By Adebiyi Adedapo
Let me first offer my heartfelt condolences to the government of Oyo State, the Olubadan-in-council, all Ibadan indigenes as well as the immediate and extended families of our revered and courageous monarch, Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Oguguniso
I have followed with keen interest the controversy peddled in the media over the rightful candidate to the Olubadan throne. It is quite unfortunate that for the first time in history, Ibadan which has over the years boasted of the most peaceful succession plan to the throne is now being thrown into an avoidable controversy.
I am happy that almost all the Ibadan High Chiefs who supported and received coronets from the immediate past governor of Oyo State, late Senator Abiola Ajimobi are alive to witness the crisis they plunged the peaceful Olubadan stool into, I wish God had spared Ajimobi’s life till this period.
Being that as it may, let me state emphatically that as of today, there is no litigation against the succession to the Olubadan throne, therefore the normal sequential arrangement is still intact.
Bearing in mind that the Olubadan-in-council is saddled with the responsibility of nominating to the governor a candidate for the throne, usually the most senior high chief from the alternate civil line (Olubadan) and military line (Balogun), the succession process cannot be initiated without the council and it is inchoate without the governor‘s approval.
This effectively means that the governor lacks the power to appoint an Olubadan, he only ratifies the designate presented to him by the kingmakers(Olubadan-in-council). In this situation where the most senior of the kingmakers (who are also eyeing the throne) are ‘guilty’ of accepting Ajimobi’s coronets, a protracted crisis is imminent. Therefore, Governor Makinde and the Olubadan-in council should find a common ground to save Ibadan Land from an avoidable crisis.
Irrespective of this, by an action of one member of the Olubadan-in-council, the Osi-olubadan, High Chief Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, the error committed by the government of Abiola Ajimobi in 2017 can plunge Ibadan into a crisis that the city may never recover from. Having read the letter addressed to the Oyo State government by a former attorney-general and commissioner for justice in the state, Micheal Lana who is the counsel to Ladoja and another letter by counsels to the Olubadan-in-council, KK Eleja, Prof Wahab Egebewole and Kunle Sobaloju, I make bold to conclude that by their practice as lawyers, the counsels are more loyal to their clients‘ interest, therefore not interested in offering a practicable solution.
For instance, Lana in his letter quoted an unknown section of the Ibadan Chieftaincy Declaration of 1957 to claim that no Oba can ascend the Olubadan throne. He thereby advised the Otun-olubadan, Senator Lekan Balogun to withdraw the appeal he‘s leading against the consent judgment brokered by the current governor, Engr. Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde. But the joker Lana refused to reveal is that as of the time of filing that appeal, the Olubadan was alive and there was no contention to the throne. Now that the Olubadan has joined his ancestors, there is a course of action and a fresh suit can be instituted by Ladoja to stop the succession process.
Interestingly, in exemption of Ladoja, all the eight surviving most senior high chiefs accepted to be crowned by Ajimobi in 2017 and they are still contesting the legality of their crowns in the Court of Appeal. In other words, the grounds for disqualifying Balogun as adduced in Lana’s letter would affect others, and they would simply be suffering for being obedient to the immediate past administration in the state.
Also, the validity of Lana’s position cannot come to effect until it is tested by a competent court and in this case, Ladoja who will be the direct beneficiary of Baloguns disqualification as the next most senior has to file an action against enthroning his immediate senior in the civil line of Olubadan-in-council. This is where Ladoja holds the ace, he has every right and reason to stop Balogun from becoming the Olubadan until the court reached a decision.
Whichever way the pendulum swings, the scar of such litigation will hunt Ibadan for a long time and also set a bad precedent in the city.
I do not want to imagine a situation whereby the court decides that the “Obas” sitting as the Olubadan-in-council are no longer entitled to the throne. This is possible, depending on the provisions of the Ibadan Chieftaincy Declaration, but will it engender peace in the land?
The other possibility is that the court decides in favour of the majority Olubadan-in-council members, should this happen, how will Ladoja relate harmoniously with his fellow council members and what is the guarantee that the kingmakers will be disposed to his candidacy for the throne when the turn gets to him.
Let me at this point advise former Governor Ladoja not to push further in the interest of peace in the ancient city of Ibadan and the Olubadan stool which we all cherish and must protect jealously. This is the right time for reconciliation and not the time to start another round of rancour and acrimony.
I wish to implore all the gladiators to, in the interest of peace and posterity agree on a feasible solution to the imbroglio.
Very lastly, while as a Yoruba man, I lack the morals to insinuate that all the elders who accepted the crown in 2017 exhibited a wrong sense of judgment, caution is expected as two wrongs don’t make a right. These High Chiefs do not only represent themselves but their family compounds. Disqualifying about eight family compounds from an age-long dream of having the Olubadan stool is in itself an invitation to a crisis.
It is my fervent hope and prayer that God the Almighty will shower wisdom upon everyone concerned, particularly Governor Makinde, High Chief Ladoja and the entire Olubadan-in-council.
Ibadan a gbe waa oo
– Adedapo, an Abuja based journalist hails from Odegbile Compound, Aperin, Ibadan.