Uneasy calm, as Ajimobi, Olubadan disagree over plan to install 32 monarchs

Presently, an uneasy calm pervades the palace of Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, as Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi is set to install 32 beaded monarchs in the ancient town.

Barring last minutes change of mind, the governor will gazette and present staff of office to the new 32 monarchs in September, this year.

Since its creation in 1829 by the Yoruba allied forces from Ijebu, Ife and Oyo, Ibadan has been having just one monarch, but that is set to change now, with the recommendations of the Justice Akintunde Boade (rtd) panel that reviewed the Olubadan Declaration.

However, Oba Adetunji has not hidden his displeasure over the plan to change the status quo, which he has vowed to maintain. The monarch was also in a war of words with some of his High Chiefs that publicly supported government moves to create more beaded crowns in the town.

To the monarch, Ibadan has a peculiar ascension order devoid of rancour. And the system has worked for over a century, so, it is presumptuous of the governor to tamper with that traditional institution.

But the government is of the opinion that some Baales controlling some of the settlements should be elevated to become monarchs, as those settlements are bigger than many Yoruba towns with beaded crowns.

The government also reasoned that, by creating more beaded crowns, Olubadan would become paramount ruler of the town, as those lesser monarchs will be answerable to him.

That members of the Olubadan-in-Council and most prominent indigenes of the town were sharply divided about government’s plan is no longer news, but what seems to surprise many, is the large number of beaded crowns to be created in one instance.

Explaining how the committee arrived at such high number, chairman of panel, Justice Boade, said the commission gave preference to the current 11 high chiefs making up the Olubadan-in-Council, nine eligible ancient Baales and five Baales, who are members of the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs.

He added that two Baales at the state’s borders with Ogun and Osun States were also considered for beaded crown, judging by their untiring efforts at ensuring that their areas were secured for Ibadanland.

Boade further explained that while one Baale was considered because of historical importance of his area, four others were also recommended on the basis of their historical antecedents.

He said: “For the avoidance of any doubt, the commission wishes to emphasise and restate the unassailable fact that the Kabiyesi, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, remains the only paramount ruler in Ibadanland.

“We received a total of 120 memoranda, out of which three were struck out on the basis that they were not relevant to our terms of reference, while nine of the people who submitted memoranda refused, failed or neglected to give oral evidence in support of their memoranda.”

Aside the large number of beaded crowns that will soon be bestowed on the town, the Olubadan Declaration review committee also recommended reduction in the number of years it will take to climb the ascendancy ladder to the throne, which many believe will solve gerontology that seems to have become a feature of Ibadan monarchical system.

According to the recommendation of the panel, which the government has promised to implement, the Otun line, which has 22 rungs of ladder, has been reduced to eleven, while that of Balogun will no longer be 23 but 12.

With the new proposal, the Ikolaba chieftaincy will now become the entry point for a potential high chief, instead of Jagun chieftaincy, as currently stands, if the recommendations sail through.

The presentation of the report by the 11-member commission was witnessed by members of the Olubadan-in-Council, led by the Otun Olubadan, High Chief Lekan Balogun and Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Owolabi Olakulehin.

Others included members of Ibadan Council of Elders, representatives of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), all the local government chairmen from Ibadanland and other eminent personalities of Ibadan extraction.

Receiving the report, the governor said no effort would be spared to ensure that the recommendations were implemented, as early as next month.

Ajimobi said his administration’s resolve to carry out a comprehensive review of the Olubadan chieftaincy was in response to requests by the Olubadan-in-Council, Ibadan elders, members of CCII and others.

Insisting that the exercise was not new, the governor recalled that previous administrations had reviewed the chieftaincy declaration, but could not muster the political will to implement their respective reports.

He said the review was necessary in order to enhance the Olubadan’s status, to be in line with what obtains in other states in Yorubaland, as well as to conform to the modern trend in culture and tradition.

The governor said he was not unmindful of the pockets of opposition to the move, noting that he was not bothered, as long as those in support were overwhelmingly in the majority.

Ajimobi said: “As is customary, some people will disagree with any policy government wants to implement, only for them to commend such policy in future. So, we really don’t mind those abusing us for taking this action. It only makes us happy and realise that we are doing the right thing. I salute the doggedness and patriotism of members of the commission for doing a thorough job. I also want to thank the CCII and Ibadan Council of Elders for their support.

“I particularly want to immensely appreciate the Olubadan-in-Council for its overwhelming and intellectual support for the review, without minding whether the recommendations would affect them positively or negatively.

“By God’s grace, we can implement the recommendations as early as next month. The review will only enhance the status of Olubadan as the imperial majesty. It will not diminish his influence in any way.”

But the Olubadan, who considered the whole plan to tamper with the traditional institution as an aberration, insisted he and his people will never support the plan and warned the governor, who is also a chief in the town, to desist from the move.

A statement by his Director, Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Adeola Oloko said: “For the avoidance of doubt, there was never a time that Olubadan supported the review embarked upon by the Oyo State Government. This was why the First-class monarch did not submit any memorandum nor made any representation to the panel. When last week, the panel submitted its report to the state governor, the public would vividly remember that the Olubadan was not in the picture at all, because he was not invited.

“Both the young and old in Ibadan know that the Ibadan chieftaincy system is not a creation of government. It is a creation of Ibadan people. No king, no governor, no elite, no high chief has the right to tamper with the system without recourse to our people.

“How many town hall meetings have the state government convened before arriving at the conclusion that Ibadan deserves 32 crowns? To show ignorance of our tradition, the panel (commission) lumped our highly respected high chiefs with Baales, who are always nominated by the family Mogajis.”

The statement maintained that the power to review chieftaincy resided in the Olubadan, while explaining that in other states, where more kings were created, the government did not initiate it.

The monarch argued that the review was carried out despite the fact that there were two cases in court against it.

The statement added, “If the traditional institution wants a review, it is not the duty of government to spearhead the review. It is the duty of the Olubadan sitting in council to look at what they want to review and present same to the state government for approval. This is the tradition in Ile-Ife, which the commissioner mentioned in the interview. The Osun State government did not spearhead the review. In Lagos and Ogun States, the case is similar. Besides, there are two cases in court in respect of this same issue, which the Oyo State government is not unaware of.”

Also, some Ibadan youths, led by their President, Ojekunle Wasiu and General Secretary, Mr. Kamaldeen, said if the proposal succeeds, it would rupture the orderly, peaceful and self-reforming traditional system, which has endeared the city to other states in the Southwest and beyond.

The youths, under the aegis of Integrity Youths of Ibadanland, believe it would cause generational damage and loss of highly cherished unity among the city’s sons and daughters.

“We are of the view that this recommendation is highly counter-productive. Therefore, we call for moderation and caution on the side of the Oyo State government to have a rethink on the matter, so as to forestall future conflict.

“The government should do the needful by conducting local government poll, which is the only way that can give people at the grassroots the benefit of governance and development, and not the installation of more kings.

“The government should not in anyway compare our chieftaincy system with other towns or cities in Yorubaland. We call on all Ibadan sons and daughters across the globe, who are peace-loving to stand promptly against the move of having 32 kings in the city, with a view to averting future crises,” they noted.

The youths also advised the government “to stop the move, because of coming generation to avoid laying a bad precedent for future leaders, but rather strengthen the Baales in the lesser cities with workable laws.”

But despite opposition from Olubadan and some indigenes, the communities where the beaded crowns are to be created are already preparing for the occasion by setting up various committees and aso ebi of different grades and colour chosen for the event.

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