Nigeria: Oluwo Speaks As Candidates Battle Over Appointment As Community Chief

12 December 2018

The Oluwo of Iwo land, Abdulrasheed Akanbi, has said he is yet to make a decision on who to appoint as Baale (the village chief) of Olatifede community, Iwo Local Government Area of Osun State.

The monarch spoke a few days after members of the community protested in the ancient town calling on the king to follow aged-long tradition in the selection process.

The Olatifede community members said palace officials hinted them of the attempt by the Oluwo to choose another person other than Razaki Akande, said to be the candidate backed by majority in the community.

Mr Akande is also the eldest male in the branch of the family entitled to occupy the stool at this time.

A high number of community members marched in a peaceful protest in Iwo town on Sunday to demand that Mr Akande be installed as the Baale of the community in line with the tradition that the eldest male in the family becomes the rightful holder of the chieftaincy title.

A petition addressed to the Oluwo, signed by the head of the Oloba Olatifede family, AbdulMojeed Agbaje; the Secretary to the ruling family, Isiaka Akanji; and Community Leader of Oloba Olatifede, Sunday Salawu, said tradition demanded that the eldest son (in the benefiting family) should fill the vacant stool of Baale.

"Unless the eldest son is mentally retarded or not of sound mind or when a candidate is seen to have bad antecedent, the eldest son should fill the vacant stool of Baale," the petition said.

Mr Akande, on his part, noted that there should be no contention on the rightful person to fill the vacant position because he is the eldest person in the family in line with the tradition of the people.

"The family took a unanimous decision to forward my name to Kabiyesi (Oluwo) but it appears he is making moves to circumvent the agelong tradition," Mr Akande said.

"The entire community and its council, the Oke Oba Parapo, adopted me as the next baale, so there is no room for arguments about the whole matter. "

But the other contender, Morufu Adewale, who is Mr Akande's younger half brother, is also laying claim to the position, saying he is the best candidate for the stool.

"I am the preferred candidate. I left the village (Olatifede) 31 years ago and still met it the same way; nothing has changed since then. Akande who is claiming right to the position is hated in the village. I will spend my time and money on the village as baale," he said.

But the Oluwo, speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on the phone, said the protest was unnecessary as no decision has been taken on the matter.

He said he had the powers to choose the new Baale for the community and that he would exercise that power after receiving counsels from the relevant quarters.

"I am the one who owns the stool, " Oba Akanbi said. "I am the one who will choose to give Baale or not to give Baale to them. If I like I might not even install anybody. I can decide not to even touch that thing. And if I decide to do it, it is all within my power to install anybody."

"They are just hearing rumours. I have not picked anybody. By the time I pick somebody, then there can be reasons for people to talk, but I have not picked anybody. I think hearsays and rumours are not the best for life.

"We don't know who we are going to pick yet, we are still in the process. I will get advice from different quarters before we know what to do. But the power to install a Baale, which is a minor chieftaincy title, is mine, and I can pick whoever I want and any decision I make is in the best interest of the land and of the people.

"There are two families involved. There is no declaration that I must choose from the family, I might even decide not to choose from any of the families. I can go to another family and choose.

"Both of them that have approached me to become the Baale are eligible. They are children of the same father. Both of them are eligible and the power relies on me to choose whoever I want between them. I don't see any reason for a protest."

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