How the Olowo-elect emerged

How the Olowo-elect emerged

From Jimoh Ahmed, Owo
Owo was pregnant and the expectations were high. The succession bid to occupy the vacant stool of Olowo of Owo following the demise of Oba Folagbade Olateru Olagbegi III heightened, thus the fear of the people of the ancient town.

Like the pregnant woman whose husband and family members passed through sleepless nights, anxiety and prayers hoping for a safe delivery of a new born baby, Owo people were no less expectant of the choice of a new king. Market women, farmers, artisans, traders, men and women, the old and the young were deeply worried by the outcome of the selection process.

The passage of Oba Folagbade in April brought back the memories of the old time, the Olowo chieftaincy imbroglio that nearly extinguished Owo.

There was palpable fear in the town not because the monarch joined his ancestors but the fear of a possible reoccurrence of the 1999 crisis that engulfed the ancient town in which many lives and properties were lost.

When the council of Senior Omolowos, the body with the sole prerogative of electing or selecting a new Olowo announced the date for the selection, the people were further gripped by fear.

Rumours became rife in some quarters that the town may burn over a wrong choice by the council.

It was a tale of the tongue in the mouth and sleeping with one eye closed. Residents were security conscious. Parents curtailed and monitored movements of their wards while non-indigenes who were apprehensive of the situation relocated temporarily from the town.

Having realized the expectations and the possibility of a possible outbreak of law and order, government in its bid to forestall such deployed security agents to man the town and forestall any bad situation.

The presence of stern looking security officials at strategic places in the town a day to the selection suggested something crucial was about taking place in the ancient town. Visitors to the town were apprehensive of the presence of security men.

Then came the day, the day a new Olowo must emerge. The whole town was further enveloped by fear.

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This was corroborated by the admission of Chief Jamiu Ekungba, a spokesman of the Senior Omolowos.

“There was tension in the town but in the characteristics of the Agba Omolowos, we kept our cool because we know what we want to do”.

The Olowo palace, venue of the selection was cordoned off by security officials who thoroughly screened those entering the venue.

The selection ground which was the Ugha Nla, the general courtyard was also manned by well equipped security personnel to prevent any ugly incident.

The council officials were led by the Director of Administration, Segun Omojuwa and the council boss, Mr Adebayo.

The voting by the Senior Omolowo was transparent as they voted by secret ballot without being compromised.

Sixteen of the Senior Omolowos were accredited while only fifteen voted with the council’s president, the Ojomoluda, Oba Kofoworola Oladoyinbo abstaining.

It was the tradition in Owo that during the selection of a new Olowo, the Ojomoluda will not vote unless there is a tie between two leading candidates.

When the result was announced after sorting of the ballot papers, Prince Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye emerged victorious with fourteen votes while Prince Suyi Olateru Olagbegi got one vote.

As the result was announced, all other princes who were contestants rose up to embrace the winner.

 Speaking after the announcement, the Ojomoluda called on the winner to be magnanimous in victory and extend the hands of fellowship to his co-contestants.

The monarch also called on the winner not to embark on mission of vengeance but build on the foundation laid by his predecessor.

“By the activities of the Senior Omolowos you have been selected as the Olowo-elect. Remember that those princes who contested with you are sons of Owo and Olowo. They are equally qualified to be an Olowo, so you must be magnanimous in your victory by extending the hands of fellowship to them, so that, your reign will be peaceful’.

In his acceptance speech, Prince Ajibade said he was happy to be selected.

He described his emergence as a new dawn in Owo and promised to unite the people.

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” I am most elated today. Let me start by thanking the Kabiyesi(Ojomoluda) for the peaceful conduct of the selection. It is peaceful, open, transparent, trustworthy and largely acceptable”.

“This is the first time the selection of Olowo is error free. It is marvellous in our eyes. I commend you for the peaceful conduct and for accepting me for the throne of my forefathers. The result shows you have all decided to go to one place”.

The Olowo-elect promised to unite the town and take it to greater height.

” I will unify the town. We must come together to make this place greater. Our festival and culture must go global “.

Meanwhile, when the news of the outcome of the process got to the people who have been waiting endlessly outside the palace, a wide jubilation erupted.

The Olowo-elect who was in an open roof jeep thereafter proceeded to his house at Idashen end of the town in a motorcade with the jubilant crowd following his trail.

From Iloro street through Ehinogbe, residents trooped out to rejoice with the new Olowo. The road was blocked by the joyous crowd and it took security agents a hard time to clear the road for the new Oba.

It was a heroic welcome for the Olowo-elect as his house was also jampacked with people who were waiting to rejoice with him.

All social joints in the area were full with people as they wined and dined to the victory of the new monarch.

It was also a beehive of activities at the house of the new monarch the following morning when this writer visited the place. People were seen going in and coming out to fecilitate with him and also helped themselves to sumptuous meals.

A friend of the Olowo-elect, Alhaji Abbas Obayoriju described the new monarch as a round peg in a round hole

Obayoriju who has been a friend to Olowo-elect for over three decades commended the selection process saying it was in line with the yearnings and aspirations of the people of Owo

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A trader at the Ogwata market, Mrs Victoria Oladele while expressing her joy over the development said there is hope in the horizon for her and other traders alike to relocate to the Ulede market.

According to her, the hard time of staying in the scorching sun, the rains and the discomfort of not having a comfortable place to trade will soon be over.

The mother of the monarch, Yeyesa Adenike Ogunoye thanked God for the emergence of his son as the Olowo during her life time

The Yeyesa said the new monarch will do everything possible to take Owo town to an enviable height.

She thanked the Senior Omolowos and the people of Owo for the love they have for her son saying he will not let them down.

The visibly happy wife of the Olowo-elect, Mrs Olanike Ogunoye thanked God for the victory of her husband.

The soon to be Olori promised to stand by the monarch to make Owo the dream of all.

Meanwhile, the process for the installation rites which will eventually lead to the coronation proper in a few days time.

Chief Ekungba who said this stated that until such processes are concluded, the Olowo-elect cannot call himself or be called an Olowo.

“I want to appeal to the people of Owo that Ajibade is not yet the Olowo but the Olowo-elect until we hand him over to the Iloros who will now commence the installation rites. Not until this is done, he cannot be called Olowo according to our traditions”.

” It is just a matter of few days, the new, vibrant, young, energetic and popularly chosen Prince will become the Olowo of Owo.

Meanwhile jubilations and celebrations have continued as friends, well wishers and the people of Owo continue to felicitate with the Olowo-elect.

To cap it all and to borrow the words of Chief Ekungba, in a few days time, Owo have a person to officially mount the throne of the Olowo thus making the way for the town to exit the club of towns without a head.

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