*By Kunle Gazali
The demise of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1 is no longer a news but the memory and legacy the late monarch left behind especially for the family and people of Ibadan will continue to linger.
It was quite obvious and glaring that the reign of late Oba Adetunji as the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland on March 4, 2016 brought peace to Ibadan and particularly Popo ‘Yemoja, where his family compound is situated.
Popo ‘Yemoja is an area in Ibadan considered to be one of the ‘hot zones’ of the cosmopolitan city because of the notoriety of the area boys within and adjoining localities. The area had become a center of social unrest, naming it one of the most dangerous places in Ibadan city. There have been reports of several confrontations between law enforcement and local gangs, most of which result in multiple deaths from both sides
There used to be “superiority” clashes among ‘area boys’ mostly members of the proscribed National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) over the controlling of motor parks (garage). This at many instances resorted to situations where rival gangs unleash mayhem on the residents of the area.
Groups like Indomie Boys at Ilupeju, Oke-Odo, One Million Boys at Kudeti, Oju’na Boys at Agbeni and several others at Foko, Gege, Idi-Arere, Shogoye and several others had become terrors and disturbance of peace in these areas.
In 2010, precisely February 19, it was reported that not less than 20 people including women and children were injured and 50 vehicles destroyed as a result of fracas between two miscreant gangs. Similar event was recorded on November 27, 2014, leaving about four people dead including a police officer.
Popo ‘Yemoja, is also an integral part of Ibadan dominated by both Indigenes and non-indigenes particularly from Ijebu in Ogun State. The area has produced prominent personalities that have held sway in various endeavours such as politics, business, entertainment, etc. Personalities like late Alhaji Mufutau Ajadi Olanihun, a businessman, a philanthropist and socialite, fondly called ‘Olowo ti n fi Owo Saanu’, the Awurebe maestro, late Dauda Akanmu-Eyo, popularly known as Epo Akara, and former Minister for Sports and former Provost, College of Education, Oyo, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, as well as the late King himself , Saliu Adetunji who ruled the entertainment industry for several years. There are several other bonafide sons and daughters of Popo ‘Yemoja who have made names for themselves in their chosen careers.
However, the installation of the late Olubadan on March 4, 2016, and his role in restoring peace obviously quenched the frequent fracas among the rival gangs in Popo Yemoja area. In addition, the strategic location of the palace, which made it incumbent for the drafting of security agencies to the area in order to checkmate any possible unrest contributed to the peaceful atmosphere of the area at the time. As a result, the area had become a center of attraction, perhaps a tourist center for people within and outside Ibadan during the reign of the late monarch.
Interestingly, location of Oba Adetunji Palace in Popo ‘Yemoja provided ‘security jobs’ for some of the “area boys” who organized themselves by arranging parking lots for the Palace visitors, thereby collecting certain amount ranged from #500 and upward based on the caliber of the visitors, as well looking after the safety of vehicles parked.
In summary, Oba Adetunji played vital roles in managing various interest groups of ‘area boys’ in the area to ensure people within and outside the state have a change of perspective and orientation about the locality. This is why throughout his tenure as Olubadan of Ibadanland the name Popo ‘Yemoja was occasionally heard as far as the crisis among ‘area boys’ were concerned in Ibadan.
Now that Oba Saliu Adetunji has joined his ancestors and the Palace has returned to Ali-Iwo, there is a need for security agencies to be on red alert and ensure that peace continues to reign in the area. The police should regularly engage the ‘gang leaders’ in Popo Yemoja and its vicinities and instill in them the need to prevailing on their followers to maintain peace and tranquility even as was in the time of late Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji.