By Idris Gbadegeshin
Lagos, the Centre of Excellence, means a lot to many people. For some, it is the most viable State in Nigeria in terms of commercial activities. For others, it is home.
However, Lagos is one State that prides itself in its respect for traditional institution. Dating back to the 14th Century till date, the traditional institution has continued to be revered from generation to generation.
Albeit, a few cases of succession brouhaha have been recorded in some traditional stools over the years, the ability to resolve in the collective interest of the people has continued to supersede personal ambition.
One of the most recent was the installation of the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotobi, whose ascension to the throne was challenged in court by one of the contenders of the Ikorodu royal throne, Odupitan Adeniyi Eniola, precisely from the Lambo branch of the Lasunwon chieftaincy family of Ikorodu Kingdom.
Though, Eniola’s attempt to stop Shotobi’s coronation did not see the light of day, it took a while for the wounds created to heal, if at all it ever did.
Hence, keen watchers of the traditional institution in Lagos are currently concerned on the impending succession issue for the Oniru of Iruland.
The demise of the last king on the throne, His Royal Highness, late Oba Idowu Abiodun Oniru has created a vacuum and the need for a successor.
A brief history down memory lane reveals that there are only three recognised Ruling Houses entitled to the Oniru Royal House.
The ruling houses include Abisogun, Akiogun and Ogunyemi Ruling Houses as stated in the aforesaid Declaration Made under the Customary Law Regulation Selection to the Oniru Chieftaincy of Lagos of 14th September, 1993 and approved by the then Executive Governor of Lagos State, Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola.
The Declaration clearly states the number of Ruling Houses, the approved rotation and the procedure to be followed in the nomination of the candidates by the Local Government Authority.
It is worthy to note that since 1589, 14 different monarchs have ascended the stool as Oba of Oniru. For the records, they include Onigefon – (1589-1620); Mabogunje – (1621-1654); Ihuntayi – (1655-1687); Odudu Eleyiwo- (1688-1709); Abanu – (1710-1735); Olaletan- (1736-1790); Orisasanya-(1792-1820); Orumbe – (1821-1835); Abisogun- (1836-1855); Akiogun – (1856-1893); Ogunyemi – (1894-1926); Lawani Oduloye- (1927-1933); Yesufu Abiodun-(1936-1984) and lately, Idowu Abiodun-(1994-2019).
But what many are not privy to is the fact that the 13th Oba of Oniru, HRH Oba Yesufu Abiodun who reigned from 1936 to 1984 was from the Akiogun Ruling House and upon his demise, it was the turn of the Ogunyemi Ruling House to ascend to the throne of Oba of Oniru.
The Ogunyemi Ruling House who was next in line to produce the candidate to the stool of Oba of Oniru however declined and conceded their right to the Akiogun family thereby paving the way for the immediate past Oniru, HRH Oba Idowu Oniru who was also from the Akiogun Ruling House to be nominated and selected as the Oba Oniru.
Baring this in mind, it is therefore obvious to every discerning mind that the Abisogun Ruling House is the next in line to nominate and select a candidate to ascend the throne as the 15th Oba of Oniru.
A departure from this arrangement has the potential to cause chaos that would not be in the interest of the State, let alone the Oniru community.
Already, the Abisogun family has listed Hakeem Ajasa as its choice candidate for the highly revered stool and he is reported to have the blessings of the top echelons of the Lagos Traditional Institutions. But not many are familiar with his history.
Ajasa, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) is the present Chief Personal Security Officer (CPSO) to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
This Political Scientist, who graduated from the Lagos State University (LASU), also holds a Professional Masters In Intelligence and Strategic Studies (MISS) from the Osun State University, Osogbo.
Since joining the force as a Divisional Crime Officer at the Kano State Police Command in 2004, he has continued to rise through the ranks, owing largely to his dedication and passion for the job.
After serving two years in Kano, he was moved to the Sectional Head Anti-Fraud Section at the C.I.D Panti in Lagos, before he was posted to the Lagos State Government House as the Second in Command to the Chief Security Officer during the administration of Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
In 2010, Ajasa was posted to Osun State as the Aide-De-Camp to the Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, a position he manned for five years. His hands-on on the job earned him a greater responsibility as the Chief Security Officer to the Governor, before he was earlier this year posted to the Force Headquarters in Lagos as the Commanding Officer 22 PMF, Ikeja, Lagos.
He was only to spend a few months in Lagos as a greater responsibility, yet again, came calling as the CPSO to the number four citizen of the country.
Ajasa’s destiny with fate readily reminds of the present Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi who was selected from amongst several well to do indigenes of Ile-Ife who were also heirs to the throne on 26 October 2015. He has since then shown that his choice was a step in the right direction, uniting the Yoruba race and providing the needed leadership to bridge the gap between the people and the political landscape.
As indigenes of the Iruland wait with abated breathe on who will ascend the highly revered throne, the popular English idiom readily comes to mind which says thus: ‘whom the cap fits, let him wear it’.
-Gbadegeshin, A Historian, Writes From Victoria Island, Lagos