The seemingly slow process of choosing a new Alaafin of Oyo is causing disquiet in the kingdom one year after the demise of the long-reigning Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi.
Oba Adeyemi’s 51 years on the throne made him the longest reigning Alaafin before he died on 22nd April 2022 at the age of 83 years. He passed on at the Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti, following a brief illness.
The Alaafin stool rotates between two ruling houses in Oyo Kingdom – Agunloye and Alowolodu. The late Mr Adeyemi was from the latter. This means that the Agunloye ruling house will produce the next Alaafin.
Following Alaafin Adeyemi’s death, an intense competition ensued between the Agunloye princes, who registered their aspiration to mount the throne to the Oyo Mesi through the Baba Iyaji, the lead of ruling houses.
According to Oyo tradition and the Alaafin Chieftain Declaration, the law governing the process of succession, the Baba Iyaji would present the list of the princes to the Oyo Mesi whose head, the Bashorun, would then convene a decision after some screening.
The decision meeting, to be witnessed by government officials, would feature a consensus or voting where there is a plurality of choices.
This process has been completed since last October when the Oyo Mesi chose a prince by consensus and forwarded the decision to Governor Seyi Makinde, PREMIUM TIMES report.
Intrigues and Oyo Mesi
PREMIUM TIMES report that the Oyo State Government in August directed the Atiba Local Government secretariat, the custodian of the Palace of the Alaafin, to begin the formal administrative process for the selection of the next Alaafin. Subsequently, the local government’s chairperson, Mojisola Olakojo, asked Baba Iyaji, who is the traditional head of the ruling families, Mukaila Afonja, to send the list of the candidates. In September, Mr Afonja submitted a list of 86 princes to the local government.
The formal screening of the princes then began on 5th September, this newspaper was told.
As empowered by the Alaafin Chieftaincy Declaration of 1961, Oyomesi took the vote and submitted the name of the candidate to the state government in October.
An insider source at the palace of the Alaafin told PREMIUM TIMES that the name of the successful candidate was sent to the state government on 4th October. But the government has since said nothing on the matter, leading to anxiety in the kingdom.
By law, the governor has to give a space of 21 days within which aggrieved parties are required to submit petitions against the process. No petition was submitted.
PREMIUM TIMES report that Governor Makinde, who was seeking reelection, however, decided to put the process on hold until after the general election.
Outcry over delay in announcement
A section of the community is angry because, since the demise of the former Alaafin, important cultural and traditional activities in the ancient kingdom have been put on hold.
Also, the Muslims are angry that a new Chief Imam cannot be appointed for the central mosque in the city because the Alaafin stool is vacant.
In a video clip, popular preacher, Muhyideen Bello, was seen urging the authorities to expedite the processes for the enthronement of the new monarch.
Another popular Islamic leader in the city who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, Abdulmajeed Alawaye, appealed to the governor to make the announcement. The cleric appealed to the governor not to give room for the public insinuation that he pays more attention to Christians than Muslims in the state.
“If we don’t have a monarch we can’t have a Chief Imam and we want to have an Imam. Everybody knows that. In fact, since the beginning of Ramadan, I have been clamouring that another monarch should be enthroned as soon as possible. Even Islam as a religion doesn’t like that a group of people will be living without a definite leader among them,” the cleric said.
An indigene of Oyo, Ayo Kamorudeen, also said the need for the announcement of the next Alaafin could not be overemphasised.
“The Alaafin and the economic development of this town are inseparable,” said Mr Kamorudeen.
“Full activity is yet to return to the town since the demise of Oba Adeyemi. Even the government knows that an attempt to ignore the throne is a deliberate attempt to run down the economy of Oyo town. There is a spiritual blessing from the throne of the Alaafin that always prospers commerce and industry here.”
SOURCE: PREMIUM TIMES