written by Olaleye Akintola of this Day
The epic tale of struggle for the soul of Oyo Federal Constituency in the upcoming National Assembly elections between the scion of the Alaafin of Oyo, Akeem Adeyemi, a standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress, and the incumbent, Kamil Akinlabi, a candidate of the Labour Party, if filmed, may not have a Hollywood ending, synonymous with most home videos, in the Nigerian movie industry.
As seen in most mundane battle, jejune to predict, acerbic witty political contestation in grassroots communities are usually climaxed by incredulous tragic flaws of villains and heroes, especially when characters involved in the imbroglio are royalties and perceived locale game changers.
True, the incursion of the Alaafin, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi into active politics in the heydays of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, under the erstwhile governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, reasserted the position of the ancient Oyo, in the political stream of the state.
Part of the deal struck with the Alaafin and PDP helmsmen was the emergence of Adeyemi, his son as chairman of Atiba Local Government and Kamil Akinlabi, his estranged protégé, as a House of Representatives member in 2007.
Alaafin, in his usual cavalier style, had told a gathering at an Islamic function held at his palace, and recorded in a sermon titled: ‘Asiri oloselu’ (the secret of politicians), some of the formidable roles he played during the Rashidi Ladoja administration and how former president Olusegun Obasanjo gave him the mandate to mastermind the impeachment of Ladoja to usher in Alao-Akala, in connivance with the Amala politics inventor, the late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu. He also narrated circumstances surrounding the emergence of Kamil Akinlabi as House of Representatives member and how Akinlabi allegedly betrayed him, prophesying doom for Akinlabi in the video.
Considering the superintendent role Alaafin has played modern political history of Oyo from 2003 till date, political watchers have branded the monarch the Governor-General of Oyo, and Alhaji Isiaka Ajimobi, as the Governor of Ibadan.
For residents in Oyo, therefore, it’s no bizarre news that the ancient palace of Alaafin famed for cultural integration and communal law adjudication is now a political rallying ground that has played host to all manners of politicians, especially when part of the antique palace of the Alaafin was razed in 2013.
With the passage of time, Alao-Akala and Akinlabi, now pitching tent in the Labour Party, needed to be reminded of the Yoruba dictum of closing ranks with the king, for a thousand two hundred times and keeping a distance with the king for a thousand four hundred times, after a bashing from the king of Manor.
Alao-Akala is believed to have been gracelessly defeated at the 2011 polls, through the agency of Alaafin, who became incensed with Akala’s surreptitious move to use the state House of Assembly to unseat him from the stool of the permanent chairman of Oyo State Council of Oba, in preference for the Soun of Ogbomosho. Thus, he vengefully stage-managed the ouster of the Akala-led government in Oyo, through vicious public campaigns in Oke-Ogun and other Oyo provinces, with the Oyo monarch effing and blinding to open the traditionally forbidden calabash, if Akala ever clinched victory at the polls.
Like one who the furious gods want to deal with, the Akala government ran amuck, as a binge drinker, shamelessly covering his head with a wine calabash, oblivious of its squalid conditions and basking in the euphoria of amassed filthy lucre it unconscionably distributed to its allies to ensure its smooth sail to the government house, after the 2011 gubernatorial election.
Recognising the formidable role the Alaafin played in upstaging the effete Akala administration, to usher in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)-led government, the Ajimobi government rose to compensate the Alaafin of Oyo by appointing his daughter, Shade Adeyemi, the commissioner for tourism in the state and ceding the special adviser on youth and sports to one of the monarch’s pop singer son, Tillaman.
The move by Alaafin to impose his progenies on the Oyo people at the state government level was vehemently opposed by Akinlabi, who saw the action as an insult on the Oyo populace. Sources close to Akinlabi reliably revealed that he had suggested a neutral person or his crony, Yinus Akintunde, for one of the positions, to make the selection process more objective and sustainable, but the monarch in his usual self-conceited attitude, torpedoed the plans of Akinlabi and went ahead with his plan which was somewhat parochial.
It is commonsense that the cold war brewing between the Alaafin and Akinlabi prepared a fertile ground for Adeyemi, who allegedly incited his father to declare Akinlabi a persona non grata in the palace and paved the way for the actualisation of his dream.
Like the proverbial tailless cow, which banks on providence to shield it from menacing flies, Akinlabi took the twist of fate, stoically. It was indeed a new turn in his political career, as the actions and inactions of the political gods in Oyo, may cast a spell on his political life.
According to one of his close aides, there have been torrents of assassination attempts on Akinlabi and his allies, cleverly choreographed by some faceless political opponents to distract him from the poll. Recently, the Oyo State police command, arrested Adeyemi and some of his associates, for breach of peace in Oyo community, connected with physical attacks on Akinlabi’s camp.
Worse still, Adeyemi had last year, parroted the stance of the palace on Akinlabi’s political fate on the popular Ibadan Slash FM, programme, ‘The Bull’s Eyes’ when he said Akinlabi had bitten the finger that fed him, and is bound to go into political oblivion.
He further argued that Akinlabi was such an ingrate, who was benevolently handpicked from obscurity by the Alaafin, who was responsible for his education and welfare from the onset, to represent the Oyo people, to create a level playing ground. He went ahead to say Akinlabi is not an indigene of Oyo and that was why he had the temerity to despise the royal father.
Adeyemi, as the caretaker, Atiba Local Government in Oyo, told THISDAY in an interview that Akinlabi was not from a good background and lacks political commonsense.
“Even if Akinlabi had alleged that I was the first to rain insults on him, he should have restrained himself from abusing me and extending disrespects to the person of Alaafin of Oyo. He has shown that he lacks good upbringing and he is juvenile in thinking. He has failed dismally by abusing an institution widely revered in Yoruba land and Nigeria. He has conceded defeat.”
The statements credited to Adeyemi on the radio programme set many tongues wagging in Oyo, till Akinlabi was invited to the same programme, for rebuttal. In his chat with Edmund Obilo, Akinlabi allegedly claimed that the crime base in Oyo was the Alaafin’s palace and that Alaafin was a criminal and murderer.
Akinlabi also told THISDAY, in an interview before he was defeated at the APC primaries that his interest in changing the old order in Oyo, had set him on coalition course with the Alaafin. “Our society is evolving rapidly from an empire to a modern one. We need to brace up to the challenges of restoring Oyo to its pride of place, not minding the persecution from anachronistic and despotic rulers and not leaders. I challenge Oyo People to ask Alaafin of Oyo, why he was unhesitant about supporting me to be house of reps member earlier, against all his sons and allies.”
Akinlabi surmised that Alaafin must have spotted some outstanding leadership acumen in him.
The intrigues that followed the emergence of Akeem as the winner at the APC primaries could be another bestselling movie. Close sources to the palace alleged that the Alaafin, in conjunction with the leadership of the APC in the four local governments, coerced delegates into swearing by Ogun, the god of iron to vote in Alaafin’s son.
In the twilight of the approaching elections, the biblical choice of malediction and blessing has been set before the Oyo people. They have an unenviable mandate, to either change the status quo or rally support for a man, who some describe as a liberator of the Oyo peop