Ajimobi: ‘Chief Ko sele ri’ of Ibadanland | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ajimobi: ‘Chief Ko sele ri’ of Ibadanland

Posted: Apr 20, 2015 at 12:16 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Oladele Ogunsola Correspondent, Ibadan

It was like a huge prophetic joke at the Agala Hill, behind Ibadan House in the Oyo State capital last year June at the turning of the sod of the New Olubadan Palace when the state governor, Senator Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi, the prime mover of the gigantic three-phase project told the crowd that the first phase would be completed and commissioned before his current tenure ends. He there and then declared that he would therefore demand for a new traditional title from the Olubadan of Ibadanland in addition to the one being currently held, ‘Aare Atunluse’ of Ibadanland bestowed on him by the highly respected monarch in 2013.



Governor Ajimobi said that he would ask for the traditional title of ‘Ko sele ri’ of Ibadanland. The title, literarily translated as something that has never happened before threw the gathering into wild applause because of its uniqueness and the message it conveys. From the new palace construction view-point, it could be said that the edifice being constructed would be a master-piece and alluring that the  occupier of Olubadan stool, for the ‘first time’ would live there as it is the practice in all other Yoruba towns and cities.

Though, there is an existing palace at Oja’ba, an Ibadan hinterland, but, no monarch has lived there since it was constructed about three decades ago except the late Oba Yesufu Oloyede Asanike, who made the attempt to relocate to the palace after his coronation, but packed out shortly thereafter, alleging some disturbances. Since that time, the Oja’ba Palace has remained only a ceremonial arena to the successive Olubadan of Ibadanland. Thus, from the time immemorial, successive Ibadan monarchs have been using their respective personal and family houses as their palaces and if with the building of a new palace, the trend changes, Ajimobi, as the prime mover of the project would be more than qualified for the new title of ‘Chief Ko sele ri’ of Ibadanland. But, with the re-election of the governor last Saturday and by implication becoming the first Executive Governor of the state to be so elected, the title will become very more apt for him. Unfortunately, the occasion in question did not allow for clarification on the motive of the governor to have conceived the idea of such a title. But, whatever might be the real intention of the governor then, whether it was simply about the palace as noted above or a prophecy about his second term ambition, Oyo State, by virtue of the last gubernatorial election result has recorded another history-’Ko sele ri’. This is more germane in view of the political history of the state, following which a cliché that the Ibadan people don’t serve somebody twice has evolved and which has become a taboo sort of.

What is known today as Oyo State evolved through successive state creations starting with the balkanization of the then Western State on 3rd February, 1976 into the then Oyo, Ogun and Ondo States. The old Oyo State was split in two on 27 August, 1991 when Osun State was excised from it. Though, it is on record that the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the Premier of the old Western Region, under Action Group (AG) comprising all the present states in the South-West geo-political zone and the present Edo and Delta States had two terms (1952-1959), no governor of the modern state had succeeded in winning two elections back to back in Oyo State as just done by Ajimobi. The first Executive Governor of the old Oyo State, late Chief Bola Ige (1979-1983) under the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) tirelessly worked for another term and the people of the state actually voted for him, but, the then ruling party and the main opposition in the state, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) ensured that the late Ige was rigged out with the popular slogan ‘omo wa ni e je o se’, a slogan to canvass for the adoption of Ibadan son as the governor. The rigged election produced Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo, but, his term was cut short by the military coup of 31st December, 1983, which shot into limelight Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the now President-elect, exactly three months after Olunloyo was sworn-in, making him the shortest serving civilian governor in the history of the state till date.

With the emergence of the military in the governance of the country as from that 1983 episode, politics went into deep slumber until 1990 when the transition to civilian administration by the military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida began and this led to the emergence of Late Chief Kolapo Olawuyi Ishola with his election as the governor of the state in 1991, but was sworn-in on 2nd January, 1992. The tenure got terminated on the 17th November, 1993 by the coup led the late Gen. Sani Abacha. So, just like Chief Olunloyo, the late Ishola did not complete a single term not to talk of seeking for another term. The transition midwife by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar in 1998 after the death of Gen. Abacha produced the late Alhaji Lamidi Onaolapo Adesina of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) as the state governor in 1999 and his attempt to spend two terms was truncated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2003 after his first term following which Sen. Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja emerged. His tenure was characterized with crises and he was eventually impeached on the 12th January, 2006, about one and half years into the completion of his statutory four-year tenure. The Supreme Court later in December of the same year declared the impeachment as illegal and he was returned into office. But, before his return, his party, the PDP had conducted the primary election for the 2007 governorship election and the ticket already won by Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, the deputy to Ladoja and the beneficiary of the illegal impeachment. Thus, the idea of Ladoja seeking for second term under the banner of his party, PDP was remote.

Otunba Alao-Akala subsequently won the 2007 governorship election and did everything he could to secure a second term in 2011, but, he lost the bid. Then, the incumbent governor Ajimobi, who lost to Alao-Akala in 2007, when he contested on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples. Party (ANPP) defeated him and through that laid the foundation for the new title under discussion. The title was fiercely fought for by the trio of Ajimobi, Ladoja and Alao-Akala as both Ladoja and Alao-Akala joined the race as it was in 2011, but, as it was then, when Ajimobi beat the two of them and ensured that none of them broke the jinx, so it was again last Saturday when he defeated the two of them and perhaps sealed the hope of either of them ruling the state twice permanently. However, as an observer pointed out, Ajimobi has indeed done what had never been done before in the history of the state, but, would he equally acknowledge the beckoning of history to him too to leave behind legacies of what the people of the state had never seen before? The observer said “it is only then that the title can truly be enduring and justifiable”.