His Royal Highness Oba Rilwan Babatunde Osuolale Aremu Akiolu I, the Oba (King) of Lagos has made a royal gaffe. At a meeting of Igbo leaders in the state, he recently threatened that any Igbo person that does not vote for Akinwumi Ambode (governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress) will “perish inside water”:
On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water. I’m not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi (Agbaje) is my blood relation and I told him that he cannot be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere, don’t do it here. If you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you. If you go against my wish, you will perish in the water.
Here is an audio of the said speech shared on Twitter:
— Ronald Ike Nzimora (@ronaldnzimora) April 6, 2015
Although Nigeria runs a presidential system, it still retains monarchs of the various ethnic groups that make up the country. The traditional rulers no longer exercise sovereignty but only ceremonial powers. However, they remain a potent moral force with grassroots validity among their subjects.
The Oba of Lagos is one of the revered traditional monarchy in Nigeria, and Lagos is a former capital of Nigeria, an economic nerve centre and cultural melting point — with diverse ethnic nationalities as residents.
Nigerians will vote for state governors this weekend. The two major contenders for Lagos State governorship slot are Akinwumi Ambode of the APC (All Progressive Congress) and Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The presidential elections, which were held on March 28, saw General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) defeating the incumbent, Dr Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Though peaceful, the elections were, however, marked with ethnocentric political alignments with the South-East and South-South voting for President Jonathan, while most parts of North and South-West voted for General Buhari. These ethnic fault lines might play out in next Saturday elections. The Igbos of South-Eastern Nigeria gave block votes to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Netizens were naturally furious about the Oba of Lagos’ “hate speech” and threat.
Chxta said it was a call to unleash genocide on the Igbos:
I have thought about it. This is the fact: three national papers, This Day, Independent & PM News quoted him. Oba Akiolu threatened genocide
— Chxta of Greece (@Chxta) April 6, 2015
The Chairman of Nigeria Human Rights Commission thought that:
Adekunle was ashamed with Kabiyesi (king) and apologized to Ndigbo (the Igbo people):
Kabiyesi just made @realFFK and Dame Peshe look like learners! Apologies again to all Ndigbo on TL.
— Adekunle (@kunleadefioye) April 6, 2015
Writer Tunde Leye requested that the Lagos State governor, Tunde Fashola, sanction the Oba:
The Oba should go, tweeted Foghi Batarhe:
I won't even bother to share that audio file. That Oba Akiolu should be deposed. Straight. He was even swearing by Allah.
— Foghi Batarhe (@Batarhe) April 6, 2015
Nze Slyva decried the ethnocentric sentiments that had characterized the election season:
I see anti Igbo sentiments everywhere. From the Oba who ‘owns’ Lagos to Mr Afolayan whose work I happen to admire a lot. Dalu nu o!
— Sylva Nze Ifedigbo (@nzesylva) April 6, 2015
However, not all were in support:
If I were an Igbo leader, I would tell my kinsmen it is in our enlightened self interest to align with the Oba. Give and take
— Atom Lim (@AtomLim) April 6, 2015
Obinze lampooned those defending the Oba:
The idiots who were defending the Oba with their fathers grave that he didn't make those comments have gone silent. Fools! — OBINZE (@UzoUriel) April 6, 2015
Typically, some Twitter users made jokes out of the discussion.
I just called my Uncle whose siblings where inside Oba Akiolu's mouth while he was speaking. HE DID NOT say that. ABIA.
— ‘Som Jolie (@ChisomBullet) April 6, 2015
Others made memes:
“No Lagoon can stop love…”
April 13th 2015: Yoruba boy going to visit his igbo girlfriend. No lagoon can stop the love… pic.twitter.com/9xYYF4P4R2
— Wale Gates (@walegates) April 6, 2015