Olunloyo, Bolanle Awe, Oyebola call for review of Ibadan chieftaincy system

Late Oba Odulana

Some scholars and personalities have called for an urgent review of the Ibadan chieftaincy tradition to encourage younger, educated and influential men ascend the exalted throne of the Olubadan of Ibadanland.

They bared their minds at a symposium organised by the Oyo State Government in continuation of a week-long activities for the funeral of the late Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade I, at the Trenchand Hall of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan.

A former Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Ismael Olalekan Alli, who represented the Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, at the event, said the symposium was put together to celebrate the late Olubadan.

The event, which has “Issues in Ibadan Traditional Chieftaincy System” as central theme was chaired by Emeritus Prof. Olu Akinkugbe; while Prof. Adedotun Ogundeji spoke on the life and times of the late monarch. An Ibadan Senior Chief, Lekan Alabi, also spoke on the topic of the day.

Those who spoke in favour of the review of the Ibadan traditional chieftaincy system include a former Governor of the old Oyo State, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo; a former Editor of Daily Times, Chief Areoye Oyebola; and a renowned Historian, Prof. Bolanle Awe.

Oyebola, who said he had close relationship with four Olubadans, noted that the Olubadan chieftaincy system was fraught with complexities that has made it impossible for any Olubadan to reign for too long.

He said it was not in the best interest of modern Ibadan city for a prospective Olubadan to wait for more than 35 years after becoming a Mogaji before becoming an Olubadan, since they must climb the 23 promotional steps on the rung.

He said, “A situation where you have more than 200 Mogajis waiting in line to become Olubadan and to make the matter worse majority of these Mogajis are not educated and competent enough to rule over a big city like Ibadan calls for a review.

“Some don’t have the means and knowledge. I want to call for a review that will make it impossible for such people to become Olubadan. What I can advise the Olubadan-in-council to do is to assess the current Mogajis and separate those who are not competent to become Olubadan

“Make them advisers to the Olubadan and remove them from the chieftaincy lines. Baales should henceforth nominate young, educated and successful men of between 35 and 40 years to become Mogaji. To wait for 35 years before becoming Olubadan and reign for few years is not in our best interest.”

On his part, the former governor said that the Olubadan chieftaincy tradition, Chiefs Law and Subsidiary Laws are replete with contradictions and obstacles that needed urgent review in order to make ascension to the Olubadan throne problem-free.

Olunloyo insisted that the Olubadan chieftaincy promotion is not without rancour as widely believed, given the contention by the Seriki and Iyalode chieftaincy lines to be accorded due recognition.

He said, “No government can legislate on the issue of traditional chieftaincy because of the principle of separation of powers. There are six obstacles in the way of an Olubadan until the laws are reviewed. Some of these obstacles are in the Chiefs Laws and some are in the Subsidiary Law.

“The system is semi-promotional. There was this Akinyo crisis when the late Oba Akinyele wanted to become Olubadan. In fact what the law even says is that the Olubadan-in-council can choose from the four most senior chiefs in any line, not necessarily the most senior.

“Something must be done to reduce the lines and the rung of the ladder. We also need to remove all obstacles in the chief’s law. The current Olubadan-designate is qualified to ascend the throne. The Supreme Court judgment the Seriki line is relying upon to stop him is an unenforceable law, as Chief Afe Babalola will say.”

Despite its touted uniqueness, Awe said that the Olubadan traditional chieftaincy needs to be rejigged to encourage younger men to become Olubadan.

She said, “But I want to say that reform should take into cognizance the Iyalode line in order to take care of women. Women should not be relegated.”