….. as Ajimobi Divides City Over New Obas
………I spent 100million naira on his coronation
When other smaller towns and villages in Yoruba land fight dirty wars over succession Obaship tussle, Ibadan through its forebears, who were warriors so much derided crowns to the extent that they took so much contempt for it because they considered themselves as warriors who could enthrone and dethrone Obas in other climes at will. And this much was attested to by the current Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Akindele Adegbola who confirmed the prowess of Ibadan warriors to the extent that they had installed kings for other great towns in Yoruba land without recourse to colonise those places by forcing an Ibadan indigene on them as crown Oba.
While they did all these at will by crowning beaded Obas for other towns, their own monarch at home wore the title of Baale (owner of the land) or in many cases, Balogun (War Veteran or war leader). This was the position of things in Ibadan chieftaincy system until the time of Oba D. T. Akinbiyi when the city got the first ever beaded-wearing Oba.
According to the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), a sociocultural organization and umbrella body of over 250 clubs and associations of Ibadan indigenes, Oba Daniel Tayo Akinbiyi was the first Olubadan to wear beaded crown.
How it happened? The year 1930 saw the ascension of a new Oba in Ile Ife, Adesoji Aderemi as the Ooni of Ife, and also the ascension of Aleshinloye Abasi As the new Baale Ibadan. To Akinbiyi who was a contemporary of Adesoji Aderemi in the Nigerian Railway, the fact that his friend assumed the full Obaship title in Ife, while Ibadan, unquestionably the largest town in Yorubaland had a Baale (meaning District Head) was highly unacceptable. Consequently, he and some other Ibadan elites began the agitation for upgrading the status of Ibadan traditional ruler from Baale to that of Olubadan. Three years later, the colonial authorities granted the request when the same Baale Aleshinloye became Olubadan, though not yet with a crown. However, Oba Akinbiyi was the first Olubadan to wear the crown from the day of his installation and coronation.
The Wikipedia says Olubadan (Olubadan means Lord of Ibadan) is the royal title of the king of Ibadanland in Nigeria, now a largely symbolic role. It was founded in the 16th century, but the present Yoruba people only took control around 1820. By 1850 they had established their unusual
succession principle, which is quite different compared with other traditional Yoruba rulers in that it alternates between two lines of Otun (Chiefs) and Balogun (warriors). It usually takes decades to groom an Olubadan for the stool through stages of chieftaincy promotion, thus meaning that just about any male born title-holder of the metropolitan center is a potential king.
The above were the position of things until Sunday, August 26th, 2017 when the incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi of the state sought to change the status quo following a Gazette “white paper” released by the State Government, to the effect that 33 Obas would henceforth be made beaded crown Obas in the city where Olubadan hitherto enjoyed the sole hegemony and held sway as the consenting and proscribing authority for ages!
The Governor at the presentation ofcertificates and staff of office to 24 chiefs, who were among the 33 elevated to the status of Obas in Ibadan, following the adoption of the recommendations of a judicial commission, at the arcade of the historic Mapo Hall, Ibadan, penultimateSunday, said “today’s event marked a turning point in the history of the ancient city, which used to have the OlubadanofIbadanland as the only beaded crown wearing oba, in its 11 Local Governments and with a population of about four million.”
The 11 members of the Olubadan-in-council were elevated to the status of Oba, with the prefix of ‘his royal majesty,’ but only eight were available for the event, following the death
of two high chiefs and the refusal of Osi Olubadan, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, to be part of the process.
Thirteen ancient bales from different towns in Ibadanland were also promoted to the position of obas, with the prefix of ‘his royal highness.’
He said all the newly promoted Obas will be under the authority of the Olubadan ofIbadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who will be the only ‘imperial majesty,’ while none of them will add the suffix ‘land’ to his title.
Due to the vacancies in the stool of nine chieftaincies, who have also been elevated to the status obaship, the nine towns were not represented at the occasion.
Speaking further at the event, the governor said that the state government followed due process in conducting the exercise, stressing that all extant laws had been complied with, while he said that the exercise was not encumbered by any legal impediment.
Ajimobi debunked the insinuations being peddled by those he called political opponents to the effect that the promotion was targeted at witling down the influence and authority of the Olubadan as the supreme monarch in Ibadanland.
The governor said that the initiative was borne out of a strong sense of patriotism and a resolve to elevate, uplift, transform and reposition the chieftaincy institution ofIbadanland.
He quoted a famous author, Henry James, who once said that ‘a tradition is kept alive only by something being added to it,’ to buttress his point.
