It was a festival of reunion yesterday when 21 kings in Ibadan controversially enthroned by the immediate past governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, thronged the palace of the traditional ruler of Ibadan, the Olubadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, to felicitate with him on his 91st birthday anniversary.
Ajimobi’s elevation and coronation of 21 High Chiefs in Ibadan as kings in 2017 had divided the Olubadan-in-Council, as Oba Adetunji refused to accept the former governor’s decision. The crisis effectively ended the regular meetings of the Olubadan-in-Council, a body comprising the Olubadan and his top chiefs.
One of the High Chiefs, Rashidi Ladoja, who was a former governor of the state, however, instituted a court action to pray that Ajimobi’s decision be nullified.
Ladoja’s prayer at the Oyo State High Court was answered in a judgment delivered by Justice Olajumoke Aiki on January 19, 2018. Aiki described the processes that led to the installation of the new kings as illegal, null, void and of no effect.
Ajimobi, however, appealed the judgment, which dragged on until his successor, Governor Seyi Makinde, last week began an out-of-court settlement for reconciliation. Before yesterday, though, Oba Adetunji and some of his High Chiefs had met in July this year at the traditional ruler’s Popoyemoja palace to deliberate on how the crisis could be ended.
Yesterday’s occasion appeared an indication that the Olubadan and his hitherto warring High Chiefs could be burying the hatchet once and for all.
The monarch was hosting the Chief Yemi Soladoye-led Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), a powerful pressure group in the town, when the High Chiefs arrived.
The Otun Olubadan, High Chief Lekan Balogun, led in all the other high chiefs and some Baales in Ibadan lesser cities who Ajimobi had given crowns on August 27, 2017. Until recently when Balogun embraced reconciliation with four other High Chiefs, others had stuck to their guns and distanced themselves from palace activities.
But about 1.15pm yesterday, it was all drumming and smiles when Balogun led all the High Chiefs and Baales to the palace.
Amid fanfare, they all prostrated before the monarch one after the other, as he (Olubadan) welcomed them with open hands. High Chief Balogun told Daily Trust that the members of the Olubadan-in-Council would be attending the next meeting of the Council, from which they had absconded in 2017.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, the Ekarun Olubadan, Amidu Ajibade, congratulated the Olubadan on his 91st birthday anniversary, saying Oba Adetunji had made history for himself, his family and Ibadanland.
Ajibade seized the opportunity to let the Olubadan know that Ibadan remained under the leadership of the Kabiyesi, and that all his high chiefs were proud to be associated with him.