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Olubadan Stool: Ajimobi’s knotty mess still stokes crisis, controversies

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Olubadan Stool: Ajimobi's knotty mess still stokes crisis, controversies

..as Olakulehin now set to be crowned next Olubadan.

The coast now appears to have been cleared for the new Olubadan designate, Oba Owolabi Olakulehin, to ascend the throne of Olubadan, which became vacant after the demise of Oba Olalekan Balogun, who joined his ancestors late last month.

Based on the laid down tradition on the ascension to the throne of Olubadan, Oba Olakulehin is expected to mount the throne as the next Olubadan but, there had been controversies over his state of health as to whether he is fit to be crowned.

Some of the king makers, who were members of the Olubadan- in- council, especially, the Otun Balogun of Ibadanland, Oba Abimbola Ajibola and Oba Amidu Ajibade, were vocal about Olakulehin’s fitness, claiming that he could not mount the throne as Olubadan because he is not physically fit and has been unable to show appearance to the Kingmakers and the entire people of Ibadanland, that he was ready to lead the people of Ibadanland as their paramount ruler.

This situation, however led to serious sharp division among the kingmakers and pitched some of them against the Otun Olubadan, High Chief Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, who is the most Senior High Chief in Ibadanland, spearheading the immediate enthronement of Oba Olakulehin, while others were against his immediate ascension to the throne.

Several meetings held by both sides were stalemated, with those claiming that Oba Olakulehin was not well enough to be crowned, insisting that they must see him in person to address them before his nomination would be formally consented to and ratified, for onward presentation to the State government, for approval.

The imbroglio among the Olubadan in council, degenerated to names calling and what was described as back-sliding, among them.

As a result, a meeting to effect this was slated for last Friday, while some of them doubted his appearance. But to the amazement of all, Oba Olakulehin surfaced at the Palace of the Olubadan in Mapo Hill, which was filled with crowd of Ibadan indigenes, who came to catch a glimpse of him.

With Oba Olakulehin’s appearance, the coast is now clear for his enthronement process, as his name has been forwarded to the State Governor. This would also put to rest, the insinuations about his health issues, which is normal, as a result of the old age of a man, who is over 80 years.

From the historical perspective, about the ascension to the kingship of Olubadanland, there has never been a young person less than 70 years, who had mounted the throne. The youngest and the only person so far, that got to the throne at the age of 54 years, was Oba Kobiowu, who himself did not last long on the throne.

Others before him and after, clocked over 80 years. The last Olubadan Oba Lekan Balogun got to the throne at the age of 80 and died at the age of 82, while his immediate predecessor Oba Saliu Adetinji Ogun gunniso was almost 90 years, when he ascended the throne.

At the Mapo Hall meeting of the Kingmakers, and Olubadan in Council, last Friday, Oba Ajibola, who still insisted that Olakulehin was not fit and who is next to him and expected to nominate Oba Olakulehin, made do with his promise that he would not attend. He was, indeed, absent to do the nomination but was substituted with the man next to him, the Osi Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Lateef Adebimpe, who eventually did the nomination of Oba Olakulehin, who was physically present accompanied by his son.

It was the High Chief Ladoja, the Otun Olubadan, that presided at the nomination and ratification of Oba Olakulehin, by the Kingmakers, who double as Obas and members of the Olubadan- in-council.

Other members of Olubadan-in-Council at the meeting are Osi Olubadan, Eddy Oyewole; Ashipa Olubadan, Abiodun Kola-Daisi; Ekerin Olubadan, Hamidu Ajibade; Ekarun Olubadan, Adebayo Akande; Osi Balogun, Lateef Adebimpe; Ashipa Balogun, Kola Adegbola; Ekerin Balogun, Dada Isioye and Ekarun Balogun, Abiodun Azeez.

