Ekiti: When Ooni, Alaafin doused ‘fury’ of monarchs
Although the 1999 Constitution did not prescribe any roles for traditional rulers, yet, they perform certain roles in their respective domains.
The Royal Fathers are expected to mediate between subjects and the government, as well as maintain peace and order. But how would one describe a scenario where royal fathers and traditional rulers went up in arms against constituted authority over choice of the chairperson to lead them? How does one make sense of a query issued to 11 prominent monarchs by the Governor for alleged insubordination, giving them 72 hours to answer the query?
The Pelupelu Obas, include Ajero of Ijero, Alara of Aramoko, Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Ogoga of Ikere, Olomuo of Omuo, Attah of Ayede, Onitaji of Itaji, Oloye of Oye, Arinjale of Ise, Ologotun of Ogotun, Onitaji of Itaji, Elemure of Emure, Alaaye of Efon, Owa Ooye of Okemesi and Olojudo of Ido Faboro, the Elekole of Ikole Ekiti and Onisan of Isan are the most senior in the scheme of things in the state. It was 11 among these monarchs that got the governor issued a query.
There had been no love lost between these foremost monarchs and Governor Kayode Fayemi over his appointment of the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi, as chairman of the State Traditional Council on August 1 2019.
Angered by that development, the Pelupelu Obas had approached the state high court to challenge Fayemi’s appointment of the Alawe as Chairman of the State Traditional Council.
The monarchs had described the appointment of Oba Alabi as a clear violation of the Ekiti State Chieftaincy Law.
The royal fathers, therefore, resolved to boycott state functions and the meetings where Oba Alabi would preside as the Chairman since August last year.
However, disturbed by the continuous boycott of state functions, the Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs, acting on the directive of the Governor issued the monarchs query, which they must respond to within 72 hours.
In the letter titled: Re: Absence from State functions and the monthly meetings of the council of Traditional Rulers, dated 11th March 2020, and signed by one A.O Adeoye, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, the government challenged the Obas’ “conspicuous absence at the Council meetings and State official functions without any excuse or justification,” which it considered “inimical to the proper administration of the chieftaincy institution you represent.”
They were thus directed to respond to the query within 72 hours.
The query expectedly generated misgivings within and outside the state. When it dawned on the Governor that the query had leaked to the media, especially the social media, the government had to issue a press release to explain that the query had nothing to do with removing the Obas from office.
“It is definitely not a ploy or plan to remove any Oba from office. As public officers, our traditional rulers act as the direct link between government and their domains; they have expected duties and functions, and as an administrative head, Mr. Governor should be aware of reasons why such duties are not being carried out,” the government said.
The government further reassured that: “In Ekiti State, our traditional rulers are well respected and revered as custodians of our culture and traditions. The Fayemi Administration is committed to the welfare and protection of the cultural heritage of our people, which the Kabiyesis hold in trust.”
Disturbed by the face-off, prominent traditional rulers in Yoruba land attempted to intervene.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi on behalf of seven prominent Paramount Yoruba rulers namely: His Imperial Majesty Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Oba Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, His Imperial Majesty Oba Sikiru Adetona Ogbagba, His Imperial Majesty Oba Gbadebo Adedotun, His Imperial Majesty Oba Adekunle Aramolaran, His Imperial Majesty Oba AbdulWahab Oyedotun Bibire Il- The Orangun of lla and His Imperial Majesty Oba Kehinde Olugbile – The Olu of llaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, wrote an extensive letter to the Ekiti State Governor, urging him to exercise refrain because of the sacredness of the position of monarchs in Yoruba Land.
Alaafin in the said letter highlighted the importance of the Pelupelu Obas in Ekiti and why the Choice of the State Traditional Could Chairman should not be all-comers affairs. Oba Adeyemi, therefore, urged Fayemi to be guided by the hierarchy of the monarchy to avoid chaos.
The letters, which was dated March 12, read: “I along with my fellow Traditional Rulers across Yoruba Land feel very sad that Your Excellency issued a query to the sixteen Ekiti Crowned respected Traditional Rulers of the high esteem in Yoruba Land for not bowing their heads to their subordinate by not attending the council meeting under their subordinate. That exercise and without mincing words is, to say the least, sub judice…..”
Even though, the Alaafin’s letter was addressed to Fayemi, such intervention from outside the state felt like an embarrassment to Ekiti people, who wondered how come their internal issues were escalated to such length.
The Alawe had to react in a letter, saying that the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers took strong exception to the whole content of the Alaafin’s letter, “which was absolutely unwarranted.
The Ilawe monarch said that the little disagreement amongst Ekiti Obas did not require external meddlesomeness to address.
Sensing that bad blood was being generated by his action, Governor Fayemi, acting in Omoluabi manner, paid an unscheduled courtesy visit to the Alaafin, even as the Alawe’s letter was trending. The Governor did the honorable thing by publicly prostrating to greet the foremost monarch. Even though details of what transpired was not made public since the meeting was held behind closed-doors, it was not difficult for people to know that it was a fence-mending visit.
However, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Yinka Oyebode said the governor visited Oba Adeyemi to seek fatherly advice on how to resolve the matter. He explained that governor had fruitful discussion with the Monarch.
He revealed that he visited the Alaafin in order to keep him abreast of the situation between the government and some aggrieved monarchs.
Also in his trouble-shooting manner, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, through his Chief Press Secretary, Moses Olafare said the warring parties were invited for a peace parley on Monday 16, March, which was also attended by prominent rulers in the Southwest to find a lasting solution to the development.
Speaking with Newsmen in Ado-Ekiti at the end of the peace parley, Oba Ogunwusi said: “I am here for a particular reason and to the glory of God, we don’t have any issue again. Everything settled and you can see we are all here.
“It is normal that there might be slight differences here and there but it is something within the family of Oduduwa clan and to the glory of God, it is has been resolved. The Governor is here, all the Pelupelu obas are here, the main founding fathers of Ekiti and I can to a large extent say the matter has been resolved.
“They are the father to the Governor and you know we have an amiable son of Oduduwa who is the Governor in Ekiti State. Look at what happened yesterday (Sunday); he went to meet the Alaafin and he explained his own side of the story, very honourable. That is true leadership despite the fact he is the Governor.
“You can see now that everything is resolved. There is mutual respect between the people in government and the traditional rulers. It has bee there for a thousand years and we are still upholding our heritage. All is well”
At the end of the parley one of the aggrieved monarchs Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Adejugbe said: “There is no royal rumbling as such, just a misunderstanding within the family. You heard it all from the Kabiyesi ooni. The details will be worked out later. For now, there is peace in the state, we agreed that we would work together.”
Also the Ajero of Ijero Ekiti, Oba Joseph Adebayo Adewole said, “litigation has to subside for now. You know that we, the Pelupelu obas have been clamouring for the suspension of that court case so that we can resolve it among ourselves. There was communication gap, no doubt. The gap has been closed today. So now that we have been talking, talking together will bring out the solution. The court case is left suspended.”