From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
“One doesn’t come to the world without any disease. Civil disorder, is the disease of Ibadan, which is translated as: Aki i waye ka ma ni arun kan lara, ija Igboro larun Ibadan.”
The above aptly captures the basis for civil disorder that has characterised Ibadan, the Oyo State capital for many decades. Traditional rulers and successive governments have found it difficult to proffer lasting solution to the menace.
The name Ibadan was coined from the phrase, “Eba Odan”, which literally means “by the edge of the meadow.” Ibadan came into existence in 1829, during a period of turmoil that characterised Yoruba land at the time. It was in this period that many old Yoruba cities such as old Oyo (Oyo Ile), Ijaiye and Owu fell and new ones like Abeokuta, new Oyo (Oyo Atiba) and Ibadan sprang up to replace them.
Ibadan was founded by Lagelu and was initially intended to be a war camp for warriors coming from Oyo, Ife and Ijebu. But it grew up to become a big city. But the warlike characters are still very much embedded in the lives of Ibadan people, probably based on the fact that they are descendants of warlords and warriors.
Investigation revealed that the social disorder began shortly after the city was founded by Lagelu. The warriors had a lot of metaphysical powers and show of supremacy initially brought about social disorder. Much impetus was given to the social disorder when traditional chieftaincy institution began in Ibadan.
The family compound’s heads (Mogajis) and the Baales would use their power to take possession of another people’s property, including wives, taking of slaves through wars and goods. The person whose property was taken by force must not raise and eyebrow, or he might be taken as slaves, or put to death.
There was this pathetic story of how Ibadan was destroyed by the Oyo army. The Ibadan people reportedly humiliated a masquerade (Egungun) at the market place. The Egungun was said to have been accidentally disrobed, which resulted into an abominable mockery from women and children.
When the news reached the then Alaafin of Oyo, he ordered his men to turn Ibadan into complete rubble for committing such disrespectful and abominable offence. Those who survived the attack, including Lagelu who was old and weak ran to a hill for safety. On the hill at Awotan, near Apete in the present Ido Local Government, there was no food except for the “Oro” fruit (bush mango or the native or African mango) and roasted snails (igbin) the people fed on. They also used the shells (ikarahun) for drinking purposes, hence the nickname: ‘Ibadan omo Ajorosun, omo a je igbin yo, omo a fi ikarahun fo ori mu.’
When the persecution cooled down, Lagelu and his children came down from the hill and founded second Ibadan town at a place called Ori Yangi a place known these days as Oja’ba. Shortly afterwards, Lagelu died leaving behind swarms of strong and political people.
Ibadan was later attacked three different times, but survived them all. The social disorder became more pronounced in the pre-independence era in Nigeria. It was a time when the popular late Ibadan politician, Chief Adegoke Adelabu of ‘Penkelemesi fame’, was a notable leader of opposition, against the Action Group (AG) under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
The era was characterised by atrocities that were largely committed by politicians. As gathered, followers of a political party would kill one or two persons, and would go ahead to dump the dead body or dead bodies at the backyard of their arch opponents. Then, the police would be informed that a dead body or bodies were at the backyard of the person. The person would be arrested and the singular act could truncate the political journey of his life, because then many people had regards for the Omoluabi ethos.
Those who witnessed the pre-independence era in Ibadan and are still alive today, would not also forget easily how some Mogajis and chiefs in Ibadan rose against a business tycoon, Chief Salami Agbaje of Ayeye, Ibadan, from becoming Olubadan. At the time, he was two steps away from becoming Olubadan. It was a development that caused rumpus in Ibadan.
Adelabu, who served as Nigeria’s Minister of Natural Resources and Social Services from January 1955 to January 1956 and was later the opposition leader in the Western Regional Assembly, until his death in 1958, played a prominent role in the struggle against Chief Agbaje and Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group.
Ibadan, the political capital of the Western Region did not really know peace, following the death of Adelabu in a road accident, while travelling from Lagos to Ibadan. His followers believed that it was a political assassination, and they caused social disorder in the city.
In the First Republic, the opposition between erstwhile friends, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and Chief Ladoke Akintola as well as the attendant crisis in the Western Region House of Assembly, which eventually led to the “Wild Wild West” was another point of social disorder in Ibadan.
Many people were dispatched to their early graves, while many houses were razed. The parliament of the Western Region also witnessed a free for all, as they some of them carried chairs and slammed them on the heads of their opponents. The violence in the Western Region, especially Ibadan, became uncontrollable.
According to historians, the social disorder in Ibadan, contributed significantly to what brought about the military intervention in Nigerian politics on January 15, 1966, through a coup.
People would not also forget easily the Agbekoya Parapo Revolt of 1968 to1969. The revolt took place at a time Nigeria was fighting civil war, which started in 1967 and ended in 1970.
The development was popularly known as Agbekoya or the Egbe Agbekoya Revolt. It was a peasant revolt in the Western Region against increment in taxes, though some people contended that the revolt had political undertone.
The farmers initially staged a protest to Mapo in Ibadan, after mobilising their members from different villages. They shouted and chorused as they protested: ‘Oke mefa lao san, Oke mefa lao san’ (We will only pay 30 shillings). On getting to Mapo, the protesters reportedly ransacked the offices in the place and destroyed some things.
But the military government of the then Col. Adeyinka Adebayo swooped on the protesters. But the Agbekoya revolted by attacking government property, including courts, police stations, and other government officials in a guerilla warfare. The farmers had direct confrontation with the military and the police, and defeated them with strategic planning and metaphysical powers.
