Social media has been abuzz with news that the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Aremu Akiolu, “shunned” the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi II at a recent public gathering. A 25 second video made the rounds all day yesterday.
Sabinews can now authoritatively reveal that the Oba of Lagos did not “shun” nor set out to humiliate the younger Oba who is universally regarded as the pre-eminent Oba in Yoruba land. Infact the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Aremu Akiolu, may be totally undeserving, it now seems, of the vitriol that has been poured his way.
Videos circulating online show the Ooni walk past his reserved seat. He greeted the Obi of Onitsha first, before stooping to greet the older Oba. The Oba of Lagos did not, however, acknowledge the younger Oba who had bowed slightly. Instead he waved at him as he would at a lowly subject. The Ooni did not betray any emotion as he turned and walked back to the seat reserved for him.
Comments on twitter and facebook lambasted the Oba of Lagos for not acknowledging the Ooni of Ife with many calling him names and pointing out the seniority amongst the ranks of Yoruba Obas. Infact, an online report quoted the Ooni’s palace as saying he would continue to respect the Oba of Lagos despite the snub.
Sabinews investigations have, however, shown that there may a deeper reason why the Oba “shunned” the Ooni. The truth, which many have overlooked and which the palace appears unwilling to acknowledge is that the Oba of Lagos is visually impaired and may not have realised who had come to greet him especially as the person seemed to genuflect. To him, anyone bowing for him must be a subject.
But it now appears that the Oba personally acknowledged his visual impairment in a September 2, 2016 report published in The Nation where he is quoted to have said he has suffered from Glaucoma for 21 years.
Glaucoma is a debilitating and irreversible disease of the eyes which causes damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. Untreated, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years.
The Nation story has the byline Oyeyemi Gbenga-Mustapha and reads in part:
“Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu has called on Lagos residents to go for glaucoma screening to prevent blindness.
Oba Akiolu said this when the management of Pfizer Specialties, the country’s arm of Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals, paid the monarch a courtesy visit.
Oba Akiolu said he has lived with the condition for over 21 years and was able to manage same because of the right information. “So, as a person living with glaucoma, I can say for anyone not to go blind, if you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your prescribed glaucoma medicine every day. See your eye care professional regularly. You can help protect the vision of family members and friends, who may be at high risk for glaucoma, especially those over age 40 and everyone over 60 years and people with a family history of the disease by sharing information as I am doing.
“Please encourage them to have a comprehensive dilated eye examination regularly. Remember that lowering eye pressure in the early stages of glaucoma slows progression of the disease and helps save vision,” said Oba Akiolu.”
An official of the Lagos state government who spoke to sabinews on the condition of anonymity said “have you ever wondered why he always wears dark glasses even indoors? I once saw him leave the seat reserved for him to sit on another man’s lap at a public event. I wonder why the palace has not acknowledged it by now and saved the Oba all the insults on social media.”
With this, it now seems that there may have indeed been no intention on the part of Oba Akiolu to humiliate the Ooni of Ife just an honest mistake caused by a physical impairment and something a google search could have saved.