Opinion: The Oba’s Stool And The Will Of The People

Opinion: The Oba’s Stool And The Will Of The People

By Opinions | The Trent on April 8, 2015
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Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu (Photo Credit: The Imager)

by Dave Abah

The British Monarchy still stands today for one simple reason: They no longer meddle with the democratic process or try to stifle the will of the people. As history has shown the will of the people is the strongest force on earth in the realms of human affairs. People have deposed Kings and toppled dynasties and still do. Wise kings know better than to stir the ire of a people and risk their wrath at the polls.

But as Elihu said in Jobs 32: 9 “Great men are not always wise neither do the aged understand judgement”.  The recent royal rant of  the king of Lagos against a section of his kingdom reeks of the foolery of a 100BC Mongolian emperor. In those days when a Khan blinded by power seeks to dominate lands and trample on people, totally indifferent to their plight, the people arise and show the Khans that even kings can bleed.

Such becomes the case when a man on a privileged stool of his ancestors becomes deluded about the true extent of his powers and recon himself a deity rather a custodian of sacred traditions and servant to his people; then the people remind him that true sovereignty lies with them.

The All Progressive Congress is in feverish damage control mode, trying hard to put out flames in the eleventh hour. But the royal outburst was not just the irrational exuberance of a present passion, it was in fact, the unearthing of much deeper problem lurking beneath the surface all along.  A problem that demands a wider audience and deeper debate; a problem that runs deep to the heart of our collective existentiality.

Lagos state is a federating unit in a federal system of government. A federal system means a Nigerian is a Nigerian anywhere in Nigeria. The whole ethnic-based politicking that has consumed the polity has reduced us all to salads served for dessert. You can quite easily differentiate the ingredients and separate people by ethnic profiling. While it is important to cherish and sustain our culture and traditions as indigenous peoples of Africa with rich long ancestral heritage, at the level of politics those considerations should rather be ancillary.

The rant that “Igbos cannot come and dictate our politics here” is most unfortunate. We are referring to citizens who own lands and property with certificates of Occupancy; citizens who run and manage businesses that swell the economy of the state; citizens whose entrepreneurial gusto can be argued has significantly deepen the appeal of the state as a commercial brand; these people are not strangers or foreigners, they are Nigerians settled in Lagos as home and who contribute significantly to its wellbeing and progress. And as Nigerians they are a voting block and are free to engage the electoral process as contestants or electorates.

Now when a sitting Oba says this : “…if anyone of you goes against the Ambode I pick that is your end, if it doesn’t happen within 7 days just say am a bastard… I am the owner of Lagos… if anyone of you goes against my will  that the Ambode insha allah will be the next governor of Lagos state , you will die in this water… Jimi is my blood relation, and I told him in plain language that he can never be governor of Lagos State…”. This is a declaration of ethnic war, a threat of pogrom, and a brazen violation of the rights of people to free choice without threat or duress; it is a witch hunt , a threat to lives using diabolic means with a 7 day ultimatum for execution. In saner climes, this man would have been deposed on the spot.

I trust the good people of Lagos to do the right thing in the gubernatorial elections. All the undecided voters now have a cause around which they must now be rallied.  The contest has now been taken away from the political arena. It is now the Oba’s stool against the will of the people.

The people own Lagos and they will rule it by the power of the ballot and would not be cowered by the tantrums of an Oba whose predilections are steeped in an age now faded.

Dave Abah writes on Twitter @ClubNaija

Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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