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Tension as Olubadan set for final showdown with Ajimobi Obas

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The seemingly never-ending royal rumbles in Ibadan have deepened, as the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji is set for a final showdown with the newly crowned members of Olubadan-in-Council. The monarch has asked them to stop wearing crowns after the expiration of Governor Ajimobi’s administration on May 29.

Expectedly, this has generated tension among supporters of the High Chiefs’ elevation and majority of the elites that kicked against it.In 2017, Ajimobi reviewed the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration to allow the ancient town have multiple Obas. The members of Olubadan-in-Council, hitherto known as High Chiefs were by that controversial review installed as Obas and provided crowns by government.

According to the new law, Olubadan would be referred to as His Royal Majesty and Paramount ruler of Ibadan land, while the Council’s beaded members were to be addressed Royal Highnesses.But a member of Olubadan-in-Council and Osi Olubadan, former
Governor Rashidi Ladoja kicked against it. Not only did he reject being crowned by the state government, but also instituted a legal action against the review. Oba Adetunji also vehemently opposed the new order and headed for court, where he got victory. The government, however, appealed the judgment.

Ever since the controversy started, there has been no love lost between the monarch and members of his council. And all efforts at reconciliation were rebuffed by Oba Adetunji, who saw the government’s action as an insult to his people’s custom and tradition. He blamed his High Chiefs for being overambitious, since all of them are in line to becoming Olubadan. Immediately after the Olubadan-in-Council members accepted Ajimobi’s offer of presenting them with 21 crowns on the same day at a ceremony in Mapo Hall Ibadan, Oba Adetunji stopped holding meetings with them or giving them traditional functions to perform. The Mogajis (Family Heads) have since been rallying round him to undertake Olubadan-in-Council members’ duties.

However, as Ajimobi’s tenure is winding down, the embattled Olubadan-in-Council members are apprehensive that the in-coming administration of Seyi Makinde may revert to the old order.No doubt, the issue of multiplicity of beaded crowns became a tool in the hands of politicians during the last political campaigns. Indeed, many believed that Ajimobi and his party; the All Progressives Congress (APC) lost the last elections in the state due to the face-off between him and the Olubadan.

The talk in town is that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that will take control from May 29 may scrap the new crowns.A source said: “If you study Seyi Makinde’s the body language during the campaign, he did not support the multiplicity of monarchs in Ibadan. This is aside the fact that Ladoja, who was the arrowhead of the political alliance for his victory, was also against the move.

“The matter is simple, PDP has 27 out of 33 members in the House of Assembly to be inaugurated. The PDP has absolute majority, so it will be easy for them to review the amendment to Olubadan Declaration. Also, since the High Court has declared the review illegal, the state government may discontinue the appeal and end the matter like that.”But another analyst advised the in-coming administration to be wary of dabbling into the matter, as elevation of the High Chiefs is enjoying support of some people who see it as a good development for the town. He said: “I don’t see it as an easy matter because it is capable of causing serious crisis. People are very emotional about this matter, and Makinde should not start his government with such distraction.”

Surprisingly, the High Chiefs and the monarch engaged in a war of words during the week. While the Olubadan-in-Council members accused the monarch of running a one-man show and sidelining them when taking decisions, Oba Adetunji bluntly told them to drop their “illegal crowns, if they want to enter his palace.The Otun Olubadan, Oba Lekan Balogun, who spoke on behalf of Olubadan-in-council after their meeting last Monday, criticised Olubadan for denigrating the council and accused the monarch of appointing Mogajis (family heads) and Baales (village heads) without any recourse to the council.

He said: “Kabiyesi Oba Adetunji has turned the institution of Olubadan into personal affair, which can be run at his whims and caprices, which amounts to illegality. Contrary to their belief at Popoyemoja palace that Olubadan is an authority unto himself, we are telling the world that Olubadan only exists with his council.”Balogun, who lamented the crisis within the traditional council since promotion of the new Obas, said it was sad the Olubadan was destroying the system that enthroned him.He said rather than recognise the Olubadan-in-Council’s position,Oba Adetunji conferred the duties of the entire council on one of his wives, who rules by proxy.

He said: “We want to draw the attention of the people of Ibadan to some irregularities and illegalities embarked upon by the Olubadan. If Olubadan thinks we do not matter, we also can show that he doesn’t matter without us. He should not forget that when he was to be made the Olubadan, he rose through the council. We (Olubadan-in-Council) made Olubadan out of him. He did not make us what we are, but we made him the Olubadan.

Reacting to these allegations, the Olubadan said he has no objection to the return of his embattled high chiefs to the palace once they remove their “illegal crowns.”The paramount ruler, who spoke through the palace spokesperson, Mr. Adeola Oloko, said the Olubadan was not responsible in the first instance for their desertion from the palace and for abdicating their responsibilities to Ibadanland. He said: “Rather than engage in blame game, the high chiefs, who are understandably afraid of what is likely to befall them after May 29, when power would have changed hands, should have been courageous enough to apologise to the entire people of Ibadanland in particular and the Yoruba people in general for undermining our customs and tradition.

“There is nowhere in Yoruba land where two kings sit inside a palace. It has always been the king and his chiefs. Aside violating our customs and tradition, there is no law that backs the wearing of illegal crowns in Ibadanland.”He disclosed that he had expected the high chiefs to comply with the Oyo state High Court judgment, which declared the state government reform that produced the crowns as illegal, null and void.

The royal father explained that when the high chiefs said their efforts at resolving the crisis were frustrated, what they didn’t tell the unwary public is that Olubadan should approve through the back door the crowns the court had completely rejected. Oba Adetunji said if Ibadan people want the crowns, he would have approved such long ago, but all indications show that the overwhelming majority does not approve it. Oba Adetunji said contrary to the High Chiefs’ allegations, he had done no wrong or acted illegally. He stated further that despite efforts at hindering the smooth running of the palace by the high chiefs and their promoter, they should wonder why the palace had begun to grow from strength to strength.

The monarch said the High Chiefs exhibited little or no knowledge of Ibadan customs and tradition, when they accused him of installing Mogajis and Baales without recourse to them.According to him, “Section 22 (2) of the Chiefs Law, Cap 28 Law of Oyo State 2000 makes the Olubadan the Prescribed and Consenting Authority on all chieftaincy matters in Ibadan land.”He argued that the Olubadan-in-Council is merely an advisory body without any power whatsoever.

He said: “If anybody should be castigated for denigrating our institution, it is the embattled high chiefs with inordinate ambition to become monarchs without domain that should examine themselves. It is those who commit crime against Yoruba customs and tradition and do not repent that deserve to be castigated.

“It is those who run away from the palace and turn round to say they are not carried along that should feel guilty. It is those who flagrantly disobey court orders. It is the chiefs who are sent to represent the Olubadan at the Government Traditional Councils, but seized Olubadan’s salaries that have violated our customs and tradition.”


In this article:
Abiola AjimobiOlubadan
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