Following the “historic” visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to Ijebu-Ode last Thursday, more facts have emerged that on what transpired between the president and his campaign team and the Awujale and Paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona.
Inside sources revealed that Jonathan and the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adamu Mu’azu, made statements that angered the monarch, noting that Mu’azu’s description of Ijebus as stingy people played a major role in making the Ijebu visit a fiasco.
Jonathan, the presidential candidate of the PDP was also not endorsed by the Awujale as he was told that Obas in Ijebuland cannot decide for the people who to vote.
As part of his efforts to seek re-election, Jonathan has been visiting several people, including the monarchs. He has visited the southwest repeatedly since the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the general elections.
Last week Thursday, Jonathan paid a private visit to the Awujale in his palace at Ijebu Ode, with the expectation that he and other Ijebu monarchs would endorse him, as was done at Ile-Ife, Osun state.
It was reported that the presidency has remained unsettled since the visit as they were shocked by what happened at the palace.
Earlier, the welcome address by the Dagburewe of Idowa, Oba Y.A. Adekoya, was quoted as having told the president amid applause that: “His Excellency, the man you are sitting with now, our own Awujale and Paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona is 81 years old and he has spent 55 years on the throne. The man is wearing gold and you know that gold does not rust.”
It was learnt that the presidential protocol officers had tried to rush the MC, who is one of the Otunbas, but the compere bluntly told them: “I am acting on the directives of the Awujale and nobody can give another order. That is our tradition here, we don’t rush.”
Later the Obiri of Aiyepe was invited by the master of ceremonies to introduce all the members of the Ijebu Traditional Council numbering about 45.
The atmosphere at the Lions Hall, the venue of the meeting inside the Awujale palace, instantly changed when the master of ceremonies announced that all the monarchs should move outside of the palace terrace for a group photograph with the president.
Most of the monarchs declined to go while those who had intended to go for the picture, having read the body language of others, rejected the request. The photo session was called off as the president hurriedly left the palace.
The president, was reportedly, hugely disappointed, as the protocol officers hurriedly guided the number one citizen to his vehicle and zoomed out of the palace to catch up with another appointment at the Nigerian Stock Exchange in Lagos.
A respected monarch in Ijebuland, who was part of the meeting, disclosed that they are not hungry monarchs who can be easily bought over with the president’s dollar, and thus decided on their stand before the meeting.
The royal father revealed that what angered the Awujale was the way the president had sent an emissary to him to discuss how he would like the meeting to go.
“A prominent Ijebu businessman, whom I don’t want to mention his name, was sent to Awujale by the President to speak with him on how he would want the meeting to go, and also, to get a definite response from him. He believes that Awujale is a strong factor that can add weight to his ambition at the poll.
“This man met with Awujale on Wednesday, a day before the visit but Awujale angrily expressed his reservation to the middleman,” the monarch said.
The Oba noted that the Awujale was blunt and straight forward; “He told the man, whom he so loved, that he will never be part of such arrangements and warned him never to do such again.”
Awujale then asked the middleman: “How many President have you ever hosted in your life, even, with your riches and wealth? Are you now the one to teach me on how I should host the President or you think I am a stereotype or robot King? Never let such things happen again, else, you will not like what will happen next,” the monarch was quoted to have told the president’s emissary angrily.
Commenting on why they refused to take a group photograph with the president, the monarch queried: “why the noise about group photograph, haven’t they got enough pictures during the meeting, after all, they took several pictures, is that not enough. So, what is so special or important about this group photograph?
“Awujale has spoken our minds, we don’t campaign for any politician and President Jonathan is not exempted. Is he not a different person, are they not all the same. So, we have resolved to maintain our dignity and integrity. We are fathers to all, we should not be seen as playing partisan politics and that was what we have demonstrated,” the royal father said.
Another monarch, who is from Odogbolu local government expressed dissatisfaction with some of the utterances from both the president and some of his aides during the meeting.
The monarch, who pleaded anonymity, exclusively revealed that the president either deliberately or tactically ignored some of their requests and was saying other things.
It will be recalled that the PDP chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, while speaking at the palace, recounted his youthful experience and stated that the Ijebus are stingy people, but was angrily corrected by Awujale, who said, “we are not stingy, but prudent in our spending.”
All the monarchs at the palace and other Ijebu sons and daughters at the palace were irritated by the joke.
When Mu’azu insisted that they would not leave until they received a blessing, it was clear that his hosts were not happy with him over such embarrassing statements.
According to the monarch: “We were worried when the president was reacting to the requests and address of Oba Awujale. In his address, he mentioned like four to five things and when the president wanted to react, he just flipped through them and was saying that he did roads, railway, agriculture, so, if re-elected, he will do more. ‘A n wi’ri,o nwi’ru’, meaning, we are saying this, he is saying another thing.
“Awujale spoke about not feeling the federal presence in Ijebuland, resuscitating the moribund Iwopin Paper Mill, the issue of Ijebu state and also, the reimbursement of Governor Amosun on the construction of the Mobalufon flyover. We should have risen above partisan politics. That bridge is a landmark not for Ogun people alone but Nigerians as a whole, but instead of direct response, he was making political statement, forgetting that he is not at a campaign ground,” he revealed.
A presidency source confirmed that Jonathan and his close aides were filled with regrets, over their visit to Ijebu Ode. Their regret was more aggravated the following day when they read newspaper reports and saw the headlines which were unfavorable for the president’s re-election bid.
Sources at the presidency revealed that after the meeting with the royal father, President Jonathan and the PDP inner caucus were very angry with some of the party leaders from the state, who have made the presidency believe that they are very popular in Ogun.
The source disclosed that during the analysis of the visit, one of the party leaders from the South-West, who was in the entourage said: “we would have got the endorsement if not for the stupid tale of the Mu’azu. Why should he be saying that Ijebus are stingy in front of their Obas? That’s too bad.
“He was even saying that we would not leave the palace until the monarch blesses us. Is he forcing them or what? Something must be done to redeem ourselves because I know Awujale very well,” the party chieftain was quoted to have said.
A palace source also disclosed that the Awujale, since last Thursday’s visit of the president, has received over 1000 text messages congratulating and commending him and other Ijebu monarchs on their actions.