Olubadan succession: They told them they would not listen now it’s boomeranged in his face

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Senator Lekan Balogun


Femi OGUNLANA

There is nothing as good as good. Following the laid down rule, abiding by the tradition as set down by the wise forefathers is always the best option. When we try to circumvent it on the whims of personal interest, we set in motion a series of events that may ultimately consume us or smear and rattle us.
Late Governor Abiola Ajimobi came up with his strange amendment of the age-long Ibadan traditional system during his tenure culminating in the abberant crowning of 11 Ibadan high chiefs and 22 Baales. Those who valued culture and tradition cried blue murder but the elevated men consumed by a chance to reap instant gains embraced the Greek gifts offered by the governor, gluttonously savouring the title”Oba.”

Late Governor Ajimobi, his wife and the controversially crowned Obas in Ibadan


If this dubious elevation was good for the Baales who got elevated it wasn’t for the high chiefs who were in line to clinch the highest traditional seat in the land of Ibadan. But they had no qualms sacrificing long term gains for immediate gains except the Osi Olubadan, Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, and who is a former governor of Oyo state. He refused to be addressed as Oba considering it “kangaroo” rather answering to his high chief appellation.
If not for High Chief Ladoja and late Olubadan Oba Saliu Adetunji’s principled stand, the magnificent traditional system of Ibadanland instituted and unveiled by Ibadan’s past men of valour would have been bastardized without challenge.
The two fought the attempted rape in the court. High Chief Ladoja went to a High Court and he got judgement in his favour with the action of Ajimobi being declared illegal. The man whose turn it is now to assume the position of Olubadan, (High Chief Lekan Balogun, who represented Oyo South Senatorial District between 1999 and 2003), and which would have occured seamlessly and without rancour went to challenge the victory in the Appeal Court along with others. The Appeal Court set the judgment aside without touching on its merit though and sent it back for retrial on technical grounds.

Incumbent Governor Seyi Makinde


Upon assuming office Makinde inspired an out-of-court settlement, which became the judgment of the High Court but the High Chiefs and the Baales were dissatisfied as they were not ready to relinquish their crowns and coronets and so proceeded to the Appeal Court yet again. The case is yet to be determined.
Now, the hen has come home to roost. You cannot eat your cake and still have it. Those who sow wind shall reap whirlwind. Even if he eventually scales the hurdle, this lacuna before High Chief (or is it Oba) Lekan Balogun would forever be a blot on his credentials.
Barrister Michael Lana of MFL Chambers, Ibadan, writing to Governor Makinde on the matter cited the pending court case to warn against the inauguration of a new Olubadan. He noted that only if the High Chiefs and Baales withdraw the pending case or they wait for the court to deliver judgement can there be an action that will be deemed legal on the matter advising Makinde, ”It’s in line with this legal situation that l advise, most humbly, that you should withhold approval of any High Chief to become the Olubadan so that you will not also join in the desecration of the Ibadan Chieftaincy Customary law.”
Michael Lana hinged his position on the pending legal case thereby outlining the two options available to the governor.
“There are only two ways to deal with this situation: one is for the High Chiefs to withdraw the aforementioned cases and the other is to wait for the Court to pronounce on it before any step is taken to install an Olubadan. If the court holds that they have the right to be Obas and entitled to wear beaded crowns, then they are perpetually barred from becoming another Oba. Nowhere in the customary law of any Yoruba town is an Oba elevated to become another Oba.
“If on the other hand, the court holds that the Terms of Settlement stands, and their Obaship title is illegal, then they are free to be elevated to the post of Olubadan.”
Meanwhile, another lawyer, Ola Adeosun, of Ola Adeosun & Co Chambers, also based in Ibadan, gave a varied opinon while speaking with The PUNCH newspaper.
He said that the chieftaincy declaration of 1957 puts Balogun in good stead, and that the hierarchy of the Obaship is clear.
However, in agreement with Barrister Micheal Lana, a pending court case may be a cog in the wheel.
Barrister Adeosun reiterated that by the time the appeal was going on, the Seyi Makinde government had assumed office and settled out of court with Senator Ladoja, thereby returning the Obaship back to its 1957 status and nullifying the Obaship installed by the Ajimobi administration.
He described the chieftaincy process under the Ajimobi administration as illegal, because it did not go through the Oyo State House of Assembly, but was instituted through an executive “Gazette”.
“Some of the chiefs who were dissatisfied by the decision of Governor Seyi Makinde to settle out of court went to file another case in court since they were not a party to the earlier case between Ladoja and the Oyo State Government, all in a bid to set aside the “Terms of Settlement,” he said.
“The truth is that as far as the case is concerned, Senator Lekan Balogun is a high chief of Ibadan, not an Oba, and can become the Olubadan. Although, he and some of the chiefs have continued to parade themselves as Obas, which is a contempt of court.”
Ola Adeosun also stated that the pending case (a single case) may serve as an obstacle to the installment of Balogun, because it may challenge his selection as the new Olubadan.
He asserted that the validity of the previous Obaship installed on him, needed to be fully set aside.
He referred to the letter sent to the governor by his legal colleague, Lana, and noted that if the pending court case is in the favour of the chiefs, Senator Balogun will have to retain the Obaship he got during the Ajimobi administration, and forfeit the Olubadan title.
“A man cannot wear two crowns,” Adeosun agreed.
No doubt Lekan Balogun shot himself in the leg. He overplayed his game without thinking far ahead. Even if he is crowned Olubadan will he be comfortable with other high chiefs parading themselves as Obas like he did during the time of late Oba Adetunji?
What will he do now going forward? If the case he instituted at the Appeal Court is won by him he can’t become Olubadan legally. Will he now pray he loses? Because if he loses he reverts back to a high chief which will make the path to becoming Olubadan legally open to him. But will those behind him with the exception of Ladoja pray for a loss in the court that will make them become high chiefs and Baales again? It is indeed a devil’s alternative scenario.
One lesson that should be learnt in this dilemma faced by Lekan Balogun is that we should always stay glued on the side of legality and not because of greed or fear support the proponents of illegality even if it is being promoted by the president. The sword of justice has turned against him full circle now.
In the final submission if he eventually succeeds in getting to the position of Olubadan his personality would have been dented. He is scathed and he will be indebted to some people for having helped him in clearing the mess he helped to create in moments of selfishness. No matter what he will be the first Olubadan whose ascension is marked by despicable controversies. Hope a bad antecedent will not be set.

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