The jostle for senior positions by some traditional rulers in Ondo State has torn apart the state’s Council of Obas, as those in the lower ranks have rejected the state government’s move to recognise senior chiefs.
The government had instituted a judicial commission to look into the request for and against the recognition of some paramount rulers in the different kingdoms. The commission concluded its sittings in 2015 and made recommendations to the state government.
During the public hearing, some low ranking traditional rulers refused to be made subject to Grade A monarchs.
On Thursday, the traditional rulers regrouped under the “De 130 Krowns Club”, and warned the state government to desist from meddling in the matter of seniority among traditional rulers in the state.
Grade B and C monarchs said the push to create classes was old and archaic.
They said no king was superior to the other, arguing that towns may be bigger but kings remained the same.
Addressing reporters at the NUJ Press center in Akure, the president of the group, the Aladeokun of Alade Idanre, Olusegun Akinbola, said out of 150 traditional rulers in the state, only 22 parade themselves as first class Obas.
He added that among the 22, only few of them could become the Chairman of Council of Obas, while others were just ceremonial first Class Obas.
Mr. Akinbola noted that the issue of Grade “A” Oba was meaningless, but was only designed by government to make some monarchs comfortable.
The traditional ruler reminded the government that past governments steered clear of the matter because they saw it was not wise to tamper with the history of the people.
He asked the state government not to help self-seeking people to rewrite the natural history of the people of the state.
He cautioned that the issue was a subjective matter, which should not be institutionalized through the force of law as being canvassed by a few.
“Our strong advice to the Government is that it should not allow the desire of a group of few Obas plunge the state of over three million into confusion,” he said.
Mr. Akinbola also lamented that their welfare should not be subjected to the dictates and fancies of whoever heads the government, demanding a clear policy on the provision of official vehicles for the Obas.
“There is no Emir, District head, or Village head in most Northern States who is not provided with official vehicles,” he said.
“In eastern states of the country, all Ezes of whatever categories are by law entitled to the use of official vehicles.”
Also, the Owale of Ikare, Adegbite Adedoyin, while corroborating the views of his colleague, noted that times had moved beyond the issue of seniority, urging those behind the matter not to draw them back.
“The nomenclature of Ondo State council of Chiefs is faulty and outdated. The law guiding traditional rulers in Ondo state does not recognise Council of Obas but Council of Chiefs,” he submitted.
“But when our brothers go out there they claim they are members of Council of Obas. Even the composition of that council is one sided. It is not representative enough.”
A white paper on the report and recommendations of the Judicial Panel by the State Government is still being awaited.