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HomeWorld NewsIbadan people in support of Olubadan chieftaincy review — Kolade

Ibadan people in support of Olubadan chieftaincy review — Kolade

Oyo State Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Matters, Bimbo Kolade, tells OLUFEMI ATOYEBI that the 60-year-old Olubadan chieftaincy law deserves urgent review

The plan to review the chieftaincy succession laws in Ibadan by Governor Abiola Ajimobi has generated controversy. Can you shed more light on it?

I will say I really don’t know about any controversy because when you say something is controversial, I will take it to mean that almost all the indigenes of the city are divided on the matter. In this instance, we have just one or two people who are protesting against it. The 1957 law was made 60 years ago and if government calls for a review of that law, I want to believe it is in order and it is expected. America makes five-year development plan and I think Nigeria as a nation too ought to look at things, at least, every five years. We make budget on a yearly basis and development plan is done on five-year basis.

Ibadan chieftaincy title declaration has been there for 60 years. So government is saying, ‘How does this thing continue to fit into our current situation and in the next 60 years? How will this thing be?’ It is understandable if we have one or two persons who may not have in-depth knowledge of what government wants to do.

For clarification, what does that declaration entail?

Ibadan chieftaincy law recognises Olubadan as the supreme leader or oba over the whole of Ibadan. It recognises ascendancy to the throne – one line from the Otun line – which we can call the civilian line in today’s parlance. That is why we want to review it. The other line is the Balogun line, which today you can call the military line. It equally recognises the suburbs of Ibadan and the baale in those suburbs; how they too can ascend to the throne. The good thing about the declaration is that, even those suburbs like Ijaye, Ido, Egbeda, Akinyele, under Ibadan, have their own declarations which are recognised under Olubadan and make Olubadan the supreme head. And all these places we are talking about today are bigger than many towns and cities in some other places.

Is there any law that specifies when the declaration should be reviewed?

Yes; in the law, there is a provision for review. But it doesn’t specify how many numbers of years it can take before you review it. We have communities and towns who have no chieftaincy title declaration of ascendancy to the throne. One of is Onko; another is Orile-Igbon. Today, these communities are writing to the government to ask for a declaration committee to address the problems created by their old system of ascendancy. So, if somebody, who has been a governor of the state, is now saying, it is not government’s business, I wonder what the person learnt or knows as a governor, to say that government has nothing to do with the issue of chieftaincy matter and chieftaincy declarations.

The former governor you refer to here is Senator Rashidi Ladoja. He and Chief Lekan Balogun are in court to challenge the state government on why it should appoint some non-indigenes to be part of a panel that will decide on Ibadan chieftain law.

I think that is even the beauty of it. People will not say they have put someone who is from Ibadan and who has a vested interest to do a particular thing. I believe somebody who is not from Ibadan but who is knowledgeable, whose area of specialisation is about this matter should be in the best position to look into the chieftaincy law review. The law does not specify that it must be Ibadan people and the fact that we have people there who are not from Ibadan will make it free so that it will not be as if they are coming to work for their own interest.

Is it necessary for the governor to reform the declaration?

The governor has mentioned it several times that it is even the Olubadan-in-Council that came to request that the laws should be reviewed. Meanwhile, the agitation for the review of the law did not just start. Oba Akinyele (former Olubadan) was the first person that wrote (about it) about the history of Ibadan and he stated specifically in the book, the justification and the need for a review of the Olubadan chieftaincy declaration.  We have other notable Ibadan people who have put the issue in writing through memorandum to the state before now.

Why is this review coming at this time when the Olubadan is at loggerheads with the chiefs?

If not now, then when should it be? I don’t even know if there are any people at loggerheads. Those who are at loggerheads are not anything serious.

Are you not aware of the friction between the king and his chiefs?

Even if there is friction between husband and wife, it is natural. Immediately two or more persons are involved in a matter, it is natural that there would be friction. I don’t think friction should be interpreted as being at loggerheads.

It is said that the proposed review is an offshoot of the dethronement of the Iyaloja of Ibadan by the Olubadan?

