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Taking Ibadan chieftaincy matter to politics - Mariam Kolawole

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That Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State late August at the ancient Mapo Hall presided at the crowning ceremony, presentation of certificates and staff of office of Obaship to eight High Chiefs and 13 Baales in Ibadanland, is no longer news, however since that day, it has been one comment or the other on the matter from genuine to the ludicrous such that every Tom, Dick and Harry has turned themselves to an expert on Ibadan history and chieftaincy matters. It is either you are with the governor and his administration on the crowning of the Obas or you are against him.

While it would be extremely difficult to determine the number of people with Ajimobi on the issue since no census has been taken, it would be preposterous on the part of those against him to lay claim that they have the interest of Ibadanland at heart more than him. Nothing potrayed his sense of patriotism to the ancient city than the speech he delivered at the Mapo ceremony where he emphasised that the ceremony was a turning point in the history and cultural heritage of Ibadanland.

He categorically stated that "It is a day that great sons and daughters of Ibadanland have come together with a strong sense of patriotism, assembled in the historical, cultural and symbolic Mapo Hall to elevate, to uplift, to transform, to reposition the Chieftaincy Institution of Ibadanland. Our resolve to reposition the Ibadan Chieftaincy institution is substantiated by the words of the famous author, Henry James when he said “A tradition is kept alive only by something being added to it.

"I wish to state categorically that we are not changing history, we are not changing tradition, we are not changing the culture of Ibadanland; rather, we are elevating and consolidating our traditional institution, the exalted position of the Olubadan of Ibadan as the Imperial Majesty in Ibadanland, the Olubadan-in-Council and the Chieftaincy Institution without altering or tinkering with the traditional succession and ascendancy system of the Olubadan Chieftaincy".

And for those criticising Senator Ajimobi for doing what his predecessors were not able to do, their motive could not but be politics. Because come to think of it, in crowning the High Chiefs and the Baales, the government was only implementing some of the recommendations of the Justice Akinboade-led. Committee which sat for more than two months before submitting its report to the government after receiving 118 memoranda from all concerned with 91 of them requesting for beaded crowns. What were those opposing today doing when the commission was sitting. Why did they not step forward to present their differing positions. One reality that those conversant with the issue at hand cannot run away from is that the present administration of. Ajimobi will not be the first to embark on the 0lubadan Chieftaincy Review journey.

Indeed, since the event at Mapo hall, nobody has contradicted the governor who said he was following the footsteps of former governors in the state. He said, "It will interest you to know that our administration is not the first to walk down this road. Successive governments in Oyo State have engaged in reviewing the 1959 Olubadan Chieftaincy Delcaration made pursuant to the 1957 Chiefs Laws and other related Chieftaincies in Ibadanland.

We have on record that in 1974, the Military Government of Western States instituted a Commission of Enquiry, the recommendations of the Commission were adopted and changes effected. In 1981, there was the Justice Adenekan Ademola Commission by the then Military Government. The recommendations of the Adenekan Ademola Commision were accepted and changes effected. In 1993, Governor Kolapo Ishola set up the Oloko Commission of Enquiry to review Chieftaincy Declarations across the state. The recommendations were received by Former Governor Lam Adesina. Upon becoming Governor, Governor Rasheed Ladoja suspended the White Paper and abrogated the recommendations of the Oloko Commission. Governor Rasheed Ladoja later set up the Adio Commission whose recommendations did not see the light of day.

Our administration is not reinventing the wheel, we have simply like others before us, embarked on a review of the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration in response to the yearnings of well meaning stakeholders." As a human being like every other person, Ajimobi could not but have his own shortcomings, however everybody may not like his style, the sense of loyalty to Ibadanland and utmost respect for the present Olubadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1, he displayed. after the death of the late Olubadan, Oba Samuel Odulana, portrayed him as someone who will not engage in anything to undermine the authority of the Olubadan. For those who care to know it was Ajimobi who in March 2016, ensured the coming to the throne of Oba Adetunji when the Seriki Chiefs went to court to stop his installation.

To the Seriki Chiefs, the marginalization of the Seriki line began since the last Otun
Seriki, Chief Adisa Akinloye, was denied the opportunity
before he died in 2007. They explained that  Seriki was the third line in the chieftaincy of Olubadan, and that upon the denial, the Supreme Court in 1989 ordered that Seriki line be included as the third line to the appointment of Olubadan.
They further claimed that the problem with the Seriki line started with the making of the 1959 Ekerin  Balogun of Ibadan Chieftaincy Declaration which put Seriki under the Ekerin Balogun of Ibadan and provided for the first time that Seriki can only be promoted to Ekerin Balogun only if there are two simultaneous vacancies
occur in the Ashipa and Ekerin Balogun titles.

The Seriki chiefs also explained that ‎upon winning against the then Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Oloyede Asanke and all the Chiefs in Balogun and Olubadan line, after challenging the said chieftaincy declaration, the then Olubadan prevailed on the Seriki chiefs not to insist on three lines for the Olubadan chieftaincy, but that rather  chiefs in the Seriki line should cross to Ekerin Balogun and  Ekerin Olubadan on the two lines whenever there is a vacancy in any of the two lines. According to them, the out-of-court agreement was that the Balogun and Olubadan lineswouldeach have two steps of promotion from Ekarun to Ekerin in their respective lines before the Seriki line shall have its own promotion to Ekerin in any of the two lines. And having been denied the opportunity for long, and following the consecutive deaths of High Chiefs Sulaimon Omiyale and Omowale Kuye from both sides in November and December 2015, Chief Oyediji maintained that it was the time of Seriki line to have a shot at the Olubadan, saying “when the agreement was reached, the late Odulana was the only senior ranking High Chief in the Olubadan line and we were on the same rank. If that agreement is followed, I am the next person to succeed him.”

The Seriki Chiefs in their suit marked I/421/07, then  sought an amendment to reflect the earlier order of the court and also sought a declaration that “by the provision of the consent judgment delivered by the High Court in suit No. I/313/88, it is the turn of the Seriki line to produce the next Olubadan of Ibadan on both the Olubadan line and the Balogun line”. For the critics of Ajimobi, one fact that they cannot deny is that it is the governor that can give or deny the approval for the installation of any traditional ruler especially a first class monarch like the Olubadan, but while the Seriki Chiefs are still in court till today, the governor approved the installation of Oba Adetunji as the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland and subsequently gave him the staff of office on Friday, March 4, 2016. The government has also, based on the recommendations of the Justice Akinboade-led panel scrapped the Seriki line which those who believed that they have more stake in Ibadan are not talking about.

In the history of the state whether old or new, five indigenes of Ibadanland, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, late Chief Kolapo Ishola, late Alhaji Lam Adesina, Senator Rasheed Ladoja and Senator Abiola Ajimobi, have occupied the Agodi Government House as governor. The achievements in changing the face of Ibadanland cannot be wished away. Apart from being the only one elected twice as governor, the place of Ajimobi in the history of the ancient city of Ibadanland cannot be easily erased as he is the only one among the governors that was bestowed with two chieftaincy titles by two different Olubadans, first as Aare Atunluse by late Oba Odulana and Aare of Ibadanland by Oba Adetunji.

Nevertheless the various suits already instituted and the ones to be instituted by those who feel that Senator Ajimobi has "committed suicide" with the elevation of the High Chiefs and Baales in Ibadanland to Oba, it will not be out of place to leave them with the famous words of former President Barack Obama as clearly stated in Governor Ajimobi's speech on Mapo Hill at the coronation of the newly elevated Obas, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for, we are the change that we seek”, The opposition is borne out of politics. Nothing more, nothing less.

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