By Ola Ajayi
AS the wheel of reconciliation to settle a two-year royal tussle within the Ibadan Traditional Council progresses, a fresh rivalry appears to be brewing following the implementation of a reform that is contained in the controversial review of the 1959 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration which was midwifed by the past administration in Oyo State.
Part of the reforms, which the previous administration led by Senator Abiola Ajimobi approved, is the pruning down of steps that lead to the Olubadan stool on both lines of Balogun and Otun.
The two lines climb the ladder from Jagun till they become Olubadan.
But, the reform has led to the removal of 10 stages from Jagun. The scrapping of the lines was effected by members of Olubadan in council at a meeting they held Mapo Hall on Tuesday.
With the reform, the entrance into Olubadan chieftaincy lines, which hitherto was Jagun is now Ikolaba, cutting off all the other titles between Jagun and Ikolaba.
The implication of that, according to the Obas, “is non-existent of vacancies for the Mogajis to fill.”
While explaining the rationale behind the move after the meeting which was presided over by Otun Olubadan, Oba Lekan Balogun, Oba Tajudeen Ajibola, the Otun Balogun of Ibadanland, who spoke on behalf of the monarchs said the lack of vacancies for the mogajis was occasioned by the reform carried out by the immediate past administration in the state.
He noted that anybody aspiring to become the Olubadan of Ibadanland will henceforth join from Ikolaba instead of Jagun. This means that instead of 23 and 22 steps on Balogun and Otun lines, aspirants to Olubadan stool will now move up the ladder 13 and 12 lines.
Asking that the Mogajis should show understanding by waiting till when vacancies would be declared, the monarchs said: “The reform is for the betterment of our system as the age at which an Ibadan Oba emerges will no longer be advanced as it is presently, which in our view is good for the system.”
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Ibadan holds the unique system of Olubadan’s throne ascendancy by promotion through the two lines of Balogun and Otun on a rotational basis and the two lines are opened to the Mogajis, who are the respective family heads in the various Ibadan family compounds.
It is usually a rat race among the Mogajis said to be over 500 at every particular point in time, who lobby the Olubadan and his council members for promotion to Jagun, which was formerly the entrance point but now Ikolaba from where they move by promotion until they get into Olubadan-in-Council which starts from Ekarun title.
Though ascending the Olubadan throne is hierarchical, the Ibadan Chieftaincy law allows any member of the Olubadan-in-Council to mount the saddle so far it is the wish and choice of the Council members, who are statutorily the Ibadan kingmakers.
Reduction a joint decision—Oba Olakulehin
When speaking with Vanguard in a telephone chat, Oba Owolabi Olakulehin said prior to the reform, all members of Olubadan in Council had been complaining about the two lines noting they were too long.
Oba Olakulehin said: “All of us complained that the lines were too long. It was not intended to shut anybody out of the chieftaincy lines. It is only the entry point that will be difficult a little.
“Previously, the entry point was Jagun. But, that is no longer possible. We gave the awareness to Mogajis to hold on and be patient. We didn’t cut off the chieftaincy lines, it was the reform done by the previous administration.”
“We only alerted the Mogajis to beware. They are probably not aware of the existence of the reform”, he concluded.
Reacting to the decision of the members of Olubadan in Council, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, through his Personal Assistant and Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Adeola Oloko said: “They came to the Olubadan palace on Tuesday but they did not discuss that.”
The monarch’s spokesperson said: “They came to the palace on Tuesday but they didn’t tell us that. For now, I can’t say precisely until I get to the palace.”
The decision is political—Mogajis
Apparently dissatisfied with the implementation of the said reform, the Mogajis, who are community leaders, wondered why the monarchs tampered with the orderly and rancor-free process of ascendancy to the Olubadan stool.
Speaking on behalf of the Mogajis, their Public Relations Officer, Chief Wale Oladoja, said: “The chieftaincy system has been there for ages. It has been peaceful and orderly. How can anyone tamper with it? It is God that crowns people. The traditional 22 and 23 lines are okay. Anybody who is destined to become king would definitely be crowned as king.”
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Expressing worry over the decision, Oladoja said: “What they have done is not necessary. Who appointed them to do so. Before such a decision could be taken, they should have followed due process. They should have invited all affected persons.
“They should have involved the Olubadan, high chiefs, baales and mogajis to assemble and rub minds together.
“As far as we are concerned, the decision is political and this is a traditional matter. Why did they introduce politics into this? We are in Ibadan and not Ile-Ife.”