Interview

There is only one king and many chiefs in Ibadan – Ladoja

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High Chief Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, the Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, is a former governor of Oyo State and an astute politician.

He is an elder statesman. In this chat with Journalists, including Business Hallmark reporter, recently at his Bodija Ibadan, residence, he spoke extensively about the crisis in the Olubadan stoll, security situation in Nigeria, and a strong advocacy for the restructuring of Nigeria as well as his relationship with Peter Obi, Tinubu, Atiki, El- Rufai and Kwankwaso.

Excerpts:

What will you say about the spirit of Ramadan?

It teaches us to be humble and we pray that as we now go through famine in Nigeria today, God will provide us with abundance and our leaders should start working towards this and be prepared to make sacrifices and we hope that with time things would improve.

With what you have just said what lessons do you think our leaders should learn from this and what do you think we should expect from them at this critical period?

Honestly, there is no leader, who would not want anything good for his people and the citizens. The problem they are facing and, which most leaders face, is that when they are contesting, they don’t know what was on ground and what they are going to meet.

The clear example of what I am saying, is that of Kaduna State, when the new governor claimed that he met a lot of debts when he assumed office. You heard what was said by the Federal government too, that what they met was not what they expected.

Like I said earlier, no leader wants his people to suffer.

I believe that all our leaders should be committed to a Nigeria, where everybody is safe, a Nigeria with abundance and Nigeria, where everybody is secured. That is what all leaders want and even all Nigerians.

We should continue to pray for them and I believe that if God lead them aright, we all shall enjoy and that is my wish.

What are your reactions to the issue of Olubadan and the perceived division among the king makers and members of the Olubadan in council, particularly the statement of the Otun Balogun, Oba Tajuddeen Ajibola that the Olubadan designate Oba Olakulehin is not fit to be crowned the Olubadan?

Well, the Otun Balogun Ajibola has giving his own personal opinion. There is also a statement from the Osi Balogun at Baba Olakulehin’s residence that the Olubadan designate is hail and heart. If one person said Baba is not well and another said he is well, then you can see that they are both giving their opinions. At any rate, none of them is a medical doctor. I believe there should be no anxiety on the issue. What should also be realised is that the Baba in question is not a young man of 20, 30 or 40 years of age as such, you can’t expect him to run as faster as a 20 or 30 years old person.

I think the opinion of the Otun Balogun should not be taken seriously because he is not a doctor and I believed that when we meet we are going to resolve the matter.

What is your assessment of the security situation in Nigeria within the last three months and the agitations for State police?

We are all aware of the security situation in Nigeria and to me, the situation has improved in the last three weeks. I think what we should all do is to pray for our political leadership, as well as security leadership, for them to be able to overcome all the challenges they are facing. Yes, in the last three months security situation was bad but if we look at it closely, in the last three weeks, I have not read about new kidnapping.

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Again looking at it closely, as well, you will see that most of these security challenges are mostly from the Northern parts of Nigeria. This is also as a result of accumulation of neglects of their people, especially youths. The accumulation we are talking about, is in the sense that when one section of the country is working and the other section is not, it is a big problem.

When in this part of the country, we were pursuing free education, the North was busy doing something else. What we are witnessing in that area now, is the lapses of the leaders of that area.

With the agitation here and there, especially, the call for State police and creation of more states in Nigeria, don’t you think that this present Federal government should be bold enough now to restructure the country?

Let me say this concerning the creation of state, I am saying that we want Ibadan State. Actually, we really want Ibadan state. Again I will say that we always like to run. We are not patient enough. It is human to agitate.

To be honest, how can you ask an hungry man, who is angry not to react or agitate.

There has been several debates about restructuring, especially, there was a colloquium in Lagos, where it was advocated that the report of the Jonathan’s 2014 National Conference should be revisited. That is one of the provisions on ground to help restructuring. The report of the conference is all embracing and encompassing. It is not just the one that you take one and leave one. The report contains the provision for the state police and other things.

When we are talking about restructuring, there are several ways of going about it but what we want is the best for Nigeria.That is why some of us still believe that the 2014 Confab report should be dusted and re-examined properly.

Again it is not polite and cost effective for the country to spend so much money and engage the calibres of people, who participated in the conference, with their time and energy put into it, to just dump such a beautiful report. I was a member of that conference and what we want is just the best for Nigeria. I want the report to be revisited and it will do a lot to help Nigeria and Nigerians.

Can you please clarify your relationship with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar?

I am friendly with both of them. They are all my friends. I am not a politician anymore. I am now an elder statesman. I was in the Senate with Bola, and Atiku has been a mutual friend with both of us for years. I can’t discard my friendship with them. If I relate with them, it is on the mutual basis of friendship. If any one of them comes to me for advice as an elder statesman, i will give honest advice. For me to now say ooh, this one is my friend and that one is not, I can’t do that. Right now I am a potential Olubadan and the politicians are my friends and I am now relating with them as an elder and on mutual understanding as friends. The issue of voting is about my conscience. I am no longer a card carrying member of any political party.

In fact, it will surprise you that El-Rufai, Peter Obi, and Kwankwaso are all my friends. They have all been in my house here at Ibadan to break the fast with me at one time or the other.

Whether you are in party A or B does not matter to me. I am together with all of them as a potential Olubadan.

Again there is a case in court. You took the state government and the Olubadan advisory council to court and it was said that you have agreed to drop the case for peace to reign. Can you shed more lights on this?

You see, people should not read the statement out of context. Firstly, what brought about the case should be examined. When they met, because they have become kings with beaded crowns, and said that they are now the Kingmakers and when it comes to Ladoja’s turn because he has refused to wear the crown like us, we are going to deny him from becoming the Olubadan, I then went to court. If they withdrew their statement, then I will withdraw mine. I did not go to court, because they took the crown but because they threatened me. They should note that I did not take the Baales to court because they know their boundaries. I am the Otun Olubadan and the entire Ibadanland is my territory. Going to court is to protect and defend my right.

We are all talking because we all want peace to reign. What is happening between us, is the beauty of Ibadan. When there is turbulence, it will look as if heaven will fall and at the end of the day the turbulence will go down. We are all brothers and as time goes on, those concerned will understand better.

Will this issue on ground affects the traditional institution of Ibadanland ?

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No, it will not affect it, because we have everything being properly laid out, which revolves around the Olubadan and its council. One thing people should also note is that It’s God that enthrones whoever will become Olubadan.

Can you react to the insinuation going round Ibadan that the High Chiefs, who are now kings ganged up against you because it was believed that when you become Olubadan and because you refused to accept the crown like them you will revoke their crowns?

As far as I am concerned, their crown can’t be a threat to the Olubadan, because they can’t come to the palace and flagrantly display their paraphernalia in front of Olubadan. As such, in the palace there is only one king and many Chiefs, so that is it.

If people have decided to boost their status with whatever they want, I can’t prevent them but one thing I know is that they cannot come to the palace to intimidate the Olubadan, who is the paramount ruler, with their crowns.

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