My Ekiti people say: “Hun ko ba Ado hi je hi loho omo Ewi” (what is destroying Ado (Ekiti) lies in the hands of Omo Ewi). Ewi is the paramount king of Ado-Ekiti. His princes are called Omo Ewi. History has it that the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti and the Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Oba of Benin, are children of the same father. Their father was said to have established two different kingdoms for them – the Ado-Ekiti, (also known as Ado Ewi) and the Benin Kingdom. The two kingdoms were thriving almost at the same level. While Agbigboniaran was the legend doing exploits for the Ado Kingdom, Igodomigodo was also making waves for the Benin Kingdom. However, at a time in history, Ado Kingdom’s fortunes began to dwindle and it got to a point that the Ewi could no long bear the misfortunes befalling his domain and he had to send a message known as “aroko”- a non-verbal means of communication among the Yoruba people, which involves the use of objects assembled in specific ways to depict the riddle the sender wants the receiver to unravel – to his brother king, the Omo N’Oba.
Ewi sent four of his best princes (Omo Ewi) to Benin to deliver his coded message to his brother. The four Omo Ewis arrived in Benin at noon time. By their dressing, Benin palace officials recognised them as nobles and took them straight to the Omo N’Oba, who received them with all pleasure and collected the aroko from them. Untying the object, Omo N’Oba instantly knew that his brother’s kingdom was in distress. However, he told the Omo Ewis that he would send them back to Ado the following day and ordered that each of the four princes be put in different rooms in the palace. In accordance with the Omo N’Oba’s instructions, a pot of the precious Benin ivie (coral beads) was placed in each room, and the beddings were changed to immaculate white sheets, with each of the Omo Ewis given a white gown to wear. In the evening time, the Omo N’Oba sent for them and had them lavishly entertained with Benin cuisines, and the cultural troupe entertained them too. When it was night time, each Omo Ewi was returned to his room for the night.
Now, while the entertainment was going on, the Omo N’Oba instructed his chiefs to change the pot of ivie in each room to a pot of palm oil and put a few pieces of beads on top. The arrangement was unknown to the Omo Ewis, who, on returning to their individual room, decided to help themselves to some of the ivie in the pots. Each got to the pots and in their individual greed, dipped their hands into the pots to scoop as many ivie as they could. They were disappointed because instead of a pot filled with beads, they met liquid contents. With no light in the rooms to ascertain what was inside, the Omo Ewis rubbed their wet hands on their white garments and went to lie down on the white bedsheets. It was at the break of the new day that they realised what happened to them and the shame was something imaginable. In the main palace, the Omo N’Oba and his chiefs were already seated, waiting for the Omo Ewis to come out. When the royal party could no longer wait, palace functionaries were sent to bring the Ado princes and they were brought before the Omo N’Oba, each soiled with palm oil. The Omo N’Oba did not do anything. Instead of sending the Omo Ewis back to their father with another aroko, he simply asked some palace guards to escort them back to Ado with the message: “What is destroying Ado is in the hands of Omo Ewi”. The message is clear. Ewi was told to look inward to discover where the problem of his kingdom lies.
The people of Osun State went to the polls on Saturday, July 16, 2022, to elect a new governor. While the electioneering campaign lasted, Governor Isiaka Oyetola and candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, said he was the candidate to beat. His main challenger, Ademola Adeleke, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, also boasted that in a free and fair contest, he would beat the APC candidate silly. At the end of the ballot, Adeleke and his PDP won with 403,371 votes as against Oyetola and his APC’s score of 375,027; leaving a difference of 28,344 votes. The PDP decided to go for the kill with that wide margin to avoid the repeat of the 2018 election where, at the first ballot, it won the APC with over 1,000 votes before the election was declared “inconclusive”, and a rerun was ordered where the APC won with just 300 plus votes. Since that Saturday election, the APC members in Osun State and its supporters across the nation, have been ruing over the results. A lot of factors have been proffered as being responsible for the huge loss by the incumbent governor and the ruling party’s candidate.
