Egba United Government

Egba United Government officials  in1904
Alake, head of the Egba United Government with officials in 1904. Photo: Intelligencer

The Egba United Government, under M’Callum constitution, between 1898 and 1914; was an independent government encompassing the four sessions of Egba people of Abeokuta. The head town and villages is divided into four sessions, and each section into townships, each township representing one of the hamlets that existed as separate unit before the scattering of the Egba in 1827. There were however, natural causes to unite upon, hence the public meetings first at Sodeke’s Square at Iporo and later, at the Alake’s Square. This Egba Council, largely unorganized, evolved in 1898, through the advice of Sir Henry M’Callum to become the Egba United Government with the other heads of the four sessions, Oshile, Olowu and Agura as ministers of Justice, Finance, and Communications and Works, respectively. The Alake became president of the new government. This independent government was dissolved in 1914 following the Ijemo massacre of that year, and Egba was absorbed into the protectorate of Southern Nigeria. A similar attempt at reorganizing the Egba Council prior to the constitution of this unique African independent nation-state was the Egba United Board of Management, discredited as representing the Alake alone. The board, conceptualized by the notorious G.W. Johnson proved to be an ineffective one although there was customs service and trades were negotiated with the Lagos government.

The tax collection system of the Egba United Government will be beset by the 1918 riot in which District Head tax collectors were attacked by the people. Sokunbi Karunwi who was a sessional oba of the Egba and minister of Justice of the United Government was killed while Alake Gbadebo I, who was the president escaped by taking shelter in a Roman Catholic Hospital.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer