Subsidy removal: Jonathan heading for doom – Opadokun

By WOLE BALOGUN

Foremost Nigerian human rights activist and lawyer, Ayo Opadokun, has said that the insistence of the President Goodluck Jonathan government to stick with the removal of fuel subsidy, in spite of the widespread protests by Nigerians, is a step towards doom. Opadokun also blamed the senseless killings by the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, on the failure of the Federal Government to deliver the dividends of democracy to the Nigerian masses. He called for the convocation of a sovereign national conference.

What’s your take on the removal of fuel subsidy?

Those who the gods want to destroy they will first of all make mad. They have overspent the blank cheque that Nigerians have given to them. I knew that people would react and Nigeria Labour Congress is leading the people to reject such evil policy. Let me tell you, I have done a lot on this so-called subsidy. You remember that in 1994, Obasanjo wanted to increase the price of fuel; the NLC did a thorough job, a lot of research; they went to several oil exporting and producing countries; they were able to gather the unit cost of producing one litre of refined oil; they went round and found that no oil exporting country is importing oil for its local consumption, except Nigeria. And then the question you ask yourself is why should this happen in the eight largest oil exporting country? How can a country that exports the eighth largest crude oil rely on fuel importation? How can?

There is no basis for Nigeria not to have built a new refinery since 1984. Is it that they don’t have the money? The money that they have spent on turn around maintenance, which they have done more than four or five times now, could have financed one or two new refineries. Why is it that they failed to do so? Because they have unfairly refused to build new refineries, there are other alternatives. One is that there are idle refineries in Ghana, Senegal, Portugal and Angola just to mention a few.

What stops Nigeria from taking its crude oil to them, refine them on arrangement and bring back to our country? They are not willing to do so. And to make matters worse, the only avenue through which this imported fuel will get to the Nigerian soil is through the Atlas Cove jetty. It is the only one that has been there for more than 25 years now. They knew that fuel consumption in Nigeria was increasing, as a result of the expansion of the economy. So they ought to have either done a new Atlas Cove or expanded that one, so that they could have multiple means for the oil. Now they say they have surcharge for fuel still on the sea. Is it Nigerians’ fault? Again, they claim that it is because Nigerian petroleum products are cheaper, cheaper than soft drink that people take it across the borders. Who is controlling the Nigerian borders? Is it not the Nigerian government? So you can see that there is nothing like subsidy. They are just dishonest.

Again, on oil importation, it is only the NNPC that has been licensed to import oil. Why can’t they give licence to individuals who wish to import? That is to tell you that there are questionable deals in it. Some of their friends are benefiting from the thing. They also keep on lying to the country that only a few people are benefiting from the subsidy. It is difficult for government to pay workers N18, 000 minimum wage. Now the prices of everything, from transportation and foodstuff, have sky rocketed. So it has an overbearing general effect on the Nigerian people. They know the truth, but they don’t want to say it.

Let’s talk about security. Book Haram has bean a thorn in the flesh of Nigerians, with the series of bomb blasts. What do you think?

I thought I had said much about Boko Haram. However, let me go back to give you an up date. The background to this matter, from all intent and purposes and from the investigations and consultations we have made from distinguished personalities from the North eastern part of the country, is this: They told us a long time ago that Boko Haram has resolved to confront an evil system that denies them their basic rights as citizens of Nigeria. Those who emerge as governors collect huge sums of money from the federation account, as trustees of the people, yet there is nothing to show for it; no development in the land, no job, no serious education; nothing is happening; so people are reacting, using their own method to vent their anger on the political operators in that part of the country. They have said that they don’t want western education. They said they don’t want western system of governance because that is evil to them. They preferred to be governed by Sharia law. Their resolve is that if you don’t listen to them, they will make it impossible for those in government to govern.

Now, how many people from that part of the country have come out to condemn them? They want to be governed in the Islamic way. In a federal structure, the constitution appreciates the fact that it is a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, multi-religious, multi-customs and traditions. In a federal system, each unit governs itself independently, but coordinated at the centre. As the Boko Haram is dong their own, the Egbesu boys in the South South are saying they want to administer oil. Asari Dokubo started it all. Look at the Igbo guys, MOSSOB movement. They have been producing their own national flags, Biafran currency, and the money is being spent in some enclaves in Igbo land.

In the first republic, the regions were independent, but coordinated at the centre. But the problem is that everything Nigeria touches we bastardize it. The Yoruba boys, the Afenifere, the Oduduwa, and OPC are saying, let us live here. Don’t let anybody dictate to us; we know how to govern ourselves. The best thing, in this circumstance, which I have said over and over, is for us to call for a national conference, sovereign national conference; each nationality knows how to nominate their representatives. In the conference discuss and decide how to operate the federation

Why do you think successive governments shy away from convening a sovereign nation conference?
They are not true democrats. They are representing particular platforms that don’t want Nigeria to develop. It is for their selfish gains that the situation remains as it is today. They are the greatest beneficiaries. The system in Nigeria is terrible; no matter who you bring to preside over this current system, he would fail. And they don’t want that system to be properly established. Whatever system allows the Nigeria people to vote for a person and then a motley crowd of soldiers representing this evil platform can just annul such election. It is a terrible system that ought not to be tolerated. For example, those who schemed Jonathan into office want to continue to rule Nigeria in perpetuity, from cradle to grave. So, now if you want an arrangement that would prevent continuation of such evil regime, they will not be happy and would not support it. They will frustrate it.

