For the past four years, hundreds of people, living in Iguru/Aguda community in the Coker/Aguda Local Council Development Area of Lagos State have been in tears, crying their hearts out over the monarchical status of the community.
As gathered, the community, which has been in existence for more than 200 years, has been denied a lot of developmental projects because a village head (baale) is still the traditional authority over the community instead of an oba, a king. When some leaders of the community noticed the deficiency, they began preparation to install a king. They had thought it would not be long before the state government would approve the person they wanted as their king.
But the process suffered a setback when another candidate surfaced and claimed a right to the throne. The battle over the throne reached a crescendo about four years ago when the two gladiators dragged each other before a standing Tribunal of Enquiry into chieftaincy matters in Lagos State. The tribunal was chaired by Justice A.O. Silva (retd). The tribunal concluded its sittings and submitted its report to the government about three years ago. Since then, many of the residents lamented that they had been expecting a white paper that should have been issued by the government based on the report.
At an interactive session with journalists recently, former speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Chief Dimeji Longe; Afolabi Afolayan, an engineer; the Iyaloja of Aguda market, Chief Adekite Rosanwo, and Baale of Aguda, Chief Oluwafemi Okanlawon-Brown, all returned the verdict that the monarchical status of Aguda township was overdue. Longe, who is one of the trustees of the community, enjoined the Lagos State Government to issues the white paper this month as he sought to know what had stopped the issuance of the white paper for more than three years. He argued that the report of the tribunal was gradually losing its authenticity, validity and effectiveness on the community.
“Whatever is going to other communities cannot come here because we don’t have a monarchical representation. There are conferences that are going on but we cannot be represented because we don’t have a monarchical status. “So, we are now crying to the government and I hope the governor, Babatunde Fashola, will respect the voice of the people. We don’t know if it is the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters that is deliberately causing obstruction in the issuance of the white paper or not. I implore the governor to please look into it. We know he’s a man of truth, justice and action. I trust that he would certainly act if he hears our cry.
“We want the white paper this month or we will walk to the Governor’s Office to demand our right. But we hope he will not give us such indulgence to come and invade his office on this issue. We feel oppressed, exploited and staed as we lose many things to other communities because we don’t have a monarchical status in this community. “Our real grouse is to resist the imposition of an alien personality into the monarchical stool of Aguda. So, we are aware of the appointment of Buhari Oloto from the Gboyin Onitire family, which is suitable to us here. He lives among us here. He has his house here. Other people do not have their houses among us here and we cannot allow a stranger to come and rule over us. “There is another candidate, who has been distributing papers in the community. We do not know him. He does not live among us. What we are doing is for Aguda community, not for Ijora community. So, we don’t want the government to confuse these issues to impose upon us a candidate from outside the homogeneous community of Aguda,” he said.
Another trustee in the community, Afolayan corroborated Longe’s position. He appealed to the state governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, former governor, Bola Tinubu, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, other monarchs and chiefs as well as prominent Lagosians to intervene in the matter. His words: “I have been the general secretary of this community for the past 28 years. In 1951, we were given recognition by the Federal Government. Dimeji Longe is one of the trustees and I am one of the trustees. The development you see in this community came through us with the support of other leaders.
“We want somebody, who must have lived with us, served the community and made positive impact that people know; somebody we trust will not betray us when he becomes the oba. We want the governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola to disregard, reject in totality and ignore any move that will make him support that man that we don’t know to be our oba. We won’t take it. We won’t accept it.” In her own comments, the Iyaloja of Aguda market, Chief Adekite Rosanwo, noted: “I have been living in Aguda for the past 40 years but the other candidate we are talking about, I have never met with him. We don’t know him. It is not that we hate him. We can’t fight somebody we don’t know. He too cannot say he knows us.
“But the person we know is Buhari Oloto. Other members of this community and I are appealing to Governor Fashola to release our white paper. When he releases our white paper, we will have some rest of mind and he too will enjoy the people of Aguda. “Aguda is bigger than many communities that have obas. Any community without a leader in the status of an oba will not really develop. That is why we want Fashola, Tinubu to intervene. We know that our Governor Fashola can do it except he does not want to do. We are using God to beg him not to forget us.”
Chief Oluwafemi Okanlawon-Brown is the Baale of Aguda community. He was not happy that the traditional ruler of the Aguda/Iguru land, comprising 14 villages, has not been elevated to the status of a king. The villages, according to him, include Agbojulogun, Tanmeda, Buhari Ipaye, Sala, Ogunbi I, Ogunbi II, Iguru, Aguda, Omole, Ayetoro, Afariedun and Akangba. “It is lack of development that made the names of those villages to drop. If you were here in 1967, you would know what I am saying. Aguda was founded by Gbonyin, who is one of the three children of Ota, the founder of Itire. Gboyin had four children, who are to be the major chiefs in this community. They were Ogabi, Fagbemi Atoba, Amore and Omotashe. The four of them are the ruling houses in this Aguda/Iguru.
“From those four ruling houses, everybody is now saying it’s their right. Though all the agitators to the stool belong to the Gboyin family, it is not possible for all of them to become the king. We have to choose one, who must have been somebody that we know. It is not compulsory for you to be a king because you belong to one of the ruling houses.
One of the major challenges in the community, Brown said, was that their taps had no water despite the fact that Aguda Water Works is sited in the community. He said the residents could only boast of flood water on their roads, insisting that as soon as the government granted the wishes of the people, the status of the community would change positively. The community has boundaries with Ikate, Ijesha/Express, Sanya, Coker, Surulere Local Government Secretariat, the canal, Bode Thomas and Babs Animashaun Streets. According to some elders, the community is the third most populated in the state.