Ajimobi said, “This epoch making event in the annals of the history of Ibadanland is a practical demonstration of our administration’s commitment to the enhancement of dignity and honour of the chieftaincy institution in Ibadanland and Oyo State in general.
“I wish to state categorically that we are not changing history; we are not changing tradition; we are not changing the culture of Ibadanland.
“Rather, we are elevating and consolidating our traditional institution and the exalted position of the Olubadanas the imperial majesty in Ibadanland.
“We are also elevating the Olubadan-in-Council and the chieftaincy institution without altering or tinkering with the traditional succession and ascendancy system of the Olubadan Chieftaincystructure.”
The governor explained that the review of the 1959 Olubadan chieftaincy declaration was not a novel idea, having been carried out by successive administrations in the state in 1974, 1981, 1993 and 2000.
According to him, Ladoja, who was opposed to the current exercise, also set up the Adio Commission to review theOlubadan Chieftaincy declaration, before jettisoning the commission’s recommendations.
The governor said, “Our administration is not reinventing the wheel. We have simply, like others before us, embarked on a review of the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration in response to the yearnings of well meaning stakeholders.
“These include the Ibadan Elders Council, Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) and eminent sons and daughters ofIbadanland, such as Chief TheophilusAkinyele; the late Otun Olubadan, ChiefOmowale Kuye; and all, but one member of the Olubadan– in-Council.
“They all desired to elevate the traditional chieftaincy institution in Ibadanland and position it comparably and competitively amongst other ancient Yoruba cities who have embraced new and modern systems. They have been truly inspired by the words of Lidia Bastianich when she said ‘Today’s innovations are tomorrow’s tradition.’”
The governor explained that the event was also borne out of his administration’s burning desire to redress the lopsidedness in the number of beaded crown obas inIbadanland vis-à-vis other zones in the state.
While Oke Ogun, Ogbomoso, Oyo andIbarapa zones have several beaded crownobas, he declared that Ibadanland, touted as the political and traditional headquarters of Yorubaland, had only one beaded crown oba.
With the installation of 33 new obas, the governor said that the clamour for the creation of Ibadan State had become justifiable, adding that the individual domains of the new obas were poised to witness tremendous growth and development.
He charged the new obas to use their elevated royal positions to promote peace in their localities, as well as the unity and well-being of the citizenry.
Rather than the Governor’s message calming fraying nerves by assuaging whatever grudges the indigenes may nurse against the reform, Oba Adetunji, less than 24hours after, stormed major markets and roads across Ibadan metropolis to affirm indivisibly of Ibadan royal stool under his kingship.
Oba Adetunji who welcomed the Mogajis (family heads) in their scores who came to pay solidarity visit to him in opposition to Governor’s elevation of High Chiefs in Olubadan-in-council, to position of Obas and 11 Baales to beaded-crown status, told Ibadan indigenes and residents alike across the areas visited that he would not surrender his sovereignty to any other Oba in the land.
The show which took-off at Popoyemoja palace to areas like Oja’ba, Beere, Oje, Agodi Gate, Agbeni, Ogunpa, Dugbe, Molete and other environs, saw Olubadan waiving horse tail to the people who were hailing him as the only recognised Oba in the land.
Shortly after returning to the palace, the Olubadan though his Director of Media, Adeola Oloko advised the Oyo State Government not to paint the monarch with the tar brush of petty partisan politics, as he is a monarch and not a politician. Said he, ‘As a monarch, I’m a father of all, irrespective of sex, ethnic and ideological persuasions.’
Reacting to the remark of the State Governor, at the mass coronation of 21 kings on a Sunday, Oba Adetunji stated that the person or group who would use the royal stool of Olubadan for selfish political reason has not been born.
‘Since Friday March 4, 2016, when I ascended the exalted throne of Olubadan I have opened the gate of our palace wide to all manner of people. If you belong to APC, PDP, Labour, Accord and/or more, you are most welcome. So, politics has nothing to do with my resistance or opposition to the chieftaincy review spearheaded by the Oyo State Government.”