Although, the issue of whether Olakulehin would ascend the throne or not, has been resolved, awaiting Governor Makinde’s approval, all is still not well or the last heard about the chieftaincy issues, in Ibadan, as it was being speculated that some of the aggrieved Chiefs and Obas may challenge his nomination as not following the due process.

Already, there were still litigations in the law courts, which began during the tenure of the late governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who first altered the chieftaincy declaration of Ibadanland of 1957.

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Ajimobi in 2017 tinkered with the declaration, as he amended section 28 of it, which originally had the Olubadan as the sole paramount monarch in Ibadanland, who could wear beaded crown usually, from the two lines of Otun and Balogun.

The process of ascension to the Olubadan throne is unique, unlike the practice in most Yoruba towns. Ibadan kingmakers do not need to consult an oracle before selecting the next Olubadan after the incumbent has joined his ancestors.

And also unlike other Yoruba towns, where the opportunity of becoming king is limited to specific families, the Olubadan throne is open to all Ibadan indigenes, who are able to climb the chieftaincy ladder rung by rung to the last ladder.

But getting to the top to be Olubadan is not fast. From Jagun, candidates climb 21 steps before emerging as the Olubadan on the Otun Olubadan line, while candidates climb 22 steps on the Balogun line.

The uniqueness of this system makes every Ibadan indigene a potential king. This also does not give room to unhealthy rivalry to the throne because the next Olubadan is already on the ladder based on their chieftaincy hierarchy.
As a matter of facts and organisation, ascension is rotated between two lines. When an Olubadan dies, one of the topmost chiefs from both lines ascends the throne based on the principle of rotation. If one dies on the Otun side, the Balogun produces the next Olubadan.

For instance, the immediate past Olubadan, Oba Moshood Olalekan Balogun, came from the Otun line, while the Olubadan in waiting, Oba Olakulehin, is emerging from the Balogun line.
These uniqueness and the beauty of Ibadanland kingship, was what Late governor Abiola Ajimobi altered, by promoting the High Chiefs in Olubadan in council to the position of Obas, with beaded crowns and the title of the Royal Majesty, and the paramount ruler, the Olubada, to the Imperial Majesty. This was after the recommendation of the retired Justice, Akintunde Boade, which review the 1957 chieftaincy declaration and other related chieftaincy issues in Ibadan land.

Ajimobi, who was bombarded with series of question as to the motive behind his action, quickly explained that the review was not meant to witch hunt anybody but many indigenes of Ibadan, particularly, those close to the former governor Rashidi Ladoja were not convinced and believed that it was a mild way to deny their mentor the right to ascend the throne.

Ladoja then, was only two ladders to becoming the Olubadan, and Ladoja, apparently was unconscious of the threat, warned Ajimobi against treading “this unfamiliar terrain” and not to intervene in the Ibadan chieftaincy system.

During the tenure of Ajimobi, the vocal voice among the High Chiefs, who was then the Otun Olubadan, and, who was the immediate late Olubadan Oba Lekan Balogun, backed Ajimobi. Later, he was one of the two High Chiefs that dragged the governor to court over the issue and attributed his action then, to what he described as lack of a communication gap.

