•Says ‘defiant’ monarch may be removed like Oba Kobomoje who committed suicide
•‘You have no power of removal over your lord’
BY OLA AJAYI, IBADAN
There appears to be stormy “winds” blowing against the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogunguniso 1, who was installed by the governor of Oyo State last year. Ibadan Council of Obas has turned its back against him. Last week, the crisis culminated in a notice given to him to make correction within 21 days or face removal.
At a meeting, 21 kings in the Council of Obas, led by the next-in-hierarchy to the Olubadan, His Royal Majesty, Oba Lekan Balogun, signalled that they would remove the Ogunguniso 1 if he failed to make amends.
Those in attendance at the meeting included Oba Owolabi Olakulehin, Balogun of Ibadaland; Oba Abimbola Tajudeen Ajibola, Osi Balogun of Ibadanland; Oba Eddy Oyewole, Ashipa Olubadan of Ibadanland; Oba Lateef Gbadamosi Adebimpe, Ashipa Balogun of Ibadanland; Oba Amidu Ajibade, Ekarun Olubadan of Ibadanland; and Oba Kola Adegbola, Ekarun Balogun of Ibadanland.
‘Sins’ of the Olubadan
One of the sins of the Olubadan, according to the new kings, is that he allows his queens to sit at the Olubadan-in-Council meetings. Oba Balogun, who is also the Otun Olubadan of Ibadaland, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said, “We raised objection to this, but he did not stop the queens from attending. It was difficult for high chiefs before to identify the Olubadan’s queens because they were rarely seen in public. We the chiefs knew the king had queens but we wouldn’t see them. They would be in a secluded room. They dared not attend any meeting with the council. So, if we count one by one, this Olubadan will be the first king whose wives interfere with the council’s deliberations”.
The kings further alleged that the appointments of Baales and Mogajis, carried out by the Olubadan, were not in compliance with the rules and standards.
They went on, “The new Olubadan-in-Council is inside the Popoyemoja Palace consisting of Olubadan, the Oloris (queens) and Personal Assistant to the Olubadan, who decides from time to time who is to be Baale or Mogaji and will only send hearing notice of meeting and agenda to the real members of Olubadan-in-Council on Saturday preceding the installation date on Monday.
“Oba Adetunji has, since after the inauguration of the Beaded Crown Obas in Ibadan, paraded the town with some Mogajis in Ibadan land, speaking against the legitimate government of our amiable governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
“This is a serious offence for which we, the Ibadan Council of Obas, can pass a vote of no confidence on him, after which we, as king makers that nominated and appointed him for confirmation and approval by the Executive Governor, will also call for his removal.
“We are, by this conference, giving His Imperial Majesty 21 days’ ultimatum to change his stand now and work for the improvement of Ibadan rather than disorderliness”.
‘Our problem with the Olubadan’
One of the aggrieved kings, Oba Akin Owolabi Olakulehin, spoke to Sunday Vanguard on the crisis in the Oyo State capital.
According to Olakulehin, who is also the Balogun of Ibadanland, two former rulers of Ibadan had been deposed. They were Ajobo Omiran Olounje Oyalupa and Baale Ola Kobomoje. He stated, “In the case of Ajobo, he annoyed Ibadan people by doing things that were unbecoming of his status and the chiefs rallied against him. Some people even suggested that he should be killed because killing of humans was a common thing then. But other people said ‘no, don’t let us kill him because he is a very generous man; anybody that goes to his palace, he would feed him’.
That is why they nicknamed him (Ajobo Olounje Oyalupa) meaning it is not easy to kill one’s benefactor). ‘So, don’t let us kill him but let us send him into exile’. The Council of Baales sat then and decided to remove him. So he was banished from Ibadan. He later died in exile. One of his children and I were classmates then. He is died now; he was an Ibadan South-West local government chairman. The second person, Ola Kobomoje was another Ibadan ruler that was rejected. After complaints about him got to the D.O. (District Officer), he sent an emissary to him to leave the throne. But before the emissary got to him, he had committed suicide. That was why they gave him the name “Kobomoje” meaning he did the needful. Then he did something that the people could not tolerate”.
On the process of the Olubadan deposition, Olakulehin said, “First, a 21-day notice will be given to the king. After its expiration, the Obas-in-Council will write a letter and send it through the local government at Mapo. It is from there the letter will be taken to the office of the governor for approval. Once the governor approves, that is the end. In Yorubaland, there are chiefs we call kingmakers. They are empowered to recommend a candidate for the stool and they can also effect his removal if he does something unbecoming of his status. We have the law and custom that guide the people. Before the advent of the colonialists, our forefathers, and even in our contemporary time, custom is used in a traditional setting like this”.
