OPINION : Let Us  Stand Up To Protect  Our Traditional Institutions  From Government  Clutches

By Lanre Ogundipe

The present happenings  now in  the ancient city of  Ibadan, which is still regarded as the largest in Africa, over the Chieftaincy  matters especially, in regards to the Olubadan stool,    should  now be  a major concern to all Yoruba race and there  is now the need, to protect  our traditional institutions, against the interference, of those in powers.

For the past few months now, the issue of the installation of the new Olubadan has been the major  focus and has continued to be given attentions, both in the media, public fora, and even among the ordinary people.

The action of the present government in Oyo state, has made people and commentators  to wonder, what our traditional institutions are turning to, especially,  concernig the Kingship, who occupies it, the criteria being used and all that is associated with  Kingships

In the past, no individuals or even those in power both at the state and other wise,  could decide for the people who would be their monarch. Even in some towns in Yoruba land, the issue of rotation was not adopted, when an Oba goes to his ancestors, it would be the prerogative  of all the ruling houses to come forward  to struggle for the throne and all the families would present their candidates, and it is the Oracle  of the Ifa divinity,  that would pick who the crown fits and all would accept, when at times it would even be a person from the family of the immediate late Oba. 

Any one who does  anything contrary to what the Oracle  says would face calamity and may not end well. That is why then they are careful and cautious  about their actions when it comes to the issue of tradition and Obaship in Yorubaland.

But for convenience, and modernization, rotational was adopted, and that was the beginning of the problem being faced  concerning Obaship installations, in Yorubaland.

This, also gives the government of the day the opportunity  to poke nose, into Obaship matters and their influence to choose for the people, effect  of which, has always been disastrous for us as a tribe, which has abandoned what is right  and ancestral  procedures, in picking who leads u.

Be it as it may,  the system of Obaship in Ibadanland, has been very unique, and has never been subjected to manipulation, or unnecessary  interference  from any quarters.

The system of Obaship  in Ibadanland, is so different  that it has become a model, which other towns in Yorubaland  may wished to emulate but for the fact that they too, have their age-long traditions and mode of annoiting their rulers, it is impossible to copy the unique way of Ibadanland.

Just as it has been argued in different  quarter, tampering with the mode of selecting Olubadan of Ibadanland, would disrupt  a lot of things and could  bring chaos and anarchy, as the people of Ibadan  are known to be fearless and not bothered about  what will cost them, to fight for their rights and what they believed in.

That is the reason that all of them have risen in unison, to defend the tinkering  of the   two administrations of Late Governor Abiola Ajimobi and the incumbent  one of Governor Seyi Makinde, In the Obaship system of the ancient town, which also serves as the political headquarters of the entire  South  Western  Region of Nigeria.

What is worrisome  to them is that, the two, principals are bonafide  sons of Ibadanland, who should no better and the serious implications  of their actions.

Before the Ajimobi’s administration, there  was nothing like division in the Obaship system of Ibadanland. The only Oba known to the people is the Olubadan of Ibadanland, which every sons of Ibadan land, aspire  to attain, right from when he is made Mogaji, the first step on the Olubadan ladder, in his compound.

This system, gives every compound the Opportunity  to produce Olubadan once the Mogaji has risen to  the level of becoming  the Olubadan from  the two approved lineage of Otun and Balogun.

This is unlike other Yoruba towns, where there are ruling houses, which struggle to produce the  king.

 What Ajimobi did is still fresh  in the memories of the people. He altered, the system and he appointed Obas  within the Olubadan in council and put them under the Olubadan.

These  Obas who are high Chiefs  in Olubadan in council, as he arranged it, bears  wears beaded crown   with the nomenclature  of His Royal Highness, while the Olubadan as the supreme Oba, is  addressed  as the Imperial Majesty.

When Ajimobi was governor, this arrangement  brought a lot of crisis, which the then late Olubada, Oba Saliu Adetunji Ogungunniso1 rejected and fought against solidly, before his demise.

Also one of the high Chiefs who was to have collected the Obaship, Senator Rashidi Adewolu  Ladoja, rejected Ajimobi’s  offer, as he  stood with Oba Adetunji and both believed that it was an aberration  to alter the age-long Ibadan system of Obaship, since  the only known Oba in Ibadanland is the Olubadan.

This made Senator Ladoja went to court and the court process  was on, when Makinde came and he tactically handled the volatile  situation, which could have affected the Coronation of the immediate late Olubadan,  Oba Lekan Balogun, who was among the high  hiefs  that took Ajimobi’s  crown.

Before  Bologun could be made the  Olubadan, he and his colleagues  that took Ajimobi’s  beaded crowns had to relinquish them.

But what seems to have died down was ignited by the  Present Governor Makinde, who went further than what Ajimobi did, to put a new diametion  into the  Chieftaincy institutions in the entire Oyo State and made the Governor, the only consenting authority for the approval of  any oba or chief  in Oyo State.

For whoever cares to listen , accept or not, Governor Makinde made an outburst, during the final burial of Oba Lekan Balogun at the Obafemi Awolowo  Stadium, in Oke Ado, Ibadan to let people know that the new law in Oyo state has vested  the sole authority  on the governor to determine who becomes  an Oba or Chiefs  in the state.

