Olubadan’s senior chiefs complain of marginalisation
By Olu Ajayi
IBADAN — Before the bubble burst, the 13-member Olubadan-in-Council which is the highest traditional council in the ancient city of Ibadanland was knitted together like the proverbial Siamese twins. Then, when the going was not rough, they would speak with one voice and no matter the seriousness of any matter, the council used to observe strictly what is known in parliamentary system of government as collective responsibility. They either rose or fell together. All these virtues were in place until recently when matters started to take a turn for the worse.
South West Voice gathered from an impeccable source that embers of discord had long been fanned before it festered and became a matter of public discourse. It was gathered that no sooner had the monarch been installed by Governor Abiola Ajimobi than tell tale signs emerged that things might not follow a normal course in the council.
According to the source, contrary to what used to obtain in the peaceful reign of former Olubadan of Ibadanland, late Oba Samuel Odulana, when contributions of all members of the council were valuable; when late Oba Odulana who would not allow any member of his family to have undue interference with the Olubadan in council or traditional issues, the story is different as queens of the incumbent Olubadan are said to be active participants in the running of the city which has pitched the high chiefs against the gentle monarch.
The high chiefs believe that when issues that concern the city are being discussed, members of the king’s family should stay away since they are not members of the council. South West Voice was reliably informed that there was an occasion when one of the queens challenged a very senior chief for observing that her interference was becoming too much to bear.
She was said to have accused the high chief of being the one behind some challenges facing the monarch. Since then, the said the high chief had tactically withdrawn from the palace. He comes only when there is need to do so. Besides, several conferment of chieftaincy titles were said to have been done without the input of some of the members of the council.
This cold war prevailed within the council when the issue of the controversial removal of embattled Iyaloja of Ibadanland, Chief Mrs Labake Lawal crept in. As usual, prominent high chiefs in the council reportedly advised the monarch against delving into the issue but he was prevailed upon by two chiefs who are his confidants.
South West Voice gathered that there was an agreement in one of the meetings of the council that a committee be set to delve into allegations of corruption against Chief Lawal. Also, in the minutes of one of the meetings, a chief raised an objection about the issue of Iyaloja, saying it should not be discussed because it was not part of the agenda. But, despite the objection of high chiefs and tacit disapproval by the governor, the woman was removed and Chief Mrs Iswat Ameringun was installed as the new Iyaloja.
All efforts of the governor, who reportedly advised the monarch to ensure peace rigns in the markets, were said to have been ignored. This wall of separation was ongoing before the Director of Media and Public Affairs to the monarch, Mr. Adeola Oloko, made a statement that the removal and installation of new Iyaloja enjoyed the support of Olubadan-in-Council.
Though, nine of the high chiefs who opposed the move when it was being mooted had chosen to remain silent so as not to cause confusion in the market, they could no longer hold their peace. Subsequently, a statement was issued and signed by the two most prominent chiefs on both Olubadan and Balogun lines, High Chiefs Lekan Balogun, and Owolabi Olakulehin, Otun Olubadan and Balogun of Ibadanland respectively where they stated unequivocally that the claim was nothing but a tissue of lies.
The Olubadan-in-Council, through its two most senior members described the alleged appointment of a new Iyaloja by the monarch as a veto by him, stating emphatically that it was not aware of the appointment of the new Iyaloja and to claim that the decision was a collective one was untrue. The Council recalled that when the matter came up at its meeting held in March this year, some members of the Council, including High Chiefs Olakulehin, Eddy Oyewole, Lateef Adebimpe and Lekan Balogun, the Balogun, Asipa Olubadan, Asipa Balogun and Otun Olubadan respectively counseled the Oba against the decision.
According to the statement, the Council members had argued that aside the fact that the issue was not part of the agenda for the meeting, the Olubadan and his council “have no such power over a matter that is of concern to trade union which is a trade dispute under the Oyo State Government Ministry of Trade and Industry.”
The Council members also reminded the monarch that the committee of the council members earlier set up by the Oba himself to look into the dispute over Iyaloja chieftaincy title was yet to report back to the whole Olubadan-in-Council, but, noted that “Kabiyesi Olubadan used his prerogative to veto the members of Olubadan-in-Council and decided to go on with the appointment.”
Describing the decision of Olubadan to appoint a new Iyaloja “as an act of prejudice and discrimination”, the Council members said, “the majority members of Olubadan-in-Council hereby dissociate themselves from the press release from the Palace that the decision to appoint the new Iyaloja was made by the Olubadan-in-Council since the current Iyaloja has not been lawfully removed.”
On the chieftaincy title of Mayegun of Ibadanland which was conferred on the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in the state, Chief Olayiwola Olakojo, the members equally disclosed that the Olubadan-in-Council did not know the source and were not part of the decision to give out the title to the recipient.
The Council members explained further in the release that their attendance at the function was to honour an invitation to the effect that the former President of the country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would be at the Olubadan’s palace, adding, “we received invitation to the event and that General Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was also coming to the palace. We were there to honour his eminence”.
The last has not been heard on the issue as the aggrieved Chief Lawal has filed a suit against the monarch, the newly installed Iyaloja and the council asking the court to restrain all the defendants from recognising Chief Ameringun as new Iyaloja.
People are waiting to see who will win the battle. Is it the majority of high chiefs who are not comfortable with the administrative style of the monarch or the few chiefs who are with the monarch. Is it possible for the king to rescind his decision on the removal of Iyaloja and reinstate her. What happens to the newly installed Iyaloja?
In the history of the city, it had never happened that high chiefs in the council would openly criticise the king even though they may disagree on a number of issues, they would still come together and arrive at an acceptable position for the progress of the city.