You remember that the 2005 conference that Obasanjo called was because of the pressure. Instead of responding properly, he did an arrangement meant not only to undermine the clarion call but also to bend it for his own selfish interest. They don’t want Nigeria to escape from where we are today. They have held us down for over 51 years. I keep on saying that they have already overplayed their luck. My fear is that if they imagined that Nigeria is immune from the Arab spring, they will be shocked. The poverty in the land is too much.

The removal of Mrs. Farida Waziri as EFCC chairman has been interpreted in many ways. What’s your position?

We saw the sack of Mrs. Farida Waziri coming. The American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, came to Nigeria and spoke very strongly that the fight against corruption had been stalled and the enthusiasm and the momentum had reduced substantially. Some of us felt that was a dividing line to tell the Nigerian rulers that their repeated commitment to the fight against corruption is not being taken seriously by the outside world. So we thought that something would happen. I would say that Waziri had been sacrificed to please the western nations and certain people in the Nigerian political circle who are still influential in the scheme of things.

Farida Waziri was brought in by a very unholy and very subversive group led by the former governor of Delta State and the then leadership of the Governor’s Forum. As soon as their candidate, Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua became president, it didn’t take time for them to dislodge Nuhu Ribadu from office. And at that time, those who cared to know, including journalists, would remember that both James Ibori and Bukola Saraki were virtually the landlords in Aso Rock. So they got what they wanted. If an officer of the state came in through that compromised arrangement, there would be no tears to shed for her when she was dislodged.

I saw the thing coming; that Waziri would be sacrificed one day. So, for me, what happened wasn’t accidental, and it will continue to happen. Whoever takes over even now, I am sorry for him, because the Nigerian government does not have the determination to fight corruption. They don’t. They are mouthing it. They are deceiving Nigerians. They know what to do; there are too many cases of corruption against the executive, legislature and the judiciary.

Since two chief executives of that body have been sacked in this messy circumstances, I dare say that it will continue. For it to stop, they must review that act, the EFCC Act of 2004. It should not give the president the right to sack the chief executive of that kind of a body without the input of the legislature. For now, whoever is there is under the mercy of the political leader. And if you don’t want to lose your job, you already know what to do. I don’t see President Jonathan fighting corruption. It will be impossible. I don’t see him confronting the platform that produced him. He remains a product of very perverted and corrupt platform. Look at what is happening in his own state, how can he be a decent person? Since Dickson has become the candidate, it follows that he would be awarded the election. How do you imagine that such a fellow would be willing to defend and promote the rule of law, equity and justice?

Now that you have mentioned Bayelsa PDP, what do you think about the crisis relating to the governorship election?

I thought that it was an inglorious manifestation of a political brinkmanship that the sitting governor of state was physically held up in the Government House, as if he was in solitary confinement, to prevent him from participating in the primaries of the party that sponsored him into office. And that is the state of the president of Nigeria. By that, we were exposing the underbelly of crude politics that our people play. I never imagined that in this 21st century, we will still be engaged in such perverted political arrangement. All that has been exposed here is the fact that the highest authority in the land has strongly undermined the normal procedure of party politics.

What then should Sylva do?

He is a product also of a perverted system. He is not innocent. Sylvia is not in any way better off than those who are humiliating him. If he has the gut, let him pursue the matter to its logical conclusion legally.

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Muslim organization adds support to Lagos subsidy rally

The Conference of Islamic Organizations that joined this morning with about 3,000 of its followers has boosted the protest against fuel subsidy removal in Lagos.

They trooped to the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota, Lagos venue of the mass rally against what labour leaders and the Save Nigeria Group, SNG called “Corruption, petrol price increase and bad governance.”

The group denounced the activities of the Boko Haram group and called for the government to rescind its decision to remove subsidy on fuel before leading the ever increasing crowd in an Islamic prayer.

Today marks the third day of the protest, which has featured many renowned human rights activists, politicians, popular musicians, artistes and labour leaders taking turns to address the mass rally.

Popular comedian Babatunde Omidina a.k.a Baba Suwe, Juju crooner Shina Peters and Fuji musician Saheed Osupa were among the new stars that joined the protest this morning, calling for the reversal of the fuel subsidy withdrawal policy.

More protesters are streaming to the venue to pep up the protest, which began on Monday January 9.

Osun Obas Express Worries Over National Insecurity

Traditional rulers in Osun State on Thursday expressed their worries over the spate of bombings and crime rate.

The monarchs, under the auspices of Osun Division Conference of Obas, condemned the Christmas day bombings across the country, describing it as unholy, inhuman and against the spirit of oneness of the country.

Urging the Federal Government and security agencies to take the bull by the horns and nip in the bud the insecurity insurgence, the monarchs appealed to sponsors and perpetrators of crimes in the country to sheath their swords and embrace peace.

The traditional rulers made the call at the last segment of the Obas meeting in 2011, held at the Akirun’s Palace in Ikirun, Headquarters of Ifelodun Local Government Council Area of the state.

Chaired by the Orangun of Ila, Oba Wahab Kayode Oyedotun, Bibire 1, the monarchs lauded Governor Rauf Aregbesola for his developmental projects accomplished within a year.

