Ibadan New Monar­chs: More Wor­ries Over In­creased Ex­pen­di­ture

• No Ex­tra Bur­den On Govt— Ko­lade

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - PALACE WATCH - From Muyiwa Adeyemi (Head South West Bureau, Ibadan)

THE first of­fi­cial out­ing of some of the Baales el­e­vated to be­come Obas in Ibadan, by Gov­er­nor Abi­ola Aji­mobi, did not be­tray pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tions that they would need a lot of fi­nan­cial sup­port for their new-found sta­tus.

Gov­er­nor Aji­mobi had in­vited them to grace the com­mis­sion­ing of the 5.5km Mo­bil-apata Road on Thurs­day Au­gust 31, four days after the his­toric mass coro­na­tion that held at Mapo Hall, Ibadan. Driven in rick­ety cars and char­tered taxis, some of them ar­rived the venue as early as 11 am for a pro­gramme that the gov­er­nor did not show up un­til 2pm.

But that could not be said of the 10 High Chiefs and mem­bers of the Olubadan-in­coun­cil also el­e­vated to monar­chs. Their ap­pear­ances were not less than royal. They had been on gov­ern­ment pay roll since their el­e­va­tion as mem­bers of Olubadan in coun­cil, as against the erst­while Baales that never tapped from gov­ern­ment re­sources.

In­deed, Ibadan High Chiefs re­ceive salary and emol­u­ments as gazetted in the part 11 of Oyo State Chief­taincy laws from gov­ern­ment and each of them su­per­in­tend over the 11 lo­cal coun­cils in Ibadan. Aside be­fit­ting cars, His Royal High­nesses, as the Baales turned monar­chs are cur­rently ad­dressed, would now be in­cluded on gov­ern­ment pay roll, pro­vided with of­fi­cial ve­hi­cles and pos­si­bly wardrobe al­lowances. They also need mod­ern-day palaces, as some of them operate from pri­vate res­i­dences be­fore their pro­mo­tion.

With the re­view of Olubadan Dec­la­ra­tion, Ibadan ap­pears set to move away from recog­nis­ing pri­vate res­i­dences as palaces, as the White Pa­per had rec­om­mended that all meet­ings of Olubadanin-coun­cil should be held at Mapo, pend­ing com­ple­tion of the new palace be­ing con­structed at Oke Aremo. The Cen­tral Coun­cil of Ibadan In­di­genes (CCII) is co­or­di­nat­ing the pro­ject.

To com­plete the first phase, CCII said it needed over N300m. Al­ready, over N150m had been ex­pended on the pro­ject, out of which the state gov­ern­ment said it has com­mit­ted about N100m.

Though com­mu­ni­ties are ex­pected to build palaces, but since gov­ern­ment has been the largest donor so far, its con­tri­bu­tions to build­ing palaces for the Baales turned monar­chs is be­ing taken for granted by the com­mu­ni­ties.

Tongues are al­ready wag­ging on how much the state gov­ern­ment would spend on the up­grade of Chief­taincy mat­ters in Ibadan. For a state that is still in­debted to work­ers and pen­sion­ers, with a debt bur­den of over N200b, in­cur­ring more ex­pen­di­ture on tra­di­tional in­sti­tu­tion at a pe­riod gov­ern­ment is ask­ing res­i­dents to tighten their belts, is con­sid­ered in­ap­pro­pri­ate by many.

An of­fi­cer of Nige­rian Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, who pleaded anonymity, said the state work­ers were dis­ap­pointed with gov­ern­ment for not get­ting its pri­or­i­ties right.

He said: “Work­ers in the state just re­ceived bank alert for June salary on Tues­day Septem­ber 6, with an out­stand­ing of two months. Pen­sion­ers are be­ing owed sev­eral months. I don’t know when they will be paid, while the is­sue of work­ers and stu­dents of Ladoke Ak­in­tola Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (LAUTECH) seems not to bother the gov­ern­ment. Gov­er­nor Aji­mobi has money to up­grade tra­di­tional in­sti­tu­tions, but not to fund LAUTECH).” One of the Mo­ga­jis, loyal to Olubadan, Oba Saliu Ade­tunji, said Ibadan peo­ple would have ap­pre­ci­ated the gov­er­nor more, if he had used the money ex­pended on in­stalling new monar­chs on com­ple­tion of Olubadan’s palace and other de­vel­op­men­tal projects in the state.

