Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has presented certificates and staff of office to 24 chiefs, who were among the 33 recently elevated to the status of Obas in Ibadan, following the adoption of the recommendations of a judicial commission of inquiry earlier inaugurated by the governor.
The colourful ceremony, held at the arcade of the historic Mapo Hall, Ibadan, on Sunday, was attended by prominent Ibadan elders, socio-cultural groups, opinion leaders and a large number of Ibadan citizens.
The event marked a turning point in the history of the ancient city, which used to have the Olubadan of Ibadanland as the only beaded crown wearing oba, in its 11 Local Governments and with a population of about four million.
The 11 members of the Olubadan-in-council were elevated to the status of Oba, with the prefix of ‘his royal majesty,’ but only eight were available for the event, following the death of two high chiefs and the refusal of Osi Olubadan, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, to be part of the process.
Thirteen ancient bales from different towns in Ibadanland were also promoted to the position of obas, with the prefix of ‘his royal highness.’
All the newly promoted Obas will be under the authority of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who will be the only ‘imperial majesty,’ while none of them will add the suffix ‘land’ to his title.
Due to the vacancies in the stool of nine chieftaincies, who have also been elevated to the status obaship, the nine towns were not represented at the occasion.
Speaking at the event, the governor said that the state government followed due process in conducting the exercise, stressing that all extant laws had been complied with, while he said that the exercise was not encumbered by any legal impediment.
Ajimobi debunked the insinuations being peddled by those he called political opponents to the effect that the promotion was targeted at witling down the influence and authority of the Olubadan as the supreme monarch in Ibadanland.
The governor said that the initiative was borne out of a strong sense of patriotism and a resolve to elevate, uplift, transform and reposition the chieftaincy institution of Ibadanland.
He quoted a famous author, Henry James, who once said that ‘a tradition is kept alive only by something being added to it,’ to buttress his point.
Ajimobi said, “This epoch making event in the annals of the history of Ibadanland is a practical demonstration of our administration’s commitment to the enhancement of dignity and honour of the chieftaincy institution in Ibadanland and Oyo State in general.
“I wish to state categorically that we are not changing history; we are not changing tradition; we are not changing the culture of Ibadanland.
“Rather, we are elevating and consolidating our traditional institution and the exalted position of the Olubadan as the imperial majesty in Ibadanland.
“We are also elevating the Olubadan-in-Council and the chieftaincy institution without altering or tinkering with the traditional succession and ascendancy system of the Olubadan Chieftaincy structure.”
The governor explained that the review of the 1959 Olubadan chieftaincy declaration was not a novel idea, having been carried out by successive administrations in the state in 1974, 1981, 1993 and 2000.
According to him, Ladoja, who was opposed to the current exercise, also set up the Adio Commission to review the Olubadan Chieftaincy declaration, before jettisoning the commission’s recommendations.
The governor said, “Our administration is not reinventing the wheel. We have simply, like others before us, embarked on a review of the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration in response to the yearnings of well meaning stakeholders.
“These include the Ibadan Elders Council, Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) and eminent sons and daughters of Ibadanland, such as Chief Theophilus Akinyele; the late Otun Olubadan, Chief Omowale Kuye; and all, but one member of the Olubadan– in-Council.
“They all desired to elevate the traditional chieftaincy institution in Ibadanland and position it comparably and competitively amongst other ancient Yoruba cities who have embraced new and modern systems. They have been truly inspired by the words of Lidia Bastianich when she said ‘Today’s innovations are tomorrow’s tradition.’”
The governor explained that the event was also borne out of his administration’s burning desire to redress the lopsidedness in the number of beaded crown obas in Ibadanland vis-à-vis other zones in the state.
While Oke Ogun, Ogbomoso, Oyo and Ibarapa zones have several beaded crown obas, he declared that Ibadanland, touted as the political and traditional headquarters of Yorubaland, had only one beaded crown oba.
With the installation of 33 new obas, the governor said that the clamour for the creation of Ibadan State had become justifiable, adding that the individual domains of the new obas were poised to witness tremendous growth and development.
He charged the new obas to use their elevated royal positions to promote peace in their localities, as well as the unity and well-being of the citizenry.
Responding on behalf of the new obas, the Otun Olubadan, Oba Lekan Balogun, thanked the governor for acceding to what he called the clamour by respected Ibadan elders to review the Olubadan chieftaincy to be in zinc with other Yoruba cities.
He reaffirmed the supremacy of Olubadan, whom he said, remained the imperial majesty and father of all the citizens and obas in the land.
Balogun said, “I’m happy to be part of history today.
This is an epoch-making event. We are proud of the governor. We are grateful to him. On behalf of all of us, I want assure the governor that we will use our position to enhance the socio-economic development of Ibadanland and the entire state.
“This promotion will put Ibadan in strong footing in the traditional institution of Yoruba land. With 33 obas, Ibadan can now renew its clamour for the creation of Ibadan state. This envisages the emergence of Ibadan State.
“I want to make it clear that the Olubadan, his imperial majesty, remains our father. It will be more heartwarming and prestigious when we follow him to events henceforth with our crowns.”