Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The last might not have been heard about the crisis rocking the Ibadan traditional institution as new kings in the city have vowed not to return to the palace of Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogungunniso I, as ‘high chiefs’ but as kings.
The decision of the new kings, who are members of Olubadan-in-Council, was made known to journalists in Ibadan on Thursday after a meeting held at Alalubosa residence of the Balogun of Ibadanland, Oba Owolabi Olakulehin.
The former administration in Oyo State led by Senator Abiola Ajimobi had installed eight among the 11 members of Olubadan-in-Council as beaded-crown-wearing kings. Before the past administration reviewed the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration, all the 11 members of the council had the prefix of ‘High Chiefs’ before their names, in order to separate them from senior and junior chiefs on the two lines to the Olubadan stool.
One member of the council, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, who is the Osi Olubadan and a former governor of the state, rejected the crown. The other two members died before the installation day. But beaded, crown-wearing monarchs are lesser in royal status to Olubadan.
Oba Olakulehin, who is from the Balogun line, one of the two chieftaincy lines that produce the occupier of Olubadan stool on rotational basis, was not at the meeting held on Monday this week, at the Popoyemoja palace of Oba Adetunji, which was attended by Ladoja and two of the beaded, crown-wearing kings: the Otun Olubadan, Oba Lekan Balogun and Ekarun Olubadan, Oba Hamidu Ajibade, who are all from the Otun chieftaincy line.
At the end of the meeting held on Thursday, the new kings vowed that they would only return to the palace in order to be having regular meetings with Olubadan, if Oba Adetunji and his aides are ready to recognise them as kings, saying their new status as kings had been gazetted by the government, which means they are legally recognised as kings and not ‘high chiefs.’ But Oba Adetunji has refused to recognise them as kings, which may be another serious hurdle to be scaled in the search for true and lasting reconciliation between the two parties.
A statement jointly signed by Oba Balogun, and Oba Olakulehin, read in part: “The reform carried out by the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, was in the best interest of Ibadan and in response to the age-long agitation for befitting status for the Ibadan ‘high chiefs’ within the larger Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs.”
According to them, after the former governor Ajimobi who meant well for Ibadan and its people approved them as kings, the court attested to it in March 2018 when, in addition to the earlier promoted 21 kings, another 27 kings were elevated and empowered by the Chieftaincy Laws of Oyo State Cap 28, section 28 (i) vol. 1.
They held that those casting aspersions on their crowns as ‘carton crowns’ are either ignorant of what the law says, or only being mischievous.
The Ibadan new kings also commented on media reports that circulated on Monday that they did not wear their beaded-crowns to the palace to the peace meeting held with Olubadan on Monday. Oba Olakulehin and Oba Tajudeen Ajibola, who spoke on behalf of their colleagues, said people criticising them for not wearing their crowns to Olubadan palace were mischievous.
According to Oba Ajibola, “what they don’t know is that even without wearing crowns to the Olubadan’s palace, we are obas. For anybody to say remove your crowns before you come to us, it is absurd. We won’t return to Olubadan’s palace as high chiefs but as obas.
“We are not fighting Olubadan at all, he is the one fighting us. What we are saying is that he should accord us the respect and recognition that we deserve. Two, we have told him many times that his wife (Olori) has no right to sit with us at Olubadan-in-Council meeting. She is not a member. We learnt that she still sat at a meeting recently and as long as that impunity continues, there won’t be peace. We love and cherish peace, but things must be done properly.”
Oba Olakulehin, however, said it is not mandatory for them to wear crowns each time they attend any event, adding that other popular kings in Yorubaland, including Olubadan, don’t wear their crowns every time.