FROM YINKA OLUDAYISI FABOWALE AND OLUSEYE OJO, IBADAN
A historic ceremony witnessed by prominent royalty, political figures, present and past governors, captains of industry and other dignitaries across the federation, as well as a multitude of his subjects, Oba Saliu Akanmu Olasupo Adetunji was yesterday inaugurated the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland.
The 87 year-old monarch began his reign adopting the title Aje Ogungunniso I, underscoring his entrepreneurial success before mounting the throne, as the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi officially presented him the instrument and staff of office at a grand and colorful ceremony during which, he also served notice of the state government’s plans to reform the chieftaincy system in the state as well as review the status, conditions and procedure of elevation in the traditional institution to insulate it from partisan politics.
Although he did not spell out details of the proposed reform, it is seen as an ominous signal of his administration to press on with the measure, which generated heat and furore when government first attempted it during the mass promotion of members of the Olubadan-in Council. Political motives had been read into the government’s action then, as the council include some of his political opponents, notably his predecessor in office, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, who, as the Osi Olubadan is barely four steps away from the throne and Senator Lekan Balogun, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, who is next in rank to the king. Ladoja contested last year’s governorship election in the state against Ajimobi and only recently lost his appeal against the reelection of the governor at the Supreme Court.
The coronation, which took place at the Oja’ba/ Mapo arcade, where past Olubadans were installed, was acclaimed by many to be unprecedented in many respects including the calibre and quantum of guests who witnessed it, as well as impressive organization, entertainment and success of the outing at which Fuji rave, Wasiu Ayinde K1 led an array of musicians, the largest in the record of such events, to perform.
Remarkably, it was the first time the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, attended the coronation of an Olubadan in many years, coincidentally with an Ooni of Ife, an indigene of the city, Saheed Oderinu, said. This had never happened due to sour relationship and rivalry between the occupants of the Oyo and Ife stools on on hand, and the Alaafin and the Olubadan, who had been pitched in a leadership battle over the headship of the state’s Council of Obas and Chiefs.
The event, Governor Ajimobi noted in his address, was also historic as it marked the first time an Olubadan would be installed by the governor of the state who is an Ibadan indigene.
The Sultan of Sokoto led a high-powered delegation of northern traditional rulers to the event, also witnessed by their counterparts from the East and other parts of the country.
Governor Ajimobi formally presented the staff of office to the monarch at 2.25pm amid cheers from the large crowd who thronged the venue decorated and festooned, with banners of various sizes and colours, bearing congratulatory messages and images of the monarch.
The governor, in his speech said: “this administration under my leadership is set to review the chieftaincy declaration of some titles and as the Chiefs Law Cap 28 Volume 1 OYSLN 2000 is meant to enhance the dignity and respect of our royal fathers. We are set to be a model to others and to this end, we will carry out a complete overhaul of the institution of Chieftaincy in this State with a view to ensuring speedy conclusion of appointment to chieftaincy titles based on the true custom of our people. We will also review the status of Obas and Chiefs with a view to also insulating them from partisan politics moreso that they are expected to be the father of all.”
Responding, the Olubadan thanked all the guests, paying special tributes to the Alaafin and the Ooni for the honour. The Olubadan canvassed the creation of Ibadan State, saying it was high time the city was given the full status of a state.
“Of all the regional capitals of the old regions, the capital of Western Region is yet to have a state. God sparing my life, I will work with the government and the people of Ibadan and our friends to ensure that Ibadan State, which we truly deserve, is made possible.
“Much is still being expected on the Ibadan cargo terminal. However, a truly international airport will complement the progress we are experiencing and usher in rapid development of our state.
“Lastly, our children do not speak their mother tongue fluently, if at all. We all know that an English man will not drop his language to speak our own mother tongue. I would be delighted to see and hear our children speak their mother tongue freely in future,” he said.
His chiefs and other prominent subjects, led by his deputy, Senator Balogun, later paid symbolic homage to the monarch.
The Olubadan, who was resplendent in white apparel draped by a traditional Aso Ofi with white and brown stripes, had earlier been ushered into the venue amid cheers and songs by K1 and his band members. Culture was also on display as various traditional groups including local hunters and masquerades had a field day, entertaining the crowd and releasing volleys of shots in traditional gun salute.