-Prays for God’s support not to disappoint his people
The new Abowa of Agbowa, , His Royal Majesty, Oba (Barr.) Owolabi Saheed Momson, has stated that the people of the community that he will be presiding over, are rejoicing over his emergence because of what they have lost in the last 11 years that they have being without an Oba.
He attributed the period to a dark day in the life of the ancient community, adding that his emergence has begun to shine light all over the Agbowa community.
Oba Momson who formally ascended the throne of his ancestors on Saturday, spoke with THE IMPACT before leaving ‘lpebi’ (place of seclusion) in Agbowa, on Thursday morning.
The new royal father also shared his experience in the last 11 years that, the obaship, his expectations from his people and what they should expect from his reign.
On his experience since the demise of his immediate predecessor, Oba Joseph Bolaji Akinlolu Ogunmeru, 11 years ago and the obaship tussle that followed, Oba Momson described it as rough and tough with attendant adverse effects.
“Without any doubt, the journey has been very rough and tough. Lives have been lost. A lot of people that we started the journey together have long gone. This has been the experience in other towns that have gone through this before”, Oba Momson said.
“It is impossible for a town and its people to go through such a turbulent period without loss of lives, though unfortunate. People that were very close to me are among those that lost their lives. Nobody has control over his life but only God. So, if it has pleased God to call them home, there is nothing that we can do about that, but to keep thanking God and pray that He should repose their souls and give them eternal rest”, he added.
Recalling the process that culminated into his emergence as the new Abowa of Agbowa and legal matter that came up for 8 years, the new monarch said that the judgment of March 20, 2023.
He said that the Kingmakers were divided over the relevance of the provision of lfa consultation and voting for Obaship candidates.
“Like I said, it has been rough and tough. For us to go through a process for 11 years, you know what it means. A lot of money spent; other things and unprintable things that happened that one cannot even talk about, but I thank God that in the midst of all these, God preserved my life to see this day”, the royal father said.
“When we started the process, initially, we were 16 that applied (to occupy the vacant stool), but the family trimmed the number down to six. The six were presented to the Kingmakers and the process started up to the point of voting which is what Obas and Chiefs Laws prescribed: that whereas two or more candidates were presented to the Kingmakers, they should vote.
“One controversial area in the whole process was whether to consult Ifa oracle or not in the selection of who becomes the Abowa of Agbowa Ikosi. While one of the Kingmakers insisted that it is only the Ifa oracle that can choose for the people of Agbowa, the others said no, stating that going by the contents of the Abowa of Agbowa Chieftaincy Declaration, it is not stated anywhere therein that the Kingmakers must consult the Ifa oracle in choosing a King for the Agbowa-Ikosi, and that in any event, the family concerned; the ruling house that is concerned which is the Mabudeje Ruling House, had presented the six candidates before the Ifa oracle before presenting them to the Kingmakers, and you cannot do that twice in the same process.
“The majority of the Kingmakers were of the view that with the situation that we were faced with, they had no choice other than to vote for the six candidates, while the one that was insisting on Ifa oracle also stuck to his gun”.
After the voting exercise, Oba Momson secured three votes out of four, while the Olisa that insisted on consultation with the Ifa oracle, abstained.
“At the end of the day, the one insisting on consulting the Ifa oracle abstained from the voting process, while others continue with the process. Finally, four of them (Kingmakers) voted and I had three votes out of four. I was voted for by the Balogun of Agbowa Ikosi, Odofin and the Aro of Agbowa Ikosi. While Baba Lisa of blessed memory voted for another candidate”, the Abowa explained.
“So, out of five votes, I had three and one other candidate had one, and that settled it”.
He said that the legal tussle began after his name was forwarded to the Epe Local Council authority for necessary action, but that to his dismay, the process was stalled until his family was sued by another family, alleging that we are not a royal family.
Tracing the contributions of his ancestors to the development of Agbowa, Oba Momson established that his great grandfather was the head of the Agbowa community when the British first came to the community, and that he challenged them. He also stated that his ancestor was the last Olori and first Baale of Agbowa.
“After the voting exercise, my name was forwarded to the local government which is the normal process and the council was expected to forward it to Alausa, for other necessary processes but for reason only known to God, the paper got stuck in the council and we were on that for some time. While on that, some people started making noise and raising issues that the process was not thorough. Some even said that my house is not part of the royal family in Agbowa. These people making these allegations have never been Olori Ilu in Agbowa or Baale. In fact, there has never been any tangible title that the family has produced in Agowa Ikosi”, Oba Momson said.
