It was significant. But, it almost went unnoticed. On Monday, Olubadan Saliu Adetunji and members of the Olubadan-in-Council were at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan. The council members wore ordinary caps. Until then, they had worn crowns and they had insisted that by Oyo State Law, they were obas, though not of equal standing with the Olubadan.
But, why did the council members drop their crowns, which they had worn for some two years? The Nation can reveal that Monday’s rapprochement, which saw the council members being part of the Olubadan’s entourage, is a product of days and nights of wheeling and dealing.
For two years, it was like they were living up to the saying that ‘street-fighting is Ibadan’s disease’. The truce was brokered by three key indigenes of the city – Governor Seyi Makinde, Chief Bode Amoo and High Chief Rashidi Ladoja. While the move for reconciliation was made by Makinde, Amoo was the one who worked the magic. It was learnt that some elders in the city had rejected the request to wade into the crisis for the sake of peace and the sanctity of the Olubadan throne before Amoo accepted the challenge.
Many elders had tried in vain to resolve the logjam at the early stage of the crisis. Oba Adetunji insisted that dropping their crowns was the only condition he could dialogue with his high chiefs. The chiefs also insisted that the Olubadan must drop the title of ‘imperial majesty’, which the review also conferred on him as a condition to drop their crowns. The tough stance of both parties made futile the reconciliation efforts of elders, other obas, religious leaders and leaders of thought in the city and across Yorubaland.
A source told The Nation that Amoo first met with Ladoja, who was the only high chief who rejected the crown in 2017. After persuading Ladoja to embrace reconciliation and to join him, the octogenarian was said to have met the most senior high chief, Senator Lekan Balogun, who is also the next-in-line to the Olubadan throne. After convincing Balogun on the need to embrace peace, he went ahead to meet other high chiefs one-on-one and persuaded them to return to the palace on Oba Adetunji’s terms, which was to drop their crowns without any fanfare.
Amoo was said to have called the attention of the gladiators to the huge sums being spent on litigation and the negative impact media reports of the crisis were giving Ibadan as a city. He argued that the huge litigation sums could be spent on development initiatives in the city. He explained the need for every one of them to pocket their pride for the sake of peace in Ibadan.
The crisis made Oba Adetunji not to fill the vacancies created by the death of High Chief Olufemi Olaitan. He had died shortly before the crowning of the high chiefs in 2017. Olaitan was the Otun Balogun of Ibadan as at the time of his death.
The high chiefs were crowned by immediate past Governor Abiola Ajimobi, as kings of the local governments where they preside. But, the Olubadan opposed their elevation, saying that the state government did not have the right to crown anyone without his approval. He added that their crowing would hurt the peaceful ascension of the high chiefs to the throne of the Olubadan.
The two parties stuck to their guns while the chiefs shunned the Popoyemoja palace of the Olubadan for meetings of the Olubadan-In-Council. They met regularly at Mapo Hall. All entreaties to both sides to embrace peace failed until last month. But, they are now back happily on the same table to rule Ibadan land.