The truth is that the Iyaloja is not a recognised chieftaincy title under the law of the state, or anywhere in Ibadan or Oyo. It is an honorary title, and on the issue of iyaloja, you will even discover that it is something between the traders and not within the palace. I think what we know is that the obas enthrone babalaje and iyalaje, not iyaloja or babaloja. Mind you, these markets belong to the government ab initio. It is the local government where the market is located that, under the law, owns this market. So, market does not even belong to the oba.

How transparent is Oyo State government in setting up the panel?

It is very transparent; members of the judicial commission of inquiry are not sitting in private. They have advertised in the newspaper calling on people to submit memorandum. So, it is an open thing. I have seen several towns that are using the opportunity to say they want to wear beaded crowns. And like the governor has mentioned, there are many lesser obas than Olubadan that have several obas following them to occasions like the Oluwo of Iwo.  You will agree with me that you can take many Iwo towns out of Ibadan. On the day the governor swore in the judicial commission of inquiry, Oluwo installed three obas in their own villages. Today, Oyo and Osun are having boundary disputes; the only thing that the Oluwo is using to entice the Ogburo people is that they should claim that they belong to Osun State and not Oyo State and that he would make the Ologburo of Ogburo an oba with beaded crown.

So, if Oluwo can be doing that, why should the baale of Apete, Ojoo, Akinyele, Egbeda and other areas not wear a crown? Do you know the population of those communities? So, are we going to close our eyes and fold our arms as government, while obas from other states use beaded crown as an enticement to draw or to claim boundaries and towns that belongs to us? Do you expect the governor to close his eyes to such? Today, Olufon of Ifon in Osun State is telling Olumogele to deny that he is from Oyo and come to Osun and he will give him a beaded crown. The oba in Obada town of Ogun State is telling the baale of Bakatari to deny being from Ibadan and that he would give him a beaded crown.

But there is the national boundary for all the states?

Of course, there is. The national boundaries stipulate all these things, but when people see where they are being encouraged with amenities coming to them, they might be tempted. Who doesn’t want something better? For them, it is better to be the head of a goat than the tail of a lion.

Will this not erase the uniqueness of Ibadan, once it is broken into parts?

Let me take, for example, the Ooni of Ife. Iremo is a quarter in Ife, just like Beere, Aperin and Popoyemoja in Ibadan. Today, the head of Iremo quarters in Ife is a beaded-crown oba. Obalufon is a quarter in Ife and he is the second-in-command to the Ooni of Ife by hierarchy, Obalufon today is wearing a beaded crown. It is a basic fact. Has that diminished the office of Ooni of Ife today? Have you seen the Ooni of Ife travelling out of his domain and the number of beaded-crown obas that follow him? Government is just starting with Ibadan. We will still review Oyo, Ogbomosho and Oke-Ogun chieftaincy laws.

We have people with family houses in Beere but their village is in Iddo. If Iddo now has an oba just like Ibadan where Beere is located, where will the allegiance of that family be?

I appreciate your view and I can understand it. But the thing is that, you cannot be a mogaji in Beere and still say you want to become Onido of Iddo. So, if it doesn’t happen like that today, why do you think it would become a problem tomorrow? If today, what you prefer is to become a mogaji at Alafara and you don’t want to be baale, you have already chosen where you want to be.

Will this not diminish the power of Olubadan?

It will never. The governor has said that many times and I am reiterating it that it will never. In fact, it will even make the office of Olubadan more recognised, celebrated and highly placed.

So, all these lesser obas will be under Olubadan?

Yes, they all will be under the Olubadan while the Olubadan will remain the paramount ruler of Ibadan.

Will it not be a disgrace to the Olubadan if you install obas under his domain?

Today, Soun is there as the Soun of Ogbomosho and as the Soun of Ogbomosho, he has his consenting authorities over some obas. Oloko today is a beaded-crown oba; but before anybody can be crowned Oloko of Onko, Soun must give his consent. The Akigbio of Ilora is a beaded-crown oba; Alaafin still holds the consenting authority over Akigbio of Ilora even though he is a beaded oba.

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