They commended the governor for his youth’s employment and poverty alleviation programmes, reawakening agriculture and policy of food security and rural development, road rehabilitations and free rail transport in the state.

The traditional rulers in a Communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, pledged their support for Aregbesola’s administration, just as they urged the people of the state, to keep on supporting the government.

AWARD WINNING MOVIE “ANCHOR BABY” RELEASED ONLINE WATCH NOW

Multiple award winning Nigerian/Canadian blockbuster movie “Anchor Baby” directed by Lonzo Nzekwe has achieved another feat never before done by any Nollywood movie.
The director of the movie has decided to give movie lovers and fans of the movie all over the world, who missed out on seeing the movie another chance to view the movie through an online Video On Demand on their website at www.anchorbabymovie.com for only $4.99 which is close to nothing. Renters will also have access to watch the movie 5 times within 30 days.
Movie lovers and fans of the movie can visit the online portal of the movie www.anchorbabymovie.com to watch the full movie instantly in HD quality.  The movie which racked in close to 18million Naira in box office was adjudged the best Nollywood movie in the Uk cinemas.
Anchor Baby has also been shortlisted by the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) as one of the films seeking for nominations votes at the 2012 awards.
The producers are also offering 10% commission from sales generated when anyone embeds or shares the full movie on their blogs,    Facebook, twitter and any website. to start sharing the video now, one can go to the video player on their website www.AnchorBabyMovie.com, and click the “Share” or “Embed” button to start.
The movie which was shot in Canada with a cast of international movie stars and one of Nollywood’s best actresses,  Omoni Oboli was produced and directed by Nigerian born, Canadian based film maker Lonzo Nzekwe generated a lot of buzz in the entertainment industry as to the number of fans the movie generated on social and media blogs even weeks before its arrival and the amount of awards the movie carted away when it finally arrived in cinemas.
 The movie was pronounced the Best Film at the Harlem International Film Festival in New York City; it won an award of merit at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood; it has enjoyed several weeks of impressive runs and cinema success across Nigeria and now ‘Anchor Baby’ is at the verge of winning more awards as it gets two nominations from AMAA Awards
The movie,  Anchor Baby set in the United State and shot in Brampton and Hamilton, Ontario Canada  tells the story of a married illegal immigrant couple living in the US, Joyce and Paula Unanga.
They are ordered by the US immigration to leave the country by voluntary departure. They agree to leave but only after Joyce who is 5month pregnant delivers her baby inside the US, as this will guarantee automatic citizenship for their child.

Osogbo’ll Wear The Look Of A State Capital – Osun Deputy Gov

Deputy  Governor of the State of Osun, Otunba (Mrs) Titi Laoye-Tomori has re-assured that Osogbo will truly wear the look of a state capital during the Rauf Aregbesola-led political administration.

She gave this assurance in an address delivered after a novelty football match organized as part of activities scheduled to commemorate the 2011 edition of Osogbo Oroki Day in Osogbo.

She said Osogbo will be repositioned with reference to investments in infrastructural facilities, this, which she maintained would draw greater attention to her as it is presently being done towards Lagos.

She, however, urged indigenes and residents of the state capital to be patriotic enough in the management of these infrastructures when they are eventually put in their respective positions.

She urged Osogbo indigenes to participate in the laudable programmes of the Osun State Government designed to transform lives.

She made a particular reference to the need for people to join co-operative societies.

This, according to the deputy governor, is a strategy which expectedly should enable entrepreneurs raise funds for business formations and expansion.

She also charged indigenes of Osogbo at home and in the diaspora to continually lend their support for the Aregbesola’s administration.

Otunba Laoye Tomori reminded spectators at the novelty match, which ended 1-0 in favour of the side where the deputy governor was the goalkeeper that this year’s edition was with a difference.

“Whither Pilgrims…?”

THIS season of pilgrimages is blissful indeed. It is pregnant with lessons for pilgrims and non-pilgrims, cutting across both divides of Islam and Christianity. It is imperative to state it clearly early enough that pilgrimage in Islam and Christianity transcends mere tourist trappings. Pilgrimage is both an exercise of religious and spiritual significance, if any segment  of the populace exists, therefore, that views the exercise as worthless and irrelevant; such needs be educated fully on the weight and import of the devotional service.

In Islam, pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is one of the five pillars which form the edifice of the religion. In a nutshell, a Moslem is required by the dictates of the Islamic faith, to pay holy pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his lifetime. Though this injunction does not make it a matter of compulsion for pilgrimage to be made to Mecca by a Moslem, it portrays the pilgrimage exercise as necessary, worthwhile and of immense value.

To Christians, pilgrimage to Jerusalem in Israel may not be a rite spelt out clearly in the Holy Bible. But implicitly, it is held by all adherents that a visit to all sites of events recorded in the scriptures is not an exercise in fatality. For this reason, the holy trip to Jerusalem is gaining prominence year in, year out. Gone are the days when Jerusalem pilgrimage was an exclusive preserve for the privileged few. Today, governments at all tiers jostle to sponsor pilgrims to Israel; not to talk of private sponsors. This is also true of pilgrimage to Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

THE PARALLAX wishes to sound a note of erudition on the importance of two aforementioned pilgrimage sites to their respective countries. Whereas both Mecca and Jerusalem are not the political and administrative capitals of their respective countries, their religious importance has contributed immensely to the economy, fame and overall prosperity of these countries. Jerusalem became the capital of Israel in the days of King David. Because of this fact, it remains till date the City of David, Later, Kind Omri moved the capital to Jezrel. In modern times, however, the capital of Israel has been moved to Tel-Aviv.

