Monarchy succession: Like Ibadan like England, models worthy of emulation by Femi OGUNLANA

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Monarchy succession: Like Ibadan like England, models worthy of emulation by Femi OGUNLANA

Gone are the days when monarchial system of government was supreme. It was the basis of kingdoms, of human settlements. Powerful individuals who became conquerors and set themselves apart in lofty ideals and in achievement of great deeds became soared high and had bestowed upon their pate the crown. And this they passed on to their descendants at their exit. Lines of successions are subsequently created under dynastic reigns. But successions to vacant thrones in all generations and in all dominions have often resulted in conflicted struggles precipitating precariously deaths of princes, of brothers who got transformed overnight into bitter and fierce rivals.

United Kingdom experienced bitter contentions in the past over succession issue especially before the rise of parliamentary government. Dynasties were overthrown and restored and overthrown and restored again starting about the fifth century after the retreat of the Roman Empire from the country.

In UK, monarchy has lost its pristine prestige and powers, it is though retained as a symbol of unity and performs merely ceremonial functions, and seen by many as a vestige of the past, but the accession rules settled for, give right of succession to the eldest child of the reigning monarch in a system known as primogeniture. The eldest child is created Prince of Wales (male) or Princess of Wales (female) and invested as the heir apparent. When the monarch transits he/she immediately takes the throne hence, the saying, ‘The king is dead! Long live the king!’ This is because no vacuum is created. It is why Britain just had a seamless transition sequel to the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, September 8. His first son, Prince Charles, has become King Charles III.

It’s triumph of adoption of an effectual system and adherence to rules. The many other members of the royal families quietly accepted their fate, raised no ruckus, or staked any claim of eligibility on the ground of also being of royal ancestry. The allure of the British monarchy despite the deprivation that had become its lot did not elicit a lure to subvert the process. There is more to life than being a king especially in this modern time.


Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo state in Nigeria, is likewise a realm that instituted a succession plan that unfurls without acrimony. It also has the imprimatur of a flawless switch as the next king is already known and the next is known and the next is known just like the next after King Charles III is already known.

The only time the Ibadan’s was riddled with crisis was at the ascension of the reigning monarch, Oba Lekan Balogun. This however was predicated on the overzealousness of the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who however passed on two years ago. His obsession to impose his narrow will in regard of the succession system of the city (founded in 1830), fueled a dispute that ignited litigations. But the throne eventually cleansed itself of the subversive tendencies and so normalized itself.

Ibadan was a republic of warriors from foundation; its founders had displaced the previous owners of the community, the Egbas, while returning from a war. They were a motley crowd of likewise displaced warriors who had lost their homes to invasions mostly in the hinterlands. They were intrepid soldiers banded together by a common fate of loss of their ancestral homes and returning from a war they had jointly prosecuted. They occupied Ibadan (Eba Odan), which became deserted at their approach as the previous occupants – the Egbas – fled to under the Olumo Rock – Abeokuta. There was general insecurity in the country at the time. They were men of valour of disparate origins. They were all driven to a new home by common unsavoury fate; they had witnessed how petty rivalries among chieftaincy families, insubordinations and other fissiparous factors caused the fall of their former homes, and so, they felt duty bound to evolve a monarchial system that would incite less animosities. Thus, they came up with the republican model that rewards services to the fatherland with chieftaincies. Rather than being at the mercy of an overlord with privilege to bequeath the throne to his descendants or have imposed on them a dynastic rule with its numerous weaknesses, they resolved on a previously uncharted revolutionary system that gave premium to military services to the town, after all, it was the age of arms running. Those who rendered meritorious services in warfare and other spheres were rewarded with chieftaincies and formed into two lines – military and civil, the ladders of which are climbable upward and the zeniths of which are over-lordship of the community in alternate arrangement. It has worked for nearly 200 years. Aare Latoosa, a redoubtable military leader, who got appointed as Yoruba generalissimo, and overlord of Ibadan, allegedly attempted to perpetuate the stool in his family but Ibadan was populated by men of means for such scheme to sail. It was the same way Ajimobi tried to award kinglets to those in the lines of succession of Olubadan when a reigning monarch was on the throne to according to him enhance the status of Olubadan, the move needless so to say was vehemently resisted, causing its collapse like packs of cards.

UK: First, second, third, fourth in line to the throne (excluding the mother – Princess of Wales)

The British and Ibadan monarchial models are formidably crisis-proof in matters of succession. The successive monarchs are already known (if they live to see the days of their crowning). And the royals know this and do nothing under the influence of inordinate ambition to subvert the process. As an instance, the departed Queen Elizabeth II had three sons – Charles (born 1948), Andrew (born 1960) and Prince Edward (born 1964). Charles’ two brothers did not contest the throne with him; they knew their place, no frivolous court suits. While their elder brother (now King Charles) was heir apparent i.e. first in line of succession to the throne, they were second and third respectively but now that Charles had been proclaimed king the succession lines and titles automatically changed, King Charles’s first son, Prince Williams (born 1982), whose mother was late Princess Dianna, is now first in line to the throne, and his own eldest son, Prince George (born 2013), is second in line to the throne; Prince Williams’ next child, a daughter, Princess Charlotte (born 2015) of Wales is now third in line to the throne; while his third child, Prince Louis (born 2018), is fourth in line. Prince Harry (born 1984), Prince Williams’ immediate younger brother, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, has reverted to being fifth in line to the throne. Should Prince Williams have more legal children Prince Harry’s positions will further recede.

In the above models, no one seeks to cut corners, no one hankers after politicians to wangle undue advantages, no one crosses the line to undermine the process, just as political power bases refrain from allowing political considerations dictate their decisions on who becomes the monarch, and citizens abstain from dabbling in to complicate the process on the plank of religion or social standings.

Above all, for systems to work we need men who are above board, who adhere fast to rules and who are immune to the spasm of greed in its different forms.

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