Oba Adetunji also described as unfortunate the comment by the Governor that recent utterances from the palace are tending towards the political, adding if the State Governor has any demonstrable evidence of such, he should kindly provide it. According to him, there is no press statement issued from the Olubadan media office which did not enjoy my blessing before it was made public. Said he ‘while I am aware that people react to age differently, I am not old enough to be misinterpreted by anybody, even at 89, Governor Ajimobi stated that he invited us to the Governor’s Office over this matter and visited me in the palace later. While this is true, I wish to respectfully state that the Boade Panel was inaugurated on May 19, 2017, His Excellency, Governor Ajimobi invited me to the Governor’s Office on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 after the panel had sat for 4 weeks. At that meeting, His Excellency, the Oyo State Governor, the High Chiefs and State House Correspondents would recall my opposition to the chieftaincy review. My question is did anybody put words in my mouth in that recorded tape? When he invited me to his office and visited me in the palace on Sunday, June 18, 2017, the Boade Panel was almost through with its job, when we met at the inner chamber, what the State Governor came to tell me was that he knew I should have been consulted first. So, it is not true that I was consulted, as claimed by him.
‘If I had been consulted, this error would have been avoided. The desecration of the crown would have been averted.’
The Olubadan of Ibadan land, who congratulated all Ibadan people for keeping the peace despite the brazen abuse of Ibadan custom and tradition stated that these times would pass.
Oba Adetunji commended all his brother-monarchs for their solidarity and cooperation, say his opposition to the mass coronation exercise is to prevent breakdown of law and order, complication and dire consequences in Ibadan Chieftaincy System.
Also a high ranking High Chief and former Governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, the current Osi Olubadan of Ibadan land, said the state government has shown beyond reasonable doubt that he is the prime target of the review of Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration by asking him to either “join in the mockery of Obaship and agree to be made a government-appointed oba” or forfeit his right to the throne.
Ladoja, who spoke through his media aide, Alhaji Lanre Latinwo, said he remained the Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland and would neither agree to being a government-appointed oba with no domain, chiefs and subjects nor “support attempt at desecrating the Olubadan throne.”
Latinwo, in the statement, said “thousands of Ajimobi can’t stop Ladoja from becoming the Olubadan if it is the will of God,” advising the governor to stop playing God.
“High Chief Ladoja believes that only God chooses the Olubadan as clearly demonstrated in the divine enthronement of the current Olubadan, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who was three steps to the throne.
“May God lengthen the years and reign of Oba Adetunji in sound health. We will like to make it abundantly clear that thousands of Ajimobi can’t stop Ladoja from becoming the Olubadan if it is the will of God.
“People continue to ask the question why the mockery of obaship in Ibadanland is the most important thing to Ajimobi of all the challenges facing his government. It is now clear that Ajimobi has found in this futile exercise, a distraction from his six years of misgovernment in the state.
“Ajimobi is using temporary executive power for ego trip and feels that he is humiliating perceived enemies and also playing God. Why should the governor turn himself into a kingmaker, ignoring the long-established peaceful, self-reforming chieftaincy system of Ibadanland that has become the envy of many cities because it is rancour-free?
“Today, August 29, 2017 makes it exactly 21 months to the expiry of Ajimobi’s governorship. The state will surely be freed from the stranglehold of the Emperor and the office will outlive the officer. Very soon, Ajimobi’s portrait will join those of ex-governors hung on the wall of the Executive Council Chambers. Whatever has a beginning must surely have an end.
“Again, we will like to appeal to the people of Ibadanland to remain calm and peaceful, even in the face of provocation, as this misuse of power, pursuit of vendetta and bastardisation of a rancor-free process will be challenged to the end through constitutional and peaceful means.
“High Chief Ladoja is already in court over the matter and we await a judicial pronouncement on it soon. Ajimobi that set up a panel disregarding Ibadan traditional system, received its report and interpreted its recommendations to suit his selfish agenda against the popular wish of the people of Ibadan and the Olubadan. This is laughable.
“Without recourse to the state House of Assembly which has the constitutional duty to make or amend laws, he has appropriated legislative function and added such to his executive role. This charade can’t obviously pass a judicial challenge.
“We ask him to enjoy the remaining months of his governorship while it lasts,” the statement added, “we wish to remind him that he has booked an unenviable chapter for himself in the annals of the history of Ibadan and posterity will be the judge him.”
The Mogajis in Ibadan who were also cut off in the new arrangement became enraged and have been firing from all cylinders against the state helmsman’s.
For instance, a Mogaji, Chief Gboyega Adejumo who appears sidelined along with over 1,000 others, has this to say, “am sure not a few already know of the present happenings in Ibadan at the moment regarding the issue of the elevation of some Chiefs to Obaship and the elevation of some Baálès to be called and addressed as obas…
But what many do Not know is that there are many things wrong with this process as the very foundation of the Uniqueness of the Ibadan Traditional Chieftaincy Tradition has been Rocked and Destabilized!
The tendency of this purported reforms has been to put the offence of sacrilege in the same position as allowing women to come out and make a mockery of the Ololu Masquerade… It is that Bad!
