I commiserate with all indigenes of Ibadan, Oyo State and Nigeria as a whole on the demise of Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogugunso 1 who joined his ancestors on 02.01.2022 at the age of 93. The most important thing now is the successor which is now generating controversy in the State. The relevant law applicable to our highly coveted throne of Olubadan is the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration 1957. It regulates some certain things in our Obaship structure and reduced it into writing. I need to stress that Ibadan was founded by warriors and we can safely called Ibadan a Military city. Lagelu, the Jagun of Yorubaland and the finest military officer of his time established Ibadan during the reign of Sango who incidentally destroyed the first Ibadan.The date when Ibadan was founded is lost to antiquity. It was the 3rd Ibadan that flourished from 1829 till date. The majority of historians are wrongly picking this date as the date that Ibadan was established. I have taken pains to correct this assumption on many occasions and dealt with the matter in my book published in June 2020 ( Balogun Oderinlo in Yoruba History). For this reason, I have called on our professors of history to do the needful and set the record straight. I have informally raised this matter with Professor Olutayo Adeshina, a professor of history at the University of Ibadan.
Ibadan has the most enviable successoon structure in the whole world predicated on convention. The traditionally chieftaincy structure that produces Olubadan of Ibadan consists of two lines. The Otun line ( civil line) and Balogun Line (military line) The Seriki line was meant to be a youth group fused into the Balogun line. Attempts by Chief AMA Akinloye and the late Bayo Oyediji to turn Seriki line into a third line were rebuffed by the High Chiefs and they successfully defended it in court against the duo. Our tradition does not allow a woman to become Olubadan. The highest title for a woman is Iyalode and she is recognised as the leader of the womenfolk in Ibadanland. However, this structure was nearly destroyed by the action of a former governor of Oyo State, the late Abiola Ajimobi. Ajimobi in his attempt to modernise the structure promoted some High Chiefs and Baales to the level of Obas, but for every little action, there is a reaction and the consequences of the late Ajimobi action have grave impact on the whole structure. The first identified problem was that the High Chiefs as kings cannot prostrate as the custom demands before anybody, including the Olubadan himself. Thus, the newly promoted kings cannot visit Olubadan in the palace any more since once they are in palace, they have to prostrate for their king.
The second problem is that all the Mogajis are higher than the Baales in the hierarchy of chiefs because they are in line to the throne and they are the bedrock of the heirachy that leads to Olubadan. The Mogajis nominate Baales and this is approved by the Olubadan sitting in council; they are not in line to the throne of Olubadan but when the Baales were promoted to the level of kings, it nearly destroyed the whole fabric of the conventional structure of which Ibadan is famous for. His excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, in 2019 resolved the matter by way of Consent Order. Prior to that, the High Chiefs returned to the Palace to pay obeisance to their king in 2018. All the salary owed to the kings were paid, including all the money held on trust by the High Chiefs for the king were paid to the late King.
The Consent Order was signed by the parties to the crisis, However, some High Chiefs claimed that they were not privy to the Consent Order and went to court to challenge the order. It is even subject to argument as to whether a Consent Order can be appealed since Consent Order is an agreement by the people concerned to do or abstain from doing certain things as the case may be. High Chief Lekan Balogun declared publicly in 2018 during his interview with Olufemi Atoyebi published by Royalty Reporter that the matter had been resolved and the status quo had returned and he can be referred to as Otun Olubadan. He returned to the palace and sat at the right of the King as the custom demanded. He claimed that it was a family matter which had been resolved. The late King and the incoming king (Chief Lekan Balogun) attended my book launch (Balogun Oderinlo in Yoruba History) at Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan on 5 June 2020. It was very clear to all that the Otun Olubadan welcomed his king with respect and stopped his speech immediately the King arrived to honour the king. They discussed briefly at the launching.
My learned Brother, Lana, a former Attorney General and commissioner for justice of Oyo State, in a genuine attempt to prevent disorderliness sent a letter to his excellency, Governor Makinde on the need for withdrawal of the appeal so as to generate smooth transition . I concur with him that the appeal must be withdrawn immediately. Many people are misinterpreting the letter to cause bad blood and rebellion but anyone who has carefully perused the letter will note that it was written with utmost respect and humility. He has deep knowledge of the matter and he intervened at the appropriate time. A stich in time saves nine as they say. Though, it is my opinion that such a letter should have been a covert letter to His Excellency alone and should not have been made public at this stage. Be that as it may, the successor of Olubadan, by convention, is the responsibility of the High Chiefs to pick. The senior amongst them is automatically the next Olubadan, though it must be ratified by the High Chiefs and once it is ratified the Governor will be informed of their choice for approval. The governor will confirm their choice and present the newly picked Olubadan the Staff of Office on coronation day.
We have never heard of it in the history of obaship in Ibadan that a governor rejected the choice of the High Chiefs and so it is just a formalty for the governor to confirm the choice of the High Chief. Whilst the governor has power to remove Olubadan ( although that power has never been exercised in history), he has no power to appoint the Olubadan. The power to choose resides with the High Chiefs; it is their prerogative. However, in this unprecedented time and because the court has power to intervene in any matter, it will be wise for the appeal against the Consent Order approved by the court in 2019 to be withdrawn immediately without any delay so as to forestall any trouble by any would be trouble maker. The High Chiefs have been holding meeting with the Olubadan in waiting and people have been congratulating him already. The incoming Olubadan is highly educated and probably the most educated king in all yoruba land. A PhD holder for that matter, it is a privilege for Ibadan people to have his as the next Olubadan and may his reign be peaceful.
- Aborisade is a lawyer, human right activist and historian.