According to the late Oba Balogun, the exercise was aimed at modernising the methods of ascension to the Olubadan throne.
“Change is the only constant thing in life. There is nothing that is above change. All the furore, which had resulted from government’s move was due to a communication gap. But that has been resolved now. Life is dialectical; things must be changing and we must all be growing with it. The government is quite right to have set up a machinery to look into the law and see how it can be made better. We believe it is a welcome development, especially, with the kind of governor we have, who is keenly interested in the growth and development of Ibadanland,” .
He pointed out that the benefits inherent in the review were many, promising that the Olubadan would, henceforth, enjoy the company of beaded crown chiefs whenever he had any outing. This, he said, would raise the status of Ibadan as one of the most important cities in Yoruba land.
Chief Balogun said, “The benefits to be derived from the review are enormous. But, we know that the Olubadan will no longer be moving alone any longer.
“Of course, there will be high chiefs with the nomenclature of Obas, the Olubadan won’t be on his own anymore. When royal majesties (in other cities) go out, they are always in company of beaded crown Obas.”
What became interesting during Ajimobi tenure was that late Oba Saliu Adetunji, who first accepted what Ajimobi did, later came to the realization,that the amendment made by Ajimobi would be detrimental to Ibadan Chieftaincy and ascension to the throne. He, therefore,
later rejected it, when he said, “I don’t support the review of the Olubadan declaration at all. It has been in operation for several years. It has been working positively. So many kings before me had been installed based on the declaration. Why is it that it will be reviewed during my own reign. I don’t want history to be twisted during my time. It can be operated another time not during my reign.”
“In addition, it was all indigenes of Ibadan that made me king over them. They did not approve any other beaded crown king. It is only Ibadan people who can say this. So, the bottom line is that I don’t want the review.”
But late Ajimobi stood his ground and declared with the executive arrogance and authority, “we are going to do the review of the declaration. We will surely do it because it will be to the advantage of Ibadan. Nothing can stop us”.
Building on what his predecessor did, Governor Makinde too, after a while in office, decided to do his own amendment to the Ibadan Chieftaincy law, which was already heating up the polity in Ibadan and creating tension with series of controversies and litigations.

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Just as it was speculated during Ajimobi’s era, that the amendment, was aimed at Ladoja, the same with Makinde who people thought would not dabble into the matter which had already died down, when late Oba Lekan Balogun was to be installed as the Olubadan. The Ibadsn High Chiefs, crowned by Ajimobi as Obas with beaded crowns, were asked to surrender their crowns to pave the way for Oba Lekan Balogun.

While Senator Ladoja the only high Chief, who rejected to be crowned Oba, along with others, went to court to challenge Ajimobi’s action, then agreed to step down his legal action.

 

Governor Makinde, while revisiting the amendment made by Ajimobi, explained that though attempts had been made by previous administrations to change the state chief’s law, which resulted in several controversies, adding that his government has allowed due process to prevail in the interest of all stakeholders.
The governor said: “Well, the implication is that we must have a law in Oyo State that allows the smooth running of the traditional council, which is important. Before I came in, the traditional council was not functioning, but now they can function, and with that law, you remember that the previous administration tried to reform the traditional council system, especially in Ibadanland, and the government gave coronets to some High Chiefs.”
“One of the High Chiefs went to court, and the Oyo State Court decided that the previous administration didn’t follow their own law. Now that we have amended the law, we will follow our own law, and no one can go to court now and succeed.”

The Deputy Speaker, of the State House of Assembly, Mohammed Fadeyi, who presented the amended bill to Makinde, for assent, noted that inputs of stakeholders were carefully examined by the House, before the passage of the bill Chiefs Law, Cap 28. Law of Oyo State of Nigeria.

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The State Assembly in the new amendment, substituted sub-section (1) of section 28 with a new clause.
“The initial provision of Sub-section (1) which read: “The Governor may cause such inquiries to be held at such times and in such places and by such person or persons as it or he may consider necessary or desirable ” was substituted with “The Governor may cause such inquiries to be held at such times and in such places and by such person or persons as he may consider necessary or desirable.”
“To this end, former Clause (3) has now become Clause (4) hence the new Sub-section (3) now reads “Any person who pursuant to subsection (1) of this section is elevated to wear beaded crown from Baales to Minor Chiefs, who being a customary tenant shall continue to pay obeisance to his prescribed or consenting authority.”
Governor Makinde had said in the letter requesting for the amendment that: “As part of the ongoing efforts of the present administration to specify the Chieftaincy holders entitled to wear beaded crowns in Oyo State, the Executive council has considered the need to amend the Chiefs Law of Oyo State.”
“This is as a result of agitation of many High Chiefs on the issue of beaded crowns and the volume of litigations and resentment within communities in the state.”

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