Ghandi: Areago, head of Ogbomoso’s kingmakers, replies Laoye family, says ‘We did no wrong’

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The selection of a new Soun of Ogbomoso has expectedly been causing ripples with the family to produce the next Oba, the Laoye Ruling House, calling a press briefing to denounce the choice of the kingmakers, Prince Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye, during the week.

Areago Otolorin

Speaking at the press briefing, Alhaji Abdulwahab Laoye insisted the family had not selected anyone for the kingmakers and so called on the public to disregard the name Ghandi being bandied about.
Alhaji Abdulwahab had said, “We did not select Ghandi and he is not among the eleven that the screening committee selected from twenty-three applicants. We do not want the matter to degenerate to the level of litigations, we scheduled a meeting on the 23rd of February and invited the council to observe, but the council hijacked the process from us and added another seven people on the claims that the seven people equally obtained the expression of interest form, thereby raising the number of the applicants to eighteen.

We were invited again and we saw that some other people had been added to the applicants.

“To our surprise, we were notified later that some kingmakers were voting. We rushed down there and realised they were voting for either Ghandi or Suraju.
“All we are saying is that we the family of Laoye have not selected Gandi.”
Also, Mogaji of the Laoye ruling house, Olawole Laoye affirmed that the Laoye family was yet to select the right person for the throne, pledging that the next Soun of Ogbomoso would soon be selected from the family.
”The kingmakers have only selected their own, we will soon select our own,” the Mogaji stated.
But reacting, the Areago, who is head of the kingmakers, High Chief Sobaloju Otolorin, dismissed the claim by the Laoye Ruling House asserting that due process was followed in the selection of the crown prince.
High Chief Otolorin explaining, while speaking with newsmen said what was being insinuated in regards of the selection of Prince Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye was far from the truth.
He stated many factors were put into consideration before a name wss arrived at insisting no kingmakers collected bribes from any candidate and that they had only acted in the best interest of Ogbomosoland.
The head of the kingmakers pointed out that Prince Ghandi’s name was in the list of the 23 proposed by his family noting that the denial now was a surprise.
He emphasized neither religion nor bribery in favour of the kingmakers played any role in the selection adding that it was not within the purview of any ruling house to screen out any candidate but present to the kingmakers all who show interest.
He noted what the family could do is to encourage the aspirants to step down for each other before it got to the kingmakers affirming the family had no legal right to screen out any candidate except on a valid reason like may be he is not a true born of the family or he has deformity.
He spoke extensively on the matter, excerpts:
“The problem began when all members of their so-called screening committee put the names of their children and nephews forward, because of that they couldn’t resolve it. As an instance, their Mogaji had three nominees, the family secretary had his child, another family head called Cashman had his nominee, one Alhaji Wahab (chairman of their screening committee) had his own, everyone of them. That is why they couldn’t resolve it.
“So, they had 23 names which they brought to us and we asked them if all of them are eligible and they said yes, that that was why they sold forms to all of them. Meanwhile, it is illegal to have sold the form to them but they said they had court case and that they needed money to prosecute the case.
“They forwarded the names to the local government in accordance with the law and the council sent the list to us which we consequently considered with local government officers as observers. That is where the assignment of the family ends. We invited them one by one to interview them and we found useful, information furnished by the family on each of them.
“The first question we threw at them is that you knew there were more than one religions being practiced in Ogbomoso -traditional, Christianity and Islam, whether they were ready to embrace the three religions. Each of them said yes.
“We also told them it was not a matter of saying l have N10m in my account, it is beyond that,. In the first place the palace is now empty you have to replace everything from furniture to the last thing. In addition we informed them there were many court cases pending, the burden of which you would shoulder for years, this we let each of them know, that whoever would rise to the throne would have to be adequately prepared for the financial burden. Furthermore, there are staff in the palace, most of whom are not being paid by the government but by the late Oba, so, we told them this was an additional responsibility.and they all agreed yes. We further told them that on Fridays, members of the royal families and others did come to the palace to be feted by the late Oba that there won’t be government assistance. All this is documented by the local government officers who sat as observers.
“We now went through their CVs and seriously considered, who had the wherewithal to step into the gigantic shoes, we considered their profiles meticulously, this is not a matter of saying l am a pensioner.
