The visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to the Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi, has angered a leading Yoruba monarch, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Samuel Odulana Odugade, who has now issued a strongly-worded statement, describing the trip as an affront and a ridicule of the Ibadan chieftaincy institution.
President Jonathan had on February 15 embarked on a royalty shuttle to Kano, Oyo, Ile-Ife and Lagos during which he visited the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero; the Alafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi III; the Ooni of Ife, Okunade Sijuade; and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu.
The reasons for the visits are unclear. But there are speculations that they were part of the president’s political consultations ahead of the forthcoming National Conference and the 2015 presidential election.
During his visit to Oyo state, the presidential plane carrying Mr. Jonathan landed in Ibadan airport before he took a chopper to Ife in Osun State to visit the Ooni of Ife, and then to Oyo town, to visit the Alaafin of Oyo.
That the president passed through Ibadan without stopping by his palace has now irked the Ibadan monarch.
Mr. Odugade on Wednesday expressed anger that after landing in Ibadan, Mr. Jonathan disregarded him, the current Chairman of the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, and proceeded to visit Mr. Adeyemi.
In a statement, the secretary of the Olubadan-in-council, Kamoru Liasu, described the President’s itinerary that day as an ‘affront.’
He accused the President and the State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, who accompanied him on the visit, of committing an act capable of jeopardizing the peace of the state and bringing the Ibadan chieftaincy institution into disrepute.
The Olubadan described the visit as selective and said he and other members of his council waited for the President without realizing the latter was going to breach protocol by ignoring the Ibadan monarch.
He said rather than visit him first; the president went straight to the state governor, who went with him to the Alaafin’s palace in Oyo.
The Olubadan said the actions indicate that Governor Ajimobi still recognises the Alaafin of Oyo as the permanent chairman of the State Council of Obas and Chiefs, contrary to the state’s existing chieftaincy law, as amended in 2011, where it is stated that the chairmanship position should be rotated between the Alaafin, the Olubadan, and Soun of Ogbomosoland every two years.
The Ibadan monarch appealed to Messrs Jonathan and Ajimobi to desist from carrying out misleading acts capable of jeopardizing the peace of the state and bringing the Ibadan chieftaincy institution into disrepute.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, the presidency said President Jonathan holds the Olubadan and the people of Ibadan in high esteem and would continue to do so.
Saying the concerns expressed by the palace was probably due to lack of adequate information, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Communications, Reuben Abati, said the president had already lined up two different visits to Ibadan within this first quarter of the year.
Mr. Abati explained that President Jonathan is billed to attend the South-West zonal rally of the Peoples Democratic Party holding in the city as well as the centenary birthday celebration of the Olubadan. He said the two trips are planned to include visits to the palace of the Olubadan.
The presidential spokesperson added, “The President appreciates the overwhelming supports he enjoys from the Olubadan, the people of Oyo state and the South-West in general.
“The Olubadan is a father and since the president assumed office, he has visited him twice. He enjoys an excellent relationship with the Olubadan and his palace and that’s something he cherishes.
“Therefore, he has no reason whatsoever to treat the palace and the people of Ibadan in anyway that will damage that excellent relationship.”
In its reaction, the Oyo state Government said it played no role in drawing up the president’s itinerary and should not be blamed for how the presidency handled the visit to the Alaafin.
A spokesperson to the administration, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the matter, told PREMIUM TIMES Governor Ajimobi only received the letter informing him of the president’s movement on Friday evening, and that the only role the governor played on Saturday was to accompany Mr. Jonathan to his destinations while in the state.