Anxiety Mounts Over Olubadan-designate’s Health


The absence of the Balogun of Ibadanland and Olubadan-designate, Oba Owolabi Olakulehin, from decisive meetings and the inability of stakeholders to see him since the death of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, have continued to generate tension in Ibadan.

Oba Olakulehin was expected at the meeting of the kingmakers last week, but his absence fuelled rumours over his health.

There were speculations on Friday that the over eighty-year-old king could be recuperating somewhere from an undisclosed illness.

The anxiety over the state of health and physical fitness of the Olubadan-designate heightened as the 21-day period within which to choose the late Oba Balogun’s successor draws near.

The deadline is next week Friday.

The Ekerin Olubadan, Oba Hamidu Ajibade, declared after meeting held on Monday that the kingmakers would not pronounce him Olubadan, as statutorily required of them, until he is present at their meeting.

The kingmakers, comprising the Osi Olubadan, Oba Eddy Oyewole; the Ashipa Olubadan, Oba Biodun Kola-Daisi; the Ekerin Olubadan, Oba Hamidu Ajibade; the Ekarun Olubadan, Oba Adebayo Akande; the Otun Balogun, Oba Tajudeen Ajibola; the Osi Balogun, Oba Lateef Adebimpe; the Ashipa Balogun, Oba Kola Adegbola; the Ekerin Balogun, Oba John Isioye-Dada and the Ekarun Balogun, Oba Abiodun Azeez, had met on Monday at Mapo Hall, Oja’aba, but were unable to arrive at a conclusion since the Olubadan-designate was not in attendance.

Although most of the kingmakers are in their late 70s and 80s, whoever will be crowned as the Olubadan is expected to be of sound mind, with no serious physical infirmity or record of conviction of an offence involving dishonesty in any part of the Commonwealth.

Section 10(2) of the Chiefs Law 1957, now Section 14(2) of the Chiefs Law (2000), states the criteria for an Olubadan-designate to scale the hurdle and be pronounced the Olubadan-elect: “No person shall be qualified to be a candidate for a recognised chieftaincy title who suffers from serious physical infirmity, or has under any law in force in Nigeria been found or declared to be a lunatic or adjudged to be of unsound mind, or has, in any part of the Commonwealth been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty and sentenced to imprisonment therefore, and has not been granted a free pardon.”

Speaking on the absence of Oba Olakulehin at their meeting on Monday, Oba Ajibade said: “I, as the Ekerin Olubadan, have not seen him. I have been to his house, but I didn’t see him. Many of us have been to his house. Maybe as a Yoruba man, he is getting prepared for the royal assignment somewhere. Don’t forget he is the Balogun from the lineage of the warriors. It is not easy to be number one.”

Corroborating the claim that the prospective Olubadan must be declared fit for the throne before he will be pronounced as such, Oba Ajibade said, “If anybody is not well or has been incapacitated in whatever form, even if you are not from Ibadan, will you allow that person to ascend the throne? We will ensure that anybody that wants to become our oba can walk well and can talk. He must be someone we can discuss with.”

Speaking on the apprehension the absence of Oba Olakulehin has generated, a member of the family who did not want to be quoted said, “Oba Olakulehin will be available next week for the commencement of the process that will climax with his installation as the Olubadan.”

The source admitted that the Olubadan-designate is suffering from age-related illness, but noted that the kingmakers are aged, too.

Another family source who also preferred anonymity said: “There is no problem with Baba. He is old, we all know that, but he is not suffering from any infirmity. He will attend the meeting called by the kingmakers next week. By then, you journalists should come around. You will all see him.”

Why Olubadans are aged before ascending the throne

Taking the statistics of the ages of past rulers of Ibadanland, they are usually old men, having spent years to climb the succession ladder. It is unfortunate that not all aspiring Olubadan eventually emerges, as nature has a way of keeping some of them off their ambition. The death of someone on the ladder is a promotion for another.

Most of the kingmakers in line to become Olubadan are already aged, with many of them suffering from old age-related ailments. From the Ekarun Balogun to the Balogun and from Ekarun Olubadan to the Otun Olubadan are men in their 70s to late 80s. The Olubadan-designate is nearing 89; the Otun Olubadan, High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, is nearing 80; the Osi Olubadan, Oba Eddy Oyewole, is in his late 80s, with the youngest among them in early 70s.

It takes anyone that will become an Olubadan to have spent between 35 and 40 years climbing the ladder. Adding the promotion years to their age, with some starting the journey in their 40s, the earliest time they will arrive at the zenith is around 80 years of age.

It usually takes decades to groom an Olubadan for the stool, through stages of chieftaincy promotion. For those on the Otun line, they will climb 22 rungs of the ladder from Jagun to become Olubadan, meaning that an Olubadan-elect from that line would have performed 22 rites of passage, from one chieftaincy position to another before getting to the zenith, while those on the Balogun line will perform 23 rites of passage to attain the topmost title of His Imperial Majesty.

Except for Oba Yesufu Kobiowu who was 55 years old when he ascended the throne in 1964, most Olubadans in history are usually in their late 70s to early 80s when ascending the throne. The irony, however, is that Oba Kobiowu reigned for only six months.


Olubadan: The complexities

In a position paper, titled, ‘Ibadan Traditional Chieftaincy System’, presented during a symposium to mark funeral activities for the late Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade I, held at the University of Ibadan, on February 9, 2016, a former Editor of Daily Times, Areoye Oyebola, had submitted that “The Olubadan Chieftaincy system was fraught with complexities. This had made it impossible for any Olubadan to reign for long. It is not in the best interest of modern Ibadan city for a prospective Olubadan to wait for more than 35 years after becoming a Mogaji before becoming an Olubadan, since they must cross 22 or 23 promotional hurdles.

“A situation where you have more than 200 Mogajis waiting in line to become Olubadan and, to make matters worse, majority of these Mogajis are not educated and competent enough to rule over a big city like Ibadan, calls for a review.

“I want to call for a review that will make it impossible for such people to become Olubadan. What I can advise the Olubadan-in-Council to do is to assess the current Mogajis and separate those who are not competent to become Olubadan. Make them advisers to the Olubadan and remove them from the chieftaincy lines. Baales should henceforth nominate young, educated and successful men of between 35 and 40 years to become Mogaji. To wait for 35 years before becoming Olubadan and reign for a few years is not in our best interest.”

Also speaking at the symposium, a former governor of Old Oyo State, Dr Omololu Olunloyo, said the Olubadan chieftaincy tradition, Chiefs Law and Subsidiary Laws are replete with contradictions and obstacles that need urgent review, in order to make ascendancy to the Olubadan throne problem-free.

“There are six obstacles in the way of an Olubadan. Some of these obstacles are in the Chiefs Law and some are in the Subsidiary Law. The system is semi-promotional. There was this Akinyo crisis when the late Oba Akinyele wanted to become Olubadan. In fact, what the law even says is that the Olubadan-in-Council can choose from the four most senior chiefs in the next line of succession to become the next Olubadan, not necessarily the most senior. Something must be done to reduce the lines and the rung of the ladder. We also need to remove all obstacles in the Chiefs Law,” he said.


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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