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Gov. Makinde settles Ibadanland title battle, but controversy lingers

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Olusesan Laoye

The battle about who among the High Chiefs in Ibadan land is qualified to wear the crown as king appears to have been put to rest with the acceptance and backing, which the Governor of Oyo State Engineer Seyi Makinde, gave, with the handing over the staff of office to some of them, who are willing to operate as chiefs.

This also showed that Gov. Makinde has succumbed to the pressure by the affected Chiefs, who got the crown during the tenure of late Governor Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi.

Late Ajimobi had crowned some High Chiefs, in the Olubadan-in-council but they were not able to continue wearing the crown when Makinde assumed office as governor, due to the controversies that trailed it, when the present Olubadan, who was among the High Chiefs crowned by Ajimobi, wanted to mount the throne.

It was said that he could not do so unless he relinquished the Obaship because it was in the tradition of Ibadanland that no High Chief in Olubadan in council can take the title, except the Oluubadan himself.

This, however made the High Chief now officially crowned by Makinde at the weekend, to drop the title and the crown, to enable the present Olubadan Oba Lekan Bologun to be crowned as the Olubadan.

As the battle continued, pressures kept mounting and this made the State government sponsor an executive bill giving the power to the governor as the only authority who is capable of determining who in Oyo State can be king.

It was this right that Governor Makinde, exercised at the weekend, by handing the staff of office to the 10 willing controversial High Chiefs, who had written that they should be allowed to continue with the kingship title bestowed on them by late Ajimobi.

Of all the High Chiefs in Ibadanland only Senator Rashidi Ladoja refused to join the rest, since he has been opposed to it, right from the beginning and it was his insistence, which made him to go to court with the claim that no other person has the right to the crowned, except the real Olubadan.

Ladoja despite what Makinde did at the weekend has remained adamant that he is not interested in that kind of crown but the authentic crown of the Olubadan, being the next inline after Oba Lekan Balogun, to ascend the throne.

At the ceremony in the ancient Mapo Hall, Ibadan at the weekend, Governor Makinde, who presented staff of office to 10 elevated High Chiefs in Ibadan land to beaded crown-wearing Obas, declared that the elevation of the High Chief was a proposition of the Olubadan-in-Council, which was only approved by his office in line with the extant laws.

The governor stated in his address during the presentation of crowns and staffs of office to the Obas, which was performed by the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Dr. Mohood Olalekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, at the historic Mapo Hall, Ibadan, said his administration approved the review because it was instituted internally and it had the backing of the traditional council comprising the Olubadan-in-Council, the Senior Chiefs, Mogajis and Baales in Ibadanland.

The governor stated that the process leading to the presentation of beaded crowns to the elevated Obas was in line with his campaign commitment that he would not interfere with the chieftaincy system and that any review must come from within the system.

Governor Makinde said with the passage of time there would always be a need for the review of the traditional system and that whenever the process is properly done, he would not shy away from approving, such a review.

The governor equally said that with the Ibadan Traditional Council being able to review its system internally, it was only a matter of time before the issues preventing the meeting of Oyo State Council of Chiefs would be resolved internally within the traditional council in the state.

He said: “We are here today for a major reason. Some people have insinuated that I want to crown High Chiefs that have been elevated to the position of Obas, but is that what you are seeing here today? No. It is the Olubadan of Ibadanland, who is crowning the Chiefs.

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“Well, this coronation has generated many comments. Some don’t know how we got to this point, but let me use this opportunity to clarify a few of those issues. First, everything we have done here today is premised on the promise that I made to the people of Oyo State and, in particular, the custodians of our tradition.

“As time passes, there will be a need for reforms to our traditional system for one reason or the other. So, I promised that whenever there is need for such reforms, it has to come from the royal fathers themselves. I don’t know anything about the crown.

