The recent query issued by Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, to some prominent traditional rulers in Ekiti state over an alleged insubordination, less than 48 hours after the emir of Kano, Mallam, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was dethroned by the Kano State Government shows clearly the level at which the politics of bitterness has eaten deep the fabric of culture, values, and raises questions on the role of traditional institutions in Nigerian democracy.
Governor Fayemi had through the Bureau on Chieftaincy Affairs on March 11, 2020, issued query to 11 prominent rulers, members of the 16 Pelupelu Obas’ commonly known as Alade Merindinlogun with a 72 hours ultimatum to provide reasons for absconding monthly statutory meeting of the State Council of Traditional Rulers and State official functions since August 2019.
Prior to the query, the prominent rulers had filed a suit before an Ado Ekiti High Court seeking the nullification of the appointment of the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Ajibade Alabi, as the chairman of the traditional council, alleging that the appointment of someone, outside the 16 obas as the chairman of the traditional council is “a violation of the Ekiti State Chieftaincy Law.”
Probably, this appointment was the reason the Obas have decided to continue to boycott state functions and meetings where Oba Alabi will preside or represented as the Chairman since August 2019 which finally culminated to the query in March 2020.
Disturbed by this face-off and the likely effect on Ekiti State and entire country, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi wrote a letter to the Governor, highlighting the importance of the Pelupelu Obas in Ekiti and why the Choice of the State Traditional Could Chairman should not be all-comers affairs while at the same time urging the governor to exercise refrain because of the sacredness of the position of monarchs in Yoruba Land.
Infact, the displeasure of Alafin with the query issued by Governor Fayemi to the eleven (11) crowned traditional rulers for not bowing their heads to their subordinate by absconding from the council meeting under their subordinate was clearly detailed in the letter without mincing words.
In order to dose this tension, the Oni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Oba Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, and Professor Bolaji Akintoye, a renowned historian paid a visit to the Governor in Ekiti, held a closed door meeting with him, and later held a general meeting with the aggrieved Obas and the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Alabi, where they assured the public that the storm would soon be over. Though, the details of the meeting with the governor was not disclosed.
However, based on the function of the historian in the society, it is obvious that the meeting held behind the closed door cannot be unconnected with the insensitivity of the Governor to the hierarchy of the monarch in appointing the chairman of the State traditional council.
In spite of these calls and efforts, the situation seems to remain the same as the Alawe of Ilawe, Oba Alabi continues to preside over the State traditional council’s affairs.
Though, the Governor had since the second day of the letter sent to him by the Alafin of Oyo on 14th March, visited the Alafin at his Palace, prostrated for him and held a closed door meeting with him just as an average politicians will do even when his choice of action is clearly different from the position of the monarch.
As a matter of fact, the thought to give the chairmanship of a State Traditional Council to a junior Oba which ought not to “smell the position” based on the tradition and long term practice can not be an error. It is an action well thought, planned and implemented which could either be a compensation on the side of the receiver(s) for a job well done or an attempt to give the rightful owner trauma due to something done or not done but ought to have done.
In Nigeria, it is a common knowledge that during the election the politicians move from palace to palace shopping for votes. In some cases they give money and gifts to the obas to help them influence people in their domain to cast votes for them just like it played out few months to the Governorship Election in Kogi when Governor Yahaya Bello gave Attah Igala a white Rolls Royce Phantom worth hundreds of millions Naira in 2019 as a gift.
The same thing might be the reason behind the appointment of the Alawe of Ilawe as the Chairman of the Ekiti State Traditional Council and the refusal of the governor to do the needful despites the calls from royal fathers telling him to observe the hierarchy of the monarchs in his appointment.
Though, man by nature is a political animal and most times love to favour those that favoured them in time of trouble, but at the same time the politicians should try and trend with care so that they will not use their four years in office to spoiled the customs and traditions laid down thousands years ago.
Femi Oluwasanmi, a Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Ibafo, Ogun State
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