The recent elevation and coronation of 21 Baales and High Chiefs of Ibadan land to the status of kingship by Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State may have renewed the feud between the governor and Rashidi Ladoja, former governor of the state, Sunday INDEPENDENT investigations and interactions with stakeholders have shown.
Consequently, the exercise has polarised the ancient town of Ibadan with Ladoja who is the Osi Olubadan of Ibadan and one of the elevated high chiefs and an Ibadan based group, Ibadan Maja Maja Group (IMMG) as well as the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, tackling the governor, who has the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), comprising of Ibadan elite, including many of the high chiefs elevated to first class Obas, throwing their weight behind him.
While Ladoja sees the exercise as targeted at him to stop him from ascending the coveted throne of Olubadan of Ibadanland as well as his political ambition, Ajumobi insists that the action was in good faith and in the interest of the people.
However, Ladoja is insisting that the review of the 1957 Ibadan chieftaincy declaration is not the responsibility of the state government, but responsibility of Ibadan people themselves, wondering why Ajimobi’s government is hell bent on reviewing a traditional system that has proved to be the most peaceful and stable in the entire Yorubaland over the years.
Besides, other respondents perceive it as the conspiracy of the elite against the culture of Ibadan people, when viewed against the long and tortuous journey many of them would have to wait to ascend the throne of Olubadan in the event of vacancy on the stool.
Indeed, after the brief political romance of the duo in 2007, Ladoja and Ajimobi, both natives of Ibadan have become political enemies in Oyo State, as evidenced in their exchange of “political missiles” during the 2011 and 2015 governorship elections in the state.
In the last two years, Ladoja and his political party, the Accord Party (AP) have been in the forefront of criticisms against Ajimobi’s government, while political observers in the state have also noted that the governor has continued to fight back at any given opportunity.
Expectedly, Ladoja was the first Ibadan High chief to kick against the review of the 1957 Ibadan chieftaincy, claiming that although he is the target of the whole exercise, the governor could not stop him (Ladoja) from becoming the Olubadan of Ibadanland, if it is the wish of God.
Apparently miffed by the development, which was perceived as an affront on the stool of Olubadan of Ibadanland, Ladoja and his supporters have vowed not to relent until what they describe as the desecration of the revered culture is reversed.
Also, Ladoja, who contested the last election with Ajimobi, claimed that the elevation was targeted at him also, to abort his political ambition of ruling the state for the second term. Ladoja, though had not indicated his intention to re-contest the next governorship election claimed that elevating him to first class Oba, would end his political ambition and put him under control as the race for the next governorship election has started in earnest.
He strongly condemned the governor for attempting to rubbish the stool of Olubadan with the elevation of the high chiefs and Baales to first class Obas, vowing that the action would not stand.
Ladoja asked Ajimobi to explain the reason why his administration refused to conduct local government election in the state in the last six years on the excuse of pending court cases, but rushed to install 21 new kings in Ibadan within 72 hours without waiting for the outcome of legal actions instituted against the move.
He insisted that the review of the 1957 Ibadan chieftaincy declaration is not the responsibility of the state government, but that of Ibadan people themselves, wondering why Ajimobi’s government is hell bent on reviewing a traditional system that has proved to be the most peaceful and stable in the entire Yorubaland over the years.
Ladoja accused the Ajimibi’s government of using the controversy generated by the review of the chieftaincy law to cover up the failure of his government, asking what is the direct positive impact of the review of the declaration on the entire people of the state.
He, however, declared that he has no problem with Governor Ajimobi as a person, but with the state government under the leadership of the governor, accusing other Ibadan High Chiefs who accepted the elevation of failing to distinguish between the governor and his government.
Going down the memory lane, Ladoja noted that when former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala wanted to crown only six additional kings in Ibadan, the people rose against it, but now that Ajimobi is planning to crown 33 new kings in the town, other High Chiefs threw their weight behind him.
Ladoja also accused the Oyo State government of being fraudulent in the implementation of recommendations of the commission that was assigned to review the 1957 Ibadan chieftaincy declaration, as evidenced in the white paper published by the government itself.
Also joining issues with the governor on the elevation of the high chiefs, Ibadan Maja Maja Group, condemned the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) and chiefs who supported the action of the governor, describing it as a mockery of 167 years of Ibadan tradition.
In a statement by its Coordinator, Adesina Akinpelu, the group lamented that it was unfortunate that CCII is supporting Governor Abiola Ajimobi to destroy the 167 years old traditional chieftaincy system of Ibadanland.
Adesina, who is also the Atayese Olosun of Ibadaland, noted that since 1850, Ibadanland had established an unusual succession system, which is quite peaceful and unique when compared to other traditional systems in Yorubaland.
On the rejection of his elevation as first class Oba, Bimpo Kolade, the State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, said that the state government was not aware that Ladoja, rejected to be crowned as an oba.
The Oyo Commissioner revealed that the former governor only wrote to inform the ministry that he would not be available for the last Sunday’s coronation ceremony, and that he did not indicate in the said letter that he was rejecting his upgrade to obaship.
Also speaking in support of the elevation of the high chiefs, the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), the umbrella body of all Ibadan people threw its weight behind Ajimobi.
Yemi Soladoye, President General of CCII, declared that 90 per cent of Ibadan indigenes were in support of the enthronement of 21 new kings by Ajimobi, following the review of the 1957 chieftaincy system in Ibadan.
According to him, High Chiefs, who have been elevated to the position of kings in Ibadan have always been accorded the status of second class kings by the state government.
He said, “The CCII wishes to confirm that the change that has just taken place was desired, initiated, supported, applauded and appreciated by the generality of Ibadan Indigenes worldwide.
“Nobody has created any new ruling house (with the new system). The former high chiefs can now physically carry the authority of the Olubadan for development in their communities and create flamboyancy around the Kabiyesi at public functions. The new kings are not kings of anywhere as they are still on the queue to become Olubadan and the imperial power over the entire Ibadan land still resides with the Olubadan of Ibadan land.”
Soladoye explained further that the baales that were elevated to king status were from satellite towns that were subdued by the Ibadan warriors many years ago, adding that it was not an attempt to divide Ibadan into several parts.
“The fact of the case is that satellite towns like Ijaiye-Orile, Erunmu, Lalupon had in fact existed before the present Ibadan but having defeated them in wars, we demoted their kings and annexed them to Ibadan. The new arrangement is a manifestation of the usual magnanimity and hospitality of Ibadan people but they wear the coronet from the Olubadan and not their ancestral crowns in the new dispensation. Some of the crowns are also granted to protect our border towns.”