The Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) has berated accused Benin palace chiefs for distorting Oduduwa history, saying their comments were capable of triggering discord between the Yoruba and people of the Benin Kingdom.
The group also said the research being relied on by the chiefs to disclaim the relationship between people of the two races lacked credibility.
The OPC was reacting to comments credited to the Esogban of Benin and Odionwere of the Kingdom, David Edebiri, that the Ooni of Ife was a son of the Oba of Benin and that the Oba of Benin stool has no relationship with the Yoruba race.
The Esogban was himself reacting to a comment by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo that the Ooni of Ife remained the pre-eminent spiritual leader in Yorubaland and environs.
Oba Gbadebo, who made the comment when he hosted the Ooni, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi in his palace on February 7, rated the Ooni as the number one monarch in Yorubaland and other territories considered part of the Oduduwa House.
In his rating, Oba Gbadebo said the Ooni of Ife was number one of the five principal Obas in Yorubaland, followed by the Alaafin of Oyo, then by the Oba of Benin (in third position), the Alake of Egbaland (fourth) and the Awujale of Ijebuland (fifth).
While rubbishing the ranking as an “unnecessary excursion, an unnecessary attempt to turn history upside down”, Chief Edebiri said, “We wanted to discard this report as something that was not necessary at all. We do not see how the Alake of Egbaland suddenly woke up to think that the Oba of Benin is also a Yoruba Oba.
“There is no basis for such classification; Oba of Benin has nothing to do with the Yoruba Obas. It is simply unnecessary, unless they simply want to stir up an unnecessary controversy”.
Weighing in on the controversy, the National Coordinator of the OPC, Chief Gani Adams, said in a press statement on Friday that the comments credited to the palace chiefs about Yoruba origin were unhistorical and unreliable.
Mr. Adams said such poorly researched claims lacked historical credibility, could be inflammatory and could set the two noble race against each other.
The OPC chieftain said the relationship between “the Yoruba Omo Oduduwa and the Edo was rooted in history and shrouded in mystery in other to keep the two vibrant nations together and oil the chord of communal relationship forever”.
“Even, though some writers of historical documents about the relationship and chord of brotherhood between the two have allowed personal sentiments and pecuniary consideration to overrule their sense of judgment, clarity, fairness, objectivity and harmonious cohabitation. And the purported statement from an high chief of Benin belong to this trend”, he said.
“We should not indulge in diluted information coined by agents of destabilization which emphasised those things that divide us instead of talking of those things that unite us.
“Whatever angle or point of view any writer come out with in this discourse, the fact remains constant that there is a bond of relationship which is not fleeting but fundamentally essential between the Yoruba Omo Oodua and the Edo Omo Eweka the Great”, Adams added.
He also pleaded with the traditional institutions in Benin and Ile-Ife to be wary of palace chiefs, who he said were only out to pitch the two noble royal houses against each other by their “sheer impetuosity and face service”.
Mr. Adams also commended the royal sagacity and visionary posture of the Ooni of Ife, not only for remaining calm in the face of the raging controversy surrounding the ranking of Yoruba monarchs, but for refusing to “dignify the sender of those ill-researched statements with any response”.
Oba Ogunwusi had on Tuesday said Benin Kingdom in Edo State remained part of the expansive Yoruba race, a pronouncement that may spark fresh rivalry and altercation between people of the two ancient kingdoms.
“I must also commend the political maturity and sagacity being displayed by the Imperial Majesty, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11, who has been consistent in his peace diplomacy shuttle among the traditional Obas in Yoruba land which has kicked – off a brand new era of harmonious relationship among the Obas in the south-west”, Mr. Adams said.
He warned those he described as ”scripters of divisive statements, the procurer of false history and the spreader of ill -researched historical fallacy to put a stop in their unholy act and allow peace, unity, harmony and era of brotherly interaction take control among the traditional rulers in the South West including their sibling in Edo State”.
“We are warning them to stop sowing seeds of discord among the Omo Oduduwa and their siblings in Edo State,” the OPC leader said.
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