By Ola Ajayi
WHEN it was reported few weeks ago that the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji and members of the Olubadan-in-Council had finally accepted the review of the 1957 Olubadan chieftaincy declaration, many residents in of Oyo State and beyond thought that curtains had been drawn on the controversial issue. It was reported then that the monarch and all his thirteen-member Olubadan in council, in a closed door meeting, had given their nod that Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who had set up a judicial committee, should go ahead with the review.
The meeting had in attendance, the Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, High Chief Lekan Balogun, Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Owolabi Olakuleyin, High Chief Eddy Oyewole and others. High Chief Balogun was reported to have said that the review had become imperative so as to meet the needs that were just unfolding.
He further informed that under the proposed review, the Olubadan of Ibadanland would be the only first class monarch and would be addressed as His Imperial Majesty, while the High Chiefs would become the Second Class Obas in their various administrative areas and addressed as His Royal Majesty.
But, in a surprising twist, some online media have posted a video clip which implies that the monarch was forced to accept what can be described as a Greek gift. In the said video, the monarch, who sat next to Governor Ajimobi, had initially told reporters that he was not comfortable with the review of the Olubadan’s declaration of 1957.
The monarch, who spoke in Yoruba Language, said unequivocally, “I don’t support the review of the Olubadan declaration at all. It has been in operation for several years. It has been working positively. So many kings before me had been installed based on the declaration. Why is it that it will be reviewed during my own reign. I don’t want history to be twisted during my time. It can be operated another time not during my reign.
“In addition, it was all indigenes of Ibadan that made me king over them. They did not approve any other beaded crown king. It is only Ibadan people who can say this. So, the bottom line is that I don’t want the review.”
As the short meeting progressed, reporters turned to Governor Abiola Ajimobi who beamed with smiles before responding. The governor who spoke in English said with finality, “we are going to do the review of the declaration. We will surely do it because it will be to the advantage of Ibadan. Nothing can stop us”.
Following the protocol, the governor should speak last. But, surprisingly, the microphones were returned to the monarch to make further comments. Just like one of the Nollywood movies, the king aligned with the governor saying, “Governor Ajimobi has spoken. He is the governor and he is the only one authorised to say anything on it. We have heard what he said and we will abide by it. It is okay with me. I support what” he said.
During the inauguration of a seven-man committee, Governor Ajimobi said, “the committee is also mandated to look into the possibilities of having more beaded crown Obas in Ibadanland, taking into consideration the present size and population of the city.
“The panel is also expected to review the existing 1957 Declaration of Olubadan of Ibadanland in line with the proposed change in chieftaincy institutions in Ibadanland. The primary purpose of this commission is to facilitate the development, modernisation and effectiveness of our traditional chieftaincy system in Ibadanland in particular and across the state in general.
“Similar exercises will be instituted across the state in order to create the enabling environment for active contribution of our traditional institutions to the socio-economic development of our state. It is reassuring to note that the membership of this commission is made up of people of an enviable track record of integrity, patriotism and impeccable character who have excelled and continue to excel in their respective fields of endeavour.”
After the inauguration of the committee, about 300 Ibadan indigenes advised Governor Abiola Ajimobi to shelve his decision on the proposed review of the 1957 Olubadan declaration. Speaking under the aegis of the Integrity Youths of Ibadanland, through their President, Mr Ojekunle Wasiu and Mr. Kamaldeen Ganiyu, the Secretary, they argued that it would fan embers of discord, disunity and violence in the city.
While appreciating the governor for taking a bold step “of a rational man, who has perceived the size and the population of the great city, Ibadan to have more Obas, they, however, noted that more kings with beaded crowns in Ibadanland would not be needed considering its tradition. The Ibadan indigenes argued that, “many people will be jostling for the kingship position like political offices and this would always breed chaos and hatred.”
They alluded to the cases of appointing some Baales, Mogajis and honorary chieftaincy titles which sometimes lead to conflicts among the parties involved.