Shooting from the hips, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji was on Tuesday unsparing in his opposition to the recent crowning of his chiefs and lesser chiefs in his domain by the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi.
He pooh-poohed the crowns handed over to the new monarchs, saying that they are made of paper and urged them to note that it is only God that elevates people.
The monarch also disowned a statement credited to him earlier in the day that he had surrendered to the Governor’s will and endorsed the new monarchs, received a body of chiefs, called Mogajis, who are on the Ibadan royal queue and are traditionally superior to some of the persons who lesser chiefs that have now been elevated above them by the Governor.
The Olubadan, who spoke at his Popoyemoja palace, said that the crowns handed over to the new monarchs are fake.
His position followed a peaceful protest by the Authentic Ibadan Mogajis (AIM) who had earlier issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Governor to withdraw some statements considered offensive to the stool of the monarch.
Describing the crowns given to the new 21 kings as one made of carton, Olubadan said the beneficiaries are racing against destiny.
Before paying the monarch a solidarity visit, the Mogajis held a brief protest and press conference at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), at the Iyaganku area of the state capital.
To the beneficiaries of what the king regarded as perfidious crowns, Oba Adetunji recalled that it took him 40 years to become king, urging the high chiefs who were crowned by the Governor to allow Providence work in their favour too.
He said: “I started as a Mogaji. I was moving step by step before I assumed the throne after 40 years. I thank God for that. We must all love one another. If you love yourself and hate others, your purpose of love is nothing. I was called by the elders of my family to come and become a Mogaji more than 40 years ago. I rejected it and for three years, they were persuading me.
“In trying to convince me, the representative of my family told me that it could be that one day I would become a king. I then accepted it and became the Mogaji of my family. I waited on God and he made me king.
“Those who were crowned a few weeks ago know within themselves that they are wearing fake crowns, it is just a carton crown. I began my journey more than 40 years ago, why can’t they wait for their turn? If you don’t wait for your turn, you will be on the wrong side of destiny.”
The king also chided some Ibadan elders who allegedly said that he consented to the move by Governor Ajimobi to crown new kings in the city.
The statement was contained in a statement signed by the Director, Media and Public Affairs to the monarch, Adeola Oloko.
The statement read, “The Olubadan described as untrue and unfounded the statement credited to a group of Ibadan elders that Kabiyesi had consented to the controversial chieftaincy review embarked upon by the Oyo State Government resulting in the controversial crowning of 21 new kings.
“Oba Adetunji stated that the elders should not mislead Ibadan people into believing what he did not say, as what he said was that Governor Ajimobi, over whom they have come to plead, is his son and that he would not want a third party intervention over the matter. The Olubadan said for the avoidance of doubt, his opposition to the elevation of high chiefs to kingship status without domain remains the same.
“The Olubadan said that he cannot see how he will bless the high chiefs who have refused to wait for their turn before stepping forward to take crowns from the government, contrary to our tradition and custom.”
“The king said that the same Ibadan Elders’ Forum stoutly opposed the former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala’s move to elevate six baales in their letter dated April 24, 2009. On page two of that letter titled. ‘The composition of Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs’ signed by Ambassador Olu Sanu and Onaolapo Ajibola, they stated, ‘The (Ibadan Chieftaincy) system had worked for ages and ensured peace and stability in Ibadan land and the forum would therefore not want the government to tamper with the system in order not to create confusion and ill-feeling’.
“The first class monarch has therefore urged the Ibadan elders to stop contradicting themselves and creating confusion for peace and progress of Ibadan land,” the statement stated.
Earlier, the Mogajis opposed to the crowning of 21 kings in Ibadan, said that the approach of the government in rushing the process and performing the coronation on a Sunday showed that it probably had other motives beyond what was said to the people.
The conference was held with the presence of many police vans manned by policemen at the venue and roads leading to the venue. After the conference, the Mogajis moved to the Olubadan palace in a long convoy.
In a press statement signed by former deputy governor of the state, Azeem Gbolarumi, who is the Mogaji Olugbesan family in Agbokojo area of Ibadan, titled, ‘Political onslaught on Olubadan of Ibadan chieftaincy declaration; Threat to unity and monolithic structure in Ibadan land, the group stated that the white paper released by the government on the review was an attempt to distort history, culture and monolithic tradition which was unique to Ibadan land.
The group faulted crowning of baales, who are under the Mogajis, and high chiefs. It described the move as encroachment into the authority of the Olubadan as prescribed authority over minor chiefs in accordance with sections five and 22 of the Chiefs Laws of Oyo State 2000. The group said that the power given to the Olubadan by the white paper was like ‘bull dog without teeth to bite’.
“It is our prayer that Oyo State rescinds and reverse the decision and maintain status quo anti bellum, a position before the creation of hostilities by the Oyo State Government. The high chiefs that were promoted have no territorial governance and cannot exercise right of obaship. No socio-economic development can be associated with a warrant oba.
“It is a creation of political expediency. There is no authority to be exercised over particular territory, in other words, no legitimacy can be conferred on them by the citizens, thus negating the principle of ruler and subject. Any government trying to lure chieftaincy matter into political manoeuvring in whatever guise is igniting a Pandora box of violence full of gunpowder, capable of exploding any time.”