Friday, March 11, 2016 3:49 pm
Shortly after the coronation of the new Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji which took place on Friday March 4 2016, the highly celebrated fracas between the state government, led by Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Olubadan-in-Council over the state proposed reforms to the traditional system of the ancient city seems to have been relatively resolved. The traditional council has consented to the reforms as long as its members are carried along.
Disclosing this to the magazine in an exclusive interview, Otun Olubadan, High Chief Moshood Lekan Balogun, though noted that the system itself is self-reforming equivocally affirmed that the Olubadan-in-Council has agreed to the reformation adding, “The reform is worthwhile. Interestingly, Ajimobi is not doing it unilaterally, he is talking to us and we are all working together on the reforms.
Yes, there is a sense in reforms that will produce educated and young persons with unquestionable character as our traditional ruler”. Corroborating, Otun Olubadan, Senior Special Assistant, Print and Broadcast to the Governor, Akin Oyedele in a brief telephone chat said, “Thank God the dust has settled and the parties have forged a common front now in the overriding interest of Ibadan. The beauty of the whole thing is that Governor Ajimobi mean very well not only for Ibadan but the whole state. He is passionate about ensuring that Ibadan maintains its pacesetter status quo”.
Earlier, some prominent Ibadan indigenes including: former governor of the state, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo; a renowned historian, Professor Bolanle Awe; and a former Editor of Daily Times, Chief Areoye Oyebola have joined their voices with the state government in advocating a review of the Ibadan chieftaincy tradition to encourage younger, educated and influential men to ascend the Olubadan throne.
They opined that the reform would take care of the complexities the chieftaincy system is fraught with which have made it too difficult for Olubadan to live long on the throne, adding that the system is too outdated.
The reform episode started late last year, at a public function well attended by the Olubadan-in-Council including the former state governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, when Ajimobi dropped the hint that there is an urgent need to reform the traditional system in such a way that educated and young men of impeccable characters that would stay longer on the throne would emerge as Olubadan.
Afterward, to demonstrate his seriousness and commitment to the reform, when the opportunity presented itself at the last elevation of nine chiefs by the royal father, late Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade 1, Ajimobi invoked relevant sleeping and snoring aspects of the constitution to commence his reforms.
Specifically, the governor invoked: Section 14 (2) and Section 21 and 26 of the Chiefs Laws, Cap 28 Laws of Oyo State of Nigeria. These sections of law are said to have stipulated that any chief meant for elevation up to the throne of Olubadan must submit medical report from a government secondary health institution certifying fitness, and mandatory security check by the Department of State Security Service, DSS. Failure to do this will attract appropriate sanction(s).
The government position was conveyed in a letter dated Thursday December 31, 2015 by the Director of Chieftaincy Matters in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Z. O Jayeola, which was addressed to the Head of the Ibadan South East Local Government administration.
Olubadan ignored the government directive and elevated nine chiefs which included High Chief Senator Moshood Lekan Balogun to Otun Olubadan and High Chief Saliu Adetunji to Balogun, out of which one will succeed Odulana. The hard line of the two positions heat up the polity until eminent Ibadan indigenes, led by Ambassador Olu Saanu, stepped in and resolved it. About two weeks after the incidence, Oba Odulana passed on and following the tradition, Adetunji emerged as the new Olubadan at 87.
In his official speech at the coronation, Ajimobi reiterated his position about his determination to reform to ensure that sooner than later, younger people of impeccable character start emerging as Olubadan. He explained that who shall be Olubadan, “Shall fulfill the provision contained in Section 10(2) of the Chiefs Law 1957 (now Section 14(2) of the Chiefs Law 2000). There is the need to inform us all that under the above quoted portion of the law, no person shall be qualified to be a candidate for a recognized chieftaincy if: suffers from serious physical infirmity; or has under any law in force in Nigeria, been found or declared to be a lunatic or adjudged to be of unsound mind; or has, in any part of the Commonwealth: been sentenced to death or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years; or been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty and sentenced to imprisonment therefore, and has not been granted a free pardon”.
