“For the love of Egba this Independence” by Odetola Abiola Olamilekan

FOR THE LOVE OF EGBA THIS INDEPENDENCE!!! Let me tell you about a Community DISTINCT in its creation, a community of many first in Nigeria. A people that ceded their independence for the actualization of ONE NIGERIA. ‎The Egba Nation(now a part of Ogun State). ‎ ‎Egba people were parts of the famous pre-colonial African Oyo empire (Kingdom).‎Up until the 18th Century, the Egba people lived in a cluster of villages around a place known as Orile-Itoko, as a subject territory of the old Oyo Empire, which was one of the strongest empires that ever existed in West Africa. Just like the Roman Empire, the Oyo empire was so strong that it easily quelled any form of uprising or rebellion from any of its subject-states. It was however shocking when a little known, but brave warrior, Lisabi Agbongbo-Akala, arose from among the Egba people and led the nation in an uprising against the Oyo Army’s continuous occupation of their land, the first in the history of political and military confrontation with the Oyo kingdom.  This also signalled the disintegration of the all-mighty empire and the small nation of Egba ceased to be a colony of the Oyo empire and became a free state while Lisabi Agbongbo Akala, up to this day, is regarded as the father of the Egba people for his outstanding roles in the people’s liberation. ‎Thus, between 1825 and 1830 when it became expedient that the Nation of Egba can no longer withstand the frequent attacks of the slave hunters from Ibadan and Dahomey, the Egba people, on the directives of the Ifa Oracle, was led by chief Shodeke, on a long but tortuous journey that brought them to the western side of the massive outcrop of granite rocks called “OLUMO”, that is “Oluwa fimo” meaning God puts an end to our wandering. The very point the oracle asked them to relocate to. ‎ The Egba people started to settle in Abeokuta around 1830 each section settling in a separate quarter of the town.A strong system of relating with each other and general governance of the kingdom was later developed. At its peak, the Kingdom covered a vast expanse of land that stretched from River Oba on the North to Ebuta Metta on the South, Osun River on the East to Ipokia and River Yewa on the West. The four sections that formed the Egba nation are EGBA ALAKE (Eku, Aarin and Agbeyin) EGBA OKE ONA, EGBA GBAGURA, EGBA OWU. ‎Separation of powers: Governance was carried out through a delicate balance of responsibilities among the following Institutions: OGBONI(Lawmakers), OLOROGUN(War Chiefs, advised the OBAS on War and Disputes), OLOGUN, PARAKOYIS(Members of Chambers of Commerce) & ODE(Warriors for War duties and protection of territories). Troubles in the 1860s with the British in Lagos led the Egbas to close the trade routes to the coast and they expelled its missionaries and European traders at about 1867 this led to the signing of the TREATY OF INDEPENDENCE, dated 18 January, 1893, was made between his Excellency Gilbert Thomas Carter, Esq, Companion of the most distinguished order of St. Michael and St George, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the colony of Lagos and on behalf of her Majesty the Queen of Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, etc., her Heirs and Successors, on the one part. We, the undersigned King and Authorities do, in the presence of Elders, Headmen and people assembled at the palace hereby promise: *That there should be complete freedom of trade between the Egba Nation and Lagos, and in view of the injury to commerce arising from arbitrary closing of roads, we the King and authorities, hereby declare that no road shall in future be closed without the approval of the Governor of Lagos. *That we, the said King and authorities pledge ourselves to use every means in our power to foster and promote trade with the countries adjoining Egba with Lagos. *That we, the said King and authorities will, as henceforth, afford complete protection and every assistance and encouragement to all ministers of the Christians’ religion. *It is further agreed and stipulated by the said Gilbert Thomas Carter, on behalf of the Queen of England, that so long as the provisions of this Treaty are strictly kept, no annexation on any portion of Egba Nation shall be made by her Majesty’s Government without the consent of the lawful authorities of the Nation; no aggressive action shall be taken against the said Nation and its independence shall be fully recognized. *The said King and authorities, having promised that the practice of offering human sacrifices shall be abolished in the one township where it at present exists and having explained that British subjects already have freedom to occupy lands, build houses and carry on trade and manufacture in any part of Egba Nation, and likewise that there is no possibility of cession of any portion by Her Majesty’s Government, and it desired that no special provision be made in regard to these subject in a third treaty. On 1st February, 1898 Egba United Government(E.U.G) was  formed and a Judicial agreement was signed: January 1904‎ by  Governor MacGregor of Lagos who entered into a judicial agreement with the Egba Government whereby jurisdiction was ceded to the British Government for nineteen years in all cases where one or both parties to the suits are