From the beginning of Time, an Arole ‘Badan, a Mogaji is an Olubadan in the making, who is the owner of the family land and property. The Mogaji is higher than a Baálé, and this is so because a Baálè can NEVER EVER become Olubadan!
When a Baálè is to be appointed, it is the Mogaji who will Nominate the person of his choice, with perhaps the impute of the elders in the village to so appoint a Baálè… Now a Baálè is to then be an Oba over the Mogaji that appointed him!?? Koseleri! as Mogaji, I am FORBIDDEN TO PROSTRATE to anyone, save for The Olubadan, ditto for these high Chiefs turned Obas… So I ask, what happens to the traditional greetings to the Olubadan by the High Chiefs who, by tradition MUST REMOVE THEIR HATS, and prostrate fully to the Olubadan…. How and where then, will these Obas now do the traditional greetings to the Olubadan…. With their so called crowns removed and then, they will stand to greet their monarch or what!?
Expectedly, social media has been awash since the coronation came to public knowledge. A commentator said, “just in the last dispensation, governor Alao Akala made attempts to thinker with the Ibadan Traditional Institutions for similar political conspiracy, these same people that constitute the then Olubadan-in-Council cried foul. They resisted vehemently to defend the age long tested and trusted system that works. The Ogbomosho man (Akala) stepped back without knowing that it would take an Ibadan man ‘to disparage Ibadan age long preserved heritage,’ said a another online commentator.
He continued: “Akala concluded and approved that the Oyo State Council of Obas must be rotational between the Olubadan of Ibadanland and Alaafin of Oyo . Since the present administration under the Oyo state governor, Ajimobi commenced , why have the State Council of Obas and Chiefs not resumed seating in many years now? Secondly, Would these new Obas be recognized by the Oyo State Council of Obas? It is a condition of the Oyo State Council of Chiefs to approve , after due consultation for any Oba to wear a Beaded Crown, would these Crowns and Coronets secure the approval of the authority concerned as it is not the prerogative of the Governor to give such approval as per the institution’s governing rule.
Notwithstanding widespread opposition, over 90% of Ibadan indigenes at home and Diaspora are said to be in support of this mass coronation of Ibadan High Chiefs and some Baales (Village heads) to their new-beaded crown wearing status by Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII).
At a press conference on the perceived misgivings over the crowning of the new Obas in the city, the CCII President General, Chief Yemi Soladoye, said that there was history of chieftaincy reforms dating back to the 19thcentury in the city, noting that the flawless succession system in Ibadan was the result of several reviews.
According to Soladoye, high chiefs, who have been elevated to the position of kings in Ibadan have always been accorded the status of second class kings by the state government. He stated that the new kings had no domain, meaning that Ibadan land remains under the Olubadan authority.
He said, “The CCII wishes to confirm that the change that has just taken place was desired, initiated, supported, applauded and appreciated by the generality of Ibadan Indigenes worldwide.
“Constant changes and reviews are in fact the ingredients that have sustained our well-organised and rancour free ascension to the throne of Olubadan of Ibadanland in almost 200 years of our existence. During the time of Lagelu, our progenitor, up to the perishing of the second Ibadan, we were using various titles including Olubadan and since the emergence of this third Ibadan around 1820, tittles like Basorun, Balogun, Aare have been used to describe our leaders.
“Nobody has created any new ruling house (with the new system). The former high chiefs can now physically carry the authority of the Olubadan for development in their communities and create flamboyancy around the Kabiyesi at public functions. The new kings are not kings of anywhere as they
are still on the queue to become Olubadan and the imperial power over the entire Ibadan land still resides with the Olubadan of Ibadan land.”
Soladoye explained that the baales that were elevated to king status were from satellite towns that were subdued by the Ibadan warriors many years ago, adding that it was not an attempt to divide Ibadan into several parts.
“The fact of the case is that satellite towns like Ijaiye-Orile, Erunmu, Lalupon had in fact existed before the present Ibadan but having defeated them in wars, we demoted their kings and annexed them to Ibadan. The new arrangement is a manifestation of the usual magnanimity and hospitality of Ibadan people but they wear the coronet from the Olubadan and not their ancestral crowns in the new dispensation. Some of the crowns are also granted to protect our border towns,” noted the CCII boss.
For years to come, Ibadan may never remain the same again and this calls to question the sincerity of the state government in rushing what could have otherwise been a successful enterprise and envy of other towns. As things stand today, Ibadans are seriously divided against one another and it would take time for the wounds already inflicted on many of them to heal. And what’s more, different parties are in court at present.