The Otun Olubadan of Ibadan land, Lekan Balogun, who is among the high chiefs elevated to the position of kings by the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, tells OLUFEMI ATOYEBI why the government elevated monarchs reconciled with the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji, after one year of crisis
You represented all the Ibadan high chiefs promoted by Governor Abiola Ajimobi to the position of Obas in 2017 at a reconciliatory meeting recently. What is the focus of the meeting?
I was at the palace in my capacity as the Otun Olubadan of Ibadan land and as the representative of all the high chiefs. Coincidentally on the day of that meeting, I sat on his right hand to signify my position as his Otun.
Interestingly, some highly respected individuals outside Nigeria, some groups and some strong members of the king’s family took the lead to broker the peace meeting. You have to bear it in mind that the Olubadan and I had never had any disagreement in the past at any level.
The expression of cordiality was so prevalent at the meeting because we had always shared good time together, it was easy for us to sit together again and discuss like a king and his chiefs. It was a successful meeting. We can call it an informal family get-together because it was not a formal meeting.
All participants expressed themselves freely and it went well beyond expectation. I am happy. Life between the Kabiyesi and I has returned to normal. We are also hoping that life returns to the way it was between the Kabiyesi and other high chiefs. We are all richer for the experience.
You were there with the Osi Olubadan of Ibadan land, Rashidi Ladoja, who has always been on the side of the Olubadan in the crisis caused by the crowning of the high chiefs and some baales by the Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi. Did this not go beyond a mere family get-together?
I prefer to refer to it as a family meeting because the Olubadan and his family hosted us and we used the opportunity to discuss about the progress of Ibadan land. It led to the peaceful resolution of all our problems and the crisis you referred to.
It was almost one year you last sat to discuss matters concerning Ibadan affairs with the Olubadan. Do you think one meeting is enough to resolve the crisis?
No single meeting can resolve all controversies in the world. However, the meeting held with the Kabiyesi, resolved the immediate crisis between us. On Monday (tomorrow), another meeting will be held; so the peace meeting continues.
When you say life returns to normalcy, does it mean you and other high chiefs that accepted the governor’s crown will return to the old nomenclature without the king appellation?
Now I can see you want to create another controversy. I have said that we are back together as one family. There is no more problem. We will meet again.
The major source of the crisis is the Olubadan’s insistence that he would not recognise you and others as kings. Has he agreed to recognise you now?
You journalists are controversy creators. We are back as the one united family we used to be. How we relate with ourselves will tell the world what is going on. People will see that we are back as one family. What is the genesis of the crisis? Whether I am called Dr Lekan Balogun, Otun Olubadan or King Balogun, there is no difference. There is love in existence. The high chiefs are not lawless people. If we have to start looking for all solutions then the court will take care of that. But we are back as one family. Our normal meetings will resume on Monday.
Are you talking of a meeting with other high chiefs or the one that will involve the Olubadan?
The Olubadan is the President of the Obas-in-Council. He is our common father. Time will solve other issues.
There was a letter written by the Ekerin Olubadan, Abiodun Kola-Daisi, where he said that he would be returning the Olubadan’s allowances seized by the Oluyole Local Government where he superintends. Can we say that Kola-Daisi betray the common agreement among the high chiefs?
That letter you refer to serves no purpose then or now. We all agreed to return the money to the Olubadan. We did not sit on the money; it was kept in a separate account in the system. We only withheld it for a while. The matter has been resolved so he is getting his money back. I am seeing the Olubadan with my council cheque of N1m. That is what I have in the Ibadan South-East Local Government. We only demonstrated to the Olubadan that everybody has a role to play in the system. A point was made and because he is our father, he gets his money back. Everyone is doing the same irrespective of the letter.
What is the role of Governor Ajimobi in the peace meeting?
He has said several times that the Kabiyesi is his father and we are his brothers. We are all working together. He is also happy about how far we have gone. Will he be happy that his father and brothers are in a disagreement? No, he cannot. If you were in his shoes, will you be happy? I am sure you will not.
Ajimobi visits the Kabiyesi every night as far as I know and I am sure he is doing that again. We are one united Ibadan family and that is back now.
Some said that there is political undertone in your action because the meeting took place few months to the elections. What is your comment on this insinuation?
There is a time to quarrel; there is a time to resolve it. It is only coincidental that it happened when the election is coming; it has nothing to do with it. I am no longer a politician. I will support a politician not because of his political party but because of his personality. I am sure that I am speaking the minds of others. You cannot come this far in Ibadan traditional chieftaincy system without spending at least 40 years. Why will a small issue lead to a big quarrel among traditional leaders? Call me what you like; Otun or king, it does not matter. The relationship must be intact. People created quarrel where there was no need for it.
Sources said the high chiefs were not happy that the Olubadan’s family members were involved in the meeting between the monarch and his high chiefs. What is their new role?
They have no formal role but we are all related. The Olubadan relatives are our relatives also. Their children are my children. The question about the role of the Olubadan family in the administration of Ibadan affair is like creating another controversy. We are all one even if there are personal differences.
Will the cases in court about the controversy, including the appeal by the governor be withdrawn?
There is no need to speak on that. I have no case against anybody. Whatever I say now will create another controversy. We don’t need that again. In any case, the judiciary will take care of the cases in front of it.
Will you be pitching tent with any of the governorship aspirants seeking to succeed Ajimobi in 2019?
I am no longer in politics. Oyo State people should choose the best candidate for the state. The right person to become the next governor of the state should be committed, the people must have depth of understanding about the person and he must be intellectual. His mind must be well developed. If possible, the people must look for someone that can manage politics without creating controversy.
Democracy should not create division. We, as a family, must be able to go and vote for our choice without fighting over what the choices are. I look forward to a day when we will make a choice without the influence of financial gratification, violence and thuggery at the polling units. This is what civilised world is all about and we should be part of it now.
Have you noticed the qualities you enumerated in any of the aspirants from all the political parties?
I have seen them but I don’t have to name them. I am just urging our people not to make the wrong choice. We might have the right people and still make the wrong choice for subjective considerations.
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