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Late Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Lekan Balogun

Olubadan: All’s well that ends well… By Bola Bolawole

High Chief Lekan Balogun

[email protected] 0807 552 5533
Wednesday, 23 February, 2022).

Celebrated English writer, William Shakespeare, said all’s well that ends well; so it is with the Olubadan chieftaincy succession row now that the impasse that submerged the age-old succession process has been broken – seemingly! Crowned the 41st Olubadan on March 4, 2016, Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogunguniso 1, joined his ancestors in the early hours of Sunday, 2 January, 2022 at the age of 93 years; rather than the usually settled and rancour-free succession to the Olubadan throne that Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, was noted for, controversies arising from a so-called reform of the Olubadan chieftaincy institution by the late Gov. Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi threw the whole process into a gridlock. Mercifully, wise counsel prevailed and that logjam was broken such that on Valentine’s (or Lovers’) Day, Monday, 14 February, 2022, the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, released a “love letter” to anxious Ibadan sons and daughters, giving his approval to the nomination by the Olubadan-in-Council, of the Otun Olubadan, High Chief Lekan Balogun, as the 42nd Olubadan of Ibadan land.

A news medium reported it as follows: Seyi Makinde, Oyo state governor, has approved the appointment of Lekan Balogun as the 42nd Olubadan of Ibadanland. The approval, which was announced on Monday, comes in the wake of a recommendation from the Olubadan-in-Council…The appointment is in line with the Olubadan of Ibadan Chieftaincy Declaration, as well as the unique and time-tested tradition of (Ibadan) people. The governor also approved the revocation of the amended Ibadan Chieftaincy Declaration, which regulates the selection to the Olubadan of Ibadan chieftaincy stool…in view of the judgements of the Oyo State High Court on February 1 and 10 as well as Sections 7, 20, 26 and 30 of the Chiefs Law of Oyo State 2000”.

Thanks to Gov. Makinde who restrained himself from playing petty politics with this very serious matter; rather than being vindictive, he placed the interest of Ibadan over and above selfish considerations. Had he behaved like Ajimobi, shoving it down everyone’s throat in demonstration that he is the new sheriff in town, as they say, or, to quote Ajimobi himself, that he is now the “constituted authority”; the outcome might have been different! Thanks also to the Osi Olubadan, former Gov. Rashidi Olawolu Ladoja: Had he been rabidly self-centred and had he, like Shakespeare’s Shylock in “Merchant of Venice”, insisted on his pound of flesh, the succession crisis might have lingered and a long-established and time-honoured succession process might have been thrown to the dogs. Of all the members of the Olubadan-in-Council, Ladoja alone stood ram-rod in support of Oba Adetunji as the late Oba wrestled with Ajimobi to preserve the trade-mark Olubadan succession system.

Gov. Makinde, at the final burial rites for Oba Adetunji, held at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium (formerly Liberty Stadium), Ibadan on Saturday, 12 February, 2022, gave hints of an all-clear when he was quoted as saying that the controversy trailing the ascension to the Olubadan throne had been laid to rest. The emergence of the new Olubadan, he added, would be in line with the laid-down tradition of the town, which he described as the envy of many. The all-clear signal presumably followed the court judgment pronouncing Ajimobi’s controversial reforms as dead as dodo! In her ruling of February 1, 2022, the Oyo State Chief Judge, Justice Munta Abimbola, had dismissed the case challenging the judgement that nullified the promotion of some Ibadan High Chiefs as Obas. This followed the withdrawal of the case instituted by the Olubadan-in-Council, led by High Chief Lekan Balogun, now the Olubadan-elect. The advice to withdraw the suit and revert to their previous High Chief status had long been given to the recalcitrant High Chiefs by Makinde, an advice they spurned until their case became like that of the proverbial sickly person who was asked to say “to” only once to regain his health but who refused, saying he could not say “to-to-to”! It is, again, like the monkey who refused to say a single “Amen” to a prayer said by the tortoise but who, today, goes about shouting “Amen “ all over the place after the tortoise had taught him the lesson of a life-time!

