Former deputy governor of Edo State, Peter Friday Obadan described as “vexatious very unfortunate, and lack of understanding” the hullabaloo that had trailed the chieftaincy title of “Itsemakhona, of Auchi” conferred on the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, by the Otaru of Auchi Kingdom, Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe 111. The traditional title of “Itsemakhona” means “This is Our Own”. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had tried to make a political capital out of the title by insinuating that Ize-Iyamu, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, had compromised his faith by accepting the title and presenting himself to be “turbaned”.
Chris Nehikhare, the state publicity secretary of the PDP, in a statement, said only a fake pastor accepts titles from traditional rulers. Some PDP members even mischievously refer to him as “Alhaji Ize-Iyamu”.
But defending Ize-Iyamu’s acceptance of the title, Obadan, a clergy, asserted that “People must separate cultural, social activities from religious activities,” stressing that “What happened there was purely cultural, social, and political; it had nothing to do with any religious ceremony. And the Otaru of Auchi stood on behalf of the entire community, the entire kingdom of Auchi which is a community made up of Christians and Moslems; Auchi is a cosmopolitan city. And because they counted Osagie Ize-Iyamu worthy, they decided to honour him”. He opined that Ize-Iyamu indeed ought to have been given the title of “Itsemakhona of Afemailand”, rather than limit it to Auchi.
According to Obadan, “They had honoured many people like that. I remember once they honoured Prof. Julius Ihonvbere; that did not make him a Muslim. And giving him the title of Itsemakhona of Auchi which I think even limited him; it should be Itsemakhona of Afemai land – the entire Edo North appreciates Osagie; they want Osagie. Itsemakhona is understood across the entire Edo North, so it was a well-chosen word by the Auchi community”.
Obadan said he was miffed that people were making noise about it. “If the state government gives you recognition, you are honoured by the government. If the federal government gives you recognition, then you are honoured by Mr. President. Are they saying because the Otaru of Auchi is a Muslim, he cannot honour a worthy Christian? He holds two titles. He is the King of the Auchi Kingdom and he is also the head of the Muslims. But he’s not the head of the Christian community; you have a Bishop there. Being the king of the land, such ceremony takes place in his palace. Are they saying because the president of the country is a Muslim, when a man is to be honoured by the Federal Government, they will not take it because he is a Muslim?
“Oyedepo is a CON, I’m not too sure whether it was Buhari or Jonathan that gave it to him; Oshiomhole is a CON, Mrs. Margaret Idahosa is OON. So, would they now reject it because Mr. President handed the certificate to them and gave them hand shake? They say oh, he’s a Moslem; we are not going to accept it. So, we must learn to separate social activities from religious activities. It would be a different thing if Osagie got there and the man takes Osagie to the mosque saying let’s go to the mosque, I have a ceremony to perform and I have something to do for you in the mosque. It was not in the mosque; it was in his palace. So, it’s lack of knowledge”.
On the regalia Ize-Iyamu was decorated in, the former deputy governor described as myopic people who believed that “wearing that robe which they called the turban, now makes him a Moslem,” positing that “It is not the cassock that makes the monk. It’s not even a Muslim cassock. It is the ceremonial dressing for the very important people when they are being honoured; so, only very few people are privileged to have it. So, it’s regretted; like I told some people, I can see why people like GO could not make their school certificate because this is logical reasoning.
“First, it was not held in the mosque; Secondly, the man has a dual role he’s playing; he’s the king of the land, he’s the head of the Muslim community. Thirdly, he did not invite Osagie to take up a Muslim title. He invited him to take up a title in the land given by the people of Auchi. It was on the strength of that I congratulated Osagie. So, it’s rather unfortunate that they are making noise over nothing”.