They never had kingdoms. They never had subjects. Neither did they have palaces nor chiefs. Yet, they had “crowns” pretending to be obas. What absurdity!
In the innocent eyes of the law, the 21 Ibadan deposed “obas” were history abinitio. They were never kings, not even for a second. They remained high chiefs and Baales. Nothing more honourable than that.
The very reason the state high court gave its stamp of authority to it. And for the second time, they lost their “crowns” on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. It was a battle for survival.
Theirs was a 22-month inglorious reign. It was a make-believe order. They were deceived they had authority. Yes they had, it was “unconstituted” and highly contaminated authority.
From start to finish, theirs was a turbulent tenure. But they would want to swear that the awkward arrangement brought peace to Ibadan land. How? We wonder aloud.
The manner in which they emerged “obas” was mannerless. It was unYoruba, untraditional and counter-productive. It was violently against the Yoruba rich culture and high values. Never again will an Oba emerge in such a reckless and controversial way.
That is why they never reigned but ruined the system. They were not crowned but imposed. The real reason the people resisted them throughout the period they said they held sway.
The sojourn of the “kings” into the unknown began in May 2017. Ex-Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, woke up from the bad side of his bed, one day. He searched for what to do. He luckily found one in the Ibadan Chieftaincy Declaration of 1957.
He instantly jumped for joy. He felt it needed a drastic review. And the time was immediate. He assembled a team of draughtsmen. He locked them up. He swore he would not unlock them until they turned the declaration upside down. And the team did just that. Its members caved in to intimidation. They danced admiringly to Ajimobi’s arrogant whims and caprices. They chose to do his bidding.
Armed with their recommendation, Ajimobi went haywire. He became irrational and extremely haughty. He announced to bewildered Ibadan citizens; the so-called promotion of 21 Ibadan chiefs and Baales to beaded kings.
Residents and natives were shocked to the marrows. The breakdown: Eight among the members of the Olubadan-in-Council and 13 village heads (Baales). They spread across the 11 local government areas of Ibadan.
Ajimobi then doubled his pace; almost with the speed of light. He intensified his drive with reckless abundance. He was determined the 21 high chiefs and Baales must be kings. Even against all odds. So, he carried on doggedly.
He put in all efforts and his weight into the gamble, throwing all cautions in the gutter. On Friday, August 25, 2017, he issued letters of appointment to his would-be kings. He decided to exercise his crazy constituted authority to the fullest and to the letters. He was simply in his own wild and weird world.
He carelessly did not care a hoot. His was the height of executive recklessness. He was hotheaded, hasty and heedless. He forged ahead ignoring whose ox was gored or bruised. He was ultimately rash in all his decisions.
He then moved to the next faulty level. He did the unthinkable. He ordered the appointee-kings to assemble at the historic Mapo Hall, Ibadan. They did, waiting patiently and anxiously for the next directive. That was on Sunday, August 27, 2017.
So, under the cover of the night, the appointees were lined up. And one after the other, they were called to receive their “crowns” and “staff of office.” The traditional Akoko leaf usually used for such installation was collectively placed on their heads all at the same time. This became the first and only known mass installation of obas in Yoruba land.
Tragedy! He made a ridiculous mess of the sacred Yoruba culture. He defied and debased the norms and values of that great culture that is envy of others. We insist. Never again will a Yoruba oba emerge in such an irrational circumstance.
Ajimobi was not allowed to have his way, unchallenged. There was a big stumbling block on the way. A huge spanner was thrown into the works for him. He was not wise enough to envisage it. He was too involved to think otherwise.
One man of sterling quality stood up to him. He looked him straight in the face and rejected his offer. A member of the Olubadan-in-Council and former governor, Chief Adewolu Ladoja, would not touch Ajimobi’s crown. He detested it with exceptional disdain. Ladoja is the Osi Olubadan.
That was the beginning of the end for the so-called 21 kings. They have been having nightmares since then. Ajimobi knew that much that he had a serious crisis at hand. Yet, he would not let go easily. He kept on exercising his infamous constituted authority to shield and protect his obas. He gave them false sense of confidence.
Ladoja would not budge on his decision. He was undeterred to walk his talk. In his characteristic manner and belief in the rule of law, he approached the state high court. He abhors violence and its agents. He was vindicated.
In a landmark judgment, Justice Olajumoke Aiki in January 2018 declared the review of Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration, 1957, “illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.”
Ajimobi went to the Appeal Court. But the case was never argued or heard. He had to vacate the Government House, Agodi, on May 29, 2019, when his contaminated authority expired. His successor, Governor Seyi Makinde, rather wisely opted for a viable out-of-court settlement. Justice Aderonke Aderemi put effect to that on Tuesday November 19, 2019. For the second time, Ajimobi’s obas lost their crowns and everything associated with them.
Surprisingly, the deposed kings are still kicking. Wonders would never end. What part of the law are they holding on to? They are sticking to their guns on emptiness and for nothingness. If they insist, they can hold on to their lost crowns if they desperately desire. We prefer to abide obediently with the court pronouncement.
Without mincing words, the Olubadan succession process presents the best in Yourba culture. It makes others to cringe. No rancour, no bitterness, no bad blood, no bloodletting. It is outstandingly seamless. It is full of wisdom and foresight. You cannot fault it.
Perhaps, the reason Ibadan keeps flourishing despite its glaring rascality and penchant for violence.
Ibadan, kini so?