PDP and the denigration of traditional institutions

July 13, 2011

Arts & Culture

By Lai Opawoye

[Essay reduced for space.]

A popular Yoruba adage says: “Ti adugbo ba ntoro, Omo ale ibe ni ko ti d’agba”, meaning “a family enjoys tranquility only when the bastard is yet to grow up.

Before the birth of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic in 1999, the choices of candidates for royal stools were always based on merits among those who were from the ruling house(s) in any town or community where such stools had become vacant. This was as a result of the respect accorded traditional institutions by the military administrators in the states of the South-West, especially those who believed in minimal intervention on issues that did not concern them or those that the constitution gave them little or no influence on.

During Chief Bisi Akande’s administration in Osun State when the stool for the Orangun of Ila, Akande’s home town, became vacant, the former governor left the choice of a candidate to the people of the town through the kingmakers.

Though litigation over the stool still subsists which is not unusual in such cases, the level of acceptance of the monarch, Oba Wahab Oyedokun by residents and indigenes of the ancient community is reflected in their reaction to a court judgment that nullified the monarch’s appointment and installation. However, there are points that need to be stated over issues of royalty in our dear state of Omoluabi in the last eight years when the PDP government led by Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola decided to be THE kingmaker in towns where royal stools became vacant.

Most recently, an Osun State High Court nullified the coronation and inauguration of the Ataoja of Osogbo, ‘Oba’ Jimoh Olanipekun, declaring that his nomination was null and void but before I go into details, it is important to look back at how the ousted administration of Oyinlola polluted the once-revered traditional institutions in many towns and communities.

When the need for a new monarch arose in Aagba, a town in Boripe Local Government Council Area of the State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) machinery in the state was set in motion to install one of its own on the throne. The party mercenaries then did not care about the feelings of the people nor did they care about the consequences of imposing someone on Aagba people.

Governor Oyinlola, the number one security officer of the state, looked the other way since the person to be imposed was not only a member of his party but his Special Adviser in spite of the fact that the man was not from any of the ruling houses in the town. Oyinlola saw the imposition of PDP loyalists as traditional rulers as another avenue to guarantee PDP’s rule even if it meant bastardising the royal institution. In spite of protesst from Aagba indigenes and some kingmakers in the state, Oyinlola inaugurated Oba Rufus Ogunwole as the Alaagba of Aagba. For months, the town was a shadow of itself as mobile police laid siege on the town for weeks to enable Ogunwole stay in the palace.

The story of Iree, another town in the council area was not different from that of Aagba where the contentious issue was the inclusion of Laro among the ruling houses against the provision of the town’s tradition by the late Asiwaju of Iree, Chief Sunday Afolabi who had instructed ex-Governor Oyinlola to install a particular member of the ruling house (Laro) in the event of Aree’s death.

It is amazing how a prince would demystify an institution that gave his family prestige judging from his claim that his father (former Olokuku) was an international figure in the preservation of Yoruba civilization with an eye on a throne he may later lay claim to.

There was always the litigation that emanated from the imposition of Alie of Ilie, which also was as a result of the flagrant disregard for the rule of law by a self-styled “prince of peace”, a term Christians reserve for Jesus. A High Court Judge in Osogbo had ordered the state government not to coronate Oba Olagunoye Oladapo as the monarch, but the “prince of peace” preferred to drag the traditional institution in the mud. That case is still waiting to be dispensed-off at the state High Court.

And the case of Iperindo, in Atakumosa-East Local Government Council Area of the state where the people decided to approach their case with violence having discovered that the government of PDP would not yield to the people’s wishes – remains an example Oyinlola using government powers to erode the institution of Obaship. When his emissaries concluded their plan to impose a candidate the people rejected on the throne, the sleepy town became a war zone and the imposed monarch fled the town.

The installation of the Olufon of Ifon-Orolu kingdom was another case just as the issue of installation of Timi of Ede generated a lot of furore.

Finally, the recent deposition by the law courts of the Oyinlola-installed Ataoja of Osogbo did not come as a surprise. The Oyinlola-led PDP government crowned him within three days but it was apparent to all in the know that it was a coronation that would not stand up to legal scrutiny.

When the contest for the vacant Ataoja stool began in 2010 it was a few months before the sack of the PDP government, and without recourse to the counsel of the high priests who heard the news of the “choice” of an Ataoja over the radio and television, the governor and PDP local stalwarts decided “Oba” Jimoh would be the Ataoja.
My grouse with the former governor is not whether or not “Oba” Jimoh was qualified or not but the level to which our traditional institution was thwarted by a power-drunk “prince of peace”. It is unbelievable that a man who should uphold an institution to which he claims to have been born would allow a “Kabiyesi” to skip all the traditional processes of a true monarch, especially the Ipebi where he was supposed to learn the etiquette of royalty. Today, ‘Oba’ Jimoh Olanipekun has joined other deposed impostors, all victims of Oyinlola and PDP illegalities.

Those who have brought Osun State’s traditional institution to disrepute must be made to pay for the calamities and Yoruba as a whole must fight to wrestle this revered institution from egomaniac politicians.

Dr. Lai Opawoye sent this from the U.S.A.



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