- To Promote 21 High Chiefs To Oba
- His Media Aide, ADEOLA OLOKO Explains
The recent move by the Oyo State governor, Chief Abiola Ajimobi, to crown 21 new Obas has been causing ripples in Ibadan. The Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, has distanced himself from the move saying it’s not needed and that he was not properly consulted.
The fact that many of them are high chiefs and members of Olubadan in Council has made it difficult for them to have two titles as Oba and High Chiefs at the same time.
As High Chiefs and members of Olubadan In Council they are supposed to prostrate for the Olubadan each time they come into the palace, but now that they have been made Obas by government fiat, will they still be willing to prostrate? That is part of the contradictions their appointments has brought as they have stopped coming to the palace and some of them now see themselves as equals to Olubadan.
Last week, Olubadan’s Media aide, Adeola Oloko, told City People a lot about what is going on and how Gov. Ajimobi’s upgrading of the 21 chiefs has incapacitated the smooth running of the affairs of the palace. He spoke with City People Magazine Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE.
What are your thoughts on the current crisis between the Olubadan and Gov. Ajimobi?
It is a needless crisis because the system that the Oyo State government decided to review was working. If a system is working what are you reforming in it? We have a rancour-free system, whereby anybody who wants to become Olubadan would be known years before.
You know the person that is next. You know the hierarchy. The only thing that can stand between a high Chief and the Olubadan throne is death. Once you don’t die, you will eventually get to the exalted throne of Olubadan. The current Oba queued up for 40years before he became Olubadan of Ibadanland. Having fished in that same waters, he can’t pollute it by supporting the chieftaincy review. That is one.
Two is the fact that since the system has been working, it does not need any review.
The third point is that there are suits in respect of the matter, which the government has ignored. It is important to ask the government: Why the hurry?
The 4th point is if you are a king, a monarch in Yorubaland, there are rituals you have to make at places of seclusion where you would stay for 7 days or 21 days or 30 days, depending on the system. You are the one that knows the Oath taken at that seclusion.
The Kabiyesi has told us that he entered into a covenant with Ibadan people to say ‘I will not disrupt the Ibadan arrangement’ which is why he is not supporting Gov. Ajimobi. So, if he decides to support Gov. Ajimobi’s move how do you want history to record him?
Some people have insinuated that there may have been disagreements before now between the governor and the Olubadan: is that true?
People are beginning to look beyond what has happened.
The disagreement between one or twopersons could be personal. There can be personal problems between one or two persons. But that should not be taken to higher level. We should not turn any personal disagreement into an institutional crisis. That is the point we are making. We are saying if at all there is a personal problem, should we now destroy existing institutions?
What I know is that there is a son to father relationship between the Kabiyeesi, Olubadan and His Excellency, the governor of Oyo State. There is nothing that he requests from Kabiyeesi that Kabiyeesi turns down. As a matter of fact, many times, Kabiyesi will tell us Senator Abiola Ajimobi the governor of Oyo State is my brother’s son. Omo egbon mi ni. It is my duty to ensure that he succeeds and lands safely at the end of his tenure. That is what Kabiyeesi always tells us.
There is no prayer gathering where you call Kabiyeesi and he wouldn’t say, ‘Eyin Alfa’ I am putting down this money to pray, so that my son will land safely. I don’t think there is any disagreement per se. The only thing is that you have some individuals involved in a matter, who would go and say to the governor this is what the person said behind you.
Some people have said that perhaps the Iyaloja Labake Lawal issue was one of the issues that made the governor angry. What really happened?
It was the market women and men in Ibadan, who came to Kabiyeesi.
They marched to this palace. The marketmen and women in Ibadan, marched to this palace to say that they have removed Iyaloja. Labake Lawal was made Iyaloja by Olubadan, Ogundipe Arapasowu 12 years ago. So, Kabiyeesi told them. If you must remove anybody you must follow procedure. You can only bring allegations against her. I would then invite all parties to a meeting, which he did. They eventually set up a panel at the Olubadan-In-Council to look at the matter. Iyaloja was accused of diverting funds of the associations into her personal pocket and they brought tellers as evidence of proof.
Iyaloja couldn’t defend it. Even if Kabiyeesi likes Iyaloja as a very good person, the fact of the matter is that he is not going to be in the market with them. So Kabiyeesi said, look, go and reconcile with them. I can not protect you. Later on, they brought another candidate nominated by the Olojas and Kabiyeesi gave them the go ahead. That was it. She was removed.
And when the governor realised that a new Iyaloja was going to be crowned, they laid siege around the palace and blocked the 2 roads at Popoyemoja and prevented people from coming in. It was only after Kabiyeesi’s called some people before the siege was removed.