“During the 2019 campaign, the issue of the crown generated controversy. Back then, Kabiyesi Olubadan and one of our fathers were amongst those that went to court. But if our royal fathers say they want internal reforms, as the governor, I will back them up and give approval. Today, Kabiyesi Olubadan is supporting what is being done today.

“Out of 11 High Chiefs in the Olubadan-in-Council, 10 are being crowned as Obas; that is a majority. But as it is the practice in a democracy, the majority should have their way, while the minority will have their say. So, we have heard what the minority has said and they can approach the court.”

The governor also used the occasion to address the recent amendment of the Oyo State Chiefs Law.

He said, “Some have even said the amendment of the Chiefs Law was done to give myself the sole authority to decide who will wear beaded-crowns in Oyo State. And sometimes, one wonders why these mischief-makers come up with stories like these.

“The law has always given the state governor authority to approve or disapprove reforms from the traditional systems. So, all we amended was to remove it to refer to the governor and retain it so that this part agrees with the rest of the law.

“The second part of the amendment that is based on subsection One is that any person, who is elevated to wear the beaded crown from Baale to minor Chief shall continue to pay obeisance to a prescribed or consenting authority.

“The consenting authority today is the Olubadan of Ibadanland, not the governor of Oyo State. So, the elevation of the Chiefs does not make them, in any way, higher than the Olubadan, who is the Consenting Authority for this elevation.

“Today, history has been made because those who have planned to go to court will only waste their time. What the traditional chiefs, paramount rulers and residents of Ibadan want us to do is what we have done,” the governor added.

He congratulated the new Obas, challenging them to work for the good of the residents of the state, even as he congratulated the Olubadan for making history, saying: “What is happening today has been destined by God.”

Earlier, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba (Dr.) Balogun, appreciated the governor for giving approval to his request for the elevation of the members of the Olubadan-in-Council to beaded crown-wearing Obas.

According to Olubadan, the elevation of High Chiefs to beaded crown-wearing Oba is a reconstruction of Ibadan’s rich history in a way as to make it sustainable and enduring, stating that he was sure that posterity “will record us rightly.”

He added that the new development had not, in any way, altered the uniqueness of the Ibadan traditional system, saying: “The system remains as it is, as nothing changes in our succession plan.”

The event was attended by traditional rulers from within and outside Oyo State, top government functionaries and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders in the state.

Among the royal fathers that graced the occasion were the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who was represented by the Onifegunwa of Ifegunwa, Oba Adewole Solomon; the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi; the Onpetu of Ijeru, Oba Sunday Oyediran; and the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Francis Alao, Among others.

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Though nobody is sure what would be the next action of those opposed to the new development, Senator Ladoja had earlier said he may not go to court because the issue is clear as he would not put on the crown but with the weekend’s action of Governor Makinde, which was viewed as an intention to undermine Ladoja, there were speculations that Ladoja and other citizens of Oyo State opposed to Makinde’s action may approach the court again to reopen the case, which went on appeal and later thrown back to the State High Court for retrial.

It will be recalled that Governor Makinde in the new amendment Bill, which he signed into law that gave him the power to determine who wears the crown in the State, had sought the approval of the State Assembly to amend section 28 of the Oyo State chieftaincy law, 2023 to allow traditional heads to wear beaded crowns. The law gives the governor the sole authority to specify those who would wear beaded crowns, without consulting the council of Obas and Chiefs of the State, as it was customary.

The new amendment was the second. The first was carried out by late Ajimobi, who reviewed the 1957 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration between, May and August 2017 which was instrumental to the 21 kings wearing crowns.

Among the crowned kings are 11 High Chiefs in the Olubadan in council.

Ajimobi in August 27, 2017 gave instrument of office to the chiefs including members of the Olubadan Advisory Council.

The action of the late governor sparked controversies and it was vehemently opposed by virtually all Ibadan Indigenes, who argued that the High Chiefs in the Olubadan in council, are not entitled to wear crowns but only the Olubadan of Ibadanland.

