The talk about poverty has gained momentum in the last year, we talk about how the rural areas can be better developed, government deservedly gets lion share of the blame for mismanaging nation’s wealth however, we rarely talk about how our many royal families have contributed to the underdevelopment in their various regions.
Poverty and violence go hand in hand. In recent years, the commonly talked about violence in Nigeria is Boko Haram, however, before BH became globalised there has always been less talked about violence in many of our regions contributing to underdevelopment.
On a Facebook forum the other day a picture of Oba Adesoji Aderemi was pulled up. He was the king of Ile Ife from 1930-1980. As usual, everyone said what they thought of him – in general royal families are celebrated, such was the attitude.
Then a lady asked – How come Ile Ife is so underdeveloped given all the privileges it has enjoyed over the years?
Ile Ife town has the second university in the southwest, founded in 1962 currently have about 35,000 students from all over Nigeria.
Prior to the university, Ile-Ife has for a long time enjoyed other privilege such as Isakole (proceeds from land lease) from neighbours.
This is a very important question that I have always thought not enough attention was given.
Not too surprising, most commenters decided to talk about the significance of Ile Ife to Yorubaland, all the glamorous bits that are in total contrast to the reality on our streets.
To the lady who did not shy away from asking a difficult question, I explained that it is true that our past history is distorted, sometimes hard to know what to believe. However, one of the reasons why Ile Ife remained underdeveloped despite a 50+ years old popular university in town was largely because of internal conflict that was ‘renewed’ in 1981, a few months after the sitting Ooni of Ife Oba Sijuade became king.
I shared a bit of what I witnessed and how growing up in the area has changed the way I view of our monarchs. How fights over land ownership has gotten the best of our elders, they kill, grab the land and sold on.
While many of the killings did not make it to the media outside of the region, words do get round hence investment is rarity in the area.
Here’s what one of the forum members had to say:
“I can’t even believe grown adults raising money to buy weapons to fight Modakeke. My dad gave hundreds of thousands of naira for weapons then. He abandoned the whole thing when he realised that there was no accountability on the money raised. He raised the issue of accountability in the palace and Ooni suggested that he should not talk about accountability so abstained from their agenda.”
To this guy I was grateful, not many people can be this honest even when not much is secret.
The second question was whether anyone has ever been arrested and brought to justice for the killings of the innocent farmers during and of Modakeke and Ife crisis.
To my knowledge, no one has ever been arrested let alone tried for any of the deaths. The number of people that have been murdered both in towns and villages are in hundreds and counting since 1981.
I heard it’s all complicated.
Is it really?
I suppose what happens in a small town of a few thousand people is a reflection of our country as a whole – absolute power.