According to him, I have seen the recommendations of Olubadan in council and I have accepted it, and we will as soon as Oba Olakulehin is medically fit, he will be enthroned because due process has been followed.”

“Myself and the House of Assembly on 26th Friday May 2023, we amended the chieftaincy law of Oyo state, so that the governor will not need to meet with the council of chiefs for amendment of declaration of the traditional rulers and myself and the late Olubadan, Oba Mohood Olalekan Balogun we amended the Ibadan chieftaincy declaration.”

This statement by Governor Makinde did not only get people of Ibadanland  angry but was viewed as a big slapper  on the traditional and Chieftaincy institutions, in Oyo state, which many believed  could be dangerous for the entire  Yoruba race, if allowed to go unchallenged.

As it stands now, the issue of installation  of Oba Olakulehin in connection to the ascendancy of Olubadan has turned a test case, for not only Ibadan People, but  for the people of Oyo, State and the Yoruba race as an extension.

Since governor Makinde made that pronouncement, it has become the talk of the town and even debates all over the country and even in the diaspora.

His statement has not only been condemned but has been interpreted  to mean that he  is trying to turn the system upside down.

It has been argued in different  quarters that he has no business in determining  who becomes Olubadan or even at that, any Oba in the state, despite his so called declaration.

Those who spoke on this, were of the opinions that Ajimobi  who started it all, was more careful  not to thread on a dangerous  ground, which Makinde never cared  about, but now,  facing the backlash  from the people.

From the look of things and comments all over, no single person has supported Makinde on his action.

Rather, it was argued that he has put sentiments and politics into  the whole  issue, as it was argued that, he has a  vested  interest on who he wanted as Olubadan, otherwise, there was no need for him to have delayed  the announcement once he said due process had been followed.

What has actually boxed  Governor Makinde into a  corner were statements coming out from many Ibadan indigenes, especially,  the Otun Olubadan Senator Rashidi Ladoja who is the head of the Olubadan in council and head of the Kingmakers that the governor has no business in the coronation of an Oba, that it is the prerogative  of the Kingmakers,  the Oluwo and as a matter of fact all other  people  and traditionalists concernig, the coronation of an Oba. He pointed out that  coronation,  is purely traditional without any government interference.

He  and others argued that, after the Oba has been chosen and crowned  traditionally, the governor either  personally  or through  his representative then, has the duty of presenting  a staff of office to the king or the Oba, when he has already been accepted  by the people and even alrelady, ruling over his  people.

As things are now, there has been many school of thoughts as to what will be the next action of the Kingmakers,  the traditionalist, with the  responsibility  of crowning an Oba in Yorubaland, in respect of Ibadan.

It is highly being suggested and considered  that the traditional  coronation of Oba Olakulehin  may commence and he would be crowned and the people of Ibadan would know that they have their Oba in place  and would only be  awaiting when the governor would give him, the staff of office.

Majority of Ibadan indigenes who supported  this step used Ogbomoso  as an example and pointed out that it was after the present Soun of Ogbomoso  land, had been crowned as their monarch  and already ruling over them, before the governor went to present  the staff of office to him.

It was even  argued by some elders that the presentation  of the staff of office should not necessarily  be in a funfair, or colorful  ceremony, and that it could be carried to him in his palace.

They argued that even the presentation of staff of office by the government, is alien to “our” Yoruba tradition and culture” 

The ceremony  which usually accompanied  the presentation  of staff of office, by government, it was argued,  was always a a ploy to spend government money and it  gives room for the  embezzlement of public funds.

As it is now, governor Makinde is at the Peoples court over his new law and Chieftaincy policies, as it is affecting other towns in Oyo state, especially  the installation  of the new. Alaafin of Oyo.

Since the demise of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111, there has never been any concrete limelight  as to who will be crowned the next Alaafin simply because of the insinuations  that Governor Makinde  is the one holding the  key to who ever would occupy the Oyo palace.

Also, as it stands now, the whole of Ibadan and the entire people of Oyo,  state, in particular, are on standby awaiting their fate on when their new Olubadan designate, Oba Olakulehin, who has been proving to those who said he is not medically fit to mount the throne that he is hale and sound to occupy the throne.

Oba Olakulehin  has been making public announcements and appearances to show his fitness.

Governor Makinde was also warned not to be used by some selfish  people and should learn a big lesson from  his former  predecessor  Late Governor Adebayo Alao Akala who faced an identical situation, when some people underground wanted to use him to  install late Chief Lamidi Adedibu who has not reached the ladder of being crowned  the Olubadan.

Akala it was said, rejected the suggestion in his own wisdom, when he was warned, by late Alhaji Azees Ariekola. Alao ,Chief Bode Akindele, Chief Bode Amoo and Chief  Kola Daisi among

Others, not to derail the process of ascension  to the throne of Olubadan.

Thank God some of these people are still around now and it is  certain  that they would not fold their hands to see the age-long tradition of installation and ascendancy into Olubadan stool, being  bastardized by any individual  or institution.

Former NUJ President  writes from Abuja

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