Prince Afolabi Ademola Adesina of the Adeitan Ruling House, is the spokesperson of the Àtìbà 9. In this interview with Newscoven.ng, he states efforts by the sidelined nine children of Alaafin Àtìbà to ensure justice and fairness in the process of appointing a new Alaafin of Oyo, says the people are at the mercy of Governor Seyi Makinde as he holds the key to the emergence of an ọba that will be acceptable to the people of the ancient town.
You have been talking about Àtìbà 9 but record has it that the children of Alaafin Àtìbà are 11. Why this one-sided stance?
You know there is an agitation and the agitation is by the nine male children who have been sidelined in the process of appointing a new Alaafin of Oyo. I am the coordinator of the Àtìbà 9. We are 11 children of Alaafin Àtìbà, as affirmed by law in 1976.
But the other side claims that there are just two ruling houses in Oyo, Agunloye and Alowolodu and since the last Alaafin was from Alowolodu Ruling Houses, it is the turn of Agunloye. So what exactly is the Àtìbà 9 agitating for?
As you asked, the two families are claiming that there are just two existing ruling houses in Oyo namely Agunloye and Alowolodu. They are saying that because it is their method whenever the Alaafin Stool becomes vacant. This is just to scare off the remaining nine children of Alaafin Àtìbà.
Actually, Alaafin Àtìbà had 21 male children out of which the Law affirmed 11 of them in 1976. The 11 children include Agunloye, Alowolodu, Olanite, Tella Okitipapa, Adesokan Baba Idode, Adediran, Tella Agbojulogun, Adeitan, Abidekun and Adesiyan.
You mentioned 21 male children and Àtìbà 9 at the same time, what now happen to the remaining 10 children?
What happened is this: The declaration which established the two families, Agunloye and Alowolodu, has since been declared defective. This was in 1974 before Honourable Justice Adekunle Ladeinde assumed the position of the chairman of the Commission of Enquiry set up on oath to see into the circumstances surrounding the defective Alaafin Chieftaincy Declaration.
For whatever reasons best known to the powers-that-be then, the 1961 Declaration was fashioned to exclude other children of Alaafin Àtìbà. Upon the mention of the Declaration in the media, what really happened was that the sidelined other royal families started writing petitions against it. This led to the setting up of the Ladeinde Commission of Enquiry in December 1974. Before they put Justice Ladeinde on oath as the chairman, the Declaration had been, first of all, quashed at the inception of the Commission of Enquiry.
Consequent upon that, they introduced the system that governed the principle of the Commission. And what is the principle? The first law called the Repugnancy Test Law, having not contained any iota or modicum of Customary Law that governs the appointment of chieftaincy position in the South-West (then Western Region), was quashed. So the new order now brought in the Customary Law proper.
From there, they established the fact that, for equity to take its course, every Queen Mother that gave birth to male children must firstly be established since it is the generally acceptable principle in Yorubaland that a male child can get to the position of his father to become the ọba; that the female child does not have access to such a position.
So Honourable Justice Adekunle Ladeinde established 11 Queen Mothers that gave birth to male children. Upon that, it was passed in principle to the then government of the Western Region. You will recall that the process was started by the government of General Adeyinka Adebayo, passed on to the administration of Theophilus Adebayo and it was completed by the administration of Major General David Jemibewon in May 1976. Jemibewon affirmed 11 families because it contained the principle of Law.
As things are now, there is stagnation in the process of appointing the next Alaafin of Oyo, more than one and half years after the demise of Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III. What is the cause of the delay?
Well, one, there is lack of due process in the attempt at appointing a new Alaafin. Any process that is constituted on falsehood and cheating cannot produce a justifiable result. Second, I see the stalemate as the rampage of our ancestral father’s to correct the shortcomings of the past.
One of the families, the Agunloye Ruling House, recently claimed that it has been affirmed to produce the next Alaafin but the Oyo State governor rejected the claim and urged the entire families to go back and follow the due process. Since the pronouncement by the governor, what step has been taken so far?
Well, we have two factions of the kingmakers, the Oyomesi, now. One of the factions believed that it has done what ought to have been done and that its decision should be upheld by the governor. However, the governor, in the principle of justice and fairness, believed that what they did was not just. He redirected them to do the needful, but they are hell-bent, for reasons best known, that what they did in October 2022 stands. This they did without minding the memo of the governor directing them to reopen the process and start all over the process to produce an ọba that would be accepted to all and sundry.
