The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, on Saturday said that his recent letter to the Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, was in the spirit of advice from a father to his son.
The Alaafin had on March 12 written Fayemi, warning the Ekiti State governor against treating the traditional institution in Yorubaland with levity.
Alaafin said unlike in some tribes, where there was nothing attached to their traditional institutions, the Yoruba traditional institution was “ancestral and spiritual.”
Alaafin said he wrote the letter on behalf of other prominent traditional rulers in Yorubaland, including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona; and the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo Adedotun.
The letter read in part, “Since the case is still in court, we will not want to comment further on it as law-abiding citizens. I, however, would have expected that Your Excellency wait till the end of the court process before acting on the matter.’’
On Saturday, Oba Adeyemi stressed that he wrote the letter in good spirit and in reference of his status as the custodian of the culture and tradition of the Yoruba.
The monarch spoke on Saturday, noting that the culture and tradition of the Yoruba must not be altered arbitrarily.
The first class monarch said, “I wrote that letter because I am the Alaafin and my voice is the voice of the Yoruba. I am in the best position to guide and advise the government especially on matters affecting Yoruba culture and tradition. Alaafin is the supreme custodian of the culture and tradition.
“Alaafin is duty bound to come in on any cultural matter that arises in Yorubaland. The Pelupelu arrangement in Ekiti State is an ancient system that empowers and gave class to 16 traditional rulers over other Obas in Ekitiland. The position and roles of the 16 Obas are sacrosanct.
“The bone of contention is that any Oba outside the 16 cannot be chairman of traditional council in Ekiti State.”
According to him, the elevation of one other king to equal status with the 16 first class monarchs is in violation of the culture and tradition of Ekiti.
“We have to remind Governor Kayode Fayemi that the Pelupelu system has to do with the traditional rulers arrangement of Ekiti. Considering the role that Ekiti played during the Kiriji War, they are not pushover. The 16 Obas are a strong force that the Yoruba people can count on.
“Ekiti is the pride of the entire Yorubaland in many spheres, including education. In nearly every compound in Ekiti State, you will find a professor. My letter to Fayemi is a letter from father to his son, believing that he would understand the content of the letter and its objective.
“Because Fayemi is an academic, he has a way of looking at the letter dispassionately.”
Meanwhile, Ekiti State Government on Saturday kept mum over Alaafin’s letter over the stand-off between it and some traditional rulers which culminated in the issuance of queries to 11 monarchs on Thursday.
The state government also maintained silence over the much discussed invitation extended by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, to it and the traditional rulers for a meeting slated for Monday over the issue.
When called on the Alaafin’s letter and Ooni’s invitation, the Commissioner for Information, Mr Muyiwa Olumilua, declined comments, saying “No comment.”
Fayemi, in the query issued individually to the affected traditional rulers on Wednesday by the Bureau on Chieftaincy Affairs, a copy which was made available to journalists in Ado Ekiti on Thursday, gave the monarchs 72 hours within which to reply.
The query signed by A.O Adeoye on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of the Bureau, for the traditional rulers individually, had stated, “It had come to the attention of Mr Governor that Your Royal Majesty has not been attending the monthly statutory meeting of the State Council of Traditional Rulers and state official functions since August 2019.
“Your conspicuous absence at the Council meetings and state official functions, without any excuse or justification is considered inimical to the proper administration of the chieftaincy institution you represent.
“Therefore, Mr Governor has directed that Your Royal Majesty should forward your representation for this inaction through this office within 72 hours on the receipt of this letter,” the statement read.
Although the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Yinka Oyebode, had dismissed rumour of plot to dethrone the traditional rulers, saying the letters were not queries but administrative matters, there is tension in the state that it is the beginning of the move to remove the monarchs.
Trouble started in August last year when Fayemi appointed the Alawe of Ilawe, Oba Adebanji Alabi, as the chairman of the state Council of Traditional Rulers – a decision which the 16 Pelupelu Obas also known as Alade merindinlogun rejected, saying chairmanship of the council was the exclusive preserve of the 16 obas.
The prominent rulers, who had since kept distance from government functions, had also filed a suit with registration number HAD/76/2019 before an Ado Ekiti High Court seeking nullification of the appointment, saying selecting someone outside the 16 obas as chairman of the council was “a violation of the Ekiti State Chieftaincy Law.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the Ooni of Ife, Moses Olafari, in a telephone chat on Saturday, confirmed that Oba Ogunwusi had scheduled a meeting between Fayemi and the aggrieved traditional rulers.
One of the queried 11 traditional rulers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity on Saturday, also confirmed the meeting at the instance of the Ooni.
He said, “That is already being circulated. I have been invited for the meeting.”
The Pelupelu Oba, who disagreed with the content of the letter from the Bureau on Chieftaincy Affairs, said, “We have replied that the contents of the letter were not true. We have always played our roles honestly and diligently as traditional rulers.
“We made it clear that we are never wanting in the discharge of our responsibilities because we know our rights, duties and obligations.”
Ekiti monarchs write Makinde, tell Alaafin not to interfere in affairs
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers has asked the Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, to stop the “undue” interference by the Alaafin in chieftaincy matters in Ekiti State.
In a letter dated March 14 to Makinde, the Ekiti monarchs said the conduct of the Alaafin with respect to their affairs was unbecoming and “absolutely unwarranted.”
The letter, which was obtained by Sunday PUNCH, was signed by the Chairman of the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, the Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi.
The letter read in part, “The Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers takes strong exception to the whole content of Alaafin’s letter, which is absolutely unwarranted as Alaafin cannot superintend over the monarch in Ekiti State.
“Ekiti State was never and can never be part of Oyo Empire. It is on this note that Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers is respectfully requesting Your Excellency (Makinde) to stop the Alaafin from his meddlesomeness in the internal affairs of Ekiti State.
“The letter of Oba Adeyemi contained a lot of misrepresentation of facts and inaccurate accounts of events between the (Ekiti) State Government and the traditional institution in Ekiti State which cannot be in consultation with, and concurrence of the highly revered and venerable traditional rulers mentioned in the letter but who did not sign same.”