In a similar vein, Mecca is not the capital (politically or administratively) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The capital of that kingdom is Riyadh. But the importance and reverence attached to Mecca today derived from the huge presence of sites of events, life and times of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) in that holy city.

What is the main thrust of these last observations? It is to let us realize that our actions, attitudes or exertions could contribute either to make or mar our environment or nation. By their own actions, attitudes and exertions; prophets ranging from Abraham (or Ibrahim) through Jesus (Isa) to Mohammed had brought fame, prominence, prosperity and reverence to the lands they traversed during their carnal presence on this terrestrial ball. What then shall you, reader of this piece, and a Nigerian for that mater, contribute to this country? What legacy shall you bequeath after you are long-gone?

Pilgrimages to the two holy lands hold lessons that transcend religion or spirituality. Part of the tacit essence is to inculcate in the people of the world the organized way of life and finesse with which those societies are built. I may never have travelled to both countries for once, but I can tell a little of the beauty and resplendence of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both countries, located on the continent of Asia, are set on desert/ arid land. In other words, they would not be expected to be productive in any way, especially in agriculture or mineral resources.

But this is not so in actual sense. Today, Israel has so influenced its landscape that it has turned its weakness to strength, agriculturally. Aesthetically too, the nation is ranked high among the comity of nations. In terms of economy, the holy nation still wields the blessings of Abraham, as it has much to lend than to borrow. Ditto is true for the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia where economic stability, high standard of living and high-level discipline are the order of the day. The discipline factor is the reason why pilgrims from all parts of the world are always admonished to be of good conduct and comportment during their sojourn at both holy lands.

This year, Osun State joined the rest of the world to turn out pilgrims from the state numbering up to 1,020 or thereabouts, out of which about 200 were sponsored by the State Government. Christian pilgrims from the state numbered up to about 465. Out of this figure, the state government sponsored about 250; local governments sponsored about 160; while the remaining 55 were privately-sponsored. Whatever be the manner of sponsorship, it could not be without specific purposes.

THE PARALLAX agrees that private individuals could sponsor contingents on pilgrimage for purposes of which spiritual inclination ranks paramount. Also, in the intents of governments at all tiers, spiritual development of pilgrims should blaze the trail. But the overall lesson which should not be lost is that pilgrims are expected to imbibe the culture of service, sacredness, piety, holy living and discipline which are the hallmark of the lands visited the two holy lands. As a matter of fact, many of our privileged citizens have visited those places more than once.

This is to the extent that some title-conscious veteran pilgrims are being referred to as Multiple Alhajis/Alhajas or J.P.2 or more. I still observe that some segment of the privileged class has made it a creed to visit these holy lands once or twice on yearly basis.

Well, as we welcome our Moslem pilgrims back to our midst, it is certain that by the time this publication is out, the first batch of Christian pilgrims consisting 274 contingents shall have been back in our midst too. The second batch, comprising 191 pilgrims is expected to leave our shores by December 2. THE PARALLAX wishes all pilgrims safe journey to and fro the respective holy lands. On a congratulatory note, we congratulate them, their families, the Pilgrims’ Boards (both Moslems and Christians), the local and state governments for having an hitch-free pilgrimage year. For the future, we wish the state many more successful years of holy pilgrimages.

Above all, we advise our newly-arrived pilgrims to internalize the lessons and cultures they experienced in the holy lands. Nigerian society could be made to attain a status similar to those foreign lands. We too can be made to raise our head to the level of Israel, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or even, United States of America. As a matter of fact, we have good deposits of crude oil, which makes us a semblance of Saudi Arabia. Our wide expanse of arable, cultivable land makes us to outstrip Israel in agricultural potentialities. We should help ourselves in converting these potentialities to actual wealth. We can transform our waste to wealth.

THE PARALLAX is not against holy pilgrimages, God forbid. What we are clamouring is why the real lessons of pilgrimages in spiritual, political, social and economic sense should not be misplaced. In addition, Nigeria has sites that could be transformed to world standard – all to our socio-economic benefits. In religious spheres, we have sites like NASFAT, QUAREEB campus and others (Moslems should bear me out). Christian camp sites are dotted over the places. Redemption Camp and Canaanland are the leading lights in this regard. Socio-cultural sites are many and diverse. Osun Osogbo site is one such significant site that is located within our confines. We can make these centres equally good, prominent and attractive.

This season of pilgrimage, coupled with season of Eid-el-Kabir cum Christmas yuletide season, THE PARALLAX challenges our newly-arrived pilgrims to a higher-order dedication. The challenge we throw is far above title-consciousness. We call them to commit their lives to being genuine change-agents in our bid to transform our society – the State of Osun – completely into a state of the virtuous. Beyond title-consciousness, they are enjoined to exemplify the spirit of hardwork, honesty, industry, enterprise, transparency and patriotism. God bless Nigeria. God bless Osun State. God bless us all. Osun a dara o.
•This piece, first published in the Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Edition is repeated due to popular demand.

