….Says monarchs must be politically neutral
By Dapo Akinrefon
COORDINATOR of the Ooni Advisory Committee, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, yesterday, said members of the group were surprised by last Friday’s botched appointment by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, over allegations that they were critics of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group of 28 Yoruba dignitaries assembled by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, to look at issues around the South-West, however, debunked the claim of partisanship leveled against it.
The Ooni’s committee is made of many influential Yoruba persons and is being coordinated by Mr. Osuntokun.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Friday, cancelled an appointment he gave to the Yoruba group, over alleged complaint that members of the group were ‘notorious critics’ of President Buhari.
But Osuntokun, who faulted the allegation of partisanship against the group, said it was unfounded because the group has seven members each from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress, APC, making 14 partisan members.
The remaining 14 members, according to him, don’t have party affiliations.
Osuntokun was responding to the claim in some quarters that the group is dominated by PDP members.
The coordinator, who expressed worry over Alaafin’s alleged remarks, said traditional rulers should not “discriminate against any member of the Yoruba community.”
Making clarifications over what happened at the Alaafin’s palace, Osuntokun said: “It was quite a dramatic development, coming from our abodes in different parts of Yorubaland to keep an appointment that has been scheduled and reconfirmed on the eve of the visit. And then we were kept waiting for hours only for us to be informed that the Alaafin would not see us. The Olugbon of Orile Igbon, Oba Olusola Alao, who is the deputy chairman of the Oyo State Traditional Council, was the contact person.
“While we were waiting, he summoned the Olugbon to come and see him and from there, we were told the Alaafin would not be seeing us anymore. He had earlier requested the list of the names of those of us on the delegation and thereby, took the decision not to see us.
“I was taken aback to learn that a high ranking Yoruba monarch would decline to attend to Yoruba sons and daughters on account of being anti-Buhari and loyalists of Obasanjo. Any monarch, by definition, is non-partisan because members of his domain would belong to different parties and should not, on account of that, discriminate against any member of the Yoruba community. Nonetheless, we still hold him and his stool in high respect and hope he would, going forward, make the effort to stay politically neutral.”
Why Ooni set up advisory committee
Earlier, the Ooni of Ife, in a letter, explained why the advisory committee was set up.
The Ooni said: “For me to better secure the honour, safety, integrity and well being of the Yoruba heritage especially in this challenging and perilous times, I have decided to exercise the power conferred on me as the Arole Oodua, to constitute a caucus of eminent Yoruba sons and daughters, to support and advise me in the discharge of the royal mandate.
“In recognition of your social and political esteem regionally, nationally and internationally, it is my honour and privilege to invite you to the membership of this distinguished caucus.
“The caucus will serve as a body of primary advisers and companion to me in moving forward the institutionalisation of the ancient Oodua stool. We shall hold quarterly meetings at the Palace court in Ife and as occasion demands. Given the prevailing security issues in the country, it will be the responsibility of the palace to ensure the safety and security of members in their ingres and egress to and from Ife.
“It will be the obligation of members to join kabiyesi in hosting major palace social and cultural events at Ife and accompany him in attendance at similar events to which the kabiyesi is invited.
“Members shall individually and collectively hold the obligation to protect and project the goodwill, prestige and power of the foremost Yoruba monarchy.
“I have appointed Chief Akin Osuntokun as coordinator of the caucus. Please accept the extension of my courtesies and respect.”