It is in the news recently that some of the kingmakers are before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged bribery. Could that be one of the reasons for the delay?
Well, you know that I am not one of the kingmakers and so, I cannot precisely say that their being with the EFCC is one of the reasons. But I believe that the stalemate is majorly caused by the rampage of our ancestral fathers…
Rampage in what sense?
Our ancestral fathers are not happy with the way things are going in Oyo. You know when you have 21 male children and just two of them are trying to sideline the others and the others are raising voices to their father that, ‘if you are the one that gave birth to us, rise to fight our cause’. This has led our ancestral fathers to go on rampage and the result is what we are seeing; a stalemate in producing the next Alaafin.
Are you saying the remaining 10 children are with the Àtìbà 9 in the agitation?
There are some Queen Mothers that gave birth to more than one male children; there are some that gave birth to just one male child, but we have the convergence of opinions and interests of all Àtìbà children, including the female children, in the Àtìbà 9. Everybody wants equity; everybody wants fairness; everybody wants justice, as represented by and in the Àtìbà 9.
I must commend His Excellency Governor Seyi Makinde for rejecting that shabby process because it did not reflect the principle of electing Alaafin as it was done in the ancient past. First of all, the Ifá Octopus has not been consulted Onalemole, the custodian of Ifá, has not summoned the Ifa apostles.
What are the Onalemole and Ifá apostles waiting for?
They have not given a directive. Onalemole must be given a directive before he can convey a meeting of the Ifá apostles. The directive must be given by the Congress of Aworosasa in the Ifá lineage. The directive must be given by the Oyomesi that it wants to select the best among the equals. So the names of the contestants to the throne will be given to the Ifá apostles and they will experiment with the names and process them one after the other and eventually arrived at the candidate most suitable for the throne.
We have been having news obas emerging in some towns in Oyo State without much rancour. Why is the case of Oyo Town almost becoming an exemption?
Thank you for that question. Oyo Kingdom is one of the biggest kingdoms in the past and, still in the present, remains very important in the Yorùbá race. Every Alaafin is a Yorùbá ọba, the custodian of all Yorùbá culture. He is the one who anchors most of the activities of Yoruba and its people.
So, the process of selecting a new Alaafin is very unique; it is incomparable to the norms and culture of any other society in Yorùbáland. As a prince of Oyo, I know that the process of selecting a new Alaafin goes beyond individual decision. It is always a collective decision; everybody comes together on a common interests to pick the candidate as the Alaafin who will lead Oyo into a virile phase of development and growth. It is not just about having a mere Alaafin who will call Ọba Gbandu…
Have you had one Ọba Gbandu before?
We have the history and the story is there. I am not in a position to mention names but we don’t want any Ọba Gbandu; we don’t want an Alaafin that will be going and people will be saying ‘Ọba Gbandu lo jẹ’.
For how long would the stalemate continue in producing the next Alaafin?
The solution lies with His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde and how? Before the introduction of Law into the process, we might have said the solution lies with the Oyomesi. But because of the semblance of Law that has been involved in the process, the government remains the custodian of the law governing the appointment of any ọba. Now the status quo has been challenged and it has to be resolved by Law before we can continue with the process.
Who challenged the status quo?
We, the Àtìbà 9 challenged it…
What do you want the governor to do when you have challenged the status quo in the court? Is he the one to withdraw the case from court?
We all know that there are ways and manners we can come together at a roundtable to trash things out.
What do expect the governor to do?
He should look into our demands that the defective instrument should be used again to select the new Alaafin.
But he has reportedly told you people to go back home and resolve your differences and produce a candidate for the Alaafin Stool…
He has never communicated that to us. What he said was that he will use the defective instrument, the Alaafin Chieftaincy Declaration, to appoint a new Alaafin. There has never been a medium where the governor mentioned that the issue should be resolved among all of us. This is a thing that is now beyond all of us because there is what we called law.
The process to resolve this issue belongs to the governor. Okay, if we resolve among ourselves, who will register it? We are not in charge of the process of registering the instrument. It is the duty and responsibility of the government. That is why they have the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy. This is very clear to the law.
So you want the 1976 Report to be officially adopted and used by the state government in selecting a new Alaafin?
