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That there was a voice of reason

By Lamidi Adeyemi
AT the moment, the subject matter is the so called constitutional role for traditional ruler  called National Forum for Traditional Rulers which is neither a creation of the constitution nor that of any convention; it cannot serve as an appropriate agency for such transmission.

In recent time, and after reading some editorial opinions of some of our respected national dailies as well as other features against any constitutional enshrinement of national roles for traditional rulers, I am convinced beyond doubt that any further silence on my part is nothing but ominous.

This is more so when most of the points being advanced against any constitutional provision tally with my opinion which I have expressed earlier in writing to appropriate authorities at both state and federal levels.

I think the idea of an institutionalised National Forum for Traditional Rulers was mooted during the era of the late General Sani Abacha. For those who can recall the political situation of that time, it witnessed the springing up of different pressure groups both real and phoney   from different parts of the country in solidarity for Abacha.

When 1 noticed undue centralisation of traditional institution in the country and the danger it posed to the federal structure of the country, I wrote an opinion in defence of federalism and which some newspapers published at that time.

The Sunday Tribune of 14th July 1998 aptly titled it: “Federalism of Might”. Earlier the Daily Times of  September 25, 1995 had captioned an  interview with me, “Alaafin Against Planned Royal Father’s confab”.

But rather than looking at the merit of my opinion, a particular Oba in Yorubaland known for his propensity for maligning the innocent ran to Abacha that my campaign against the  traditional  rulers open solidarity was because “1 am Abiola’s friend’. While 1 cannot deny my relationship with Abiola, I also affirm that General Abacha was equally my friend, so to say.

My postulate that Obas should not dabble into political terrain because it is too muddy   for comfort was to manifest during the then June  12 crises in the South West when some Obas, including the arrowhead of National Traditional Rulers Forum, were literally chased out of their domains with the arrowhead escaping lynching by the skin of his teeth.

Even in the current dispensation, when the Ooni of Ife started thinkering with his pet dream of constitutional role for traditional rulers, 1 did not hesitate to write a memo to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on the 30th of September 2009 where again I warned against such an idea which 1 consider not only superfluous but sinecure.

Another memo on the same subject was endorsed to the Secretary to the Oyo State government on September 3, 2009 on the National Rulers and Eminent Person Forum.

Nothing confirms the superflousity of the so- called National Forum than the proposal that the President and Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces should be the Chairman of the National Forum. With the President presiding over the Federal Executive of state, National Council of  State, National Security Council, among many statutory bodies, the President has to take charge, do we have to bother him again.

Paradoxically, and in the case of the Ooni of Ife, it is laughable that when in 1986 the late Colonel Sasaenia Oresanya. assumed the chairmanship of the then Oyo State Council of Obas, he, Oba Sijuade, described it not only as a sacrilege but an abomination for a non-oba to be presiding over the meeting of Obas. Col. Oresanya7 s initiative at that time was to douse tension generated by the controversy between me and him on who should be the Chairman.

1 should add that even in the last public sitting of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, 1 delivered a paper through an eminent Prince and distinguished cleric  of the Methodist Church Arch- Bishop Ayo Eadigbolu in Lagos on Tuesday 15th December 2009.

In conclusion, let me warn that any attempt to bureaucratise the  institution of  traditional rulership to the extent of having a national secretariat is capable of rubbishing federalism with unitary system.

Oba Adeyemi is the Alaafin of Oyo and Permanent Chairman of Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs.


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