However, the question on the lips of people is that should these reforms scale through and age limit is imposed on who can become a monarch in the city, what happens to about the 11 high chiefs, other chiefs and other Mogajis already in line and the several mogajis who are hopeful of getting to the throne?
Chieftaincy review in order
High Chief Otun Olubadan of Ibadan land, HIGH CHIEF MOSHOOD LEKAN BALOGUN spoke WITH GBENRO ADESINA on the complexities of the traditional system in Ibadan. He said the Olubadan-in-council is working with state government on reforming traditional obaship succession system
Q: What is the process of selecting Oba in Ibadan?
A: The history of a kingdom determines its traditional system and the process they go through in that environment. Ibadan was founded by warriors. The initial arrangement was that since we started it together; let us share the benefit together. So each warrior then became a warrior house and mogaji, who is the head of a family house, will emerge from each house. The numbers of the ruling houses determines the number the mogajis in the city. The mogajis will climb the ladder to get to the throne. Initially, balogun line was not producing the oba because it was like the chief of army staff or defence minister but after a while, balogun line was allowed to produce oba and the obaship is being alternated between Olubadan line and Balogun line.
Then they established 22 and 23 steps from the moment you become jagun to the throne on the Olubadan line and balogun line respectively. The first step for a mogaji to be on olubadan line is to be jagun olubadan, or jagun balogun. So the first competition which is like struggling for obaship in Ibadan is to move from mogaji to jagun. We can have about ten mogajis competing for a jagun slot.
Once that battle is over, and you live long enough, you will become the oba. When the person before you dies, you move up and keep moving till you move on to the throne. That is how we acquired the system we run now.
Q: What is the relevance of age in becoming Mogaji ?
A: Age is relevant in becoming the mogaji of Ibadan. At the original conception of this system, the oldest person in a family, ordinarily becomes the mogaji. Today, other logical and qualitative factors are being considered. For instance, my family has 21 sections and each is entitled to become mogaji. To manage the situation, they now introduce a system whereby if your side has done it, leave it to others to also do it. That began to set aside the concept of age. If your section has done it before and the man coming from another section is younger, the younger one is picked.
Q: What is your perception of the view that the process to olubadan is too long and cumbersome?
A: It is true. You become mogaji at age 40. You are lucky if you become olubadan at 80. Again, Ibadan system is a good demonstration of divinity, and what God wants. We have had the youngest Olubadan in the history of olubadan, Baba Kobiowu came on the throne at 56, he didn’t spend six months on the throne before he died. The late Olubadan, Odugade, my great father, I learnt something from him. When he was coming up, there was a popular saying in Ibadan, Ärikuyo loloye Ibadan”, if the man in front of you dies, they will start calling you to congratulate you.
But Oba Odugade didn’t like this. He will blast you if you break a news that somebody who is younger to him has died. He still became the oba at 91 and spend nine years on throne when people thought that he would not last six months. That is God for you. Ibadan system demonstrates how God works.
Q: What is your view concerning the reviewing of traditional system in Ibadan?
A: Life calls for review and constantly we are reviewing it. Take my own family, Aliwo, it is the oldest son that will become mogaji. I wasn’t the oldest but I was picked. The person that is supposed to be the mogaji begged me to be mogaji because of some qualities they found in him: education, young age, vibrancy, etc. That has become the trend since 1976.
So, unlike before that Olubadan-in-Council was full of old men and uneducated people, now we have educated persons, academics, governors, lawyers, scientists, and doctors. The point I am trying to make is that the system itself is reforming. People naturally will look for the factors that will reform the system. If you want to assist that process, you can now say that you can only be mogaji if you are less than 40 and you only have just about 12 steps to go instead of 22 or 23 steps thereby saving 20 years.
Q: What is the advantage of the processes of obaship here?
A: It is rancour free and enables one to appreciate divinity. It makes you appreciates God the more. It reduces room for conflicts and contradictions. It makes only a person who is well grounded in our history and culture to be olubadan. The major disadvantage is that the candidates for the throne are always old before getting there.
Q: What are the statutory obligations of Olubadan?
A: He ensures that Ibadan is peaceful and constantly advising the government on various issues relating to the progress of the state.