Obaship: Ifa Rejects MC Oluomo (3)
By Tunde Odesola
Although Oshodi Tapa rose from the ashes of slavery to become a warrior and foremost Yoruba leader over 170 years ago, his footprints on the sands of time in the land of Eko were etched in honour, industry and gallantry, unlike the infamous pathway to MC Oluomo’s emergence, which was soaked in blood-red colour.
Unlike MC Oluomo, Oshodi Tapa was never accused of bloodshed and violence by his people. He loved his people and was also beloved. Loyalty was his middle name which opened the heart of King Eshinlokun to him, earning him the post of the modern day Chief of General Staff, doubling as the minister in charge of the welfare of Eshinlokun queens and the entire royal household.
One of the leading authorities on the History of Lagos, Oyeweso, who is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, reiterates, “Though a slave, Oshodi Tapa was fully integrated into the royal household of Oba Eshinlokun after he became a freeborn. Eshinlokun was the father of King Kosoko, whom Oshodi Tapa also served as a most trusted military strategist and diplomatic adviser – after the demise of Eshinlokun.
“Oshodi Tapa became an Ashogbon – leader of the Abagbon (war chiefs). After his rise to prominence, a Portuguese, Dada Antonio, linked him up with a Portuguese merchant who aided his sojourn to the US.
“He returned and worked as a commissioned agent for Messrs GL Gaiser. His business acumen was rewarded and he eventually became wealthy. The Ashogbon must be present when the Eletu Odibo consults the Ifa oracle while picking a successor to a departed king.
“Kosoko, Oshodi Tapa and a number of their followers returned to Lagos on September 6, 1862. By December 1862 Kosoko reconciled with Dosunmu (the new oba) and had to return to his old title of Oloja of Ereko, a position he had earlier occupied before his emergence as the Oba of Lagos in 1845. Kosoko was compensated with an annual pension of £400 from the British colonial government.
“Following his death four years before Kosoko died in 1872, a monument which exists till date was erected at the front of Oshodi Tapa’s compound in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island. Oshodi Tapa descendants have since lived in Iga Oshodi (present day Oshodi), Epetedo, and have been alloted the Oshodi Tapa chieftaincy which survives till date.”
Oyeweso adds, “The Oshodi Oko land that was gifted to Oshodi Tapa Landunji by the Onigbesa stretches from Matori, Mafoluku, Ogunoloko stream canal, Sogunle, Alasia, and boarded by the railway line at Onigbongbo. Sogunle is the boundary in the North and Ojuwoye is the boundary in the South.”
Eni to ba fe je ogun k’ogun, yio pa itan k’itan; he who wants to lay claim to dubious inheritance, must come up with cock and bull stories, so say the Yoruba. As the world awaits MC Oluomo’s story on how he’e related to Nupe ancestry, I’ll recall that a former Minister of Education, Prof Babatunde Fafunwa, traced his ancestry to Jebba-North and reunited with his kith and kin before his passing on October 11, 2010.
A graduate of the prestigious London University and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, also traced his mother’s paternal ancestry to a Nupe man, Umoru, from Idunsagbe in Isale Eko. Though MC Oluomo is a Muslim, he’s not related to the lineage of the Chief Imams of Lagos, whose great grandfathers were Nupe.
He’s also unrelated to the wealthy Nupe merchant, Ali Balogun, who’s a senior official of the Akintoye branch of the Lagos ruling family. He also doesn’t belong to the Oshodi-Oyekan family of Lagos Island, where a former Deputy Governor of Lagos, Alhaja Lateefa Okunnu, hails from.
Even if MC Oluomo has filial affiliations with any of these aforementioned families, he’s still not eligible for the Oshodi crown because he’s not of Tape ancestry.
Should it insist on making MC Oluomo Oshodi monarch, I honestly don’t know at what harbour the Sanwo-Olu government would anchor Oluomo-kinship illegality when the Supreme Court, in its judgement in the year 2000, had declared that the entire Oshodi land and its chieftaincy belonged to the Oshodi Tapa family, and the Are-Ota Ologun family, another Tapa ancestry.
