How Osun Council Of Obas’ Leadership Crisis Was Resolved
*The supremacy battle between traditional rulers in Osun State over the chairmanship of Council of Obas
The controversy surrounding the leadership of the Council of Obas in Osun State has been laid to rest following last Thursday’s emergence of Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, as the council’s chairman.
Prior to the last week’s meeting of the traditional rulers, there has been an impasse over the claim to the position by Owa Obokun of Ijeshaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran. But to the surprise of many people, Oba Aromolaran succumbed last Thursday by recognising Oba Ogunwusi’s leadership at the council’s meeting, which was the first to be attended by Ooni of Ife since his inauguration.
New Telegraph gathered from a reliable source at the meeting that the event was full of drama, as traditional leaders in the state gave a heroic welcome to the Ooni and unanimously accepted him as the leader of the council.
The decision of the traditional rulers made Oba Aromolaran, who has been acting as chairman of the council for several months, to assumed the position of deputy chairman The source disclosed that the Owa Obokun, who presided over the meeting admitted that he was the deputy chairman and that he acted as the chairman of the council was in absentia.
Giving an account of what happened, a monarch, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that: “when the Ooni arrived, the atmosphere changed.
His aides brought a personal white chair for him. That really made him special and his comportment was royal, with intimidating royal posture.
Thank God that the acting chairman, while introducing himself, said he was the deputy chairman. It means he recognised the head.”
Also speaking to journalists on the development, the Onigbaye of Igbaiyeland in Odo-Otin Local Government Area, His Royal Majesty, Oba Joseph Okunola-Oni, said: “The meeting went on well because it happens to be the first meeting of the year and it was the first time the newly-coronated Ooni of Ife will be in attendance.
The meeting was successful. There is no cause for alarm as Ooni has been introduced to all of us as the new chairman of the Council of Obas in the state.”
It would be recalled that prior to the meeting, there was controversy in the circle of traditional rulers in the state over the leadership tussle between Oba Aromolaran and the Orangun of Ila, Oba Wahab Oyedotun, who were both laying claims to the position of acting chairman of the council.
The two prominent traditional rulers have been battling for the position since the demise of Oba Okunade Sijuwade, who was the permanent chairman of the state Council of Obas.
After Sijuade’s demise, the Oba Aromolaran placed advertorial in three national newspapers to lay claim to the position of acting chairman of Osun State Council of Traditional Rulers. But his claim was condemned by Oba Oyedotun, who told journalists during a press conference in his palace on September 7, 2015 that the Owa Obokun has no right to declare himself the leader of the traditional rulers in the state.
His words: “It should be noted that, historically, the position of the Orangun of Ila is well known in the hierarchy of the children of Oduduwa throughout Yorubaland. By Yoruba culture, accession to any position of authority is purely a matter of tradition.
“While the late Oba Sijuwade was the permanent chairman and the position was officially proclaimed by government, the arrogation of the position of acting chairman on the Owa Obokun by himself, to say the least is illegal. I am surprised to have found the name of Orangun of Ila below that of Owa Obokun in the publication, which must have sent wrong information to millions of Nigerians.
There is no iota of truth in the false claim of Owa Obokun, who may be at best next to the Orangun of Ila in the Osun State Council of Obas.
“The Owa Obokun of Ijeshaland, describing himself as acting chairman is not only an error but a deliberate action meant to rewrite the history of the institution of obas in Yorubaland. It is a known fact that Orangun of Ila takes precedence over the Owa of Ilesha and no overt or covert mischief can sufficiently subvert historical fact in this respect.”
Despite the reactions that generated his emergence as acting chairman, Oba Aromolaran later declared himself as the substantive chairman of Osun Council of Obas.
He made the claim a week to the presentation of staff of office to Oba Ogunwusi, claiming that he emerged the substantive chairman at the council’s meeting held at his palace in Ilesha. He told journalists that Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun, moved the motion that he should assume the leadership position of the council in substantive capacity.
“Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun moved the motion that since I have been acting as the chairman, I should continue in that capacity as the substantive chairman and other monarchs supported the motion. “I have been acting as chairman of the council even when late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade was alive. I usually presided over the meetings in his palace because of his old age.
Now that Osun Obas have unanimously adopted me as their substantive chairman. I would work for the growth of Osun State and also collaborate with Governor Rauf Aregbesola in moving the state forward socially and economically,” he said.
Oba Aromolaran’s new status generated lots of issues in the state, especially among the traditional circle as people kicked against his emergence as the council’s chairman. Some traditional rulers who spoke on the condition of anonymity, faulted Aromolaran’s claim, saying the position cannot be occupied by any other person, apart from the Ooni of Ife, who is the traditional head of all kings in the state.
They said the position does not have anything to do with an individual but has to do with an institution and therefore wondered why desperation should set in.
The controversy that trailed the leadership tussle is not new to many people because many traditional rulers have done the same in the past to lead traditional institution at the state level. It would be recalled that in the old Oyo State, the Ooni of Ife and Alaafin of Oyo engaged in a supremacy battle for years over the leadership of traditional institution in the state.
The matter became aggravated and extended to indigenes of the two historical towns with the two royal fathers claiming to have historical facts supporting their positions. In fact, when late Sijuwade became Ooni of Ife in December 1980, he inherited the dispute.
While the people of Ife claimed to be the cradle of the Yorubas, the people of Oyo insisted that they are bonafide sons and daughters of Oduduwa, therefore they have every right to lay claim to the supremacy of the throne wherever they may be. Investigations revealed that, Oduduwa’s first child and son, Oranmiyan was the first Alaafin of Oyo. He was in Igodomigodo in 1170BC and it was after his sojourn in the place that he set up in Oyo dynasty.
However, when the late sage and former Premier of Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was chosen as Yoruba leader, he played a prominent role to ensure that traditional rulers re-unite and live a crisis-free life. His efforts were crowned through traditional wisdom, native approach, historical facts and other steps he took to ensure that Yoruba remained united.
In 1976, when the then Military Governor of Oyo State, General David Jemibewon, decreed that the Ooni of Ife would be the permanent chairman of the State Council of Obas and Chiefs, the pronouncement brought sharp reactions from all other traditional rulers led by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who described the decree as unacceptable.
The traditional rulers insisted that the chairmanship position should be rotational between the Ooni of ife and Alaafin of Oyo. The disagreement led to crisis, which was unresolved till when Osun State was carved out of old Oyo State in August 1991.
The crisis degenerated in January 2009 when Oba Sijuwade was quoted to have said that Oba Adeyemi was ruling a dead empire (the Oyo Empire, which collapsed in 1793) and Adeyemi responded by citing ‘absurdities’ in Sijuwade’s statements, saying the Ooni ‘is not in tune with his own history.’ Oba Adeyemi, was conspicuously absent from a meeting of Yoruba leaders in April 2010.
After the creation of Osun State, the leadership tussle rested permanently as the Ooni of Ife was made the permanent chairman of the state Council of Obas while 12 traditional rulers including Orangun of Ila and Owa Obokun of Ijeshaland were his deputies. The resolution was formalised by the Osun State House of Assembly through an edict.
With the controversy surrounding the leadership of traditional rulers in Osun State laid to rest, following the assumption of Oba Ogunwusi as the substantive chairman of the Council of Obas, the people of the state are watching with keen interest to see how formidable and organise, the seating of the council would be when the new Ooni of Ife presides over the affairs of traditional rulers in the midst of others who are older than him.