Ogun to check menace of fake chiefs, Baales — Chief Jide Ojuko
What is necessitating this exercise?
The planned exercise is purely an administrative procedure, so that we are able to ascertain the numbers of Baales we have in the state, as well as checkmate the recklessness of some people, who go about parading themselves and claiming to be Baales in Ogun State. The principal reason for this exercise is to keep proper records of all our Baales, so that we know the genuine ones from the fake.
Since we have records of our Obas from the first class to the prominent ones, we felt it is also good to have the records of all the chiefs in Ogun State, especially when we keep having this controversy of multiple Baales in some of our communities. It is just right and proper that we do this audit to prevent a situation, whereby we continue to have this type of situation in the nearest future.
How useful are traditional rulers in Ogun State, from the Obas to the Baales, who are supposed to be heads of communities in the fight against crime?
I must confess that they are doing their very best in assisting government in the fight against crime in the state. From our paramount rulers to the first class and the entire rank and file of our Obas, they have been trying their best to assist us. They give us the right information at the right time. They also help us in our security checks. To a very large extent, they have been very supportive.
The late General Sani Abacha’s administration introduced a policy that made it mandatory for first class traditional rulers to collect five per cent of the total revenue earnings in their Local Government Areas. For a very long time now, these traditional rulers have been saying the money they get at the end of the day is not enough to meet the daily needs of their people. What assistance is your government giving to traditional rulers in your state with regards to this?
If I should open up on this particular issue, you would say it is because I am a commissioner, that is why I am siding with the government. But I am telling you authoritatively that the Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s government has been very supportive of all traditional rulers in the state in the areas of their welfare, especially the Obas. As I am talking to you, we are augmenting the so-called five per cent of the total revenues earned in Local Government Areas to the Obas to a very large extent. I wouldn’t want to give figures here.
We are doing our best to ensure that whatever stipends they get at the end of the day are given a boost. At the last Ogun State Councils of Obas’ meeting in Abeokuta, which held exactly a week ago, government assistance to Obas was openly and publicly appreciated by the current Chairman of Ogun State Council of Obas, who happens to be the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle Asade Agunloye IV. He is a witness to all the claims I am making about the state government’s niceness to the Obas in the state.
Just three months ago, a few of the traditional rulers in the state were given vehicles, and we are hoping to buy more of such vehicles for the rest of them.
But in spite of all this, some Obas and Baales are still heavily involved in land racketeering. What is the state government doing to check this ugly act?
First and foremost, let me inform you that we have this land grabber bill, which has been passed into law in Ogun State. The state governor has just signed this law. This is one instrument that is going to be used to curb this type of excesses of some Obas and Baales. As a government, we are on top of the activities of our traditional rulers. And from time to time, we educate and advise them on what to do, and what not to do.
We also let them know the need for them to steer clear of these types of activities. In a situation where you say you are an Oba or a Baale, and as such, you are the owner of the land in an area, it is an act we do not tolerate in Ogun State. Anyhow, whenever such a thing happens, we do not just fold our hands, as we ensure we get in touch with such an Oba or Baale alongside all the people involved in a round table and resolve the matter.
We do not hesitate to warn Obas and Baales that once they get involved in land matter, it is purely criminal and we would allow the law to take its course. We ensure that such a person is sanctioned.
What is the government doing about the proliferation of chieftaincy titles by some Obas and Baales, who see this as an avenue to make quick money?
Please don’t forget that the traditional rulers have their rights and privileges. As much as we as government tries to control or monitor their activities, we try to take cognisance of the fact that as traditional rulers, they have their rights, which we must not breach. However, there is one simple thing we do to regulate their activities. During anniversaries and what have you, we tell them that before they can confer any chieftaincy title on anybody or deserving citizens, they need to get the approval of the state ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
This enables us to look at these names and see whether or not they are people deserving of such titles. And once we see that the names of the people submitted are not of questionable characters, we allow them to go on.
In any case, this matter is always on the agenda of the council of Obas in the state anytime they meet. First, the Obas or Baales must endeavour to cross-check the names of all deserving title holders and make sure they are not people of questionable characters or criminals before such titles are given to them.