From CLEMENT ADEYI, Osogbo
there was a blaze of royal glory at the palace of the Obalufon of Ido-Osun, a sleepy town in Osun State, recently when constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, was conferred with a chieftaincy title of The Mayegun Baamofin (voice of the voiceless) by Ido Osun Kingdom.
The honour that was a part of other activities lined up to mark the Senior Advocate of Nigeria’s 59th birthday recently, elicited a lot of excitement among the avalanche of his friends and well wishers as well as his wife, Barrister Josephine Ozekhome, who were present at the grand ceremony.
As he stepped out to accept the title which traditional rites was anchored by the monarch of the town, Oba Aderemi Adedapo, Chief Ozekhome, decked in a wine colour dansiki and ‘dog ear’ native cap to match, beamed with smiles, and acknowledging cheers intermittently from the crowd.
With this new title, Ozekhome has therefore added another feather to his nest of chieftaincy titles, having been crowned with several other chieftaincy titles from the length and breath of the country.
Record has shown that Chief Ozekhome’s name is synonymous with chieftaincy titles, following his fearless anti-military crusades. One of such titles is The Asebigwe of Weppa Wanno Kingdom. Others include The Olunagbo of Uzairue, The Akpakpa Vighi of Edo Land, The Enobakhare of Benin Kingdom and many more.
Before he arrived the palace from Lagos with his retinue for the ceremony leading to the conferment of the title, a representative of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the palace chiefs, traditional rulers from different parts of the state, friends and well wishers had congregated to receive him and witness the ceremony.
Before the event climaxed with the conferment, praise singers, armed with their talking drums, took to the stage, singing praises of the barrister at law, with references to his human rights activities that have so far guaranteed justice for the poor masses and the downtrodden in the society.
But what could have triggered a relationship between a Southerner and a monarchical dynasty in the South West that could result in a chieftaincy title of this magnitude?
In answering this question, the monarch of the town, Oba Adedapo enthused:
“He is an illustrious son of Nigeria who happens to be the voice of the voiceless, the common man. He was the Cicero of the 2014 National Conference.
He has his root in Ife. Here we are talking of an illustrious son of Nigeria who can be celebrated, no matter where he comes from. He is a part for our family here in Ido-Osun. He is an Edo prince and Edo used to be a part of the West. We are honouring him for his cerebral status for the Nigerian society.”
Also, a representative of Ooni, Oba Muraino Adebanjo, said: “He is a son of the soil. History by our forefathers has it that Ile-Ife and Edo where Ozekhome hails from have the same background. So, anybody from Edo is from Ife. That is why the heart of the Ooni has to go to Chief Ozekhome at a time like this and he wishes him well.”
Chief Ozekhome who basked in the euphoria of the historic honour, told Daily Sun in a chat that he dedicated the title to the suffering masses of Nigeria whom he referred to as the hoi polloi whose only craving in life is how to get their three square meals a day and survive the devastating and corrosive effects of successive governments, both military and civilian.
On what he wants to do with the title, he assured: “The title will spur me on to defend the hapless, helpless, marginalized and traumatised members of the society.”
A couple of palace chiefs and traditional rulers who were present to honour him poured tributes on him in acknowledgement of his assiduous contributions to the legal profession in Nigeria as well as his selfless battle to guarantee fairness, equity and justice for the common man of the society.
They also urged him to consider the new title as a catalyst for continued hard work in contributing to the socio-political and economic development as well as the legal profession where he has already set remarkable legacies in its development and left his foot prints in the sand of time.