The BBC documentary, Law and Disorder in Lagos, by Theroux is not only an expose on the decadence aided by the Lagos State Government since 1999 till date. It’s a shameful paradox that the Lagos APC government that set up the Kick Against Indiscipline workforce to curb the menace of Area Boys and street trading, also gives Area Boys the authority to extort innocent citizens.
The opening montage of the documentary shows one Tawa, a female hooligan, in company with many evil-looking male thugs, telling Theroux that she controls the whole Isale Eyo area of Lagos Island, collecting money from shop owners, commercial motorcyclists, motorists, etc. After an open fight later broke out between the Tawa’s Area Boys, Theroux sums up his initial experience thus, “There are Area Boys throughout Lagos, many are (NURTW) union members, and it is commonly believed that they use their position as a pretext for extortion and run their neighbourhoods like personal fiefdoms.”
After the baptism he was given on Lagos Island by Tawa’s gang, an unrelenting Theroux, in another montage, heads for Oshodi, the abode of Oluomo with Mamock, MC’s flunkey, behind the wheel. Oluomo’s arrogant deputy, Koko Zaria, gets in the vehicle along the way, and the first thing he asks Theroux is, “Do you know me? They call me Koko, Koko Zaria, MC Oluomo ‘fice’” smiling sheepishly, and adding, “I get thousands of boys, I get boys pass MC Oluomo.” Koko later runs into a roadblock in English, and urges the smart Mamock to bail him out, “E bami so fun.”
When a curious Theroux asks how Koko became Oluomo’s deputy, Mamock replies, “It’s his absolute loyalty. It’s like a cult of a thing.” Mamock pulls up at an Islamic ceremony where Oluomo donates a large sum of money amid prayers for longevity, prosperity and protection.
Walking Theroux round Oshodi market, Mamock proudly tells Theroux that Oluomo collects fees from all shops, commercials motorists and cyclists, hawkers etc in Oshodi.
During the walk, Theroux asks what does MC Oluomo do with all the money he collects from commercial motorists and cyclists? Mamock answers, “To protect NURTW members against police harassment,” adding that, “All over the world, the police can be very overzealous.”
The award-winning journalist also visited the KAI headquarters, Lagos, where he met KAI Master-General, retired Captain Danjuma, whose officials were arresting hoodlums basically fawned by government’s irresponsibility.
Finally, Theroux gets a lucky break when the oligarch agrees to meet him in his Oshodi residence. Inside the house, Mamock shows Theroux Oluomo’s numerous pairs of shoes which Oluomo says he bought from Milan and Naples.
Mamock points to a giant CCTV showing every part of the building, Theroux asks why anyone would want to hurt Oluomo, and Mamock mischievously replies, “Why would anyone want to hurt the Pope?”
Ahead of union elections, the documentary shows Governor Babatunde Fashola addressing NURTW members at the Lagos Government House, saying, “Transportation is the bedrock of modern civilisation, and I can assure you that I’ll make a representation on your behalf to Mr President before the end of business today.” But Mamock tells Theroux that NURTW members are tools used by the political class for votes.
Although the lens of BBC’s camera couldn’t catch thousands of bullets flying during the re-election of MC Oluomo as Lagos NURTW treasurer, it caught the booming AK-47s. It also caught the injured, bandaged and bleeding. MC Oluomo and his gang hurriedly leave the war zone called election venue. Theroux was scared. He leaves his car behind at the election venue as Mamock whisks him away to safety.
With the title in the bag, the MC mob party late into the night with uniformed policemen in attendance, drinking alcohol, sharing a taste of the bloody victory.
After serving his term as state treasurer, Oluomo has emerged as state chairman, but he’s now moving towards Oshodi palace with Lagos State winking in approval. Peace is about to bid Oshodi goodbye forever.
Written by Tunde Odesola and first published in The PUNCH, on Monday, February, 28, 2022.
Facebook: @tunde odesola