 

Ijesas Unify To Celebrate Aregbesola In Grand Style (II)

OGUN is consulted by people individually for protection against bouts of misfortune like sickness, bad harvest, poverty, sterility and attack by witches. The official servants of Ogun, who minister at the shrine are the priests versed in the names, attributes and taboos of the deity. In most places, Ogun priests are respectable members of the community, acting as a link between the worshippers and the deity and they interpret the wishes of the deity to the worshippers.

The priests offer sacrifices and pour libation to the deity. They also perform religious functions, medical and psychological functions. Sometimes, they act as medicine men. They diagnose diseases and are able to administer the right kinds of treatment. They are also able to apply the right kinds of herbs, roots or leaves to forestall the effects of curses and cure ailments. The psychological functions of the priests involve offering advice to clients and helping them to find solutions to various problems.

Like in every other Yoruba towns and settlements, the worship of Ogun is so firmly entrenched and widely prevalent in Ijesland that there is no town, village or settlement that is left with no imprints of the deity. At Ilesa, Ibokun, Ipole-Ijesa, Ijebu-Ijesa, Iwoye-Ijesa and the entire Atakunmosa axis, the worship of Ogun deity is still observed till date. This preponderance of Ogun worship, according to oral traditions at the disposal of OSUN DEFENDER Magazine, is traceable to an Ijesa myth. According to the myth, a baby boy was thrown into a thick forest.

Immediately upon his casting into the forest, he was said to be seized by some wild animal, but was not killed. The wild beast, ekun (tiger) carried the child away and nursed him along with its young cubs. The story continued that Ogun, in his endless hunting expeditions saw the boy in the tiger’s den and he believed that the boy must have been stolen. Ogun, being a diviner, reported to Olofin Olodumare, the Almighty, who in turn asked Ogun, being a brave hunter, to go and fetch the baby. Ogun, in his brilliance, put the tiger under static surveillance, and when he saw that the tiger was out in search for prey, he carefully picked the baby and took him to Olofin. Olofin confirmed the baby, who he named Ajibogun, to be his son.

Ogun was childless, died and was buried by Olofin. Ogun is reported to have had his origin from Ile-Ife and is regarded as a god of wrath. There are certain moral qualities associated with him, however. Ogun is reported to have the reputation for abhorring lying, stealing and poisoning. Unlike the god of Esu, terribly dreaded as a trickster, confusionist, and disharmonist; and regarded totally as devilish, Ogun is extolled for the above-cited rare virtues, that is, honesty, transparency peace and harmony.

Olofin, a descendant of Oduduwa in Ile-Ife, had fifteen crowned sons, including Ajibogun. Upon the dispersal of the sons of Olofin, Ajibogun was reported to have settled at Ipole-Ijesa, some kilometres away from the present-day Ilesa, the heart of Ijesaland. At Ipole-Ijesa, the worship of Ogun subsists till date in a festival tagged Ibegun.

Ibegun is observed in most towns and settlements of Ijesland. In the entire expanse of Ijesaland; the worship of Ogun gradually came to be known as Iwude Ogun festival. As it was, it came to be an avenue that provided the principal focus for the integration and cohesion of the Ijesa people who are not notoriously religious in the modern sense, but have little tolerance left for traditional religious practices.

At the Iwude Ogun Festival, Ogun deity was communicated with at his shrine through invocations; libations; petitions; covenants; praise names and proverbs; praise-songs and ballads are showered in honour of Ogun, the god of iron and the pathfinder.

While it lasted, the concept of God remained central to the Iwude-Ogun Festival, as the festival played a vital role in the lives of the faithful and the natives generally. For Ijesa people; the festival was always a way of life as it occupied the entirety of the people’s life during the festival. It is this Iwude Ogun Festival that has today been metamorphosed into IWUDE FESTIVAL in Ijesaland.

AS has been reviewed at the opening part of this   report, every community on the planet-earth has one traditional ceremony or festival or the other. Equally, it is probably true to say that virtually all communities in the Yoruba-speaking area of Nigeria, which lies in the South-Western geopolitical zone of the country, have one festival or another that they celebrate annually or periodically in their communities.

Lagosians for instance celebrate Eyo festival, which has been transformed in recent times to transcend ritual frontiers into a carnival-like tourist attraction. To the Ijebus of present-day Ogun State, Ojude ­Oba festival is in vogue, which has become a rallying-point for all sons and daughters of their ancestries to converge and contribute to the growth and development of their community. The Ife people in today’s Osun State have also transformed the ancient fetish and diabolical Olojo festival into a crowd-pulling interesting monument of great grandeur. For the Ondo people, Ekimogun festival speaks of a revered king’s clarion call, which must be heeded and obeyed in swift response to a dire need to visit home and attend promptly to the people’s genuine desire to be developed and emancipated in virtually all areas of modern advancement. In Osogbo, the ancient Osun Osogbo festival has crossed the barriers of being an ordinary sacrifice-offering to a river goddess, to incorporate great tourist carnival-like procession which draws tourists from a global clientele.

