Soun, Alaafin, Aseyin, crowning of 10 Ibadan chiefs: To Makinde, all that matters is Ibadan
It was with fanfare that ten Ibadan high chiefs were presented with staffs of office and beaded crowns Friday (July 7) at Mapo Hall by the Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde. The only thing that might have taken some shine off the ceremony was the principled stance of the eleventh high chief, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, the Otun Olubadan, who shunned the ceremony.
The event however accentuated the gloom over the continued vacancies in the thrones of Alaafin of Oyo, Soun of Ogbomoso, Aseyin of Iseyin and some other twenty traditional stools in the state.
The process for the selection of a new king had been concluded in Ogbomoso by the kingmakers who are statutorily saddled with the role. The kingmakers concluded the assignment since March 22, 2022, and forwarded the name of the nominee to the state governor, the second day, March 23, for ratification. But the governor began his game so to say. The uproar arising from the choice of the kingmakers which is not unexpected in such important stool became the dais for the governor to stand to stalemate the process. Family members whose candidates lost out, princes who were ignored and other vested interests issued petitions to discredit the process that produced the nominee – Prince Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye, of the Kape section of Olaoye family. They called for cancellation of the process citing various breaches. This development appears to suit the whims of the governor for God knows why, and so, withheld assent.
Four months later, one of the dissatisfied princes instituted legal action against the process claiming he is the only one supported by the chieftaincy law to ascend to the vacant throne. Then, another prince approached the court on similar reason. That appeared to be the leeway for the governor and so he began to cite the associated litigations as reason for his withheld acquiescence. The governor wanted the withdrawal of the suits before he can approve the recommendation of the kingmakers, equating it with the Ibadan scenario at the time of the inauguration of the reigning monarch, Oba Lekan Balogun. But this one is a more difficult task; a camel would have passed through a needle’s hole before princes alleging circumvention of chieftaincy laws could be talked into backing down and withdraw their cases.
Nonetheless, the governor insisted on that. Not a few holds that since the kingmakers were able to choose a candidate, who is of the ruling family whose turn it is to produce the next Soun, and who earlier collected nomination form as requested by the family and screened, nothing should have stopped the government from holding back, noting that whoever have discontent should have approached the court. Governor or government is not court of law; it is a matter for lawyers to argue and judges to adjudicate. But now the governor has made himself the judge! This is unbecoming in a civilized society. Were the kingmakers not able to arrive at a name, had their efforts being stalemated, the subsequent impasse would have been justified and valid.
“The governor has his reasons for delaying the process,” an analyst submitted, adding, “he allowed and waited for the process to end in litigation, and then has hung to that to perpetrate the denial of the community its deserved king.”
Perhaps the body language of the governor that appears averse to having Obas on the prominent thrones is what is deactivating motivation to hasten the process in Oyo, Iseyin and other places too. Their own is even different form that of Ogbomoso. The kingmakers have completed the process in Ogbomoso unlike these other ones. Whatever the shortcomings are, the court ought to be the arbitrator. Whoever is enthroned and later got removed faces the consequences alone, you can’t cry more than bereaved. Between 1940 and 1944, Amoo Oyetunde who was enthroned following the death of his father, who was Soun-elect at the time, faced litigation over his aptness to have replaced his father, as those who were dissatisfied challenged him in court based on the extant chieftaincy laws. Oyetunde defended himself, won in the High Court, Appeal Court before getting the judgment upturned at the Privy Council (equivalent of Supreme Court today) in London, paving the way for the enthronement of his uncle, Olanipekun Olaoye (1944-1952). The government then did not assume the role of accuser and judge at the same time in the spirit of separation of powers.
Governor Makinde has consistently harped on due process, but only the court can legitimately arbitrate on what actually is due process. He has usurped the powers of the court. How would he have felt if his beloved President Bola Tinubu was not sworn-in on May 29 on the premise that Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidates of Labour Party and Peoples Democratic Party respectively, were challenging his victory in court? But Tinubu was inaugurated, while the tribunal cases have continued. Like INEC defending the process with much sweat now, the kingmakers should have been allowed to defend their choice too. And as Tinubu is engaging SANs to argue to ensure upholding of his victory and personally facing frantic moment and nursing fears of possible dislodgement from Aso Villa, Ghandi Olaoye should have been allowed to face similar travails. Makinde also faced tribunal case but he was sworn-in.
On Friday, while presenting staffs of office and crowns to the ten high chiefs in Ibadan, Makinde advised Ladoja to approach the court if he is not satisfied with the elevation telling him matter-of-fact he is in the minority. That is instructive. The governor tried frenetically to defend his role and stance. Nevertheless, he only succeeded in proving that all that matters is his home city. It has always been so anyway! He unveiled how he painstakingly maneuvered the process to “neutralize” Ladoja – the “minority” voice, and to achieve the aim of upgrading the chiefs, how he used the pliant house of assembly and ministry of local government and chieftaincy matters for the purpose. But here is “our governor” hammering on “due process” in the case of other cities and egging on some leaders in Ogbomoso to convince the litigants to backtrack.
“During the 2019 campaign, the issue of the crown generated controversy. Back then, Kabiyesi Olubadan and one of our fathers were amongst those that went to court. But if our royal fathers say they want internal reforms, as the governor, I will back them up and give approval. Today, Kabiyesi Olubadan is supporting what is being done today.
“Out of 11 High Chiefs in the Olubadan-in-Council, 10 are being crowned as Obas; that is a majority. But as it is the practice in a democracy, the majority should have their way, while the minority will have their say. So, we have heard what the minority has said and they can approach the court…Today, history has been made because those who have planned to go to court will only waste their time. What the traditional chiefs, paramount rulers and residents of Ibadan want us to do is what we have done.”
That is it. In 52 months of his administration, he had seen to the coronation of 11 Obas within Ibadan metropolis alone (it should have been twelve) while other regions recorded death of their Obas and witnessing a dillydallying attitude to their replacement.
Away from this, if we look at other sectors too, Ibadan is all that matters. He has executed several road dualization and flyover projects, built bus terminals, massively constructed/repaired intra-city roads among others in Ibadan. Contrarily, Ogbomoso as an instance has had nothing concrete from his government. The 2.5km Under-G road, which is often claimed, is the only road infrastructure from his government; this is even executed from the local government fund. The Ogbomoso-Iseyin road is primarily to facilitate divvying and carting away an important heritage in Ogbomoso. Things are even worse now because under him local governments that used to fund road projects have been paralyzed as their monthly allocation is now appropriated and part of it taken to develop the capital city. That is why most roads are in a state of derelict; we are in a dispensation local governments cannot repair common bridges and culverts.
In the final submission meanwhile, the governor should ensure development spreads and Obas are installed. If he seeks what is majority in Ogbomoso, he will find out the majority actually aligns with the choice of the kingmakers. If the majority decision is the basis for crowning ten (eleven) Obas in Ibadan in one day, then, he should set out to uncover the majority choice in Ogbomoso as it pertains to Obaship choice.