepared speech signed by the Balogun of Egbaland, Chief Sikirulai Atobatele at a briefing, the Baaroyin of Egbaland, Chief Layi Labode, said the ranking took place at the Central Native Council meeting in Lagos and was chaired by the Governor – General, Sir William Macgregor.
Labode added that those in attendance at the said 1937 meeting in the Government House, Lagos, were the Ooni of Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Benin, Alake of Abeokuta and the Awujale of Ijebu – Ode.
He said their concern about Awujale’s comment is predicated on the monarch’s “self – indulgence to churn out outright historical falsehoods in the presence of knowledgeable Nigerians”.
Labode said “historically speaking, Alake was higher by salary differentials paid by the Colonial Government” at the time.
According to him, the Alake of Abeokuta earned £2,250 while the Awujale of Ijebu – Ode earned £1,700 during the colonial era.
“Awujale (claimed he) made several calls to Alake to confirm if Alake actually made the statement on Yoruba Obas ranking. Awujale also claimed that Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos, also contacted Alake on the same issue which Alake again denied.
“(The fact) both Awujale and Oba of Lagos actually called Alake on the ranking of Yoruba Obas, Alake responded that his ranking was supported by documentary evidence and he therefore stands by his position,” Labode said.
The Baaroyin of Egbaland and Media aide of the Alake also refuted claims by Oba Adetona that the Alake was a junior chief in Egba forest under Alaafin where he (Alake) fled to Ibadan and later to Abeokuta and met the Osile, Olowu, Agura and Olubara on ground.
Labode said, on the contrary, 20 Alakes had reigned in Egba forest prior to the founding of Abeokuta, explaining that that there was also no Alake who fled to Ibadan or took refuge there.
According to him, the Egba arrived and settled in Abeokuta in 1830 with the first Alake installed in 1854 followed by the Olowu in 1855, the Agura in 1870 and Osile in 1897.
He stressed that by the Egba United Government Proclamation of February 1, 1898, and approved by the then Governor of Lagos, the Egba cabinet had Alake as President, Osile Minister of Justice, Agura Minister of Communications and Works and the Olowu, the Minister of Finance.
He also noted that some of the comments on Alake by Oba Adetona were “uncalled for and neither civil nor decent,” but said the Egba chiefs would not “defile the sacred Yoruba traditional institution and therefore, refrain from trading insult with a highly regarded monarch of his (Awujale’s) status”.
Also present were Bameto of Egbaland, Chief George Taylor, Balogun of Ilaho, Chief Adebayo Soyoye, and the Ilagbe of Egbaland, Chief Akin Akinwale.