In the spirit of the festive order clearly defined above, the Ijesa people, who are a distinct people in the central portion of the South-West of Nigeria in Osun State, are not left out in this issue of festivals. They too, in conformity with practices in other Yoruba communities, observe several festivals. As earlier portrayed, these festivals and ceremonies are either unique or universal. For instance, some of the festivals are limited (unique) to specific communities. In Iloko-Ijesa in Oriade Local Government Area of Osun State, Odun Obalogun is being observed.

Likewise in Osu, the seat of Atakunmosa West Local Government Area of Osun State, we have Odun Oniyo. These two are in addition to the Ibegun festival mentioned earlier in this report to be observed at Ipole-Ijesa and many other parts of Ijesaland. Other festivals and ceremonies subsist as proud legacies observed by other Ijesa communities, which they celebrate on annual basis.

However, there exists one festival which is both unique and universal among the entire Ijesa people. This festival is unique not only because of its grandeur, but it is important because it is a festival that involves all the Ijesa people. The festival has evolved to be known as IWUDE FESTIVAL.

The Iwude festival, as it is known today, was actually known and called by the name Iwude Ogun in the past. As has been hammered earlier, it is known in modern times simply as IWUDE FESTIVAL – a new name given to Iwude Ogun Festival to reflect the mood of the modern times which seeks to bring all Ijesa people of all religions together to celebrate and felicitate at this all-important festival which brings all the indigenes in the Diaspora, which comprise indigenes of the six local government council areas that make up Ijesland today. The six (6) council areas are:

·Ilesa East Local Government, headquartered at Iyemogun;
·Ilesa West Local government, headquartered at  Ereja Square;.
·Obokun Local Government, headquartered at Ibokun;
·Oriade Local Government, with headquarter at Ijebu-Ijesa;
·Atakunmosa East Local Government, with headquarter at, Iperindo; and
·Atakunmosa West Local Government, headquartered at Osu.

The Iwude Ogun festival started several centuries ago in Ijesaland. It can be rightly claimed that it is the mother of all festivals; being the oldest of all festivals of Ijesa people. It is recorded in history that this monumental festival was started by Owa Obokun Owari, who was celebrating it on a three-monthly interval.

It was Owa Obokun Atakunmosa, who was recorded to have expanded the scope of Iwude to a very elaborate festival. From the days of Atakunmosa, the festival was and is still a 30-day affair, which is normally climaxed with the Iwude Celebration; a celebration in which the paramount ruler of Ijesaland – the Owa Obokun Adimula, comes out of his palace in the morning, moves in grandeur across a section of the community, celebrates with his people and returns to his palace in the evening.

There are a number of important places and stop-over spots where the Owa-Obokun must touch. Prominent among such places are Yeyerise’s. Palace; Obaala’s Palace; Sawe’s Palace; Lejoka’s Palace; and Salotun’s Palace.

In each of these palaces, Owa-Obokun is expected to hold a court, which duration may vary from one to two hours, depending on the mood of the occasion. At the Obaala’s Palace, OSUN DEFENDER Magazine was shown the special seat which the Owa Obokun occupies during his annual historic tour of the palace. Traditions and practices, which subsist till date, holds that sitting on the said seat remains an exclusive right of the Owa-Obokun alone.

To the Owa-Obokun in particular, the Iwude is a festival that affords him the opportunity to remember his ancestors, pay homage to them, offer sacrifices and prayers to God for the good of his people, peace and prosperity in the land and abundant blessings for his subjects. To the traditional chiefs, they are afforded the opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty and faithfulness to Kabiyesi –Owa-Obokun of Ijesaland.

To the people in entirety, they are offered the opportunity, for at least once in the year, of seeing their kabiyesi i.e. the Owa-Obokun, celebrate with him, pay their respect to him and his chiefs and receive his royal blessings.

On the whole, Iwude is a festival designed to ward off diseases, sicknesses and other problems from Ijesaland through massive celebrations and tumultuous joy and gladness.

BY its significance, Iwude festival is the mother of all festivals in Ijesaland. This is so because it is the festival that brings all Ijesa people together. It has been the custom to round-off all other festivals with Iwude, which is celebrated in December. Therefore, this month-long festival, which starts in the palace of Owa-Obokun of Ijesaland in Ilesa, extends to other parts of Ijesaland such as Ipole, Ibokun and Ijebu-Ijesa, before ending where it started in Ilesa. It has thereby become a festival that involves not only Ilesa, but also other parts of Ijesa North and Ijesa South, as they are called in modern times.

Furthermore, in the line of its significance, Iwude festival is a get-together of unity, a summit of peace and progress and a reference-point to the oneness of all Ijesas in the various parts of the world. Iwude festival is a festival in which a well-deserved honour is given to Kabiyesi, Owa Obokun. It is a festival of rich culture.

It is a festival in which cultural displays are featured. Such cultural displays include those of the royalty, manifested in the royal regalia of Kabiyesi Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, the royal beads, the royal crowns, the royal umbrella, the royal walking stick, the royal horsetail, the royal steps, the royal smiles and the royal dance. A most recent, unique addition to these royal paraphernalia during the year 2010 edition of the anniversary was the royal white horse, on the back of which the Kabiyesi Owa Obokun rode to the venue of the grand finale of the ceremonies.

The cultural displays also featured the festival greetings of the chiefs, with the junior chiefs using their swords to beat the ground in front of the senior chiefs and the people and using such swords to beat those of the senior chiefs. The cultural displays also featured the cultural dances by the people and that of Kabiyesi Owa-Obokun himself.

