The Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Aremu Akiolu, has defended his controversial reaction to the affectionate greeting of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, at a public event, as seen in a viral video last week.
In the 25-second recording, the Ooni of Ife is seen arriving at the venue of the event, which has the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu II and the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe in attendance.
The Ooni walks over to embrace the monarchs, but as soon as he approaches the Oba of Lagos, Oba Akiolu looks away, only acknowledging the Ooni with the wave of a hand.
The visibly embarrassed monarch then quietly returns to his seat.
The video clip was met with outrage on social media and among prominent Nigerians, with many describing Oba Akiolu’s action as disdainful and unbecoming of a Yoruba monarch.
However, when The Punch reached out to the Oba of Lagos by telephone, the monarch sounded undisturbed by the controversy surrounding the awkward greeting.
Oba Akiolu, explaining that he was constrained by tradition from receiving and returning the Ooni’s greeting, said the widespread belief that he snubbed the Ooni was “their own thinking.”
“Anybody can imagine anything. There was nothing. The custom or tradition is like that in Lagos. We don’t hold each other; we don’t hug.”
Asked if the wide age gap between both traditional rulers had anything to do with the way he acknowledged the Ooni, the Oba of Lagos said,
“Which age difference? A monarch is a monarch. There is no age difference.”