All the factors for APC failure are related to Ogbeni Raufu Aregbesola, the immediate past governor of the state and current Minister of Interior. Many believe, that APC lost Osun because the state dreaded a second term governor, who would punish them the way Aregbesola did, when he inflicted untold hardships on the people during his second term. In essence, Oyetola, who is believed to be workers-friendly, was rejected because of the likelihood of a second term failure like his predecessor, who reduced workers salaries to half and owed months of arrears – a case of once beaten, twice shy. Again, the issue of the lopsided candidates for the 2023 general elections in favour of the Oyetola’s faction of the APC is also adduced to be one of the reasons he failed. This is believed to be an offshoot of the governor’s irreconcilable differences with Aregbesola. Many believe that the inability of Oyetola to reconcile with Aregbesola was majorly responsible for his loss at the poll. I disagreed with that school of thought and I ventilated my view on some of the platforms that I belong to, where the matter was discussed. In one of such platforms, a friend posted a video clip of where Aregbesola was dancing to the song by some drummers singing: “Isiaka o lo, walahi a o fi ibole” (Isiaka will go, I swear by God, we will use votes to chase him away). There were some other videos too posted on the same topic to show that Aregbesola worked against the interest of the APC and Oyetola. But those will never convince me. While it is a common knowledge that Aregbesola has irreconcilable issues with Oyetola, I still strongly believe that the people of Osun State did not vote against Oyetola because an Aregbesola said they should do so. If by anything, the 2018 political shenanigan of “inconclusive” election as mentioned earlier, shows that as far back as 2018, Osun people had shown their dissatisfaction with the Aregbesola leadership in the state. What the people did last Saturday was to confirm the 2018 vote of no confidence in Aregbeosla’s eight years of rudderless leadership in the state. Even when someone drew my attention to a Facebook post by Aregbesola, celebrating the loss of his party with a quote of Daniel 4:17, ascribing the outcome of the election to God, whom he said enthrones leaders, and the very unintelligent rebuttal he issued later, describing the earlier post as not “authorised” by him, I told my interlocutors that only an ‘alainironu’ and ‘alainitiju’ does that. Alainironu has no direct translation in English. The nearest to it is somebody who lacks the ability for deep thought. Alainitiju on its own is the shameless harlot, who lies about everything. Aregbesola will qualify for the two if indeed he gloats over Oyetola’s loss!
If for the purpose of this argument, we accept the line of thought that Aregbesola worked against Oyetola and the APC in the Saturday election, then we will also agree that the former governor is one of the Omo Ewis. In the story above, the messages from the Omo N’Oba to the Ewi of Ado are that every kingdom or empire gets destroyed by the activities of its princes and nobles. That a prince who destroys his kingdom will have no throne to inherit and have no kingdom to rule over. So it is with the present situation. Now that Osun has gone into the hands of the opposition PDP, what is Aregbesola’s gain? Who loses ultimately? If the Minister of Interior has any modicum of shame, he will realise that Oyetola is not the one that Osun people serially rejected in 2018 and 2022 but the lackluster performance of Aregbesola in his eight years of season of the locust in the state, when he brought the act and art of governance to its very lowest ebb in the history of humanity. The shame of not having an acceptable successor is more with Aregbesola than the APC and its candidate, who lost the election. If indeed, Aregbesola worked against Oyetola and such resulted in the poor outing of the outgoing governor at the poll, the immediate past governor should also know that, like his perfidious political soul mate in Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, who was said to have traded off his PDP in the June 18, 2022 guber election, he too has come to political irrelevance. The July 16 election in Osun State and its outcome, to me, is a resounding protest against Aregbesola’s wasted eight years in the state. It is a confirmation by the people of Osun State that but for the judicial intervention, which in 2010, gave Aregbesola the mantle of leadership, and the 2018 “inconclusive” and rerun elections, the people know which party they preferred ab initio.
The APC, like the Ewi of Ado, should look inward to determine what ails it. It would have been another Ekiti aberration if the people of Osun State had rewarded the APC’s failure with a second term for Oyetola. The Osun gubernatorial election has rekindled in us all that the people can easily mobilise and retire all non-performing politicians from their positions of leadership. The Osun people have shown us that the people’s resolve can no longer be taken for granted; and that at times, money can fail the moneybags. They have demonstrated that human dignity cannot be bought by any shekel of silver the same way Ekiti people threw their long-held dignity to the dogs at the flash of crispy currency notes. To a larger extent, also, the people of Osun have restored the glory of the Yoruba race. They have shown, in very clear terms, that the Yoruba race knows who its leaders are. A big lesson here is that one cannot deny his ancestry in the open and come under the cover of night to seek votes for an unacknowledged nephew. The 2023 general election is almost here. Osun people have shown Nigerians, especially the masses, that they have the power to punish all non-performing leaders with their votes, irrespective of the political parties. The winner, Adeleke, also has a lesson to learn here. After four years, let it not be that the people will come out to sing : “Demola o lo, walahi a ofi ibo le” (Demola will go, I swear by God, we will use votes to chase him away). As for the APC, rather than blame an inconsequential Aregbesola for its loss of Osun guber race, it should do a retrospection of what the abysmal failure of its government at the federal level, with the attendant pains and agonies on the people, will fetch the party at the 2023 general election. If the party goes into extinction after the 2023 elections, it should know that what is destroying APC and what will destroy APC are people like Aregbesola, whose bad behaviour the people of Osun State recoiled from on Saturday.
Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist South-South/South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and a columnist with the same newspaper.