The fresh crisis is over the salary of the Olubadan Oba Saliu Adetunji, who has accused the newly installed Obas by Governor Ajimobi of stopping his salary.
Is the face-off between the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi and Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji over? Not yet. That is the position if recent altercations between the Ajimobi-led government, his 21 new Obas, and the revered royal father are anything to go by.
The fresh crisis is over the salary of the Olubadan who has accused the newly installed Obas by Governor Ajimobi of stopping his salary. Recall that the crisis started when Olubadan wrote to inform the governor of his intention to elevate nine chiefs after the demise of High Chief Sulaimon Adegboyega Omiyale, Balogun Olubadan of Ibadanland, who was next in rank to the Olubadan and High Chief Omowale Kuye.
The governor, claiming to invoke Section 14(2) of the Oyo State Chiefs Law, had ordered all the chiefs meant for elevation to submit medical reports certifying them fit for the various positions without which he would not allow their elevation. This position was conveyed in a letter dated Thursday, December 31, 2015 by the Director of Chieftaincy Matters in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Z. O Jayeola.
But amid reservations by the Olubadan, the Osi Balogun of Ibadanland, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, Senator Lekan Balogun; six other members of the Olubadan in council and 21 Baales, were later conferred with Obaship status by Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
At the ceremony held at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat, Ibadan, Ajimobi, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Olalekan Alli, said the members of Olubadan-in-Council would henceforth be addressed as ‘His Royal Majesty’ while the Baales promoted to kings would be addressed as ‘His Royal Highness.’
While presenting the conferment letters, Ajimobi warned that it had become an offence for anyone to address the new kings with their former titles, such as ‘High Chief’ for members of Olubadan-in-Council while the Olubadan was hencefort to be addressed as ‘His Imperial Majesty’.
Following the development, the Olubadan sued Ajimobi for crowning 21 kings in Ibadanland. In the suit, which was filed at the High Court of Justice of Oyo State and dated September 19, 2017, the monarch alleged that the governor violated the Chiefs Laws Cap 28. He also argued that the governor lacked the power and authority to confer on anybody the right to wear a beaded crown.
Joined in the suit were the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, the local chiefs (Baales) who were conferred with kingship status and the eight high chiefs who were elevated to kings.
According to the Olubadan, the governor did not consult with the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs before taking the decision, which makes the crowing exercise illegal and void. In the suit, the monarch sought an order setting aside the Gazette 14 and 15 of Volume 42 of August 23 and 24, 2017, made by the governor and which conferred the right to wear crown and coronet on the elevated high chiefs and baales.
Since then, the relationship between the governor and the Olubadan has not improved with the latest being an allegation that the new Obas have stopped the salary of the royal father.
But the Oyo State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Bimbo Kolade told Saturday Sun that the news outside there at that time was that the Olubadan accused the governor of stopping his salary but it was later discovered that it was not the government that stopped his salary.
His words: “We were able to prove it from our records. The state government is not owing the Olubadan his salary. However, it was later discovered that it was the traditional council at the local government levels that stopped the Olubadan’s salary.
“There are two sources from where the Olubadan receives his salary; the state government pays him directly, and being the paramount ruler of Ibadan, he equally earns money from each of the eleven local governments in Ibadan. He is not the chairman of the traditional council of these local government areas but the president of those areas where he would appoint the 12 of the Olubadan-in-council, while they have the chairman of the traditional council who would be one of the Obas.
“There is a secretary of the traditional council who is a staff of the local government. That secretary serves as the secretary to the traditional council in each of the local government. That is the process.
“I can tell you emphatically that government has no hand in this. This is an internal crisis within and of course, government has stepped into it. The funniest part of it is that the Olubadan himself just recently sent us a copy of the letter that he himself, in turn, wrote to each of the traditional rulers stopping the payment of the salaries of those Obas. So you can see that it is purely an internal crisis.
“However, government will establish the position of the law in all of this case and like I mentioned earlier, Olubadan as the president of the traditional council is more of the ceremonial head. Government will surely intervene on this and settle this salary crisis.”
On the court ruling establishing that the governor has no constitutional rights or such power to review the chieftaincy law in the state, he said: “The court didn’t say that the governor does not have such power. Even then, thereafter, the Oyo state council of Obas has sat, which included all the Obas in Oyo state and they have not only in turn, approved this, but even went beyond the 21 that was initially approved for the Obas in Ibadanland. They approved 48 of such throughout Oyo State, so, it is no longer a matter of the committee that was set up at that time or not, this is now an establishment of the law under the Oyo state council of Obas.”
