Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), is a force to reckon with in Oyo politics. He has tasted both the sweetness and bitterness in politics. In what he described as locust days when some thugs whisked him away in the boot of a car, he saw hell before he was let off the hook. In this interview with Ola Ajayi , he speaks on the issue of crowning 21 Obas in the ancient city of Ibadan.
By Ola Ajayi
ON coronation of 21 Obas in Ibadan
It was something that ought to have been done long time ago. Pardon me, if I will give a very biased answer because I have been involved from the word go. In 1999, former governor, the late Alhaji Lam Adesina, set up Oloko Commission of Inquiry. I was a counsel before that commission.
Recommendations were made by the commission, but there was no political will to implement the recommendations. Then, came former Governor Rashidi Ladoja, who set up the Adio Commission of Inquiry. Virtually, every governor has tried his hand on that.
In the olden days, we used to say a Mogaji (head of family) in Ibadanland was more than a king in other climes. There was a Mogaji in Ibadan that had under him Iwo, Ede, Osogbo, and Ikirun; that was why the titular heads of those towns would abandon their positions to come and contest to become Mogaji in Ibadan because they were practically under the control of the Mogajis.
But times are changing. What was obtainable then is no longer tenable now. Look at how big Moniya is. It is bigger than some state capitals in this country. Look at Omi-Adio, it is a cosmopolitan big town. By 2006 population census, it had 186,000 people. Yet, you expect the Olomi of Omi to be under a Mogaji in Ibadan town. That was what those governors have been trying to correct. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the political will to do so. Now, if you look at what is happening around us, Olubadan of Ibadanland, when he is going out, there are no Obas to follow him, yet he is the paramount ruler of the whole of Ibadan.
From Moniya to High Court at Ring Road is 47 kilometres. By the time you pass through Ring Road to Ago Taylor and through Aleshinloye and you come out at Ojoo, you would have covered 92 kilometres in the same town; and you have not even reached Apata.
That is why the Land Use Act Implementation Law could not be applied fully in Oyo State because of the distance. The implementation law says 15 kilometres radius, but within Ibadan, you have 92 kilometres. So, every other area is now rural under the Land Use Act. People don’t appreciate the position of the law on this. All these are interwoven.
We thank God that we now have a governor who has the political will to put this thing into practice. Give it to the present governor, he is highly cerebral and very courageous. Every other governor had tried the review before, but they stopped mid-way, though they set up judicial commissions of inquiry over the issues.
There have been agitation for this for long, even under Chief Bola Ige, there was. He fell short of setting up judicial commissions of inquiry. At every point in time, except the present one, I had appeared as a counsel in all the past three judicial commissions of inquiry. It is something that is commendable. I think majority of the people in Ibadan welcomed it.
Don’t forget, there is an economic aspect to it that people have not been addressing. When new local governments were created in 1989, the only council in Ibadan – Ibadan Municipal Government, was split into five councils. There were agitations on what to do with the property of the old Ibadan Municipal Government.
We thought of a way of getting out of the quagmire, and I was called upon to offer legal advice. What I did was to incorporate the Ibadan Joint Property Limited, now at Ring Road to manage all the property of the entire local governments in the interest of the communities. I think the governor has done the right thing in that circumstance.