By YJ Itopa
Ohionwa is one of the autochthonous clans of Ihima whose (Ihima) primaeval name, Onotu means the next in Kingship or one whose compound God has chosen for grace,glamour or even a pristine saddle His showers of favour. In Ihima-Onotu land, Ohionwa is one of the three aboriginal clans i.e Emani and Ohueta whose clans’ traditional stools bear Obobanyi-great hunter.
We must however note that in Ihima the title of Obobanyi is not ranked higher than other native clan stools like Ogasube of Ure,Ohiomata of Odumi and Idu of Oha; the reason being that Ihima is typically an Ebira Republican town where no one enters his household through that of his sibling. It is a town in which every person is proud to bear his father’s name yet they are quick to radiate love, emit confidence and exude civic responsibility towards Ihima, forming a formidable front when an issue of kindred concern arises. These Republican dynamisms, its endowments and its jealously guided kernel for which the town is exceptionally famous should and must not now be doubted or even tested by other town kinsmen.
It is in this proud, classless and ancient town that HRH Jeremiah Akaava is the incumbent Obobanyi of Ohionwa clan, the most populous and second youngest of the six clan children of Ihima- Onotu in Ebira of Kogi State, Nigeria.
According to findings, Chief Akaava is today the oldest monarch in the world. Akaava as the 12th person to have ascended the over 300 year’s old throne of his ancestors’ sublime saddle is by the grace of the most high God 114 years old. Though he mounted the ancestral stool in his late twilights as old customs demanded then, the Ebira monarch is 34 years on the throne.
Relying on the Guinness World Records, the oldest monarch in the world is Queen Elizabeth ll of England who turned 89 in 2015. She is 91 years in 2017.This ranking after the demise of king Ab dallah of Saudi Arabia. Abdallah died at the advanced age of 90.
Coming nearer home, Awujale Sikiru Kayode, king of Ijebuland,Ogun State who some people erroneously believed is the oldest monarch in Nigeria is only 83 years of age. Even the Ebira paramount Ohinogi, HRM Alh. Ado Ibrahim much older than the monarch of Ijebuland the revered Awujale can only be the agemate of the Obobanyi’s child; Mama Eneyamire Abu who died three years ago at 78.Eneyamire was Pa Akaava’s third child after losing the earlier ones.
The Obobanyi is from a clan lineage in which longevity is a familiar favour from God.In a discussion with this writer some years back, the Ohionwa clan royal patriarch revealed that living a much longer life is a blessing to the family, citing the example of his uncle, the great OchadoOsansan Agama who lived up to 130 years. Because of his age and exploits, the Obobanyi reported that famous people like Yakubu Wokili, the younger brother to the first Ohinoyi of Ebira land, Pa ChogudoOnoruoiza were thronging Ihima like Mecca to admire him. Ochado was the foremost Ebira warrior who was the nemesis of Fulani Jihadists of Nupe extraction carrying war to the thresholds of Ebira land.
According to his 2013 thirtieth anniversary profile as the Obobanyi,Pa Jeremiah Akaava was born to the sprawling and respected family of OparaAkaava of Ehi lineage of Aisina sub clan of Ohionwa. Akaava’s mother, mama Ameri was from Avi clan Obangede.
As a young boy, Akavva began his life farming for his fathers, both maternal and paternal, as custom required before his own. He started his personal farm work at Akunnu of the present Ondo State.Not being a lazy person, he added trading to his farming, selling jute bags, Ebira-hand woven clothes and associated wears.
With one bicycle, the young Akaava had no difficulty plying for his trade in the nooks and crannies of many Yoruba land especially where Ebira people lived in thick settlements.
Not fully satisfied, Akaava went to Ado Ekiti in search of greener pastures where he quickly settled down and began full scale farming. Before long Akaava went home and built a house for his father. By this achievement Akaava was regarded as a remarkable farmer.
Because he could speak Yoruba fluently, it was not long before he was made an elder in the Church.
Though he got baptised as a Christian in the early 40s, Church going was never news to him. In the church, he simply distinguished himself as an astute administrator.
In the early 60s, he was invited by his people to take part in a councillorship contest. Akaava became a two-term councillor. But for the 1975 coup d’ etat led by Muritala Ramat Muhammed, Hon Jeremiah
Akaava would have been asked by his Ihima people to continue his legislative job.
A politician of repute, he had the option of going back to his trading skills. But the farmer- turned politician returned to his much familiar farming vocation. His new farm place was Iyara in the old Kwara State. Iyara is now a town in Ijumu LGA.
Like a golden fish seeing no hiding place, the then Olujumu of Ijumu had spotted in him some sterling leadership qualities. The ljumu chief therefore designed a role for the non natives intending to have Akaava with him in the council as Ohinoyi Anebira of Ijumu. His name had been forwarded to the then Kwara State Governor, Alh Adamu Atta. to that effect, when his people again, this time his clan relations, Ohionwa clan invited him to wear the pristine crown of his great ancestral fathers as Obobanyi of Ohionwa; theOhionwa hunter who performed the feat of killing the rare white Bufallo.
According to records, his oral birth date which dove tails with a certain booklet of some Ebira event records, the current Obobanyi of Ohionwa, HRH. Chief Jeremiah Akaava was born in 1903, few months before the mysterious, devastating but historic burial of the famous Odimboro of Anyoke in the present Adavi LGA.
An account was given of how the vast compound where Odimboro’s remains was being dressed for interment suddenly and mysteriously caught harmattan like fire killing almost all of the sympathizers from across Ebira land that attended the burial. The ever hovering ghost of the charred remains of the mourners has made that singular event memorable in the land to the extent that it is still being variously inset in song by Ebira folk singers.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the Kogi (Nigeria) monarch, HRH. Pa Jeremiah Akaava is much older than Queen Elizabeth the second who obviously inexhaustible findings had ranked as the world’s oldest monarch. We therefore wish to call on the handlers of the Guinness World Records to accord the centenarian Obobanyi the Great of Ohionwa his long overdue title as the living longest monarch on earth.