3 lessons from preliminary stage of new Alaafin’s selection process

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3 lessons from preliminary stage of new Alaafin selection’s process

Immediate past Soun (right) and Alaafin, at the palace of the former in January 2020

Khalid ABRAHAM

The selection process of a new Alaafin of Oyo has begun in earnest, with the process now at the stage of the selection of the most qualified candidate or candidates by the kingmakers – Oyo Mesi.

ogbomosoinsightonline.com recalls that the last monarch of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, JP, CFR, joined his ancestors on April 22, 2022, during a brief illness. He has since been buried.

Subsequently, the selection process of a new Oba was flagged off. The preliminary stage is over and the process could well be asserted is in the semi-final stage, which is a very crucial stage.

However, we look at three important features of the process, in comparison with what transpired in Ogbomoso, a community also in the process of selecting a new Oba following the demise of her own monarch earlier on. His Imperial Majesty Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, JP CON, CFR, died on December 12, 2021. However, the selection process has reached the final stage – which is the approval of the choice of the kingmakers by the Oyo State government.

Since March 23 however, when the name of Prince Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye was submitted, the process has been stalemated as the state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, has withheld assent. This, according to findings, is to exercise caution, sequel to some protests over the choice of Prince Olaoye. It’s alleged the process was compromised.

Meanwhile, a cursory look at the process reveals fundamental differences with that of Oyo. These are:

1. Non-sales of forms:  

The Olaoye ruling house of Soun Dynasty of Ogbomoso, whose turn it’s to produce the new Soun, decided to sell what is dubbed ”the expression of interest form,” to princes who aspired to the throne. The form was sold at N250, 000 (two hundred and fifty thousand naira). About 23 aspirants reportedly bought the forms. Perhaps, this unavoidably set the tone for the monetization of the process, heightened tension and infused the process with desperation. Contrarily, the Oyo’s selection process was devoid of sales of forms – All aspirants expressed interest without making financial commitment.

2. Abstinence from screening out of aspirants at family level:  

Olaoye ruling house in its wisdom decided to eliminate some aspirants from the contest through screening based on indefinite criteria. The screening exercise allegedly weeded out 12 of the 23 aspirants leaving 11. These 11 names were forwarded to the kingmakers. However, the local government officials (Ogbomoso North local government), who monitored (or acted as observers) the process, overturned this, asserting it’s beyond the purview of the family to screen out any aspirant, that anyone who showed interest, as long as he is a true bone of the family, must be retained in the process. That it’s within the work schedule of the kingmakers to conduct screening. The only condition for elimination of any aspirant is through mutual agreement, the government officials reportedly posited. The reality of this has come to the fore as some dissatisfied members of the family are hinging their opposition on the narrative that Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye had been screened out.

Meanwhile, the process did not feature elimination of any aspirant in Oyo. The 48 who showed interest had their names passed to the kingmakers via the Iyaji thus eliminating potential basis for disagreements.

3. No room for internal rotation:

One of the bases of disagreements in the Ogbomoso’s selection process is the claim by a lineage in the Olaoye ruling house that it’s its turn to produce the next Soun. The Olaoye ruling house is made up of 11 sub-families. Ghandi is from Kape sub-group, from where the last Oba from the family emerged i.e. Oba Oke Olanipekun Olaoye Orumogege II (1944 -1952). But the Aremo sub-group is reportedly claiming it’s the right of the family to have one of its princes succeed to the throne. It’s even learnt that there is a court case already instituted to the effect.

In Oyo, there are similar attempts being made by some royal families. These are in two categories, the first of which is that the founder of the extant dynasty in Oyo, Alaafin Atiba, had 11 children but that only two – Agunloye and Alawolodu have monopolized the throne. The nine others therefore sought exclusive right in the ongoing process. Secondly, it is the turn of Agunloye ruling house to produce the next Oba, but some other sub-families in the Agunloye ruling house want the Ladigbolus, which produced the previous Alaafins from the ruling house, to be barred this time around, “in the spirit of fairness.” But fairness at times can create unfairness; this seems to be the thinking in the government circle as the Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, declared boldly, during the 40 day Friday of the late Alaafin Adeyemi III, that the process would strictly be in accordance with the provisions of the Alaafin Chieftaincy Declaration. The statute book meanwhile does not support the former idea or recognize internal rotation within a ruling house. Perhaps the governor spoke from the experience of the Ogbomoso’s selection process to discountenance the narratives of exclusion of ruling houses captured in the Chieftaincy Declaration or idea of internal rotation.

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