In a development that has stirred controversy across southwestern Nigeria, a coalition of royal fathers hailing from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, and Kogi States has vehemently denounced the actions of former President Olusegun Obasanjo during a recent project inauguration in Iseyin, Oyo State. The incident, which occurred last Friday, saw the ex-President chastising monarchs in attendance for failing to rise in greeting of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, an action he perceived as a slight to the governor’s office.
At the heart of the controversy is the demand from the Yoruba Obas Forum for a public apology from ex-President Obasanjo for his actions. The group, representing esteemed traditional leaders across the Yoruba heartland, expressed their strong disapproval of Obasanjo’s conduct during the event.
During the inauguration of LAUTECH’s College of Agricultural Science and Renewable Natural Resources in Iseyin, Obasanjo had sharply rebuked the assembled monarchs, insisting that they rise from their seats to show respect to Governor Seyi Makinde. Startled by Obasanjo’s command, the royal fathers complied with his order, sparking a wave of criticism and debate in its aftermath.
In response to the widespread condemnation, Obasanjo issued a statement explaining his actions, citing the constitutional recognition of the governor as the highest-ranking official at the state level. He argued that the monarchs’ failure to pay proper respects was a breach of protocol, necessitating his intervention.
However, the Yoruba Obas Forum remained unswayed by Obasanjo’s rationale. In a statement jointly signed by its President, the Molokun of Atijere in Ondo State, Oba Samuel Adeoye, and its General Secretary, the Olukotun of Ikotun-Ile in Kwara State, Oba Abdulrasaq Abioye, the forum decried Obasanjo’s outburst as an affront and a deliberate act of disrespect to the revered traditional institutions of Yorubaland.
The statement issued by the Yoruba Obas Forum read, “On behalf of the entire Yoruba Obas, we are using this medium to call upon the former President of Nigeria (Obasanjo) to immediately apologize to monarchs from Oke-Ogun zone for his undeserved remarks over his claim that they failed to stand up when the governor (Makinde) and himself climbed the podium at the inauguration of LAUTECH’s College of Agricultural Science and Renewable Natural Resources, Iseyin.”
The forum further emphasized that even if the Obas at the event acted in contravention of The Act of Precedence of 1999, Obasanjo should have addressed the matter in his speech rather than resorting to public scolding akin to disciplining pupils or military recruits.
“We believe that respect should be earned, not demanded. An injury to one is an injury to all. Yoruba traditional institution is not like a military setup that anyone can command at will. We condemn this act by Obasanjo and we call for his public apology to all the disgraced Obas and the entire Yoruba people by extension without further delay,” the statement concluded.
The incident has ignited a heated debate on the boundaries between tradition, protocol, and governance in Yorubaland, with many awaiting Obasanjo’s response to the demand for a public apology.