Iwude Festival is also a festival of exchange of gifts, with Kabiyesi giving gifts to some of his chiefs and these chiefs too giving some gifts in return.

Iwude festival is one which is rich in history. It is colourful, resplendent and reminiscent of rich illustrious past. For a people whose forefather in the person of Owa Obokun Ajigbogun, fetched the brine water that God used to restore the eye-sight of Oduduwa at his old age and whose forefather – Seriki Ogedengbe was the acclaimed generalissimo of the ancient internecine wars in Yorubaland, such people definitely have a rich history.

Iwude festival is a festival that reminds all Ijesa people about the achievements of Owa Obokun Ajibogun – the first Owa Obokun of Ijesland. The festival reminds Ijesa people about the beaded crown he got as a prize for his chivalry and sword of success – Ida Ajasegun – he got from Oduduwa. These are part of the age-old items that are borne by the person who carries them in a box in front of Owa-Obokun during the events that climax the Iwude festival.

As pointed out earlier, Iwude festival is a fond reminiscence of illustrious past of the Ijesas and their cultural heritage. It is a festival intended to remember and celebrate all the Owa Obokuns that had reigned in Ijesalabd before the incumbent Owa-Obokun. This celebration usually involves some traditional ceremonies involving some traditionalists in the palace of an incumbent Owa-Obokun. Iwude festival brings to remembrance the chivalry of our forefathers in the internecine wars of Yorubaland. This is in particular signified by the various gunshots and brandishing of war swords.

Iwude festival also brings to remembrance the historical relationship of Owa Obokun to his senior chiefs and other Obas and Chiefs in Ijesaland. Many of the chiefs come to the fore to play some traditional roles in the whole Iwude festival.

Iwude festival is also of sociological significance, in the sense that, it is a festival of reunion of all people that make the larger Ijesaland. Owa-Obukun is at home to serve as the pivot of all the activities involved in the festivals. Such activities include the purely traditional ones and the purely ceremonial ones. High chiefs are also around at this time to play their own roles. Ijesa people at different locations in Nigeria and abroad, come home at this period not only to unite with their families, but also to participate in the all-important Iwude festival.

This period provides the opportunity for them to start new buildings, roof ongoing ones, acquire wives and the younger ones among the males, to go with older Osomaalo people to far away places to learn the art of Osomaalo trade.

It is this festival that Ijesa people in the modern era, are determined to use as a rallying-point to foster greater unity among Ijesa people all over the world, develop the entire land of Ijesa people, celebrate the heroes and heroines and in the process, open a new chapter of cooperation and progress in Ijesaland. In the present modern era, Iwude is now being celebrated as a modern version of the old Iwude Ogun.

Today, Iwude is a convergence of the ancient and modern. It is a celebration of the best in the cultural values of Ijesa people. It is a convergence of culture and tradition, pomp and pageantry, excellence and beauty.

These are what a modern annual crowd-pulling event of the Ijesas at home and abroad exemplifies.

The year 2010 episode of the Iwude festival was a buck buster watershed; as Ijesas at home and in the Diaspora converged to celebrate one of their own; who had just become the Executive Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, It turned out to be a grand fiesta as the largest crowd ever – comprising indigenes and non-indigenes alike; artists and artistes, tourists, hoteliers and prominent figures in the entertainment industry; politicians, statesmen and government functionaries; and all the rest – made it a point of duty to make it a date with the  first son of Ijesaland to become the Governor of Osun State; and first for that matter to rise to that exalted position since the hey-days of old Oyo State, when late Chief Bola Ige was the Executive Governor.

Features, activities and events which made last year’s event most colourful, memorable and epoch-making have been highlighted above.

Earlier in 2009, a new dimension came through the horizons as sporting activities got introduced to the annual Iwude celebrations. That was the year when table Tennis competition was featured, courtesy of Engineer Rauf Aregbesola.

This year however, sporting activities mapped out for the festival have been broadened to include male and female football competitions, track events like 100 metres, 200 metres and 4X100 metres relay and marathon events, These events are scheduled to commence on Saturday, December3, with opening ceremonies of the maiden soccer events sponsored by Wife of the Governor of Osun State, Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola.

The preliminary soccer events follow; the finals for male and female events have been slated for the Iwude week precisely on Friday, December23; while the grand finale of the marathon events is fixed for Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, 2011. It promises to be a rich celebration this year.

Aromolaran Lauds Aregbe’s Govt As Famurewa Distributes Crash Helmets

The Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran, has lauded the administration of  Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for attracting developmental projects into the state in general and Ijesaland in particular.

The monarch made this remark while receiving Honourable Ajibola Famurewa, House of Representatives’ member representing Ijesa South Federal Constituency who paid homage to the foremost traditional ruler in Ijesaland shortly after he had distributed 200 crash helmets to commercial motorcyclists in the four local government councils making up his constituency.

The affected councils are Ilesa-East, Ilesa-West, Atakumosa-East and and Atakumosa, Famurewa said he found it both culturally and morally necessary for him to pay homage to the Owa Obokun and keep him abreast of how dividends of democracy were being enjoyed by the people in the area.