natives of the Egba Nation, and in all cases of murder and manslaughter. April 20, 1904 First Native Court was Opened‎ and this was followed by a special  State visit to United Kingdom on May 25 – July 8, 1904 Alake Gbedebo, accompanied by Prince Ladapo Ademola of Ake, Mr. Adegboyega Edun, Mr. R.B Blaize, a Lagos merchant of Owu extraction went to England on a state visit.They left Lagos on May 5 and arrived in England on May 25. On May 30, Alake Gbadebo was honoured with an audience and dinner by King Edward VII. On June 7, he was presented to the Duke of and Sir Montague Ommaney at the Colonial Offices and on June 14, he interviewed the C.M.S. Committee. He visited many places including Aberdeen College and was presented with a Bible by King Edward VII on the eve of his return to Lagos. In‎ August 26, 1904 E.U.G. Police Force was established‎ while in 1908 Government Hospital was established. The Government established medical offices and employed a British Trained Medical Officer Dr. Ayodeji Oyejola an Egba man who studied at the University of London and returned to Nigeria in 1906. He was later appointed the Egba Government Medical Officer.  ‎In 1910, the Egba United Government approached the British government for a loan of {30,000 pounds (N60,000) to build a water treatment plant and pumping stations.The loan was to be repaid by installation of 4000 pounds and the first payment was made before the opening of the project. Every drawer of water was charged one penny for every ten potfuls (about two gallons) drawn. On Commerce, The Egba United Government played a prominent role in the commerce of those days. It built custom houses and improved on existing ones. By 1901, the European Merchants agitated against payment of tolls to the Egba United Government. The settlement of the dispute was in favour of Egba United Government. This was a major achievement for the Egba United Government for the Government would have been overthrown had the tolls been abolished. ‎The tools provided the necessary revenue for the administration. In 1904, the government passed the Customs, Ordinance (Revision). In order to raise funds, the Government passed an order for licensing bicycles and carriages in 1911. In 1912, it passed the shop licence Ordinance and auction Licence Ordinance. ‎The Native traders petitioned the Government. Even Prince Eleko from Lagos and the white cap Chief “Idejo” pleaded with Egba United Government to cancel the ordinance but to no avail. Egba United Government established the Abeokuta Industrial Institute in 1908. The establishment of the Institute was made possible by R.B. Blaize who provided 3000pounds (N6000) from his estate for free training of the Egbas in technical work. Every apprentice was bound for four (4) years and at the expiration of the training, the participant was presented with a set of tools worth 6pounds (N12).‎ ‎The Railway line from Lagos to Aro was opened for traffic in 1900 and extended to Ibara (Abeokuta Station) in 1901. ‎Between 1900 and 1901 the government started to widen and level the existing roads and by 1905, was constructing many good roads in the Kingdom. Mr. David A. Taylor ( a Surveyor and an Egba man) was appointed as the Superintendent of work and roads. ‎The first concrete bridge in Abeokuta, Sokori Bridge, built by Egba United Government was opened by Governor MacGregor of Lagos in 1903. The bridge was constructed by Mr. John Israel Adenekan without the supervision of any European Civil Engineer. Lafenwa Bridge over Ogun River was opened in 1911 in the year Egba United government introduced Motor Lorries into Egbaland. ‎In 1908, Abeokuta Grammar School was established as the only secondary School then in Abeokuta city. The school started in a rented small room at Ijemo Agbadu owned by Mr. John Macaulay. ‎It is the first place in the whole Egbaland where higher school was established in the year 1861 for the purpose of imparting secondary school education, not only in Egbaland but in Nigeria as a whole and for some reasons, had to be moved to Lagos which is still referred to as CMS Grammar school, Lagos, today. Nevertheless, the government did record naturally, a few setbacks, one of which was in the sinking of wells. A stream carriage scheme by the government (Framers’ Association Scheme) in 1908, was a total failure as the machine could not operate properly due to the solidity in the roads.  Besides, there were other issues creeping up. These features were minor when compared with the successes of the Egba United Government. They did not dispute the fact that the Egba United Government encouraged commerce, paid attention to schools, hastened economic development by improving communication, maintained law and order, provided health services and public utilities. All these level of achievements as a Nation begs the question  if truly the amalgamation by Lord Fredrick Luggard in 1914 was a blessing or Federal System of Government has its been practised today in Nigeria is effective enough and sustainable enough for growth and  Development of all levels of government. Could Egba Nation have truly being greater if not for its merger to form Nigeria? ‎ Compiled by: Odetola Abiola Olamilekan(08036418187,Habiholah07@yahoo.com ‎
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

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