On the Ibadan kings’ problem with the Olubadan, the Balogun of Ibadanland said, “There was a time we fought with the Olubadan that he should stop his queens from attending our meetings but he did not listen. We even went to court. That was the first quarrel we had with him. Ibadan elders had to intervene and told us to withdraw from court. Now, the elders have seen how events are unfolding again. In this second quarrel, again, the elders tried to intervene, they went to Olubadan’s palace but he did not open the gates for them. He refused to grant them audience”.
Asked whether there is solution to the crisis, he said, “I don’t think there is any solution to this crisis for now. What has been alleged, after we (Council of Obas) recommended him (Oba Saliu Adetunji) to the state government, is that, due to old age, he easily forgets things. If we discuss any issue, after 30 minutes-one hour, he may not remember again. It is alleged that this is what his queens capitalize on and put words in his mouth. At times, when we are in a meeting, the queens would have the audacity to say that any chief who is rude to their husband would incur their wrath. Who would accept this kind of thing?”
On why they stopped going to the Olubadan’s palace, Olakulehin said, “We had stopped going to the palace even before we were installed as kings because his actions do not conform to the rules and regulations guiding chieftaincy matters in the city. If you observe the South-West, especially Ibadanland, it is only Ibadan that could not boast of many kings like other cities. It is only Ibadan that did not have as many kings as possible going with the Olubadan if there is any outing. In Osun, the Ooni goes out with many kings, so also in Lagos. In the past, only one king was in Lagos while others were white-cap chiefs, but now they have five kings. We reminded him of all these, yet he said no. Some of us told the governor that we wanted this kind of development in Ibadan, the governor had three meetings with us and we all agreed.
“Before he assumed the throne, the local government was collecting N150, 000 from those aspiring to become chiefs. But, now, they are asked to pay N1.5m. Where will people get that kind of money in this difficult period? If any of them wants to join the Olubadan or Balogun line, he has to pay between N10m and N15m. This method, we felt, could give drug barons access to the traditional council. I was the one who proposed that he should become our next king. We reminded him of all these, but he would tell us to wait for our turn. It got to a time that we couldn’t tolerate it any longer.
“In Ibadan, it is the family that presents a nominee to the council for chieftaincy title. It is normal that there could be rancour among contenders for a title. After the family had agreed to pick a nominee, the aggrieved ones would go through the back door to the palace and the allegation is rife that these are the ones that are conferred with titles. This has caused many crises in families. Several of them are in court now. For how long do we continue like this?
Many people, including traditional rulers like the Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the Ataoja of Osogbo; the Oluwo of Iwo yet he did not listen”.
Role of kingmakers
The Yoruba traditional structure is made up of many figures with the king as the head. Then you have the council of chiefs including Iyalode, Otun, Osi and the Iyaloja. Many of the chiefs are called kingmakers. The kingmakers are called different names in Yorubaland. In Oyo Alaafin, they are called Oyomesi, Afobaje and in Ijebu, they call them Osugbo. They hold the power of life and death. They act as check and balances to the king. Whenever the king goes astray, they would caution him. If he is adamant, they just tell him to open a calabash which contains some deadly portion. As soon as he sees the contents in the calabash, he falls down and dies.
Olubadan dares 21 kings – Olubadan
Meanwhile, the Olubadan, through his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Mr Adeola Oloko, said the Olubadan-in-Council, which comprises of the high chiefs and the Olubadan, is basically an advisory body which decisions have no force of law, customs and traditions backing it. In the same vein, according to him, the baales, whom the embattled high chiefs have added to themselves to become 21 kings, are not members of the Olubadan-in-Council and therefore should not be dressed in borrowed robe, as they have no power whatsoever over their lord.
As the prescribed and appointing authority, Oba Adetunji said he can promote and/or peg the promotion of a high chief but added that he did not contemplate any such decision as he does not see himself as an absolute monarch.
The monarch contended further that there was no time the embattled high chiefs were barred from attending palace activities, stressing that they were the ones who spurned palace invitation in their desperate rush for multiple crowns and cheap royalties. He expressed delight that despite their absence from official palace activities, the Olubadan had been exercising his duties without let or hindrance.
He stated that even when they were being harassed and molested in the city streets and called unprintable names, he had been doing his best to calm frayed nerves in order to guarantee their safety and security by going to court to diffuse tension. Oba Adetunji stated that as the Yoruba proverb says that okro can never outgrow its reaper, the high chiefs can’t outgrow the king by threatening to recommend him for removal.
“By custom and tradition, no Olubadan has been recommended for removal from office by any high chief or group of high chiefs at any time and my own reign will not be an exception. At least, we have received applications from families of about four of the embattled high chiefs asking for their immediate replacement. But, like a prodigal son, we hope that they would sooner than later renounce the unrecognized crowns and return to the warm embrace of their father as the palace door is perpetually open. The high chiefs are hereby advised to emulate high chiefs in other places, who are not wearing crowns but still earn respect of their people for peace and progress to reign supreme in the land”, the Oba said.