Royal hostility: Ekiti monarchs fight over chairmanship stool

A crisis between the chairman of Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Ologotun of Ogotun-Ekiti on the one hand and the Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti and the Arajaka of IgbaraOdo, on the other, is currently tearing the traditional council of Ekiti South West Local Government Area of Ekiti State apart. Deputy Editor, Sam Nwaoko reports the contentions. 

Ekiti South West Local Government Area of Ekiti State is currently experiencing a novel crisis. Kings of the area are at war over the chairmanship of the local government area’s traditional council.  Monarchs of the three major towns in the council area are currently engaged in what could be described as “a serious royal hostility” over the headship of the traditional council of the local government. And this rumble at the top is not what many had thought it would be, because the kings have gone public.

The matter, it was gathered, had smoldered over a period before two of the monarchs in the council area decided to make their misgiving a public issue. As a matter of fact, the two angry monarchs recently marched to the headquarters of the council area in Ilawe-Ekiti to register their grievances.

Ekiti South West Local Government was created in 1976. The council could be said to be standing on a tripod of towns namely: Ogotun, Ilawe and IgbaraOdo. The Ologotun of Ogotun-Ekiti, a first class monarch and who is currently serving as the Chairman of Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, is also the chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers of Ekiti South West Local Government Area. But the Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi and the Arajaka of Igbara-Odo, Oba Edward Jayeola, are kicking against what they referred to as the Ologotun’s permanent chairmanship of the local government area’s traditional council.

The matter had been brewing for some time, but last Wednesday, the duo of Alawe and Arajaka couldn’t stomach it anymore. They made a representation to the state government through the Chairman of the Local Government, LanreOmolase. The Elemo of Ome-EmoIlawe, Chief GbengaAgbona and the Asamo of IgbaraOdo, Chief BanjiOlowofela, presented their complaints to Omolase for onward transmission to the governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose.

The Alawe and Arajaka said in the letter: “The instrument creating the council allowed for rotation among the Obas.  It is on record that both the Arajaka and Alawe had at one time ruled as the Chairman of traditional council and the two monarchs are now calling on Ologotun to step aside but he has remained adamant since December 2016 when his tenure expired.

“That we support the demand of our Obas that the chairmanship position should be rotated. We also support that the two monarchs should not attend any meeting where Ologotun will preside as Chairman and that we support the panel set up by the governor to address the issue and we pass a vote of confidence in the leadership of Governor Ayodele Fayose.”

The protest stirred various forms of reactions among the Ekiti citizenry in the council area. While some were indifferent to the anger of the kings and whatever might have caused it, others said they wanted the warring monarchs to look inwards in their quest to correct whatever ills they felt they might have been suffering with the reign of the Ologotun as chairman.

“I am not aware of the protest,” a resident of the community, who gave his name, simply as Abiodun, told South West Tribune. Abiodun said to him, it was more about the monarchs’ personal positioning than a fight he should bother himself about. According to him, “I don’t know what to make of it. They should just find a way of settling whatever the issues in the mandate. It is an Oba thing.”

During the protest, the Alawe and the Arajaka had alleged that Ologotun Oyebade had been on the seat since 1997, claiming that he should have relinquished the position by now. Oba Oyebade, they claimed was attempting to make himself “the permanent chairman of traditional council in the local government against the extant rules.”

But Oba Oyebade was calm in reacting to the development. He said he remains the authentic Chairman of the Traditional Council in Ekiti South West Local Government, saying this was guaranteed by law and the State Chieftaincy Declaration. He said the protest was “unfortunate” and describing it as “an insult to Governor Ayodele Fayose, who had set up a five-member panel to look into the crisis.”

The Ologotun denied sit-tight allegation against him and claimed that he was the only monarch in the council area who is a member of the highest traditional council of the state named ‘Pelupelu’ as contained in the Chieftaincy Law 3 of 2000 enacted under Otunba Niyi Adebayo’s administration.

Oba Oyebade said: “In the year 2001, under Adebayo’s government, the Ilawe Improvement Union wrote a petition to the government raising similar protest. But the resolution was that the Ologotun is a frontline Oba in Yoruba land and in Ekiti State and by the simple fact that historical document does not record his royal majesty, the Ologotun got independence from any government.

“Ologotun, being a Pelupelu Oba, should be the permanent Chairman of Ekiti South West Traditional Council as it is the case in Moba, Ijero, Ikole and Ido/Osi (Local Government Areas).”

He added that “before 1997, sole administrators were being used at the local government level and the local government’s traditional council came into being as a result of the controversy over five per cent allocation to traditional rulers.

“Part of the resolution at that time was that the chieftaincy edict allowed only the 16 PelúpelúObas to rotate the Traditional Council at the state level and at the local government level and that is what is in operation in all the 16 local government areas of the state.”

But Alawe Adebanji Alabi will have none of that. He claimed that the Ologotun Oyebade was wrong in his submissions, saying the Alawe was also a member of the Pelúpelú.

Alawe Alabi said the Ologotun is not the only Pelupelu Oba in Ekiti South West. “This is because Alawe and Arajaka were Pelupelu during the colonial days and,the number 16 was never sacrosanct; it varied. At the onset in 1900, it was 16 and subsequently, some Obas left and these include Deji of Akure and Owalobo of Obbo who is now in Kwara State.

“Other Obas joined variously within that period like the Attah of Ayede (1920), Elemure of Emure (1929), Alawe, Arajaka, OlojudoIdo-Ile and Olosi (all in 1947). This has been recognised and acknowledged by the past governments in Western Region, Western State, old Ondo State and now in Ekiti State. 20 Obas attained that status until the Pelupelu Council was dissolved in 1958 before independence.

“Alawe, Arajaka, Ologotun, Elemure, Ogoga (of Ikere), Arinjale (of Ise) were rotating the chairmanship in the old Ekiti South Local Government. In fact, in 1965, Alawe as Chairman under Ekiti South Local Government signed the declaration with which Elemure was appointed Oba then.

“Even when Ekiti South West Local Government was created in 1976, the Ondo State Law No 11 of 1979 that was the instrument of creation did not make provision for sole chairmanship but rotation among the three Obas and we have been benefiting from the rights and privileges attached to the position in terms of remuneration and other perks of office.”

The Ologotun said the Arajaka and the Alawe should read a report of the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers Committee Resolution of 19th June, 2001 when he said a similar case came up. Oba Alabi however, held that it was wrong for the Ologotun to think “that Ilawe will be the headquarters of the local government and its monarch will be denied the right to chair the traditional council.”

Chairman of the Local Government, Lanre Omolase knows it is not a matter to handle with kid’s gloves, and therefore he has referred the warring monarchs to a committee by the state government that is looking into the matter. The committee, headed by the deputy governor, Dr. Kolapo Olubunmi Olusola, is still working and is yet to conclude work.

Omolase said: “I will not want this protest to be hijacked. We belong to the same family. Nothing can be more logical than the steps taken by Governor Fayose. So let us await the outcome of the report and refrain from taking laws into our hands,” Omolase stated.

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