Questions, Tension in Ikole Over Unexplained Absence of Traditional Ruler

SAM NWAOKO reports the tension in Ikole-Ekiti, headquarters of Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State, following the absence of the Elekole, Oba Adewumi Ajibade Fasiku with indigenes only guessing the whereabouts of the traditional ruler.

MANY people in Ikole-Ekiti, headquarters of Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State are not happy.

Chiefs, youths and the ordinary folks appear all confused in equal measure when asked about the whereabouts of the king of the town, the Elekole, Oba Adewumi Ajibade Fasiku.

Around the town, each one, when asked what they knew about the disturbing absence of Oba Fasiku from the throne, does not know how best to approach the question. They mostly choose not to answer. Some who chose to speak on it expressed worry, some with consternation.

There is also a feeling of indignation among some others while the general feeling is that of concern.

During a visit to the town recently by Saturday Tribune, some of the indigenes revealed that indeed, their traditional ruler has been away, but no one was able to say for how long exactly.

Some of the folks said it’s been for a number of years, ranging from two to five. They, however, all agreed that “Oba Ajibade Fasiku has not been seen in public for a long time.”

They also all agreed that they do not know why the monarch has been away from Ikole and has remained incommunicado, but they would not want to guess.

However, some of the people said they knew that the monarch had been unwell, but would not know the nature of what was wrong with him. A trader in the community said “we heard that Kabiyesi is receiving treatment overseas. We have been assured that he will be back in Ikole before the end of next month.” The trader will not disclose the source of his information and he said he was also not sure if it was credible or not.

Some would even wish to explain the monarch’s absence on spiritual reasons, but this cannot be practically substantiated. Such is the confusion in the town.

This inexplicable absence of the Elekole has also caused tension in the town. It was gathered that it has also caused a division among the traditional chiefs. “The chiefs hardly meet nowadays because the Kabiyesi is not around. They are also divided and thus, do not come for the 9-day meetings of the Elekole-in-Council” a concerned indigene, who said he is a school teacher, stated.

It is the contention of some worried indigenes that the absence of Oba Fasiku had denied the town a lot of benefits and had detracted from the dignity of Ikole-Ekiti as the chief town in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State. The people also held that, as the paramount ruler of Egbeoba Kingdom and a high-ranking member of the Ekiti State Traditional Council, the unexplained absence of the Elekole has detracted from the dignity of the town. They also claimed that this development was “ridiculing Ikole throne in the comity of traditional institutions in the state.”

This confusion recently led a group of concerned Ikole sons under the banner of Save Ikole Group to write a letter to the Ekiti State Government on the continued absence of their monarch. In the letter dated 12 September, 2023, the group expressed concern at the development and beseeched the governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, to urgently do something about it. The government reacted by thanking the Save Ikole Group for its disposition to peace and tranquility in the town and also commended it for ensuring that the town’s youths did not cause a breach of the peace in the town.

Mr. Segun Adelugba, chairman of the group, said they had to do something about the situation. Adelugba said the group is promoted by himself as the chairman and also has other prominent Ikole sons as High Chief Alaba Olanipekun, the Elese of Ilara; Mr. Matthew Makinde, Prince Taiwo Olominu, Mr. Tope Famoroti, Mr. Funso Oguntuase. He said these Ikole indigenes wrote a letter to the state government because there was tension in the town. He claimed that the members of the group got wind of a plan by some (now) restive youths of the community to visit the chiefs with disorder at their traditional meeting. The youths, according to him, were to go there, beat them up and ask them to produce their traditional ruler. He said they had to persuade the youths to shelve the idea and that they asked them why they wanted to do that.

“The youth said they wanted to go there and ask them ‘where is the Elekole in the past two years’. Fortunately, we got their leader who told us that they wanted to strike because the Elekole is the presiding authority of all manner of traditional meetings in Ikole Local Government. For the past two years, he has not been present to preside at the meeting of the Egbeoba kings and the meeting has not stopped because of his absence. Ditto for his membership of the Ekiti State Traditional Council where he is a permanent member. Nobody has been representing Ikole at those fora. At state functions, where traditional rulers like the Elekole are invited, Ikole has no representative there.

“Another thing that triggered the aborted action was because those youths obtained forms from the Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Defence Academy, the Air Force, the Police and other paramilitary agencies and organisations. There is a column where the traditional ruler of the candidate’s town must append their signature to indicate that the candidate is from that community. Nobody is signing for Ikole indigenes. So, they said they could no longer tolerate this and wanted to demonstrate.

“Save Ikole Group only acted as an interventionist entity to persuade them from taking to the streets because it could be hijacked. We had a bitter experience when the issue of university came up. The federal university was meant for Ikole ab-initio, but on announcement it was sited in Oye. These youths demonstrated and we lost two lives to it. Also, protest of such nature with a possibility of manhandling chiefs in the palace is tantamount to sacrilege because of the status of the Elekole in the hierarchy of Obas in the state and Yorubaland. It would have been a very big sacrilege for them to litter the palace with leaves and so on. We wanted to prevent that. That was what informed our writing that letter straight to the government”, he said.

With the intervention of the members of Save Ikole Group, the youth were the ones prevented from openly protesting the absence of the Elekole.

There are many other indigenes of the town who are angling to know the condition of their king and the state of his wellbeing. They also want to know what could be done beyond the secrecy that has created the tension as the situation is creating anxiety in the town.

According to the members of the group, the government is foot-dragging on the matter because it looks like the government is buying time on the knotty issue of how to resolve the matter.

To this, the Save Ikole Group said they had taken administrative measures through the letter and said they would wait for a desired action by the government. They however suggested that there could also be traditional measures to get Ikole out of the confusion. Speaking on this, High Chief Alaba Olanipekun, the Elese of Ilara, said “there are a lot of things done about the welfare of an oba, but now a lot of things have been eroded. There are still traditional ways to resolve issues as this. The process of becoming an oba has been eroded and it is the government that now gives staff of office.”

They said their belief is that a quick intervention by the state government would resolve the matter, but expressed concern that the government is not acting.