Traditional rulers are believed to be custodians of people’s customs and traditions. In Yoruba land, the traditional rulers are known as second in command to deities. They wield both political and traditional powers and that is one of the reasons politicians run to them for endorsements, especially during campaign seasons. Despite the enormous powers wielded by the kings, they have their limitations in that they depend on the government for recognition, upgrade and community development. This is one of the reasons many communities are looking up to the same government for upgrading their status and infrastructures of their communities.
Recognition and upgrade of monarchs
The state government had in a statement during the release of the White Paper on Justice Ajama Commission of Inquiry on Chieftaincy Matters said the immediate past government of Dr Olusegun Mimiko set up the commission to inquire into deserving cases of recognition, adjustment, upgrading and elevation of chieftaincy stools in the state. It said following several disputes and agitations emanating as a result of the chieftaincy conflicts in the state, the State Executive Council released its White Paper which gave recognition to 62 monarchs, upgraded 42 to grade B status and 22 to grade A. Among the monarchs given recognition by the Ajama Report were the Eleegun of Eegun, Asinigbo of Isinigbo, Oniresi of Osi, Olumafon of Imafon, Olu of Alayere, Olu of Eleyewo, Olu of Ilu-Abo, Olu of Abo-Asakin, Obalogun of Igoba, Ojogbariaka of Ilado, Elekun of Ilekun, Iralepo of Isinkan, Osolo of Isolo, Olujoka of Ijoka, Ado of Adofure and Olu of Ijigba. Among others, the monarchs who benefitted from the upgrade included the Owa-Ale of Iyo-mefa, Ikare-Akoko, Ajana of Afa Oke-Agbe, Olukun of Ikun, Gbiri of Epinmi, Olupesi of Ipesi, Olufira of Ifira, Olugbe of Ugbe, Olojoda of Oda, Asarun of Isarun, Adapogun of Ipogun, Ekiri of Ero, Olubule of Ibulesoro, Olura of Igbinsin Oloto, Obagberume of Igbodigo, Laragunsin of Iyansan,. Olughogho of Iju-Osun, Olukaro of Ikaro, Odibiado of Ijagba, Olumoru of Imoru and Onimeri of Imeri.
Despite the fact that many communities benefited from the upgrade and recognition by the government, some communities who were left out have cried to the government for the recognition of their communities. Others who were given recognition were also of the opin- ion that they deserved an upgrade because of their age long history. Among those begging for recognition was the Idere-Omotosho family in Okitipupa Local Government Area of the state. In a statement, the entire Idere-Omotosho land-owning family of Omotosho Town, Osooro Kingdom, Okitipupa Local Government Area of the state appealed to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to up- grade the traditional head of their community to a third class ruler. The Secretary to the Idere-Omotosho land-owning family, Pastor Mike Akinwe, made the appeal, on behalf of the family, at an event where the enlarged family members rolled out drums to consider, endorse and celebrate the High Court judgment which authenticated Chief Akinwe Olusegun Balogun as the Onidere of Omotosho and the only authentic traditional head of Omotosho community. Pastor Akinwe stated that upgrading the Onidere of Omotosho to a third class monarch would be a big boost to the town housing government development projects and industries, as he called on all stakeholders, businesses and companies operating in the area to cooperate with the High Court recognised authentic traditional head of Omotosho.
The Idere-Omotosho land-owning family secretary further called on the state government and business concerns in the community to provide electricity and other infrastructure to improve the economy of the rustic community, adding that indigenes of Omotoso should be considered for employment opportunities by the government and investors in the area. The appeal for uplift and infrastructure was also supported by the Chief Balogun, the Onidere of Omotoso, as he appreciated friends and family members as well as well-wishers who had come from far and near to celebrate the High Court judgment and the enlarged family endorsement of him as the only au- thentic traditional headship of Omotoso. A senior member of the Idere-Omo- tosho land-owning family, Chief Victor Ayodele Aikuola, also threw his weight behind the court acknowledged authen- tic leader of Omotoso community, as he enjoined all residents and stakeholders to join hands in contributing to develop- ment of Omotoso as the industrial hub in Ondo South Senatorial District. Earlier, the Idere-Kugbanre land- owning family had gathered to consider and endorse the April 28, 2023 High Court judgment which declared the Idere-Omo- tosho as the only authentic land-owning family in Omotoso and that the Onidere of Omotoso is the only recognised title of the traditional head of Omotoso commu- nity, while affirming Chief Balogun as the only authentic Onidere of Omotoso. Court The Okitipupa Division of the High Court of Justice, presided over by Hon. Justice Temitope M. Adedipe, in a suit, had granted the requests of the claim- ant, Chief Balogun, declaring that: “The Onidere of Omotoso is the only recognised title of the traditional headship of Omotoso town, Osooro kingdom, Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State.” The court further declared the first claimant, Chief Akinwe Olusegun Balogun as “the authentic Onidere of Omotoso and the traditional head of Omotoso town in Osooro kingdom, Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State.” Justice Adedipe also declared that “the defendant is not entitled to create any other title (to) aid the existing Onidere of Omotoso town in Osooro Kingdom, Okitipupa Local Govern- ment Area of Ondo State.” These High Court declarations finally laid to rest the lingering contest among the residents of the community for the authentic traditional headship of Omotoso town, whose predecessors from Akoko in Ondo State first settled in Iju Oke and later at Omotoso, and whose descendants are now known as the Akoko Ikale in Osooro Kingdom, had descended from two brothers, Idere and Kugbanre.
Trouble, however, start- ed in 2012 when the Rebuja of Osooro kingdom as the prescribed authority in the area appointed Olu of Akoko alongside Onidere of Omotoso who had been regarded as the traditional head of Omotoso town since 1946. The power tussle led Chief Akinwe Olusegun Balogun, El- der Akinwe Akinfosile Samuel and Mr. Omotoso Moses to approach the court to challenge Chief Agbaraolorun Igbasan as the Olu Akoko, who pur- portedly paraded himself as the traditional head of Omotoso, to determine that the Onidere of Omotoso is the traditional head of Omotoso, not the Olu Akoko. According to a family source, the found- ing of the Omotoso community began with Idere of Kugbanre of Akoko family in Osooro, tracing Idere lineage from Idere to Takun and eventually to Omotoso. Omotoso, along with other Idere descendants and other larger Kug- banre family members, migrated from Ilu Ti- tun to Iju Oke but Omotoso moved further to settle at the location later named after him.
Meanwhile, the need for traditional rulers to foster peace and unity in their domains and its environs has been brought to the fore. Some traditional rulers in the state who made the call noted that building a people of peace and reinventing the spirit of peaceful co-existence among Nigerians will create room for societal development. Land disputes, cultism, violent attacks, gender offences, hate speech are some of the factors flaring disputes among communities which often result in loss of lives and property. The Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye explained that traditional rulers are like fathers who should always ensure that their homes are not in turmoil. The monarch stressed the need for peace at the family, vil- lage, community, state and national levels, saying that the absence of peace in any level of social interactions will ultimately affect national stability and the socio-economic greatness of the people. Also, the Owa Ale of Ikare Land, Oba Adeleke Adegbite Adedoyin tasked monarchs in the state to champion the peace process in their domains, adding that lasting peace can only be achieved when the people understand each other and respect one another. The State Director of National Orienta- tion Agency (NOA), Mrs Adelayo Adefulalu appealed to residents to ensure that they maintain peace and orderliness in their areas, stressing that there is no profit in violence. She added that NOA has begun its Sen- sitisation Campaign Programme in the 18 local government areas to educate the people against violence.