By OLA AJAYI, Ibadan –
Oyo State government will continue to provide enabling environment for a relevant and progressive Council of Obas and Chiefs in the state that will serve as a moral pivot for our people”.
Those were the sweet words of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala to the then permanent chairman of the Council of Obas and Chiefs, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Alaafin of Oyo, when the going was good.
Alao-Akala did not hide his favouritism for the Alaafin as the permanent chairman of the council. Probably knowing the political influence the monarch wields in Oyo, he handled the issue with utmost caution.
The cordial relationship between the monarch and the out-going governor was so much that there was hardly any event that Alao-Akala went that Alaafin was not present. Adeyemi was severally seen at the Governor’s Office to give royal backing to the governor.
But, suddenly, for political reason, the strong cord of love that attached them together snapped and every air that blows now seems to fan embers of discord between the duo.
Alao-Akala stirred the hornet’s nest when, without seeking the consent of the influential monarch, he installed Chief Ganiyu Ajiboye as Baale of Ago-Oja in Oyo town.
Since then, the once-cordial relationship went sour. In fact, the relationship nose-dived that Alaafin avoided a meeting arranged by the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the day he went for the commissioning of Atiba Hall to resolve the feud.
Even though an Oyo State High Court has declared that the title of Ago-Oja was not known to law in Atiba Local Government, it is not certain that the order has been obeyed by Alao-Akala.
Prior to that, the governor was believed to have further infuriated Adyemi when he repeatedly demeaned the exalted position of the Alaafin.
Itemising many ‘sins’ of the governor, the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola-Alao, said, sometime ago, that “the governor went to Isale Oyo and greeted the Mogaji or the Baale there. He didn’t go to Alaafin’s palace to pay homage. He didn’t greet Alaafin”.
To worsen the matter, in an interview, the governor was quoted to have said that there was another traditional ruler in Oyo.
To Arisekola, “That is killing. Any meaningful Yoruba person will fight against that because from time immemorial, over 150 years ago, we never heard that there are two kings in Oyo. We only heard of Alaafin’s empire up to Dahomey. So, where did he get another traditional ruler in Oyo?”
This was described as the height of insult because, Arisekola continued, “If not for the politics of our forefathers, any Oba that want to see Alaafin, in those days, would have to rub sand on his body, if at all he would be allowed to see Alaafin. So, why should we want to kill our own tradition? Why should you, because you are in power today, a temporary position, say that? There have been so many governors that have gone. You will do your own and go. How can you kill the tradition?”.
And the crisis came to the head when Adeyemi raised the alarm that Alao-Akala wanted to kill him using a police officer, but both the governor and the police dismissed the claim.
So, the frosty relationship remained till the 2011 elections came knocking. Alao-Akala worsened the issue when he ordered immediate dissolution of Atiba Local Government Council led by the son of the monarch, Prince Akeem Adeyemi.
The local government is under the domain of the monarch. So, the Mosaic law seemed to be the order of the day.
Any opportunity that each of the feuding parties had to deal with his enemy, he would not hesitate to do so.
When elections drew near, Prince Adeyemi dumped the PDP and pitched his tent with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
The monarch did not make it a secret that he would work against the PDP in his domain. He said to his subjects, “I told you four years ago to vote for the PDP because we thought the party with the national appeal would be the best for our people in terms of the dividends of democracy but what have we got in return? I leave the answers to you all.
Show your love to me by voting for the people who have pedigree and are credible to talk to. Show your love to the stool of Alaafin, vote for credible people and, in doing this, don’t indulge or engage in violence. Go about lawfully and make sure you protect your votes jealously.
“The threat that they will attack you and steal your votes is mere empty boasts. There won’t be bloodletting in any part of the state. Nobody will be killed here in Oyo. What is in two thousand or five thousand naira they want to give you to buy your voter’s cards and ultimately buy your votes to mortgage your future for another four years?
“I use this occasion to say those of you who had sold their voter’s cards to go to them and retrieve them because the unborn generation will not forgive any of you who sold his/her conscience for the mess of porridge. Vote for a political party that harbors no thugs. Vote for a party that does not believe in violence. Vote for a party that will give you dividends of democracy in abundance. Vote for a party that does not use guns and cutlasses. Say no to thuggery, hooliganism and brigandage. Your future is in your hands, vote wisely.”
So it was not surprising when the results of the elections did not favour the PDP in the four local governments in Oyo town. PDP lost in Atiba, Afijio, Oyo East and Oyo-West Local Government councils in all the elections.
This must have pained Alao-Akala to the bone marrow when he hurriedly signed into law the amended law governing the Obas and chiefs council.
The governor showed to many residents in the state that he was interested in a second term bid and he pursued it with all vigour and desperation.
So, after failing to win the election, he, like a scorpion, bared his fangs and hurriedly assented to a bill passed by the Oyo State House of Assembly which amended the laws governing the council.
According to section 3(3) of the law, the permanent chairmanship title was repealed and it is now to be rotated among the Alaafin, the Olubadan of Ibadan and Soun of Ogbomoso every two years.
The permanent chairmanship of the Obas and chiefs council is a knotty issue in the state and successive administrations have been so careful so that they would not draw the ire of the Olubadan, Oba Samuel Odulana, and Soun, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi, both of whom believe the title should not be an exclusive preserve for the Alaafin.
It was so serious that the Olubadan barred his chiefs from attending the council’s meeting and the chiefs that flouted the order were dealt with.
They are Onido of Ido , Chief Benjamin Isola, Onilalupon of Lalupon, Alhaji Rabiu Olahanloye, Onijaye of Ijaye, Chief Oladejo Eegunjobi and the Baale of Latunde, Chief Ladosu Latunde.
On the part of Soun, who happens to the royal father of Alao-Akala, he resorted to legal battle. Up till now, the case is still pending in court.
So, it could be said that Adeyemi hit Alao-Akala at a point he would be nursing the wounds forever, while the governor, knowing how dear the issue of permanent chairmanship is to the Alaafin, also wielded the sledge hammer shattering the dreams of the monarch.
Alao-Akala must have retained this last joker till the time he used it to prove to the Alaafin that his position as the chief executive officer of the state still has some measure of influence over the monarch.
The burden has now been put in the kitty of the in-coming governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who is now between the devil and the deep blue sea. He would be committing a serious crime if he says yes or no. If yes, he would incur the wrath of Adeyemi who gave his royal backing for his party and he may find it difficult to say no. Saying so would not be in the interest of the Olubadan who may think now is his chance to realize his agelong dream of sharing the chairmanship seat with the Alaafin. Already, the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes has jumped at the ‘bait’. Ajimobi has to demonstrate the wisdom of King Solomon to surmount the hurdle.
Tongues are wagging that the governor would still vent his anger on others who truncated his second term dream, he is yet to show this.