Could the problem be because of Kabiyesi’s closeness to Senator Ladoja?
They accused me also. Because I was his Chief Press Secretary when he was the governor, they said I was speaking for him. I was not working for him. No. It is not because Ladoja is close to Kabiyesi. I am telling you today that His Excellency, Gov. Ajimobi is closer to Olubadan than Ladoja. I will say that. But Ladoja is one of the Chiefs. One of the things I have come to realise is the adage;, Respect me, I must respect you back.
What does that mean?
It means that the Olubadan respects Gov. Ajimobi, so he should reciprocate the respect. There was a time when, Wasiu Ajimobi, the governor’s younger brother, was to be elevated from Mogaji to the Balogun line and many chiefs were opposed to it. This thing is the prerogative of Kabiyesi. He alone can say I will do it or not. Eventually Kabiyesi promoted the man and it stands.
The Olubadan-In-Council is not a legal personality. It is an advisory body. It is Olubadan who is the appointing authority as far as Chieftaincy Matters are concerned. It is only when you are moving up the rungs to the High Chief that the governor comes in to say he should be notified and if he is notified, after 21 days and there is no action, Kabiyeesi can go ahead to do it.
Has this 21 new Oba issue not created a problem between Kabiyeesi and the Governor?
There is no problem. The Kabiyeesi is a man who is very accommodating. As we are talking now, His Excellency is out of the country. If he comes in here today, they will fling the gate open to him to see his father as usual.
I repeat, Kabiyeesi and the Governor are close.
He himself said it before. Today, Kabiyeesi was invited to a meeting by the SSG. Kabiyesi went, everybody was there, Alaafin was there. If His Excellency had attended, he would have seen Kabiyeesi. As far as the Kabiyeesi is concerned, the governor is the governor of the state and he is the Olubadan of Ibadanland.
What is Kabiyeesi’s position on this Chieftaincy review issue?
Kabiyeesi’s position is that even the 1959 declaration Act that they are talking about was initiated by late Oba Issac Babalola Akinyele, the Olubadan of Ibadan at that time. That late Olubadan was the one, along with members of his council, who felt there were certain reforms they needed to make. All they needed to do was to register it for approval with the state government.
If that was what had happened now, I am sure, there would have been no crisis. If it is the other way round, people would not read political meanings to it. That is what caused the crisis. It is Kabiyeesi that is supposed to spearhead the move, to say look, I am operating in this atmosphere, I want beaded crowns for this and this reason and he would pass it through Oyo State Council of Obas and Chief. That is how it’s done.
But those on the governors side insist that when the whole issue started, the Governor invited Kabiyeesi and he was fully briefed…
His Excellency did not say that. It is those around him who are saying so, for political reasons. They are passing secondary information. I was at the meeting which Kabiyeesi attended. The judicial commission of enquiry was set up and inaugurated on May 17th. Governor invited Olubadan on June 14. Four weeks into the operation of the judicial commission. Is that what you call consulting? You consult Before and not After. He was not properly consulted. He was invited to the Governor’s office after the Judicial Commission had almost wrapped up its operations. If he had been properly consulted, certain irregularities that we are seeing now would have been avoided.
With what has happened now, the 21 new Obas are also still Olubadan’s High Chiefs. Won’t that affect the smooth running the palace operationally?
It will. That is what we are saying. You can’t hold 2 titles. When you are coming to the palace for Olubadan-in-Council meetings, all the high chiefs are expected to lie down flat before Kabiyeesi. If you are wearing crowns and the governor has made you a small Oba, how do you want to lie down flat to greet Olubadan? There is no small crown in Yorubaland. You are not supposed to lie down for another Oba, if you are an Oba.
And they can’t shake hands with Kabiyeesi Olubadan. That is the issue. It is a gross miscalculation. It is very unfortunate because we all love our governor. I have seen an interview granted by one of the highchiefs, saying that we are now equal. We are now Obas-in-council.
Whereas what we have traditionally is Olubadan-in-Council. It has created much confusion. In Ibadan, as in other places, there is hierarchy in status. You don’t find Baale insulting a Mogaji because as far as we are concerned Mogaji is superior to Baale. You don’t find a Mogaji insulting a Baada or Jagun. You don’t find Jagun insulting Senior Chiefs. There are Senior Chiefs, there are Highchiefs. There is hierarchy. High Chiefs cannot insult Olubadan. It is an abomination. All these lack of organisation has come in. But it’s a matter of time.
How does Kabiyeesi Olubadan now intend to proceed to rule, smoothly, with all of these abnormalities?
Kabiyeesi is exploring peaceful resolution to take place by Governor meeting Kabiyeesi to say look, let’s resolve it. That is one. They know how to talk about it. There are also suits in court. We also want the courts to make pronouncements.