“My great grandfather has been Olori llu (head of the community) in Agbowa. That is the Olori Ilu Adeamori. That was the first in my family. After that, the Olori Ilu was upgraded to the Baale status and that was during the reign of my grandfather, Muhammadu Opetade who was also an Olori Ilu, and it was during his time that the slave trade started and the slave traders came to Agbiwa Ikosi. The Agbowa people people were not educated at this time, and when they saw the white men, the people of Agbowa ran in different directions because they had never set their eyes on a white man before.
“My grandfather, being the man at the helms of the affair and a courageous man, challenged the white men, asking them in Ijebu dialect what they were doing on his father’s land. The Britons brought along an interpreter who translated the conversation. At the end of the day, the white men, seeing that he was the only man that stood to challenged them and a black man for that matter, they said to him, “Even if you are not the community leader, you deserved to be made one by the virtue of your bravery and what you have exhibited here today”. That was how the title of Olori Ilu was elevated to Baale. He was the first Baale in Agbowa Ikosi with a rich history.
“His bravery and rich history are enough to qualify me to be on this throne of Agbowa Ikosi. If anybody has any better history than that, let such come out and challenge mine”, Oba Momson said.
On the eight years’ court action, he said that he sought the leave of the court to be part of the action instituted against his family, because he was the Abowa – elect then, and that the outcome of the matter would directly affect him.
“These people ended up instituting an action against my family in court which I preferred instead of employing the use of violence and thuggery. It is better to go through a legal process and at the end, whomever that is declared as the right ruling house, let such produce the candidate to occupy the stool. Originally, I wasn’t sued. It was only my family that were sued, but for being one of the contestants and the Abowa – elect selected by the Kingmakers, I have every right to join the suit, hence, I applied to join the suit and my application was granted”, Abowa of Agbowa said.
“We were on it for eight years and to the glory of God, we got judgment on the 23rd of March this year and again, on the 20th of May, to the glory of God Almighty, His Excellence, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo – Olu, approved my selection as the fourth Abowa of Agbowa-lkosi. After the approval, on the 28th, I was given the staff of office at the Epe Local Government Secretariat and that confirmed my position as the Abowa of Agbowa”, he added.
Oba Momson described Ipebi where he was secluded for seven days, as a traditional school where he learnt many things about the culture of his community and the stool of his ancestors.
“In the years past, Ipebi used to be a solitary process where you will just be with a few people. It’s usually boring, but everything is changing. I moved in here on Thursday (November 2), amidst a tumultuous crowd that accompanied me. That also shows how popular I am among the people in the community. That shows the level of the acceptability of my selection as the Abowa of Agbowa, and nobody can contest that”.
This place is basically a traditional school. A place where you learn one or two things about the tradition of your people, and I can tell you that in the last six days, I have learning about the culture and the tradition of Agbowa Ikosi. I knew some before I moved in here, and learnt more on getting here. This is a modern time where quite a lot of things are changing and quite a lot more are still going to change.
“If you come here at night, residents always keep vigil outside the Ipebi. I didn’t send invitation to them, but they came on their own volition to celebrate God and me. They knew what they had lost as a community and as a people in the last 11 years. Yesterday (November 7) made it 11 years that the late Abowa, Oba Joseph Bolaji Akinlolu Ogunmeru, passed on. 11 Years without a leader. Agbowa was in darkness for those years, but to the glory of God, the light is beginning to shine all over Agbowa-lkosi and its environ. You can see the people here every night jubilating, celebrating, partying and praising God. I Have learnt a lot and still going to learn more when I am out of here”, Kabiyesi said.
Speaking on what Agbowa residents should expect from his reign and his own expectations from them, Oba Momson said his only concern is that he should not fail them.
The royal father said that with God, and the support and cooperation from his people, he will be able to bring development to Agbowa and shine the light brighter on the community.
“Every night when I see my people gathering outside the Ipebi, partying and praising God, my prayer has always been that God should not let me disappoint them. The only reason that I will not disappoint my people is only when God support me. I need His support because when God supports you, success is sure. That has been my prayer. Usually, I peep through the window because I cannot go out until after seven days, so, I usually peep through the window to see the huge crowd”, Oba Momson said.
“My prayer has always been that I should not disappoint my people. I don’t have the wherewithal to do it, but with the support of God Almighty; with God strengthening me and with the overwhelming support and cooperation of my people, I know that I will move mountains. When you have your people solidly behind you, couple with God’s support, you can achieve a lot.
“What I need from my people is their unflinching support and maximum cooperation, because l cannot be at different places at the same time, hence, I will have to delegate authority. I need their support and I want to be surrounded by truthful people. If you have such people and with the support of God, every other thing will fall in place. That has been my prayer”, he said.