Kabiyesi doesn’t understand – Oba Lekan Balogun
Also in his reaction on the allegation of the stoppage of the salary of Olubadan, one of the elevated Obas, His Royal Highness, Oba Lekan Balogun, explained thus: “Kabiyesi doesn’t fully understand. He is a nice person but I don’t think he understands what is happening yet. And those who are opposed to the governor for political reasons have persuaded him to take sides with them. There is no explanation that is intellectually tenable against what has happened. We haven’t demarcated Ibadan to smaller units; we remained where we were. The only thing that has changed is nomenclature, which is, instead of calling me High Chief Lekan Balogun, you now address me as Oba Lekan Balogun. I still remain the Otun Olubaban.
“The only thing that has changed is recognition and nomenclature. We stopped his allocations because he stopped calling meetings with us, he stopped letting Ibadan to function the way it had always been functioning. Normally, we meet fortnightly on Mondays and now, we haven’t met since the last eight months. Since this crisis started, we haven’t met. Again, he has been installing Mogajis and chiefs here and there which were absolutely not right. Installation of Mogajis and chiefs is done by the Olubadan in council, not by the Olubadan alone. He cut us out from participating in that process. Our little way of showing him that Ibadan cannot be run by one person and his wives was by halting his stipends that usually come through us.
“We didn’t mean to stop it; we just wanted to make a point and the point has been made because he has been talking about it, everybody is talking about it. We haven’t said they should stop it but that it shouldn’t get to him. The money is in the bank, as a matter of fact, we are helping him to save it. We are not intimidating him or anything. We just want Ibadan to be run in a normal manner.
“There is a pattern in which Ibadan is normally run, we should return to that pattern. We are not trying to cow him or to demonstrate anything. If we are to respond to their provocations, the picture will be different. Talking about halting his salary, if he says he doesn’t recognize us, why would we pass the money to him? Although we don’t have the power to stop his salary but we stopped it from reaching him and it is being kept in the bank for him for now.
“The Olubadan is too stubborn for not calling a meeting, not inviting us to meetings anymore, solely installing Baales and Mogajis without us. He does not have such power to install those people by himself. It is the Olubadan in council, headed by the Olubadan that carries out such responsibility. He kept us out and was running Ibadan alone. Where has it ever been done?”
On whether the Olubadan-in-Council has so much power over the Olubadan as to stop him from getting what is due to him, he said: “The Olubadan accepted the challenge of becoming the Imperial Majesty which he wasn’t before this change, but he would not allow us to accept His Royal Majesty. Is that not selfishness and self-centeredness? We are still his children. He accepted that side that affected him positively and rejected the ones that also affected us positively. What kind of life is that? What kind of self-centeredness is that?He is not a bad person but I am sure that some people are goading him on.”
He debunked insinuations that Governor Ajimobi is using the new kings against the Olubadan, saying there was no reason for that. He said: “The governor has said it on several occasions that the Olubadan is like a father to him and truthfully, the way we run Ibadan, he is more like Ajimobi’s father. So, why would the governor use us, his brothers to fight his father, does it make sense? “There are no bases for such insinuations. Are we fools? Come out of it, please. We are not challenging the Olubadan, we are not disrespecting him, I personally love him and nobody will succeed at making me to hate him. As a matter of fact, at the beginning, we opposed the governor’s decision because we wondered why he was doing what he was doing because he didn’t consult us.
“We, the council of traditional rulers held a meeting in this same room and we all agreed to go to court and by the time the matter was to go to court, the governor summoned a meeting and explained to us what he was trying to achieve and when we found out that his decision was in favour of Ibadan land, the rest of us withdrew from going to court. There is no such a thing as anti-Ibadan in this transformation; it is all pro-Ibadan and all about uplifting Ibadan. Was it not as a result of this transformation that the Olubadan became His Imperial Majesty? Nobody is talking about that!”
On Senator Rashidi Ladoja’s case before the court which ruled that the elevation was null and void, he said: “The court was misinformed and misled and I dare say, made a wrong pronouncement. The matter is still in court so I won’t make further comment on it. I should not be seen to influence the court’s thinking by saying all sorts on the pages of your newspaper.
