Why we must protect Yoruba traditional institution —Oba Olabomi
The Aragbiji of Iragbiji in Osun State, Oba Abdulrasheed Ayotunde Olabomi, in this interview by OLUWOLE IGE speaks about his throne, social and economic developments in his domain, challenges and unity among traditional rulers in Yorubaland.
For how long have you been on the throne of your forefathers?
I am 11 years old on the throne. I ascended the throne on the 22nd of May, 2008. I pray to God to give me longevity on the throne.
Since you have been on the throne, what are the major socioeconomic developments that have come to Iragbiji?
I always believe in the members of the public speaking or attesting to one’s achievements or those things that have happened during one’s regime. It is also important to state that whatever happens to every individual during the time of a leader is attributed to such leader. In Yorubaland, people would say during the time of a particular leader, they were able to build houses and record other achievements. Even though the leader might not be the one who gave them money to build such houses, there is always this belief in time. I give glory to God that for the past 11 years, Iragbiji has been growing physically and in terms of human capital development at a rate in which I can describe as geometric. In terms of human capital, we have moved very far, even though I believe that we still have a lot of ground to cover. I pray that our human resources would continue to grow. We have produced quite a number of leaders in politics, commerce and industry. In the academic circle, we have also produced intellectual giants. In terms of commercial activities, our economy has improved tremendously. Today, one of our illustrious sons is the governor of Osun State in person of Alhaji Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola.
What are the major challenges facing Iragbiji as a community?
I think the first on our priority list is Iragbiji-Elesun-Kelebe-Osogbo road. We are pleading with the government to complete the construction of the road, with a view to opening up Iragbiji to the state capital directly. Apart from that, almost all our township roads are in very bad shape. The strategy that government has been adopting over time is that those of us whose towns are not capital of federal constituencies are not remembered in the scheme of things.
Another issue we want the government to pay attention to is the Iragbiji earth dam. The dam project was financed by the Federal Government and it has been completed. It is not functional yet because a lot of things are still needed to be put in place. We want the government to install the treatment plant, electricity and construct access road, including reticulation to all the nooks and crannies of Iragbiji. The provision of water would make life easier for the people and reduce incidences of water borne diseases.
We need serious intervention of government at all levels to ensure that our youths don’t drift. Our youths should be encouraged to embrace agriculture so that unemployment can be tackled.
Decades back, most of the cases in the communities were resolved by traditional rulers, thereby reducing the burden of litigations in conventional courts. Recently, some stakeholders clamoured for giving traditional rulers roles in the constitution. Do you subscribe to this?
Before now, the roles of traditional rulers were known, even now, their roles are known. No wonder, politicians defer to traditional rulers when they have issues. This is because there is a difference between authority and influence. Influence, they often say is greater than authority. The political class has a lot of authority, but the traditional rulers have tremendous influence on the people. That is why traditional rulers who are not in control of the police or the army are not made chief security officers of their domains. But, if the traditional rulers give their subjects directive, they obey, whereas if the political class gives such directive, they ignore them. This is because the trust is there. The only thing is that the roles are not in the exclusive list. The ones on the concurrent list are the power of the state. But, there are chiefs laws, which I prefer to call the Kings laws. We have all the roles there and how obas can ascend the throne. The functions and responsibilities of traditional rulers are there, what can lead to his removal from the throne and others.
The clamour going on for giving constitutional roles to traditional rulers is not clear to me. There is this National Council for Traditional Rulers. Obas already have roles in their respective communities because we derive our legitimacy from the people and Obas’ sovereignty lies with the people. It is the people who would decide who would be their Obas. I don’t think it will be proper for Obas to say we need a seat in the National Assembly. At the end of the day, traditional rulers would swim in the murky water of politics. In order to protect the sacred traditional institution, I would rather plead with traditional rulers to seek constitutional protection of the traditional institutions against the vagaries of the political class.
As one of the prominent traditional rulers, what do you think can be done to foster unity and cohesion among the obas in Yorubaland?
The political class should support the traditional institution. If the political class can allow the traditional institution to be apolitical, it would be better for the unity among traditional rulers in Yorubaland. Even in the past, ideas differed from one individual to the other.