He said: “If you are con­sid­er­ing money spent on coro­na­tion and oth­ers that can be ac­counted for, you may not get the true pic­ture of ac­tual amount spent. Ask your­self, what made all the High Chiefs and promi­nent Ibadan in­di­genes that ini­tially kicked against it and even went to court, to sud­denly change their minds and with­drew the case and be­came the mouth­piece of gov­ern­ment in this mat­ter? Gov­er­nor Aji­mobi wanted it for his self­ish rea­sons and went all out to achieve it with­out mind­ing the cost. I won’t say more than this.”

But Oba Owolabi Olakule­hin, who is the Ba­lo­gun of Ibadan­land, dis­agreed that the el­e­va­tion of High Chiefs and Baales would in­crease gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture. He told The­guardian that all the High Chiefs had been re­ceiv­ing salaries from the gov­ern­ment, and their el­e­va­tion did not come with an in­creased salary.

He said: “My other brother Obas and I have been re­ceiv­ing salaries since we be­came High Chiefs, so there is noth­ing new apart from the crown. I know that gov­ern­ment will have to pay some

Baales that were not en­joy­ing that ben­e­fit, as they are now Obas.

Field­ing ques­tion on pos­si­ble fur­ther ex­penses on build­ing palaces for the new monar­chs, Oba Olakule­hin said:

“for us mem­bers of Olubadan-in- Coun­cil, we don’t need a sep­a­rate palace. Our of­fices will be in­side Olubadan’s palace un­der con­struc­tion. We shall be op­er­at­ing from our pri­vate res­i­dences. Though my house is now re­garded as a palace, but I know that my of­fice is at Olubadan palace.

“For the Baales, I think they will need palaces to operate but, it is not gov­ern­ment’s duty to build palaces for them. It is the com­mu­nity that should do that.” Speak­ing in the same vein, the state Com­mis­sioner for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Chief­taincy Mat­ters, Mr. Bimbo Ko­lade, de­nied ex­tra ex­pen­di­ture from gov­ern­ment to el­e­vate Olubadan Chief­taincy laws. He said: “Oyo State gov­ern­ment is not build­ing any palace for the monar­chs. Look at Olubadan palace un­der con­struc­tion, it is be­ing built by Ibadan peo­ple and is be­ing co­or­di­nated by the Cen­tral Coun­cil of Ibadan In­di­genes (CCII). They have started the pro­ject since and they are still sourc­ing money to com­plete it. So, it is not gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to build palaces.”

On the amount spent on the coro­na­tion, he said: “I would just say what­ever gov­ern­ment spent on the coro­na­tion is the usual nor­mal gov­ern­ment’s duty. Ab­i­ni­tio, if any Baale or Oba is to be in­stalled, it is not a new thing that gov­ern­ment does the in­stal­la­tion. This is not the first that gov­ern­ment is spend­ing on. There should be no raised eye­brow on this. “I don’t know how much was spent on the in­stal­la­tion cer­e­mony. A com­mit­tee han­dled it.”

On the pos­si­bil­ity of in­creas­ing over­head, he said: “I can tell you that there is none of th­ese Baales that was not for­merly on the lo­cal gov­ern­ment’s wage bill. All the 22 Baales be­longed to ei­ther the state coun­cil of chiefs and Obas, even when they were Baales. And this is one of the rea­sons they were con­sid­ered qual­i­fied to wear beaded coronet in the first in­stance. Those that are not part of state coun­cil of Chiefs and Obas be­long to their re­spec­tive lo­cal gov­ern­ment coun­cil of Chiefs and Obas. There is none of them that had not been earn­ing salary from gov­ern­ment. So, the coro­na­tion is not go­ing to in­crease gov­ern­ment ex­penses in any way.

“Be re­minded that tra­di­tional in­sti­tu­tions have their con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion in the lo­cal gov­ern­ment. So, there is no ex­tra bur­den to gov­ern­ment in terms of fi­nances.”

What about cars and build­ing of palaces?

“It is lo­cal coun­cils’ re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide cars for tra­di­tional rulers. They have been do­ing that be­fore. To­day, Baale of Fiditi has an of­fi­cial car, Ak­in­biyi of Ilora also has one, just like Oni­jaye has his of­fi­cial car be­fore el­e­va­tion, and Oni­lalipon also had an of­fi­cial car be­fore.

“If you check Oyo State Chief­taincy laws, all th­ese peo­ple were for­merly listed, ei­ther as part of state tra­di­tional coun­cil or lo­cal gov­ern­ment tra­di­tional coun­cil.”

Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Ade­tunji

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