This also caused a great disaffection among the members of the Olubadan in council and the then Olubadan of Ibadan land, Late Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogungunniso 1 and other Chiefs, led by the High Chief, the Osi Olubadan, and the former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Adewolu, Ladoja to go to court, to challenge the reveiw of the Olubadan Chieftaincy declaration of 1957.

Ladoja and Oba Adetuji challenged the illegality of the then late governor Ajimobi on the issue. They, however, got the judgement delivered by Justice Olajumoke Aiki in 2018, that the panel headed by Justice Akintunde Boade commission of enquiry that looked into the 1957 declaration and other related matters on the Chieftaincy in Ibadanland, was unconstitutional, illegal null and void and of no effect.

But the then government of Ajimobi, which was floored by Ladoja went on Appeal, on 11 grounds to upturn the ruling of Justice Aiku and also called for the dismissal of the case completely.

But rather than adjudicating on the matter, the Appeal Court threw the case back to the State High Court for retrial, ordering that a new Judge should handle it.

This was the situation till when Oba Adetunji died and it dragged on. There was confusion on what to do because the High Chief next in line to be crowned Olubadan of Ibadanland, the Otun, Dr. Lekan Balogun was already one of the beneficiaries of the Ajimobi crowns.

It was argued that since Chief Lekan Balogun has been wearing the crown and he was being called an Oba, he had no legal rights to be crowned as the Olubadan.

One of the sons of Ibadanland, who stood his ground on this issue, the former commissioner of Justice and Attorney General of the State, Mr. Michael Lana, wrote Makinde that installation of Oba to succeed Adetunji could not hold, since virtually all the High Chiefs are wearing crowns, as he described any process to install any one of them, as double standard.

But Lana’s letter to Governor Makinde, which argued that the High Chiefs under the Olubadan wearing the crown was a disrespect and disloyalty to the revered thrown of Olubadan, was tagged as self serving, unfounded and gross misconception, of the restructuring of the Ibadan Chieftaincy order of Ajimobi.

Lana’s point of view, was believed to pave the way for Senator Ladoja, who is next to Chief Lekan Bologun who had already got a crown. Out of the High Chiefs in the Olubadan in council, it was only Ladoja, who refused to accept Ajimobi’s Crown as Oba and he remained his Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland.

But Ladoja in his wisdom and a person who did not wanted to be seen as over ambitious for the throne insisted that Chief Balogun was the next in line to be the Olubadan and in order to solve the crisis, it was agreed that the High Chief including Lekan Balogun should shed their crowns and regalia as the matter was subsequently settled out of Court, to enable Balogun be the paramount ruler of Ibadanland.

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Former governor Adebayo Akala created problem in the council, when he ordered that the Chairmanship of the council of Obas and chiefs be rotated among the major traditional rulers, which include the Oluubadan of Ibadanland and the Soun of Ogbomoso.

Before then, it was the Alaafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi the111, who assumed the permanent Chairmanship of the council, who did not take kindly to Akala’s order, and went to court to challenge the action, which was viewed in some quarters as a way by Akala to deal with the late Alafin Adeyemi, who did not support his second term governorship bid.

Since then, the Council of Obas has not held a single meeting because the leadership tussle among them has not been resolved until now.

Ladoja while reacting to the controversy said he was not interested in any other crown than that of the Olubadan of Ibadanland which Is the most authentic crown that he would cherish to wear.

Ladoja explained further during the Eid Kabir festival that whether Governor Makinde has approved their letters to wear beaded crowns or not, it is illegal for any Ibadan High chief to wear the crown, as only the Olubadan is entitled to do that, more so, they have all surrendered them to enable Oba Lekan Balogun to be crowned as the ruler in Ibadanland.

“I Joined the Olubadan in line since 1993. Since I joined Jagun Olubadan, my target is to be become Olubadan and I did not have the intention that I was going to wear any beaded crown on the way. The role of the High chief is to advise and support the Olubadan not to wear crown with him,” Ladoja further argued.

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