Members of the traditional council in Oyo state, Ministries and Agencies of Government, other stakeholders and members of the public, on Friday, converged on the House of Chiefs, State Secretariat, Ibadan, for a public hearing on the proposed amendment of the Oyo Chiefs Law.
Earlier in the week, the executive arm had in seeking an amendment of section 28 of the principal Oyo State Chiefs law pointed to the failure of the Oyo Council of Chiefs and Obas to meet for a long time to attend to several applications by Baales seeking to wear beaded crowns.
“Subsection 1 of Section 28 of the principal law states that the governor may from time to time after consultation with the Council of Obas and Chiefs of the state by order specify the chieftaincies the holders for the time being of which are entitled to wear beaded crowns,” while the amendment sought is to delete, “after consultation with the Council of Obas and Chiefs.”
The traditional rulers made known their concerns at a public hearing organized by the Oyo House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters on the proposed amendment.
Leading calls for caution at the public hearing, the Onpetu of Ijeru, Oba Sunday Oyediran said historical antecedents of the chieftaincies should be considered in deeming people fit for beaded crowns, as well as the peculiarities of domains aside from the doctrine of necessity.
In exercising his discretion, Oyediran noted that the governor should carry out due diligence to ensure that territorial identities are respected to avoid overlapping of areas of traditional authorities.
He added that the governor should draw a distinct line between traditional chiefs and honorary ones, adding that the beaded crown approved by the governor should be annotated with the inscription of Obas created by statute.
On his part, the Basorun of Oyo, High Chief Yusuf Ayoola urged the governor to critically consider the long-term consequences of elevating Baales cum giving them beaded crowns.
Ayoola added that it was imperative for machinery to be put in motion for the Council of Obas and Chiefs to resume meeting.
Presenting his own position, the Alado of Ado Awaye, Oba Olugbile Ademola stressed that the amendment move must take into cognizance the fact that the crown is sacred and should be treated with sacredness, the fact that the crown has history and that history must be protected from falsification.
From the Oke-Ogun zone of the State, the Ikolaba of Iseyin, Ismail Odubiyi said there were crowns with deep history and that there might be situations where holders of crowns without history will disrespect those holders of crowns with history.
He said the law must be crafted to curtail misuse of power and a situation where influential persons simply have their way of having beaded crowns.
Though he noted that real indigenes of any domain will not disrespect and give honour to those higher ranking Obas than them, he noted that there may be those who may see their having beaded crowns as an opportunity to flex muscles with other Obas.
Representing retired directors of Local Government Administration, Mr Bashiru Akande argued that the clause of the governor consulting with the Council of Obas and Chiefs before giving beaded crowns should not be expunged but subsist.
He argued that the amendment could sail through provided it permits that the report of the commission of inquiry set up to determine those to be given beaded crown is not committed to another consultation but committed to an administrative process.
Akande argued that the State Council of Obas and Chiefs should rather be reconvened and strengthened.
However, contrary to the positions of most speakers, the Otun Balogun of Ibadan Land, High Chief Tajudeen Ajibola conveyed the approval of the Olubadan of Ibadan Land, Oba Lekan Balogun, for the move to amend the law, elevate chiefs and give beaded crowns to Baales.
He argued that the Chiefs Law was long overdue for a review, wondering why the Olubadan could also not crown chiefs in his domain.
Ajibola lauded the Makinde administration for embarking on the amendment through the State House of Assembly.
He noted that a similar review carried out by the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi administration faced opposition, a brick wall because it was not legalized through the State House of Assembly as the Makinde administration was now doing.
In their remarks at the hearing, the state commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye and the house committee chairman on Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Honourable Akintunde Olajide stressed that the governor having the authority to determine those to get beaded crowns, without consultation, will hasten to attend to several applications for beaded crowns across the state.
Speaking with journalists after the hearing, Olajide said the house committee on local government and chieftaincy matters will take into consideration all the views and memoranda submitted before taking further action on the bill.