Ajimobi versus Ibadan chiefs By Adewuyi Adegbite

ajimobiSIR: It is heart-warming that the misunderstanding between the Oyo State government and Olubadan-in-council over the elevation of some Ibadan chiefs by Oba Odulana Odugade, in defiance of the directive of state government has been put to rest.

My position is that where two elephants fight, the grass always suffers. If the issue is not resolved amicably, the loser may be age-long Ibadan succession system which is an innovation in Africa and if care is not taken, the crisis may be the beginning of the end of the peaceful succession culture. This is why Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Oba Odugade and the Ibadan Elders Forum deserve commendations for the maturity displayed.

One of the earliest indigenous professors in Nigeria, Professor N.D. Oyerinde, once noted that the stability, strength, growth and greatness of Ibadan was as a result of its system of succession which was an innovation in Yoruba history, and was evolved to reward service to the community rather than the hereditary system in other towns in Yorubaland. Kudos for the succession system is credited to the founding fathers of Ibadan who were mostly of Oyo stock and warriors. In their wisdom, they thought that to avoid the evil that befell the capital of their country, Oyo-Ile, towards the end of the 18th century, they had to jettison the hereditary system for republican system in their new home.

As a matter of fact, Basorun Oluyole who tried to pave the way for the emergence of his son as his successor was opposed by other leaders. This system has been maintained and sustained for almost 200 years. The benefits of the system to the greatness of Ibadan could not be over-emphasized. The system, unlike in the towns where hereditary kingship system is practiced, is devoid of succession disputes. This particular factor is responsible for the growth and expansion of Ibadan as no contender to the throne left the town to found his own town as common with other towns practicing hereditary kingship system. Moreover, the system encouraged Ibadan indigenes to give in their best in the service of the town, so as to get quick promotion and move up the ladder to become the monarch. Also, the system rewards bravery and service to the community just as it encourages all compounds in Ibadan to be involved in the affairs of the town. This is because every compound can produce Olubadan. Last but not the least, unlike in other towns where Ifa divination, which could be manipulated, council of chiefs which can be compromised, or state government that can be influenced and interferes in the selection of a king, Ibadan succession system does not give room for manipulation of the process. This last point is where in lies the strength of the system and long reign, fearlessness and support enjoyed by the Olubadan.

Therefore, the decision of the Olubadan to promote the chiefs irrespective of the government directive may seem an affront to the government but as the custodian of Ibadan tradition and who will not let the system crash during his reign, he has to jettison the directive. However, no one can fault the position of the government also for insisting on due process in the elevation of the chiefs.