A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Yomi Aliyyu, tells OLUFEMI OLANIYI why he believes the Otun Olubadan, Senator Lekan Balogun, should be the next Olubadan despite his (Balogun) elevation as an Oba by the previous administration in Oyo State
The Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, passed on Sunday, January 2, and the ascendancy of the throne of Olubadan is now mired in controversy. Many people have said this has never happened, what do you think went wrong?
I don’t see any controversy in the ascendancy of the throne of the Olubadan, maybe I should call it a man-made controversy. The 1957 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration says four high chiefs from each of the two sides will constitute the kingmakers. From the first side, they are Otun Olubadan; Osi Olubadan, Eketa Olubadan and Ekerin Olubadan. From the other side, the four high chiefs are (Balogun) Otun Balogun; Osi Balogun; Ashipa Balogun and Ekerin Balogun. Those are the eight people that constitute the kingmakers in Ibadan. When the late Abiola Ajimobi (former governor) made these chiefs obas, they still retained those nomenclature. They were not removed from their offices as Otun Olubadan, Osi Olubadan; Otun Balogun; Osi Balogun and so on. The declaration has not changed and the modern day lawyers who want to do lawyers’ work are the ones raising the dust over the matter.
Should the Otun Olubadan, Senator Lekan Balogun, now ascend the throne as the new Olubadan?
The kingmakers have said that. They said out of the 11 kingmakers, only one of them abstained. They did not say he voted against Otun Olubadan. One person abstained from voting and others voted unanimously for Senator Lekan Balogun to become the new Olubadan. Nobody can change that in any court. Senator Lekan Balogun was a senator on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party then and he cannot say because he was elected on the platform of PDP as a senator, he will not be fair to those in All Progressives Congress or other political parties. A king is a father to all irrespective of his subjects’ political affiliation or religious beliefs. Kabiyesi is for everybody and that is how it has always been.
There was a time Oba (Odugade) Lana asked the high chiefs to go and resign from politics but he (Lekan Balogun) and Senator Rashidi Ladoja refused to resign, can that be used against him now?
That can’t be used against him or any one of them. It is their right to belong to any political association.
A former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Oyo State, Michael Lana, in a letter to Governor Seyi Makinde said Senator Lekan Balogun could not be made the Olubadan now because he was already promoted an Oba and it would be an aberration for him to be crowned twice. What’s your view on this?
That is academic. There is no law to support his claims. He should have cited the law that supports his claim that immediately you are a king, you cannot be a king again. There are Atobatele in Yoruba. He can be promoted from Royal Majesty to Imperial Majesty. Even culture is not static, it is dynamic. There was a time twins were being killed but that has changed. There was a time that before you could be a king, you must have tribal marks but is that happening again now? No.
Is there no court case that can stop the Otun Olubadan from ascending the throne as the next Olubadan?
There is none. They (the elevated Obas) were the ones who went to court. There was a consent judgment between Ladoja and the government of the day. They said it was not proper to decide their rights behind them and they went to court. The case they took to court has nothing to do with the stool of Olubadan, so it cannot affect them negatively in any way.
Will it not be advisable for them to withdraw the case as suggested by the former attorney general of the state?
They don’t need to withdraw any case. The case has nothing to do with the Olubadan of Ibadanland. It was about whether they can wear a beaded crown or not. So the argument by Lana is academic.
Do you think what is happening now has political undertone?
Ibadan is so dynamic that you cannot bring politics into how people ascend the throne. If you do that, you will cause mayhem that even the government may not be able to solve. So, I don’t think anybody should play politics with it. Did Ladoja say he wants to become the new Olubadan now? He cannot. He still has two people in front of him so it is not his turn. He has Lekan Balogun and High Chief Owolabi Olakulehin before him. Olakulehin is the Otun Balogun, so some people are making the mistake that Ladoja comes after Lekan Balogun. No, that’s not true. Olakulehin will be Olubadan after Lekan Balogun. Olakulehin himself will never take that kind of a gift even if it is given to him when it’s not his turn.
What’s your advice to the governor on this matter?
He should confirm Lekan Balogun as the Olubadan and put an end to the man-made controversy. Ibadan has never been in turmoil because of the ascendancy of the Olubadan throne. It has never happened. Even when Bishop Akinyele was cheated, another person was announced, he went and congratulated him. He was cheated by the government in power then. It was during (Obafemi) Awolowo’s time but he never complained. There won’t be any problem.
There is an assumption that the ranks of the kingmakers could be broken and the Otun Olubadan would be sidelined for another person to emerge, do you have such fears?
You cannot buy tradition. The governor himself is from Ibadan and I am sure he will never even think of that. Ibadan people don’t forget and they don’t forgive. I don’t see any of the kingmakers being bought. You can never buy them because they are aware that whatever happens to their seniors will also come back to haunt them. No governor will try that. To buy them for which person to become the Olubadan? Even the person won’t accept it. The kingmakers are disciplined. They won’t do anything in conspiracy against each other