“I will not be a party to it. But I can tell you authoritatively that the court was misled, misinformed and they mistakenly made that pronouncement. It was wrong. In any case, the initial move by the government was what the court was talking about. The more elaborate move, which superseded what the court was talking about has not been challenged in any court of law up till date. They are still talking about what the governor himself had dropped as a matter of policy. The government expanded the scope of the law and we did it the second time and that has not been challenged in court.”
I am not in any supremacy contest with anybody – Olubadan
The Olubadan however told Saturday Sun that he is not in any supremacy contest with anybody. The monarch who spoke through his spokesperson, Mr Adeola Oloko said by law, “Ibadan does not have more than one king and that king is the Olubadan of Ibadanland.”
He explained that any other person wearing any beaded crown is engaging in an act of illegality and cautioned that the judgment by Justice Abimbola of the Oyo State High Court in March, is very clear on the matter. He said the judgment has not been set aside by any superior court. “So, if they have gone on appeal, and say that their installation as Obas is irreversible, then it means that some people are out to do illegality”, he added.
On the accusation that the Olubadan was being selfish, he said: “There is no question of him being selfish or self centred, there was nowhere they sat down to say ‘if I give you the title of His Imperial Majesty, you will now address us as His Royal Majesty’. There was no such sitting. By the way, what is imperial? The word imperial is derived from the word ‘empire’. Ibadan is an empire, Oyo is an empire, Benin is an empire, and therefore their kings can be addressed as the Imperial Majesties because they inherited historical foundations of empires. It doesn’t have to be conferred on him, it is not given, it is earned.”
He added: “ Even the Oyo State government, ever before it came up with that panel of inquiry that is now addressing the Olubadan as the Imperial Majesty, has been addressing the Olubadan as the Imperial Majesty.
“Those High Chiefs don’t seem to understand what they are talking about and I am sorry to say this about them. The Alake of Egbaland is a Royal Majesty but he has chiefs, Olubara is there, he is a monarch, but he is not a chief under Alake, why would a chief want to wear a crown?”
Reminded that other states like Lagos have multiple beaded crowned kings, he replied: “You can’t compare Lagos with Ibadan. The chiefs of the Oba of Lagos are white cap chiefs, they don’t wear crowns. If you go to Ijebu land, the chiefs of Awujale are not wearing crowns, if you go to the palace of the Oni of Ife, his chiefs don’t wear crowns, so also the chiefs of the Alaafin of Oyo, Bashorun, Alapini, and they are not wearing crowns. What are they talking about? If you are talking about the community chiefs like the Baales, they can wear crown on the recommendation of the Kabiyesi, not on the recommendation of the government.”
On why the Olubadan stopped calling for the usual fortnight meetings with his traditional council and also stopped inviting the newly installed Obas to traditional functions or carrying them along during his official engagements, he said: “As a matter of fact, they had a meeting; you can ask the secretary of the Olubadan in Council.
At the last meeting, they said they were coming for another meeting; they went for their crowns and afterwards, ran away from the palace. They thought that by running away, they could stop the Olubadan from performing his statutory functions. They can’t do that because the custom, tradition and law of the land are quite clear on who has the power to carry out one function or the other. In what way have we transgressed against the high chiefs? I don’t know.
“The Olubadan has not stopped calling meetings, I can remember two or three occasions that they have been called but they ignored the meeting. Are they to be begged? They are mere advisers to the Olubadan, go and read the Oyo state Chieftaincy law, the Oyo State Obas and Chiefs law, the Oyo State Oba in Council law, go and read them to know the place of the Olubadan. There is no dispute about it, he is the sole appointing authority, it is the law.”
When informed that the Commissioner of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs denied that the state government is backing the new Obas, he replied: “What I do know is that no chief or subordinate can challenge the Olubadan’s authority if there is no backing somewhere. They don’t have the liver to do so.
The Olubadan can peg the promotion of any chief who is guilty of insubordination. They have forgotten that power is tenuous, people come into power and they would leave, they have forgotten that the custom belongs to the people and that it is the people that need to recognise you, not any government of the day that can go and come. Their relevance even in their family compound is being questioned as people have been coming to the palace to question us that the crown they asked them to wear is the Ade pali, (carton crown) and not the Olubadan’s crown. There is orderliness in Ibadan and we don’t want any undue interference in it. What Kabiyesi is doing is what the people of Ibadan want him to do.”