On Friday, the 11th day of March, 2022, Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, performed a state function that anyone who becomes governor in Oyo State will forever cherish as epochal and historical- the installation of the Olubadan of Ibadanland.
On that epoch-making day, Oba Senator, Dr. Olalekan Balogun Alliwo, Alli Okunmade II, was installed and presented with a staff of office by the governor as the 42nd Olubadan of Ibadanland, lending credence to the saying “all is well that ends well.”
Now, Governor Makinde can heave a sigh of relief that he has proven himself worthy as an Ibadan son, the kind that the Yorubas would refer to as “atuntileto,” having wisely navigated the troublesome labyrinthine plots introduced to the Olubadan Traditional ystem by the previous administration.
Most detractors of Governor Makinde had expected the governor to falter and fall from the landmines planted by the late former Governor Abiola Ajimobi government. The success of the governor in navigating the troubled waters and restoring the Ibadan traditionak system reminds one of the late Apala sensation, Yusuff Olatunji, who in his Volume 17 album, entitled Yegede, had the last laugh over his enemies who had spread rumours of his amputation. Olatunji had triumphantly sang: “Yegede won o ge o, yegede won o ge o e, ese ti eni won ti ge la fi nrin yi o, yegede won o ge o e!’ Today, Makinde can also rejoice that the traps set for him have failed to make a catch, as the Olubadan matter, which many detractors thought would be Makinde’s Waterloo, has been settled in favour of Ibadan people. Araba o wo, oju ti iroko yin o!
With the climactic installation of Oba Balogun Alliwo, a curtain was drawn on a needless drama that became unamusing to the Ibadans and well-meaning Nigerians, who have, over the years, been fascinated by the organised and well-ordered ascension system to the Olubadan throne. That drama, created by individuals the Yoruba would probably refer to as “a t’oko wa ba ile je,” became the Frankenstein’s Monster to the ones who started it, former Governor Ajimobi and his party, APC. The last administration had failed to heed the warnings to be wary of the Ides of March on the Olubadan issue, fulfilling the Yoruba maxim ‘aja ti yoo s’onu kii gbo fere olode.’
Thankfully, like the Biblical allusion of one Adam introducing sin to the world and a second Adam ushering in salvation, GSM has now cleared the mess left behind by the APC administration. It was, however, instructive that Governor Makinde, who as Citizen Makinde, fought on the side of true Ibadan sons and daughters to oppose the needless disruption in the Olubadan Chieftaincy system, also had the opportunity to right the wrongs he fought against but this time as the governor. It is equally gratifying that the governor became the one to put an end to the misadventure and install the new Olubadan, who will lead his people into the glorious future. Talk about Omi Tuntun, igba otun and the restoration of Ibadan’s exemplary traditional system as well as the glorious installation of Oba Balogun Alliwo would fit perfectly into the picture.
But before we all forget how we got to this happy ending, it must be pointed out that it took the strong nerve and determination of two individuals, one a former governor and the other a serving governor. High Chief Rashidi Ladoja fought from the judicial point of view while Citizen Makinde and later Governor Makinde fought with the needed political verve to crash-land a chieftaincy review plane that would have taken Ibadan to ignominy.
Indeed, Governor Makinde’s masterful handling of the chieftaincy crisis eventually proved to be the salvation for the Olubadan throne. The decisive and timeous resolution of the crisis made the emergence of Olubadan Balogun Alliwo seamless and classic. For this feat, I believe, Makinde will never be forgotten.
If some people lay claim to being “ko seleri” for introducing an avoidable crisis into a chieftaincy system that is world-renowned and exemplary over the years, Makinde can walk away with the acclaim of restoring sanity to the system that was nearly ruined through reckless arrogance and impunity. Only that Governor Makinde, known for his self-effacing nature, is not one to chase acclaims and adulations for doing his part as a true Ibadan son and a lover of his people.
Expectedly, GSM should have moved in the way he did regarding the Olubadan chieftaincy, because such moves justified his love for Ibadanland as a true indigene and also lend credence to the Yoruba saying that “omo onilu o ni fe ko tu…” But, deservingly too, well-meaning Ibadan indigenes including High Chief Ladoja and Senator Olufemi Lanlehin have commended the governor for the roles he played in the resolution of the crisis. Students of history and lovers of Ibadanland will also remember the governor for his part and it is pertinent to note that posterity will also remember the governor for good.
Interestingly, history never forgets the roles played by individuals. Six years earlier, Makinde as a private citizen, attended the coronation reception of the late Olubadan, held at the Recreation Club, Ibadan and that event provided a glimpse into what was to come, as half of the crowd cheered Makinde, with many hailing him as the next governor of the state. That event came a year after Makinde had pulled his weight by contesting as Governorship Candidate of the less-known Social Democratic Party (SDP) and garnering close to 60,000 votes despite only taking SDP’s ticket few weeks to the election.
In 2017, when the previous government reviewed the Olubadan Chieftaincy System, Citizen Makinde also chose to side with the the late Oba Saliu Adetunji and Ibadan people to protect the sanctity of the Olubadan throne. And when Providence gave him the seat of power in 2019, GSM wielded his influence in support of the cause of protecting the Ibadan throne.
On Friday, that portion of history concluded its cycle, as Makinde stood on the podium to install Olubadan Balogun as the 42nd Olubadan of Ibadanland, with the strong words that politicians must never be allowed to meddle with the chieftaincy system. The governor’s warning that the Olubadan-in-Council must, as the custodians of the proud Ibadan culture and chieftaincy system, guard against external influence, showed that he loves Ibadan and would also not toe the path of individuals who assume they have become gods once they become governor, and so could tamper with any system. It is important to mark those words spoken at the Mapo Hall and keep them in mind, especially as another season of election comes, with different individuals likely to make empty promises and grandstand about their love for the state.
As the Alli Iwo Dynasty and Ibadan celebrate the coming of a new monarch, it is trite to point out that Governor Makinde has more reasons to celebrate.
Apart from his administration successfully putting out a needless fire stoked by the lack of discretion of his predecessor in office, it has also placed Ibadan on the path of greatness with the emergence of an urbane, highly educated and cosmopolitan Olubadan.
Now, how can history forget the governor who installed a Ph.D. holder and senator as Olubadan, with the full glory and honour of the Olubadan Chieftaincy back in place? How? Just how can history forget a governor, who is not an Arobafin? How can history forget the individuals who stood firm and reclaimed the Ibadan chieftaincy system from messy waters the APC government of yesterday pushed it into? History will never forget, but then, the people of Ibadanland must also remember these deeds and reward GSM with their confidence, trust and support, at the appropriate time.
…Alao is the Special Assistant (Print Media) to Governor Seyi Makinde.