The revolt was uncontrollable for the Federal Government and the Western Region Government. At the time the revolt started, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was in prison. The military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, had to release Awolowo from prison to intervene. Peace was brokered and the government granted their request. Historians said the war was fought and won by the Ibadan people on behalf of all Yoruba land.
A time also came when Alhaji Bushari Adelakun, aka “Eruobodo” held the sway. His ‘boys’ reportedly caused a lot of social disorder in Ibadan. His death brought the emergence of Alhaji Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, referred to as strongman of Ibadan politics.
Sources said followers of Adelakun and Adedibu would commit atrocities in the names of their principals, without them knowing about such. But the principals would always defend them public only to reprimand later.
The way the governor of Old Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige, spoke in the build-up to the 1983 governorship poll, is still fresh in the memories of some stakeholders. He openly instructed his supporters: “E fi petepete ada han won. Bi won ba ko, ti won o gbo, e le won, e mu won, e se won bi ose se e se oju.”
Ige contested the election on the platform of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) against Dr. Omololu Olunloyo of the Natonal Party of Nigeria (NPN). But Olunloyo eventually defeated Ige, with the support of prominent Ibadan natives, including the national chairman of NPN, Chief Adisa Akinloye; the then Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide and former Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta States, Alhaji Arisekola Alao.
They worked against Ige for saying Ibadan had nobody competent to become governor then. That brought the saying: “Omo wa ni, e je o se” (He is our child, let him do it.) It was an era marked by political violence.
It is also on record how gunmen in mobile police uniform and members of transport union invaded Oyo State Governor’s Office and Oyo State House of Assembly in Ibadan with volleys of gunfire when Senator Rashidi Ladoja was governor. How chairman of a transport union presided over his impeachment at a private hotel in Ibadan, though Ladoja was resinstated by the Supreme Court after being out of office for 11 months.
There was also the event led to the killing of a former chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Lateef Salako, aka Eleweomo, in 2010. It was another highpoint of civil disorder in Ibadan.
But these days, the social disorder has taken a new dimension. Various gangs now exist in Ibadan, and occasionally they wage supremacy battles against themselves. In the process, they would wreak monumental havoc in Ibadan metropolis, destroying houses, shops, vehicles and even killings.
In the process, gangs such as One Million Boys, Abe Igi Boys and Indomie Boys emerged. Investigations also revealed that the gangs are like toys in the hands of politicians. The gangs have affiliations with political parties. They would readily work for the highest bidders.
Black spots in Ibadan metropolis, include Kudeti, Oopoyeosa, Popoyemoja, Isale Osi, Beere, Mapo, Labiran, Oja’gbo, Born Photo, Foko, Odo Osun, Esu Awele, Ile’ba, Oja’ba, Alagolo, Lion Base, Omiyale, Kobomoje, Ita Ege, Eleta, Agbongbon, Tewogbade, Arapaja, Isale Ijebu, Sogoye, Akobi and Asuni. The areas have been labelled hotspots for violence at any time.
Police said members of the gangs have been committing crimes like kidnapping, armed robbery, extortion and land grabbing. In the recent time, there have been isolated killings in different parts of Ibadan. The killings, according to available information, stemmed from clashes among the gangs and some members of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).
For the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who spoke through his Personal Assistant/Director of Public Affairs, Mr Adeola Oloko the civil disorder in Ibadan “started right from the time the city was established. It is not something that just started yesterday or today.
“Though it cannot be eradicated, we are putting necessary measures on place to reduce it to ten barest minimum. Even, in the developed countries, you cannot rule out civil disorder. All and sundry must join hands together to ensure that the menace is reduced.
“We have mapped out strategies to improve the security architecture of Ibadan, having realised that the government cannot do it alone.
“In line with this, myself, the Olubadan-in-Council, the chiefs in the line of Olubadan chieftaincy lines, the Mogajis and Baales have been involved. I told them that they are the traditional chief security officers of their domains. They give me security reports on regular basis.
“But the main cause of civil disorder in Ibadan is unemployment. There are many youths who are jobless. If they were engaged meaningfully, many of them would not participate in acts capable of breaching the peace of the city. And many of them have the erroneous belief that the only way they could dissipate their energies is through civil disorder.
“But we are not folding our arms. We have told the traditional council in each of the 11 local government areas of Ibadan to engage the youth meaningfully.”
Governor Seyi Makinde said the civil disorder would be corrected through provision of jobs opportunities for the unemployed youth that have been dissipating their energies on unworthy ventures. He set up a committee to mediate between the government and the youth that formed the gangs towards achieving peace.
The committee comprises family heads in the affected areas and security agencies, including the Oyo State Security Agency Network, known as Amotekun Corps. At its first meeting, youth involved in civil unrest, looting, arson and vandalism promised a ceasefire for peace to reign in the city.
Commandant of the Amotekun Corps, Col Olayinka Olayanju (retd), was present at the meeting convened by Chief Wale Oladoja, leader of family heads in Ibadan. Oladoja said:
“Following some developments in certain areas in Ibadan, the governor has been deploying all possible means to fight insecurity. He therefore asked us to talk to some of them to ceasefire. We dined and wined with them and they have promised to ceasefire and they have sent us to the governor. We promised to get back to them.”
Messrs Dada Oto and Kabiru Ojuyobo, who spoke separately on behalf of the groups, promised to ensure that peace returns to the concerned areas. They solicited the support of the state government for the youth to be empowered so that they would stay off the streets when they are engaged in productive ventures.
They described the dialogue approach employed by the family heads and the Amotekun Corps to reach out to them as timely. They promised to ensure peace returns to the areas but sought for the support of the state government by empowering the youths, to ensure they are the off-streets.