“However, before this time, their screening committee members and other clans’ heads were trying to approach us to seek undue advantage for their preferred candidate. I was ready to swear with the Bible that Ghandi never came here, l never knew him. I spoke to him for the first time on the day of the interview and he even used nose mask. Though on the day we held the eighth day Fidau of late Baba Soun he also came and some people pointed to him that was another eligible prince but he also used nose mask. And then he came with former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he came to pay condolence visit on the demise of the late Oba and again he used face mask so I never knew him.
“I am saying categorically that what we did was not based on religion, if a Babalawo had the best profile we would have chosen him. We need someone who is capable financially and who has an impressive clout, someone who will not be taken for granted in the comity of Obas, Ogbomoso is beyond that, we need someone who can hold his own among other.Obas.
“Then they talked about the issue of Abese not voting. He caused it, personally l didn’t know government did not recognize him, he had not gotten approval since 2019. I didn’t know until now when government said he could not sit with us because he is not recognized. I protested but they brought out the vouchers from 2019 and l.saw “X” consistently marked against his name, implying he was not paid. They said if he was not recognized by government why would he be paid?
“So, l pleaded he should be allowed to sit as an observer along with the Iyalode who is not statutorily qualified to vote. They were allowed. So, we chose whom we chose and on the second day we forwarded the name to the state government. It is now left in the hand of the government, we are through with our own assignment too.
“I now heard they are holding meetings they would come.and burn my house, let them.come. They tried to bribe us but we rebuffed them, we don’t need their money we will do what is right, we told them. If an Oba is crowned and he deems it fit to do anything for us we will be obliged to take it but not to be induced financially. We don’t want a situation where we won’t be able to check the Oba if he starts to indulge in excesses after his coronation because we had collected bribes. That is why we turned down their advances.
“We had chosen in the best interest of Ogbomosoland. They now went to hold a press conference, that is of no consequence. No ruling house has power in law to screen any aspirant, what they can do is to cajole, appeal and encourage their princes to step down for one another they can’t screen them. It is only the kingmakers that has the power to screen. And that we have done and submitted the name to the governor. They can say whatever they like, it is water under the bridge. If we collected money would l be free to sit comfortably in my home like this? I didn’t collect money from.anyone it is unfounded rumour. Let me repeat this all the Laoye clans’ heads, they came individually to solicit for their children and we did not oblige them. Ask them. And they all promised to abide by the outcome..
‘Now they are saying Ghandi is not their child. You put together 23 names and his name was number 13, you sold form to him and you interviewed him at the Town Hall. And you are now saying you don’t know him. Yet, his father contested the throne in the past though you didn’t support him. I just knew his father and l were together in the board of directors of the Ogbomoso Community Bank, he (Prince Oladunni Olaoye) was made the chairman of the board after Alata left. It is some of them that this recently that .that was his father, just recently, it is the same people that are now saying he is not of their family again. Everything is in the hand of God, if anyone says Balogun would not sit with us we would have said it’s not possible.
“I told them if you chose someone not financially capable l won’t contribute a kobo if asked to, how will an Oba ask me to make contributions? That is the truth l will not lie l am a Catholic. What money would you take that you won’t be able to sleep because of guilty conscience! What we need is a worthy Oba and it is what we did. The other capable person, Lawyer Oyetunde, his Yoruba is not fluent, you will think that it is a Ghanaian that is talking but based on his profile he is capable too. Among the 23 there are those who just passed out of school, one said he had cashew plantation, about four of them, it was someone (name withheld) that bought forms.for them. Imagine someone who desired to be the Oba of Ogbomoso couldn’t raise money to buy form. What makes me bitter is that they would see the truth but they will not say it. It must also be stated that Laoye family doesn’t have land again to sell, and so selling land won’t be source of income except the Oba is financially buoyant himself. So, it’s not about religion. It is about who is capable. I remember one time we followed Baba to Abuja to meet with Obasanjo and there the former president held Baba’s hand affectionately and led him to his bedroom saying that is where they would talk. If Baba was not worthy would Chief Obasanjo have done that! This is an Oba that will be sitting with the Alaafin and others, we don’t want an Oba they will say ‘go and sit at the back.’This is what we have been saying but they don’t understand. Rather l.have heard they are planning to foment trouble. But God is in control,” Areago concluded.

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