But has the ice really thawed? Rumours had it that a certain former governor held a joker close to his chest, promising to flash it to further lock up the succession process even after the court must have spoken. Those who claimed to know said the “joker” in question first surfaced in the public domain decades ago. After the court spoke, appearing to have cleared the coast, Gov. Makinde made a surprise visit to a former governor of Oyo state, Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo, on Saturday, February 12, 2022. Remember, the governor had promised earlier in the day, at the events marking the final burial rites for Oba Adetunji held at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium (erstwhile Liberty Stadium) that he would unveil the new Olubadan two days hence (on Monday, February 14th). A news medium reported Makinde’s visit to Olunloyo thus: Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde , on Saturday evening paid a visit to the Molete, Ibadan home of one of his predecessors, Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo, where he presented him with a Lexus jeep… Makinde… held a closed-door meeting with the octogenarian former governor (and) gave the aged Olunloyo a pleasant surprise when he pointed at a parked army green car, saying: ‘Your Excellency, let me present you with this gift’ An excited Olunloyo…asked one of his aides to pray for the governor and the success of his administration”

Olunloyo, 86, was governor of Oyo State between October and December 1983. The election that produced Olunloyo was believed to have been massively rigged by Olunloyo’s NPN using “federal might”, with incumbent Gov. Bola Ige of the UPN at the receiving end. Similar shenanigans turned bloody in Ondo State where the NPN candidate, Akin Omoboriowo, though declared winner by the INEC of the time, was chased out of the state while the UPN’s Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin reclaimed his mandate. Olunloyo, however, was luckier than Omoboriowo because Ibadan suddenly jettisoned party loyalty for “blood is thicker than party”! Hence, the slogan “omo wa ni, e je o se” meaning, “he, Olunloyo, is our son, let him be governor; rigging or no rigging!” “Shon of the shoil” considerations! On Saturday, Makinde promised he would announce the new Olubadan. Same day, he paid a surprise visit to Olunloyo. Two days later, he made the promised announcement. When, actually, did the fog clear over the Olubadan issue: Was it with the court pronouncement of Tuesday, 1 February, 2022 or with Makinde’s visit to Olunloyo on Saturday, 12 February, 2022? Or did both work together for the good of Ibadan as the scriptures posit in Romans 8: 28?

Again, all’s well that ends well but my worry is that we sweep too many serious matters under the carpet rather than call out people to account for their deeds. Our reward system is perverted where people get away with blue murder in broad daylight. Not only our politics but every other institution – religious, traditional, social, economic, educational, name it – has been so desecrated. The “corpses” that we so shamelessly buried yesterday are popping up from their shallow graves to haunt us today; those we are similarly burying today will pop up tomorrow to haunt our own children and generations yet unborn!

Wanted: Politics of National Development
As politicians are upping the ante in preparation for elections, a call has been made for a “new politics of development” among the political class for the economic transformation of the country within the framework of the National Development Plan 2021– 2015. The Director-General, Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Ilorin, Comrade Issa Aremu, made the call in Ilorin while delivering the 55th Anniversary Lecture of the founding of his alma mater, Ilorin Grammar School (IGS). Founded in 1967, IGS was a pioneer community secondary school in Ilorin. Aremu observed that the unveiling of a new National Development Plan (NDP) in December 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari “has commendably returned Nigeria to the trajectory of development through comprehensive inclusive national planning”.

We used to have National Development Plan 1, 2, 3, etc but, suddenly, everything stopped; meaning that we stopped to plan and, as they say, those who fail to plan, plan to fail! Any wonder, then, that we are where we are today?

The NDP, Aremu said, “should form a new partnership for politics and development among all stakeholders in the Nigerian project, adding that “the new Plan (should) be legislated upon such that regardless of which party wins the next election, the Plan should inform policies in the next four years” He counselled political parties to draw their manifestoes from the Plan.

Aremu posits that the strength of the Plan is “its ambitious funding targets of N348.1 trillion with Government contributing N49.7 trillion and the Private sector N298.3 trillion, taking 35 million persons out of poverty and the creation of 21 million new full-time jobs by 2025 through diversification of the economy and investment in infrastructure.

Aremu urged Nigeria to emulate China which, since 1949, has kept faith with 14 Five-year Development Plans, adding that Nigeria fared better with its four post-Independence Development Plans before they were abandoned for what he called “debt-servicing Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) under military rule that stopped growth and created mass poverty”.

Oh yes, Chief Olu Falae, aka “Mr. SAP”, has a case to answer here!

* Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers and chairman of its Editorial Board, BOLAWOLE writes the TREASURES column in the New Telegraph newspaper and the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.

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