- Tsola, whose mother is of Yoruba heritage, may not have emerged as the next Olu without the solidarity and fellowship of the Yoruba nation.
This past year, Nigeria has witnessed the passing of a number of its first class monarchs, and what has characteristically trailed these events has been controversies surrounding the line of succession of these monarchies, even though our traditional institutions have stipulated conventions vis-à-vis their line of succession.
Last August, following the death of Shehu Idris, the longstanding Emir of the Zazzau Emirate, much controversy had surrounded the succession of the vacant throne left by the late monarch, controversy which took the intervention of the Kaduna State Government and the relevant courts of justice to defuse.
As earlier reported by EKO HOT BLOG, in March 2021, yet another first class monarch in Nigeria passed away. After several rumours which rented the air in December 2020 that the Olu of Warri had died of an undisclosed illness, the palace eventually issued a statement confirming the death of the monarch in March 2021.
The Olu’s death once again left a vacuum which had to be filled, implication being that several stakeholders would once again be locked in a feisty fray for the coveted throne; and, after much back and forth contestations, 37 year-old Prince Tsola Emiko emerged as the new Olu of Warri Kingdom.
However, Tsola, whose mother is of Yoruba heritage, may not have emerged as the next Olu without the solidarity and fellowship of the Yoruba nation.
According to Adewale Adeoye, a pro-Itsekiri and a Yoruba renowned journalist; the Oduduwa clan worked strenuously to eliminate fierce opposition and ensure the emergence of Tsola as the new Olu.
“The newly picked Olu of Warri has a Yoruba mother. Enami and co were brutally opposed to his candidature”.
“When the president of the Itsekiri Congress called me that I should do something, so that they will not stop the man with a Yoruba mother, I knew the meaning” Adeoye said.
From available history, there are five aboriginal Itsekhiri villages; Ugborodo, Ureju, Omadino, Okomirigbo and Inorin.
Among these Itshekhiri clans, three of them are of Yoruba ancestry while two are from Igala and Benin respectively.
Up until a few decades ago, the Yoruba nation is said to have enjoyed a strong bond/relationship with the Itshekhiri people, until the demise of the Premier of the then Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Further recounting the role played by powerful Yoruba figures in the emergence of the new Olu, Adeoye stated that he had sent word to some influential individuals to rally support behind Tsola and repel the fierce opposition that had come from some of the kingmakers in the Kingdom.
“I sent a message to Ooni of Ife, not so sure the monarch would see it, then, i decided to call his Director of Media, Moses Olafare, a deep young man, the person I always refer to as my honorary professor in Yoruba matters. He too the case to Ooni, informing him that the request of Itsekhiri was for Ooni to assert the Yorubaness and send powerful delegates to the Itsekiri General Global Congress” he stated.
According to him, the Ooni, then took great decision and sent two Yoruba monarchs, Oore of Otunand HRM Olubosin of Ifetedo to attend the Congress in Warri.
Adeoye, who was full of praise for the courage and tenacity exhibited by the Ooni’s representatives, held that Tsola may not have emerged as the new Olu without the dogged intervention of the Yoruba delegates.
“They attended the events and asserted that Itsekiri are Yoruba in the face of thousands of Itsekhiri people” he said.
“Seeing Ooni sending powerful delegates like that to the congress, all the opposition parties went into coma”.
The events building up to the emergence of the new Olu of Warri could be viewed as a consumation of the longstanding affinity between the Yoruba and the Itsekiris, since Warri has always been a Yoruba territory irrespective of its political and geographical classification.
The Itsekiri, also called Jekri, Isekiri, or Ishekiri, ethnic group inhabiting the westernmost part of the Niger River delta of extreme southern Nigeria, make up an appreciable proportion of the modern towns of Sapele, Warri, Burutu, and Forcados. They speak a Yoruboid language of the Benue-Congo branch of Niger-Congo languages and share elements of culture with the Yoruba, which explains the longstanding congenial relationship they enjoyed with the Yoruba nation until the demise of Obafemi Awolowo.
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