FEATURES: When Ekiti Traditional Rulers Met for the Good of the Country

November 6, 2013

Traditional leaders in Ekiti State, under the aegis of Majority Obas of Ekitiland (MOBEL), recently held their annual conference where intellect, culture and tradition took the centre stage for the good of their communities, Ekiti State and Nigeria as a whole. SAM NWAOKO reports the event.

THE monarchs had come in their numbers and in their regal attires from all of Ekitiland under the auspices of Majority Obas of Ekiti Land (MOBEL). It was their second annual national conference at the main auditorium of Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado Ekiti. The theme of the conference was “The Roles of Traditional Institutions in the Political Process in Nigeria” and everything pointed to an intellectual forum that was laced with tradition and royalty.

The traditional rulers had the company of foremost traditional rulers in Yorubaland, including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; top government functionaries in the state, members of the management of EKSU and sundry academics and observers. Their wives, more commonly known as Oloris, were not left out as they also formed a colourful part of the large gathering that turned out to be a mixture of culture, colour, fun, intellect, tradition, careful planning and display of organisational  acumen.

The Kabiyesis, as they are popularly known in Yoruba language, even arrived to time, an action described by one of the participants in the conference as “leadership by example by the traditional institution.” The Majority Obas of Ekiti Land (MOBEL) had also penciled in relevant scholars, Professor Ishola Olomola and  Chief Bade Gboyega, who are both well versed in issues of the traditional institution, as their guest lecturers.

Chairman of MOBEL and the Alayetoro of Ayetoro-Ekiti in Ido/Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State, Oba Samuel Olufisan Ajayi, in his welcome address on the occasion, defined MOBEL and what the association stands for. Oba Ajayi explained that MOBEL is “a voluntary association of grades II and III Obas in Ekiti State that was formed on the 13th of July, 2006.” He said the body “is an offshoot of the Association of Non-metropolitan Obas founded in Ondo State and headed by the late Oba Owolabi, the Oluyin of Iyin-Ekiti.”

The Alayetoro pointed out that “the association is neither a parallel body to Ekiti State Traditional Council nor a dissident group.” According to him, the aims and objectives of the association include “to promote peace and progress in Ekiti State, to foster peace and unity among traditional rulers, to promote cordial relationship between all classes of Obas in the state and to work with the state government for peaceful administration of the state.”

Among other things, Oba Ajayi noted that since the formation of MOBEL, “no month has passed without the association holding either executive or general meetings, self-sponsored health candidates, workshops, conferences, etc.” and added that “MOBEL is equally known as the only royal association in the state that holds annual end of year get-together for its members and their Oloris.”

The chairman said, “it is the belief of Majority Obas of Ekitiland that conferences like this will go a long way to further illuminate the minds of both our Kabiyesis and the political class in a way to get the best form of cooperation between the two in the day-to-day administration of the country as a whole.”

Addressing the gathering, special Adviser to Governor Kayode Fayemi on Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Aderemi Ajayi, expressed delight at the coming together of the monarchs.

Chief Ajayi said MOBEL “is welcome particularly as it is not a parallel traditional council in the state nor a rebel group.” He said the state government, under Governor Kayode Fayemi , would always welcome moves to sustain the peace the state has been enjoying under the current administration in the state and commended the traditional rulers for the initiative of coming together for the stated objectives and theme of the conference.

Ajayi noted the importance attached to the traditional institution by the Fayemi administration, and said, “Fayemi recognises the importance of  traditional rulers and one of the ways of proving this is the ‘Ilera Laafin’ initiative, a scheme through which healthcare was taken to the palaces of our royal fathers for them and their household instead of them going to the hospitals.” The special adviser also pointed out that the distribution of cars to all categories of traditional rulers in the state by Governor Fayemi, on August 27 this year, was another form of according the monarchs recognition they deserved.

He however noted that the car gifts had opened a new frontier in the challenges among the communities in the state. According to him, “the provision of vehicles has caused problems in some towns as the people now want more Obas so that they can have more vehicles.” he also charged MOBEL to carry the Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs along in its dealings, saying this would help in further smooth ending the planning and execution of their programmes.

The deputy governor of the state, Professor Modupe Adelabu, who was represented on the occasion by the Special Adviser, Deputy Governor’s Office, Chief Tale Oguntoyinbo, expressed relief on learning the aims and objectives of the association. According to her, it was a thing of joy to note that royal fathers in the state had come together to further unite with the aim of furthering the peace being enjoyed in the state.

Oguntoyinbo noted that the group is welcome since it is meant to foster peace which, he observed is sine qua non to development. “When the monarchs interact, they discuss the development and cooperation of their domains and when they do this, they maintain peace and when there is peace in their communities, there will be peace in the state.”

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, who was the royal father of the day, in his goodwill message to MOBEL,  congratulated the Ekiti monarchs for the feat of coming together as one body despite their varying historical and individual antecedents. The foremost traditional ruler, represented on the occasion by the Apetu of Ipetumodu, Oba James Adedokun Adegoke and the Salu of Edunabon, Oba Elijah Omoloye Oyelade, stressed the need for unity among traditional rulers as well as the imperative of promoting the Yoruba language and culture.

Speaking for Oba Sijuwade, the Apetu, Oba Adegoke also used the occasion to congratulate Governor Kayode Fayemi on his third anniversary in office and charged the traditional rulers to cooperate with him and his government to get the best for their people and their respective domains. “We learnt that Fayemi has been cooperating with you the traditional rulers in the state and we want you our traditional rulers to cooperate with him,” he said.

In their lectures, Professor Ishola Olomola and Chief Bade Gboyega highlighted the importance of the traditional institution and the various roles the institution could play in the quest to attain a better Nigerian society. Chief Gboyega in his lecture entitled: “Traditional Rulers and Democracy” listed  arguments that had been highlighted against granting constitutional roles for traditional rulers but advocated that “the Federal Government of Nigeria should establish by law, a functional National Council of Traditional Rulers, where each state will be represented by at least three  traditional rulers.”

This article was first published in Nigerian Tribune

Last modified: November 6, 2013

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