May 6, 2011

Akala vs Alaafin: Is it vengeance or booby trap for Ajimobi

JUST about three days ago, Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala approved the amendment of the laws governing the Oyo State Traditional Council of Obas and Chiefs which nullified the permanent chairmanship of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi. It was generally seen as vengeance from the outgoing administration for the Oba’s lack of support for the governor’s failed bid to win re-election.

The law which was jointly signed by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Moruf Atilola and the Clerk of the House, Overseer Olugboyega Adebolu, states under section 3(3) that the chairmanship seat of the council should be rotated among the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi and Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Samuel Odulana and Alaafin of Oyo every two years.

The new law also said that the rotation of the chairmanship seat of the council would be done every two years and the council’s deputy chairmanship would be rotated among the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Eleruwa of Eruwa, Okere of Saki and Aseyin of Iseyin in that order.

Olubadan and Soun had earlier fought tooth and nail for the rotation of the chairmanship seat, but the political exigencies of that time robbed them of their quest. It was so serious that legal action was filed that the council should not be constituted by the governor.

But, because of the then cordial relationship between Alaafin and Akala, it was constituted and the governor said the Alaafin would remain the Permanent Chairman of the council. The pronouncement and confirmation of the chairmanship of the Alaafin led to serious crises to the extent that Olubadan banned his chiefs from Ibadan from attending the meetings summoned by the Alaafin. Some of the chiefs turned deaf ears to the warning of the Olubadan.  One of them was the Onido of Ido, Oba Benjamin Ishola and about three others.

The issue of battle for the permanent chairmanship is as old as the Pacesetter State. Before Osun State was carved out of Oyo, it was a tug of war between the Alaafin of Oyo and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade. Then, Alaafin was opposed to the permanent chairmanship of the seat being the exclusive preserve of Ooni. But, when the state was created, Ooni was out of the crisis.

Many people are alleging that the action of governor Akala is ill-timed. Though, he said through his special Adviser on Public Communication, Prince Dotun Oyelade that it was not borne out of any political vendetta.

The Special Adviser on Public Communication to the governor, Prince Dotun Oyelade described the allegation that the hasty amendment was done to pay the Alaafin of Oyo in his own coin.

He said, “It is invidious and shallow for anyone to read political motive to this issue while to our mind the time is ripe and just”.

The explanation is indeed very difficult for many to accept. During the earlier crisis between Governor Akala and the monarch when the latter raised alarm that the former was making some clandestine moves to eliminate him because of his lack of support for his second term bid, Governor Akala said he never had it in mind to remove Alaafin as the permanent chairman of the council.

Even before then when the relationship was rosy between the two of them, the governor never saw any need to get the law amended. He even did not heed all the complaints of his royal father, Soun of Ogbomoso.

According to investigation, what pained the governor was the loss his party suffered in all the three elections of National Assembly, Presidential and governorship. All the four councils in the domain of the Alaafin voted in favour of the Action Congress of Nigeria.

Earlier, the son of the monarch, Prince Akeem Adeyemi and some federal lawmakers from the area defected to the ACN. The monarch stood his ground and used the local means of communication to convince his subjects that PDP must be voted out of power in the state. And the results of the election actually confirmed that the monarch is still a force to reckon with as his people voted massively for the ACN.

After the said amendment, some lesser obas paid solidarity visit to Alaafin saying they still recognised him as the permanent chairman of the council. The delegation was led by the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Samuel Osunbade.

He described the action as nullity and unacceptable because the legislative arm of government that amended the law is a party in the suit and it would not solve the matter the way members of the House have allegedly resorted to self help.

It is on record that it is very rare to go into battle with Alaafin and come out victorious. One way or the other the monarch who is popularly called Iku Baba yeye has almost always overcome.

Examples abound. Ladoja and Alhaji Lamidi Adesina tried and failed. Even where Akala failed in the contest with the Alafin and in his election, he may well have succeeded in setting a bobby trap for Senator Abiola Ajimobi, his successor. The governor elect seems to have been put in dilemma. If he says yes to the amended law, Alaafin would be offended and being an Ibadan indigene, he would find it difficult to say no to Olubadan.