The federal lawmaker stated that he was aware that it would soon be an offence for motorcyclists who do not put on helmets.

Famurewa’s words: “Kabiyesi sir. I am quite aware that motorcyclists who do not put on crash helmets will soon be subjected to fine.

“First offenders will be fined. Second offenders will also be fined while any third offenders will be jailed. Kabiyesi, I don’t want my people to go to jail. That is why I have brought a sizeable number of crash helmets to be distributed to commercial motorcycle riders from unit to unit.”

At this juncture, the monarch appreciated the good gesture of the lawmaker, disclosing that good things have started to happen during the administration of Aregbesola.

The monarch said that College of Immigration has been slated for Ilesa and that the ancient town has given 250 acres of land for an Army Barracks which will spring up there soon.

The monarch also disclosed that a separate district has been given to Ilesa by Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) while more are still coming.

Famurewa said the distribution of the crash helmets was also part of the activities to mark the first year anniversary of Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration in his own little way.

Mr Kunle Odeyemi, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) treasurer in Osun State, ACN chairman in Ilesa-East Local Government Council Area of Osun State, Mr Idowu Korede, were among the dignitaries who kept the company of Famurewa to the palace.

Osun, Lagos Assemblies Draw Supremacy Battle

Being the first of its kind in Osun State, the Action Congress of Nigeria-dominated State House of Assembly members in Lagos and their counterparts in the Osun State House of Assembly, last Saturday trashed it out in a novelty football match to celebrate the first year anniversary of Mr. Rauf Aregbesola administration in Osun State.

Chieftains and supporters of ACN within and outside the state converged at Olashore International School Football Pitch, Iloko Ijesha, to watch the lawmakers’ celebration of hope.

The pitch pavilion was filled to capacity, while the Osun State Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) cadets in Oriade Local Government Council Area, added colour to the event with exciting cultural dances.

Governor Aregbesola, who embraced the lawmakers from Lagos and Osun States in a joyful mood, kicked-off the match at exactly 5.20 pm.
Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, Honourable Najeem Salam, captained Osun team and doubled as the goalkeeper.

Osun team included the Deputy Speaker Honourable Akintunde Adegboye, House Leader Honourable Timothy Owoeye, Chief Whip, Honourable Ipoola Binuyo, Honourable Folarin Fafowora, Honourable Samson Fafiyebi, Honourable Adeyemi Rasaq Adewale and Honourable MBO Ibraheem, among others.

Lagos State Deputy Speaker, Honourable Kolawole Taiwo, led the Lagos State House of Assembly team, while Honourable Wahab Alawiye King, Honourale Olarewaju Osun, Honourable Dayo Fafumi, Honourable Rasak Ballogun, among others, played for Lagos state.

The two states were determined to win the one-hour match, as they played with all their strength, but later ended up goalless.

Osun Legislators had 14 goal attempts, 6 free-kicks and four corner kicks, while Lagos State legislators had 9 goal attempts, four free-kicks and 2 Conner kicks.

Speaking after the match, Governor Aregbesola commended the two states’ lawmakers for sportsmanship spirits, which according to him, reflected the philosophy and principles of ACN.

He said: “We now see how progressives are working; nobody wins, nobody loses, they embraced themselves as sports men. How I wish Asiwaju Bola Hammed Tinubu was here today and witness the reward of his hard labour”.

“Today, November 26 is very significant, by this time last year, it was a celebration galore throughout the state when we retrieved our stolen mandate and today is also the first day of the Islamic calendar. (Hijirah)”

“I therefore commend the Lagos State House of Assembly members for honouring the invitation. Today is Eyo day and to leave Lagos and come to play this match, is a mark of respect.”

Aregbesola stated further that Lagos State was the rallying point for ACN to win other five states, adding; “by the special grace of God, we shall win other states and the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

He reassured the state of the administration’s efforts to promote qualitative and functional education.

Osun Pilgrims Best Disciplined In Jerusalem – Govt

Osun State pilgrims that have just returned from the Holy City of Jerusalem were rated as the most disciplined Nigerian pilgrims in the holy land.

This was disclosed by the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, who was represented by his deputy, Otunba Grace Laoye-Tomori, on the occasion of the one year thanksgiving church service of the administration at All Saints Cathedral, Balogun Agoro, Osogbo.

According to her, the rebranding programme of the state government is yielding dividends, commending the new Jerusalem pilgrims for being good ambassadors of the state of the virtuous.

Laoye-Tomori commended the traditional rulers, religious leaders, political leaders and the entire people of the state, for their patience, co-operation and support for the administration during the year.

The deputy governor also lauded the various religious faiths in the state, for living together in peace and harmony, pointing out that it was only in a peaceful atmosphere that any meaningful development could be accomplished.

While stating the numerous achievements of the administration for the past one year, she stated that the administration is waiting for the approval of the Federal Government, for the smooth take-off of the free movement of goods from Osun to Lagos by train, so that traders could buy at Lagos prices in the state and thereby boosting commercial activities of the state.

She therefore thanked the people of the state for their continued support to the administration, promising that it would deliver on its electioneering campaign promises.

The church service programme was attended by members of the executive council, including the state Commissioner for Justice and State Attorney-General, Barrister Wale Afolabi, his counterpart in Health, Land, Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Tope Ilori and Architect Muyiwa Ige, among others.