The Palace of the Oba of Benin has rejected the recent ranking of Yoruba traditional rulers as declared by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, saying the stool of the ancient city of Benin is superior to that of any Yoruba monarch.
Oba Gbadebo had while receiving the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi in his Ake, Abeokuta, Ogun State palace on Sunday, said there were five principal obas in Yorubaland and listed the Oba of Benin third on the hierarchy after the Alaafin of Oyo (2nd) and Ooni (1st). The Alake listed his own title as fourth and the Awujale of Ijebuland at fifth.
Reacting to the ranking, the Esogban of Benin and Odionwere of the Kingdom (traditional head), Chief David Edebiri, yesterday, said the Alake got his history wrong as the Benin stool had no connection to Yoruba, adding that the Ooni of Ife was a son of the Oba of Benin.
Esogban, third in command in the palace of the Oba of Benin, 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.
“We are not in Yorubaland. To be frank, it is because many of them are not willing to come up with the truth, the word Oba is alien to Yoruba monarchy; it is not part of their title from time immemorial.
“For instance, the one they call the Oba of Lagos, these are recent adaptations. In the 50s, there was no Oba of Lagos, what we had was the Eleko of Eko. That is the title of the King there. In Ibadan, you have the Olu Ibadan. You come to Abeokuta, you have the Alake of Egba land. You come to Oyo, you have the Alaafin of Oyo. In Ilesha, you have the Owa-Obokun of IIesha. So no Yoruba monarch had as part of his titles the word Oba except the Oba of Benin.
“That word Oba is indigenous to Benin. It is only in recent times you find everybody bearing Oba. When the Western Regional conference of traditional rulers took place in Benin City in 1942, go and check the attendance, there was no other monarch in the whole of the Western Region then that bore the title of Oba, except the Oba of Benin.
“So it is an unnecessary excursion, an unnecessary attempt to turn history upside down by the Alake by classifying the Oba of Benin as third in the hierarchy of kings.
“Our own traditional history says that the Ooni of Ife was a Benin Prince who wandered from here to Ife, settled there and became the ruler there. That is the position, if they don’t know, they should send people here; we will teach them.
“We will show them landmarks. So this is unnecessary misrepresentation of history. Maybe the Alake wanted to mention a different place and not Benin.
“The monarchical rulership in this part of the world started from Benin during the era of the Ogisos. It was the son of the last Ogiso, Owodo, that wandered from here to Ife and he became a ruler there, carrying everything about the Benin monarchical system to that place. There is no basis for such classification.
“The Ooni of Ife by historical facts, is a son of the Oba of Benin, so they are not in the same class. The Oba of Benin is the only one that answers Oba, the rest don’t. But today, we hear Oba here and there, they are all recent adaptations. I am saying categorically that the word Oba is indigenous to Benin and not to Yoruba nation”.