Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria has insisted that he was right in ordering monarchs to stand up and show respect to the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, as according to him, governors deserve respect.
Obasanjo who spoke on Monday, amid criticisms over his action, stressed that he stood firmly, unapologetically and uncompromisingly on the position that the governor of a state holds the highest office in the state and should, therefore, be given the due respect as enshrined in the constitution.
The former president said this in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, and made available to journalists on Monday.
“The former President has affirmed that he stood firmly, unapologetically and uncompromisingly on the position that the governor of a state holds the highest office in the state,” the statement reads in part.
“By that position, the respect, protocol and dignity that must be given to the office by virtue of the constitution must not be denied. To do otherwise is to deride the office and the constitution.”
Obasanjo, who came under heavy criticism from several Nigerians over his stand-up order to monarchs present at the unveiling of the Iseyin campus of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology on Friday, has given reasons for his action.
The former military Head of State said he acted the way he did because the monarchs acted with utter disrespect to Governor Makinde, according to a report by Premium Times.
“As we arrived (at the venue with the governor), every other person at the venue rose, but they (the monarchs) remained seated. I was surprised because I considered that a breach of protocol and disrespect for the governor.
“It later became the turn of the governor to speak. As he rose, every other person at the venue, including me, stood up as demanded by protocol and in respect for the governor and his office. Again, the Obas refused to rise. They all remained seated.
“I then asked people around whether that was the practice in Oyo State. I was told the Obas have always displayed disrespect for their governor. I wondered where they got that from and then decided to speak to them about it.
“As far as I am concerned, there is constitution and there is culture. By our constitution, the governor is the leader of a state. Everyone must respect him no matter his or her status or age. He deserves respect no matter how young he is and protocols must be observed.
“That was why I spoke to them the way I did. I wanted them to realise that it is not part of Yoruba culture to disrespect authorities. Respect begets respect and they must learn to deal with their governor with respect if they want to be respected in return.
“I respect traditional rulers and even when I was President and till today, I treat them with reverence. I prostrate, bow, and kneel before them as necessary.
“I respect our culture. But let us also know that there is a constitution that puts a chairman as head of a local government, a governor as head of a state, and a president as head of our country. Whatever we do must be in respect for that arrangement. I am saying there is culture and there is constitution. One must not disturb the other,” the former president maintained