While the dust of the shocking dethronement of the erstwhile Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was yet to settle, the open letter which a host of powerful Obas in Yorubaland of southwestern Nigeria sent to the incumbent Governor of Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi surfaced online.
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Sanusi was recently recorded at the 60th birthday party of the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai, speaking truth to power. He condemned the neglect of the lower class in the entire north and warn that if nothing urgent was done by the different state governments in the region, it will come back to bite the elite class in their behinds. His comments seemed not to sit well with a particular section of the elite, and in less than two weeks, a shady query was handed down to Sanusi and he dethroned before he knew it.
In Ekiti state, reshuffling the Pelupelu order of first class Obas was the cause of the new controversy as the Governor elevated a non-first class Oba, the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, to the group of 11 Pelupelu most senior Obas in the state. Not only that, the Governor went ahead to query the 11 Pelupelu kings for not attending the first meeting chaired by the newly elevated Alawe – in protest of the slight by the Governor.
In the letter dated March 12, written on behalf of 6 other Obas including the revered Ooni of Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, advised the Ekiti State Governor against importing the subculture of traditional degradation, which he alluded to as common in the north, into Yorubaland.
It is on record that, by a rough count since 1960, the region with the highest number of dethronement of traditional chiefs has been in northern Nigeria. The Alaafin, therefore, seems to be indirectly castigating the new trend which seems to be getting popular of state governors dethroning kings and chiefs within their domain for political reasons.
The dethronement of traditional rulers were more common in the days of the military junta in Nigeria where sheer impunity and intimidation of political figures and traditional institutions existed. Even more alarming in those days were the trumped up charges being deployed to unseat any traditional ruler which a governor or president is no longer comfortable with. In as much as dethronement of traditional rulers – for reasons bearing only on gross misconduct – is written into the Nigerian constitution, the rate at which that allowance is been continually abused by state governors as they install and dethrone at will is disconcerting.
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Politicians in Nigeria know full well that the only respected and well revered authority in the grassroots level of society, outside of trade unions and other pressure groups are the traditional rulers. They have therefore declared a silent war on always using one tactic or another to muzzle these traditional rulers from speaking up for their subjects too.
In the areas where traditional institutions are still very much revered in the country, the citizens directly and indirectly demands for more accountability from these Obas, Emirs and Obis than they do of their local government chairmen. The average governor or president seems scared of a traditional ruler who is too powerful for their liking. This is the golden rule of suppression of the people’s voice which the earliest politicians have smuggled into the constitution so as to preserve their own supremacy over land and its derivatives.
Despite the matter between the Ekiti Pelupelu Obas and the Ekiti governor pending in court, that there was a temporal resolution when Governor Fayemi visited the Alaafin on Sunday may imply that the message of caution in the Alaafin letter has been passed down to governors in the region as well. That for no reason, all in name of governance, should traditional institutions which the common Nigerian feels closer to be desecrated all in the name of scoring cheap political points. And that common men – those who have no chance in exalted places – in this our land finds their voices again against all odds.
Featured Image Source: Tribune Online
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