Ibadan's republican monarchy: key facts about succession controversy

The controversy surrounding the ascension to the throne of Olubadan has finally been resolved as Olubadan-in-council for the first time held a meeting with the Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, since the then Olubadan Oba Saliu Adetunji joined his ancestors.

Ibadan's republican Monarchy

It was also the first Olubadan-in-council meeting that Chief Rasheed Ladoja, the Osi Olubadan, would attend after the demise of Oba Adetunji. The bone of contention was over elevation of eight (8) high chiefs and and (13) thirteen baales in Ibadanland to the position of obas with coronets by the then governor late Senator Abiola Ajimobi in August, 2017.

Having rejected the elevation, High Chief Ladoja and late Olubadan Oba Adetunji instituted a court case arguing that the then governor contravened Chiefs Laws CAP 28 of Oyo State. In the suit, it was stated that the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs was not consulted during the process leading to the elevation of 21 obas.

The court decided in favour of the plaintiffs, however the state government appealed the judgment. Based on technical grounds, the appellate court ordered that the case should go for retrial at the high court. With the coming to power of Governor Seyi Makinde in 2019, he advised concerned parties to settle the matter amicably out of court. After a settlement was mutually reached, which also favoured the late Olubadan and Osi Olubadan, the Ajimobi-installed obas went ahead to challenge the settlement in court. Apparently, this case would be withdrawn in a couple of days before coronation of the new Olubadan.

Though the late Governor of Oyo State, Senator Ajimobi, was a modernist, who had good intentions for elevating high chiefs to the position of obas; the major flaw was none involvement of the Olubadan of Ibadanland while making the law. The elevation, was therefore an aberration, it would have been legitimized if the the past administration had involved Olubadan in the process of making the law.

My former lecturer at University of Ibadan, Professor Alex Gboyega, taught us that one of the challenges of development in Nigeria is the relegation of indegenous institutions and caponization of local governing capacities by state governments. Unfortunately Prof. Gboyega passed away on January 12th, 2022. May God grant him eternal rest. The key lesson from the Olubadan succession row for me, is that the Olubadan succession controversy exemplifies the limits and challenges of implementing top-down policy/law. Our elected office holders should work more directly with traditional institutions and indigenous leadership structures in order to craft sustainable bottom-up public policies that would accelerate national development.

If the immediate past administration in Oyo had used a bottom-up approach, while making the law to elevate some high chiefs, there wouldn't have been any row and tension. Since Olubadan is supposed to have suzerainty over 21 obas, it makes sense to let Olubadan play a key role in the process of their installation. It is an aberration for an elected "constituted authority" to create or superimpose a strange 'obaship' system on the agelong system; just as the UK Prime Minister has no constitutional power to interfere in English royal affairs.

Speaking on behalf of Olubadan-in-council after meeting with Governor Seyi Makinde, last week, the Osi Olubadan, High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, said among other things: “The resolution is simple and the only contention was the objection by Barrister Lana on the court case and it has been resolved. None of us argued that the Otun Olubadan, Senator Balogun, is not the next Olubadan. All of us have agreed on that position because that is our hierarchy. The Olubadan-in-Council will meet and we will present the candidate to the governor for accent.”

Unlike Saudi Arabia's absolute monarchy and English constitutional monarchy that have ruling houses or royal families; in Ibadan's republican monarchy all sons of Ibadanland could become Olubadan. Ibadan people are citizens, not subjects, that is the democratic advantage of Ibadan's republican monarchy. The starting point on the ladder leading to the throne of Olubadan, is the Mogaaji chieftaincy. There are two lines, civil and military, taking turns as Olubadan respectively. While the civil line has 22 rungs; the military line has 23 rungs on the ladder. Now that all controversies have been cleared, may the reign of incoming Olubadan, High Chief Lekan Balogun bring prosperity to Ibadanland. Oke'badan agebe wa o!

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