The history of obaship in the ancient city of Ibadan, changed dramatically yesterday after Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State presented letters of conferment of obaship titles to 30 high chiefs and baales.
The new obas are among the 32 recommended for the position by the Justice Akintunde Boade panel that reviewed the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration. Nine of the obas are members of the Olubadan-in- Council.
They include HRM Oba (Sen.) Lekan Balogun, who doubles as Otun Olubadan; HRM Oba Akinloye Owolabi Olakuleyin, Balogun of Ibadanland; HRM Oba Tajudeen Ajibola, Osi Balogun of Ibadanland; HRM Oba Eddy Oyewole, Ashipa Olubadan of Ibadanland; and HRM Oba Abiodun Kola- Daisi, Ekerin Olubadan of Ibadanland,.
The rest are: HRM Oba Latifu Gbadamosi Adebimpe, Ashipa Balogun of Ibadanland; HRM Oba Amidu Ajibade, the Ekarun Olubadan of Ibadanland and HRM Oba (Dr.) Kolawole Adegbola, Ekarun Balogun of Ibadanland.
Former governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja who was also nominated for elevation was however absent. The remaining 21 obas were,until yesterday, baales.
The Olubadan,Oba Saliu Adetunji is fiercely opposed to the new dispensation,dismissing it as a joke carried too far. Senator Ladoja who was absent having gone to court to seek an order to aside the panel’s recommendations.
Also absent was the Otun Balogun, High Chief Femi Olaifa,who died at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan yesterday morning. He was Special Adviser on Parastatals to Second Republic President Shehu Shagari.
The letter dated August 25, 2017 and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Matters, Mrs. Olawunmi Ogunesan, said the confirment of the new titles takes effect from “Friday, 25th, August, 2017”.
The letter explained that the conferment qualifies each of the new obas to wear a royal beaded crown and addressed as His Royal Majesty while each of the newly promoted 21 baales will be addressed as “His Royal Highness”.
The Olubadan of Ibadan will be addressed as His Imperial Majesty in the new order. Government ,in the letter, says it derives its authority from Section 28(I) Cap. Vol. 1 of the Chiefs Laws of Oyo State of Nigeria 2000, the recently amended 1959 Declaration of Olubadan, relevant Chieftaincies in Ibadanland and the Government White Paper as conveyed in Ibadanland, in Government Gazzette No 14, Notice 27 Vol. 42 of 23rd August, 2017.
It added:”The Governor, His Excellency, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has graciously approved the conferment of obaship on you with effect from Friday, 25th August, 2017. “By this conferment, you shall henceforth wear a royal beaded crown in line with the provisions of the amendments.”
Some of the 22 baales promoted to obaship status include the Oniroko of Iroko, Onikereku of Ikereku, Olodo of Olodo, Alaba of Abanla, Onilagun of Lagun and Elegbeda of Egbeda. Others are Alakaran of Akanran, Alajia of Ajia, Onido of Iddo, Alawotan of Awontan, Onijaye of Ijaye, Alakufo of Akufo, Olofa-Igbo of offa Igbo, Oloke of Okelade-Akin, Olugbon of Ile-Igbon and Ologburo of Ogburo.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi said the coronation and presentation of instrument of office will come up tomorrow, at Mapo Hall where all the crowns will be on display.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alh. Olalekan Alli, said the new status is in the best interest of Ibadanland and the state, adding that it would not undermine the powers or status of the Olubadan in any way.
The Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy matters, Mr. Bimbo Kolade, said the newly promoted obas are to wear smaller crowns that will not demean that of the Olubadan in any way.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Oba Lekan Balogun thanked the governor for his doggedness and commitment to ensuring the implementation of a long overdue effort.
He promised that the new monarchs would work with the state government to bring rapid development to the people, Ibadanland and the state as a whole. Earlier at a press conference yesterday,the new obas said the governor was in order and that the new dispensation will enhance the honour and influence of Ibadan as a city.
Oba Balogun who spoke for them said the review enjoyed the support of wellmeaning Ibadan indigenes who would love to see the throne of the Olubadan attain the title of ‘imperial majesty’ in its real sense.
Balogun explained that the review would not erode the authority of the Olubadan because he will remain the head of all other traditional rulers and title holders in the entire Ibadan land.
Balogun also emphasized that the review would not affect the ascendancy system as the high chiefs will continue to move up the ladder until the lucky one mounts the throne of the Olubadan of Ibadan land.
He said all other obas will remain under the authority of the Olubadan, adding that the baales who are being elevated also deserve the promotion because of their historical background. Ladoja said the development was against the law and contempt of court.
“I’m sure you are aware that I am in court to prove that the government does not have the right to interfere in the Olubadan chieftaincy matter,” he said when contacted yesterday.
“And I am sure government has been served court processes because the Attorney General (AG) was in court for hearing on Monday.
“The AG said nothing would be done. So, I’m not interested in anything they are doing because it is illegal. Ibadan chieftaincy issue is a native, local law, not a state law. So, it is the business of Ibadan people.”