Yes. But it is no longer a Report; it is a Law. The state government should consider its decision of 1976. The decision is that the Declaration regarding the Alaafin Chieftaincy remains defective. Instead, in force now is a new order recognising 11 royal families as contained in the Law. It is no more a report because the state government has made a decision on the Report.
Was the Report officially gazetted and when?
Yes, it was gazetted twice. One, it was gazetted during the military era. The military don’t go through the process of gazetting. What they do is by decree. Every of their observations as the head of the government become Law. They made that decision in the 14th Meeting of the Government of Oyo State held on 8 September, 1976. Oyo State, if you could recollect, was created on 3 February, 1976. So, if you are talking about a law concerning the Alaafin Chieftaincy, you will talk about the 1976 Decree.
The second time was when His Excellency, the governor of Oyo State, the late Alhaji Lam Adesina, gazetted it on 26 July, 2001.
Do you have the document to back up your claims?
Yes, we have it and we have displayed it several times to the public, through the media. The government should try and verify whether the document is not with them or not. If we can have access to their decision and they gave us all the documents regarding our process, then the onus lies on them to do the needful.
The document we have is original and authentic. We have Certified True Copy (CTC) of the document. The original copy was given to the Head of the Omoobas in 1976. My late father had one and I have it with me. I have presented it more than three times before the media, a truly certified CTC.
When were the documents certified?
One was certified in 1976. We have another one that was certified recently, around 2010.
But, having all these facts as you claimed, why are you people coming up now, instead of starting the agitation long time ago?
Thank you. There are struggles of the past which gave birth to the result of 1976. There have been post-1976 struggles which gave birth to the decision by Alhaji Lam Adesina in 2001. Then, unknowingly to us, the administration of former Governor Rashidi Ladoja and the immediate past Alaafin went to a Special Court in Ogbomoso to get an injunction. The court was headed by Honourable Justice Moshood Abass. The Special Court granted the order without even considering the people involved and who were not put on notice.
But the order by the Special Court became Law…
No. The order on the ruling about the Consenting Authority, and which has been amended now and is no more in force. The government of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, amended the Law, Cap 8, during his first term. Now, the Consenting Authority does not lie on any reigning oba alone. For equity and fairness, the sitting government also have the Consenting Authority, at the instance of the Traditional Council of Obas.
Now, we, the people of Oyo, are at the mercy of His Excellency, Governor Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde. He should, please, look into this matter because the government is established for three things: equity; justice; and fairness. The government was not established for the Alowolodu Ruling House. The government was not established for the Agunloye Ruling House alone. The government was established for all of us. It encompasses all interests. So, it should give room for all other views. If the government should follow an index of one-sidedness, its decision may be quashed in the Court of Law in the future.
Why can’t you wait for the Law to take its course?
Yoruba will say “ara ìjà ni eyin wà”. We are using the media as another instrument to fight our just cause. We are not waging any war against the government. Rather, we are appealing to the government, through the media, to take a deeper look into the issues at hand as they relate to selecting and appointing a new Alaafin of Oyo. We are using the media as a strategic action; a positive, non-violent action.
Have you made a formal presentation to the governor concerning the issues you raised?
Of course, yes. We have written to the governor directly. I have a copy of a letter written by our lawyer to the governor, informing the government about the new development as related to the 1976 Law. We want the governor to reply the nine families because this is our time to produce the next Alaafin.
When did you write the governor?
We wrote to him in July 2022. There has been no response till now; there has been no response from the Office of the Governor; there has been no response from the Office of the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters; there has been no response from the chairman Àtìbà Local Government Area. What we got was a letter from the Director of Administration, Àtìbà Local Government Area, one Mr Ayoola, that the Oyomesi should go to the Agunloye Ruling House and bring out a Crown Prince and we opposed it.
Oyo is suffering, largely due to the absence of an oba. Do you consider the interest and welfare of the people stand?
We want to appeal to our people in Oyo to be peaceful and remain calm. They should be prayerful for the emergence of an ọba that will rule in accordance with the principle of justice, equity and fairness and in the best interest of Oyo and its people.
Also, we are seeking the attention of the governor. He should revisit our prayers that the Law that was applied to select a so-called new Alaafin is defective and cannot stand because the process was built on falsehood. They signed the Law to exclude the majority of the children of Alaafin Àtìbà, namely the Àtìbà 9. This is not and can never be acceptable to us.