Oyo kingmakers split over appointment of new Alaafin

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Three membrs of the Oyomesi, the traditional kingmakers in the ancient Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, have accused their leader of stalling the process for the appointment of a new king, the Alaafin.

The Basorun of Oyo, Yusuf Akinlade, is the head of the Oyomesi, which is also the highest legislative council of the kingdom.

Oba Lamidi Adeyemi was the longest serving Alaafin in the history of Oyo kingdom when he died in April 2022.

But his throne has remained vacant nearly 18 months after his death, despite the Oyomesi unanimously recommending Lukman Gbadegesin to Governor Seyi Makinde for the appointment last year.

It has since emerged that the governor had rejected Mr Gbadegesin’s selection on the ground that the kingmakers did not follow due process.

According to a new law on chieftaincy matters in the state, kingmakers are to recommend three names to the governor for consideration for appointment of traditional rulers.

The Oyomesi had selected only one name, in line with the old law which was in force when they made their pick from anong 82 contending princes.

However, at a press conference in Oyo on Monday, three of the kingmakers said the Basorun, Mr Akinlade, has ignored the directive of the state government to convene another conclave of the traditional council for a fresh nomination, insisting that its job was already done.

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The three members of the Oyomesi who were at the event are the Agbakin of Oyo, the Samu of Oyo and the Alajagba of Oyo.

They said the kingmakers who initially selected Mr Gbadegesin were not properly constituted and that their recommendation has since been rejected by the state government.

In their address at the press conference which they all signed, they said one of the seven kingmakers who participated in the selection exercise last year was not qualified to participate because he did so as a warrant chief but was later discovered not to be eligible to be a warrant chief.

They continued:

“The government had directed us to meet and follow due process. Unfortunately, the Basorun who is Chairman and Convener of our meetings decided not to convene any meeting of the Oyomesi since late last year till the present moment.

“The new member of the kingmakers (ALAJAGBA) has been denied the opportunity of participating in or contributing to the Resolutions of the the kingmakers since his official appointment in 2022 on account of the blunt refusal of the Basorun to comply with the directive of government for due process in our task of recommending a nominee to the government

“About seven months ago, during an official visit to Oyo, the Governor held a meeting with the Oyomesi and specifically told us of the government decision that due process must be followed in the nomination of candidate for the Alaafin stool. He instructed us to do our duty freely because the government is only interested in the best for Oyo and Yorubaland.

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“Regrettably, Basorun remained adamant, and no meeting of the kingmakers was convened to deliberate on the major issue of nomination or selection of candidate for the stool of the Alaafin.”

The three kingmakers said the Basorun and some other kingmakers refused to attend a peace meeting called by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mikail Lawal.

“We are opposed to the Basorun’s utter disregard for government directive on due process and his continuing imposition of one of his handpicked chiefs ( Are ago Basorun) as a warrant chief whose letter of appointment is questionable. We are ready to meet with other kingmakers to perform our legitimate duties in accordance with our tradition, custom and the law of the land.”

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However, when contacted over the telephone, the Basorun told PREMIUM TIMES that due diligence has been done and a new Alaafin has been nominated by the kingmakers.

The leader of the kingmakers also described his accusers as “liars working for pecuniary gains.”

“At my age I don’t need to tell lies anymore, you can ask them to produce the paper with which the government rejected our earlier nomination. As a matter of fact these two persons running around now also signed endorsing our unified decision on who was chosen.

“They have taken us to court and lost because what they are banking on is loads of lies. Let them continue both the people and God is watching them and all of us.”

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how documents and court papers showed that Mr Gbadegesin, a prince from the Agunloye ruling house, was the choice of the Oyomesi for appointment as the next Alaafin of Oyo.

The kingmakers had said they received a list of 82 aspiring princes from the Baba Iyaji of Oyo, the head of the princes, Mukaila Afonja, who by Oyo tradition and the Alaafin Chieftaincy Declaration, is empowered to collect the names of aspiring princes from the next ruling house and transmit them to the Basorun, the head of Oyomesi amongst whom one was picked.

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