Ota And Obasanjo At 80, Before The Angels Come Calling
By: Oyetoro Oluwaseyi
Let me join my voice with millions of voices that have wished an icon and elder statesman, former president Olusegun Obasanjo a resounding 80th birthday. I pray that if the Lord tarries, you will witness more of it in life. But in case the owner of life decides to take it anytime from now, it will not be a sad but rather a glorious home call. Asides the fact that you have spent over eight decades on earth, you have lived a more fulfilled life by not only becoming two times president of the most populous black Nation on earth, but also becoming a priest in the later part of your career which indicates your service to both God and humanity.
Obasanjo @ 80
I want to refer to one of your books, titled, ‘My Watch’. In page 16, paragraph 2 of the book, you erroneously claimed that ‘Owu was a major player in the 1842-45 war against Ota and Ado-Odo. It is interesting to note that halfway through the war, Sodeke devised a way for the Egba contingent led by Ayikondu to desert the war front, employing the services of his friend(the enemy), Gezo, the Dahomeans war leader. The Awori(King of Ota) declared in 1935 the conclusion of the war of Ota/Ado-Odo, which was led by Gbalefa, the Owu general, and his contingents, and that is how the Owu people not only conquered but also occupied what is known as ‘Gbalefa Pennisula’‘. Just in case the Balogun of Owu forgot, let me bring to bear that in page 8 of the same book where map of Owu in Yoruba kingdom is drawn, i took a painstaking look at the map and i was expecting to see that part where any portion of Ota, Ado-Odo or any Awori land is captured in the map. Could it have been erroneously left out?
Also in the first paragraph of page 17, ‘ Later, attacks by the Eegun and the Awori were beaten back by the Owu acting alone or in alliance with the Egba. Whatever land was conquered was ceded to Owu and Egba. This led to the expansion of land and of Owu settlements in the direction of Lagos. Gbalefa area which stretches from Ifo Local Government of today into Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government came to be occupied largely by the Owu people through such conquests’. It should be clearly stated that the claim above is not only a distortion of history but also a deliberate attempt to undermine a court of high jurisprudence ruling which stated that, ‘No collection of towns, people or community known or called Gbalefa in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government and Ogun State as it contains in the survey plan of Ogun State drawn in 1978 by the department of land survey in the ministry of works. And recently, customary court of Ogun State, Ota grade 1 on Tuesday 31st of May, 2016 ACT/201/2001 between Chief Oluyomi Olatunji and others versus Oba Moshood Alani.
It will not be an eyesore if i educate Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as well as readers who did not before now know what Peninsula is. According to Wikipedia, the word ‘Peninsula’ is a piece of land surrounded by water on the majority of its border. And to the best of my knowledge, I do not think that the portion of land in the ex-president’s claim above is in any way surrounded by water. More so, in their claim, according to one of their books which was purportedly written in the 18th century about ‘Gbalefa Peninsula’, they said that a Briton, ‘Townsend’ gave the area the name, ‘Peninsula‘. That calls for an intense scrutiny. How on earth is a supposed educated British have erroneously given such a name to a land which is not surrounded by water on its borders?
Let me also quickly refer Mr. Ex-president to the same book where he said he does not really know his precise birth date as he was born on ‘Ifo market day’, the same thing could have happened to the ex-president when he was writing his book and he mentioned that some parts of Ado-Odo/Ota was captured and it was named ‘Gbalefa Peninsula’. It must have been another peninsula you referred to in your book and not Ota peninsula which do not even exist according to the law of our land.
More assertion to this is a document which is claimed to be written on April 10, 1935 by the Owus which states that the administration of Ota which was handed to the Alake after they conquered Ota in 1842-1843. It will please students of history and who ever cares to listen that the first Alake of Egba was crowned in 1854, so, which of the Alakes was the administration of the Egbas handed over to when there was no office of the Alake as at when they claim to have handed over the administration of Ota to him.
Owus in 18’s
Permit me to quote from the interview granted by a renowned Professor of History, Banji Akintoye to Sunday Punch recently, “The information that we know, for instance, broadly, is what I have repeated; the various peoples of the West African coasts, especially the eastern parts of the West African coasts, starting from the Igbo in the east, to the Ijaw, the Yoruba, the Ebira, the Nupe, the Igala, the Idoma, and so on, all took possession of their part of what is now Nigeria at roughly the same period of history. Sometime before the fourth millennium — that is about 4000 BC — they started to take over those territories and the Yoruba went all the way to the coast. They came to the coast not only in Lagos; they came to the coast in what is now the Ilaje country, the southern part of Ondo. They came to the coast in a part of Ikale and in Itsekiri. The Itsekiri are Yoruba. So , the Yoruba were in all those places. Later, about the 9th Century AD, the Yoruba began to evolve kingdoms. That was a new development in their political history. So , kingdoms arose all over Yorubaland — and towns. The kingdom of Lagos was one of those Yoruba kingdoms that evolved from about the 9th Century AD to about 1600 AD. So , there was a Yoruba kingdom, that is, an Awori kingdom, in Lagos. There was an Awori kingdom in Isheri. There was an Awori kingdom in Ota which is believed to be the oldest”.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo will not claim ignorance of the continuous oppression of the Ota-Aworis on their land, most especially the Iju and Ijoko area of the Local Government where non Awori men are claiming ownership on some portions of the land. They even go as far as becoming crown Chiefs on same land.
It will amount to wasted years on the part of Mr. Ex-president if he eventually bids the world goodbye and his distortion of history still causes rancor after his demise. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would have done the most honorable thing by calling his kinsmen in Ota to order and persuade them to obey court orders by not forcefully imposing themselves as monarchs on any Awori soil as the Gbalefa peninsula which they claim to have possessed is neither in existence nor acknowledged by a court of competent jurisdiction.