Ojude Oba is translated in English to mean in front of the king’s palace. It is a festival, to appreciate the king. It has become a cultural feature of the people of ljanikin in Oto Awori Local Council Development Area of Lagos State. It is an event with which the people celebrate their monarch, Oba Momodu Afolabi Ashafa, Aladi Onijanikin of Ijanikin.
They also use the occasion to take stock of the achievements of their sons and daughters home and abroad as well appreciate the heavens for the development. It is a day event featuring cultural ceremonies such as masquerades appearance, cultural display, eating and worship of ancestors of the land as well as appeasement of the gods to promote peace, progress and stability in the land.
Aladi Onijanikin’s palace is strategically located in a veritable spot of the town. It was recently filled with hundreds of Ijanikin indigenes and residents, as well as many ethnic nationalities from across the federation living peacefully in the town for many years. These ethnic nationalities included the Igbo, Isoko, Urhobo, Ijaw, Isterkiri, Kalabari, Ekweri, Benin, Efik, Ibibio, Igala, Igbira, Idoma, Tiv, Langtang, Fulani and Hausa.
The festival began with homage paying to the monarch by groups including school children in costumes, teenagers who thrilled with scintillating cultural songs and dance, traditional medicine men and women, local herbs and professionals, high chiefs, social clubs, associations and various ethnic nationalities. Others were the mothers and wives of the king, blood relations, a group of old women, children of the royal families, Ijanikin Youth Association and chieftaincy title holders, Baale of communities in Ijanikin kingdom.
There were also goodwill messages. The mother of the day and Chairman, Oriade LCDA, Mrs Ramotalahi Akinola, praised Onijanikin for his developmental strides since the monarch was enthroned some 45 years ago:
“Let us pursue Ijanikin’s progress with joint efforts, those who assist the town will continue to be specifically recognized and honoured.”
The Ijanikin Youth Association Chairman, Prince Muritala Rabiu in his addressed said: “We rejoice with the Kabiyesi and people of Ijanikin people. Civilization is a heritage of beliefs, knowledge and norms among others, accumulated by a people over the time. We take pride in the heritage of our forbears especially that we were never defeated or conquered in wars.
We appreciate the Aladi Onijanikin for the rare privilege given to the association to be recongnised.”
The monarch said the security challenge in the country has become so scary and disappointing. He said in his community they have been able to work with the police, as they have introduced community-based policing and it has helped them to tackle and curb crime in the area.
Oba Ashafa urged other monarchs to introduce community based policing: “We need to localise policing because crime is not same in every community, there are peculiarities which could be achieved by community policing. The extent at which crime and criminality varies from place to place. Community policing is expedient now and more, than ever before.
“I believe we will achieve good results if local hunters and vigilance group are instituted and well equipped to tackle crime around their areas. Traditional rulers can handle the issue of security of their communities if government will allow them make use of traditional means.
“In the olden days, before the emergence of colonial masters, and the introduction of indirect rules, various communities, had their own form of government. The people were governed without security challenges, basically because, there was trust, jobs and means of livelihood.”
Aladi stated that the people left their wares in the market without anyone going there to steal. If anyone leaves its goods, same way you will meet your goods: “Once you have a foreign person in that community, it is discovered because, traditional rulers then show sufficient interest on the day to day dealings and happenings around their community.
“Most traditional rulers no longer show interest let alone sufficient in matters of security, especially with activities going on in their locality, they no longer bother about happenings and activities of both their subject and strangers in their domain, except for a few of them who had withered the storm that’s why you can see a little stability of crime in such environment.
“It is not that traditional rulers are happy and comfortable with the increased in crime, but they have been limited by the government of the day. Formally, various kings in different communities collaborate to ensure that the security challenge is dealt with. They were able to use traditional means to secure their communities. They made use of different security agents though localise but unrestiveness and other crime in the country increased because of unemployment and impatience.”
The monarch stated that banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and killings are by-products of serious diseases that have plagued the nation, e.g. spiralling youth unemployment; shrinking opportunities for Nigerians; corruption; and brazen looting by political office holders.
“It is a combination of a break-down in social values; the craze for quick wealth; the craze for instant gratification as against delayed gratification; the seeming hopelessness of the economic situation; blatant corruption which appears to be a way of life in Nigeria; and of course, poor welfare arrangements for citizens and widespread illiteracy among the populace.
“The way out is for government to curb corruption, improve the basic lifestyle of the average Nigerian, boost the economy so that industries can begin to operate at full capacity.
“Attached to that, of course, is the need to solve the power problem in Nigeria. It is shameful for an oil-producing country like Nigeria to still be grappling with basic power supply at this time and age. Our security agencies need overhauling; as well as better training and re-orientation for operatives.”
Onijanikin urged traditional rulers to pray for government for God to use them to deliver improved living standards of the people. He stressed that no traditional ruler should delve into or be involved in politics: “We are fathers to all and the best we should offer is prayers for God to give us good, benevolent and considerate administrators.”