The vice president (Southwest) of the Historical Society of Nigeria, Dr. Fidelis Enang Egbe has shared his thoughts on the actions of former president Olusegun Obasanjo towards some Oyo traditional rulers.
Naija News recalls that Obasanjo, during the commissioning of the Iseyin Campus of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Renewable Natural Resources of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology had ordered the Oyo monarchs to stand up and greet the governor of the state, Seyi Makinde.
Obasanjo’s action was greeted with heavy backlash.
However, the former president said that he stands by his action, insisting that the governor holds the highest position in a state.
Reacting to Obasanjo’s submission during an interview with Daily Sun, Egbe opined that the former president’s action was the manifestation of the negative impact of colonialism.
He insisted that during the precolonial era traditional rulers were highly revered and regarded as supreme. However, the reverse is now the case because the colonial masters have placed the president and governors above the traditional rulers.
Egbe stated that Obasanjo might have been right when he pointed out that the monarchs ought to stand up for the governor, but he should not have humiliated them in public.
According to him, “It is the practical manifestation of the negative impact of colonialism. In the precolonial era, our traditional institution was highly functional while our traditional rulers were highly revered and venerated.
“They were regarded as supreme and next to the gods. It was so well structured that the rulers understood very clearly what leadership was. However, with the coming of the colonialists, the traditional rulers lost that venerated position. Few reasons can be blamed for this.
“One, the traditional rulers were used as tools by the colonialists. The traditional institution was destroyed and the powers of the kings were also destroyed along with it. In the post-colonial era, power was handed over to a democratically elected government.
“At this point, the democratically elected government emanated from the colonialists. So, the traditional institution in the post-colonial era also suffered the same fate it suffered during colonial rule such that the constitution of Nigeria placed the elected officials higher than the traditional rulers.
“So to this extent, given the constitutional provisions of the powers of the president and the governors, the traditional rulers find themselves under the rulership of the president and the governors.
“In other words, when they are at formal ceremonies as they were in Oyo State, traditional rulers are supposed to stand up and respect the position of the governor and the president.
“From this perspective, we could say former President Obasanjo was right to have pointed out that the kings needed to stand up in honour of the governor. However, Obasanjo was wrong and very insulting to have reproached, commanded and humiliated these royal fathers in public and in the manner he did.
“You could see that the Obas were scared and they stood up like primary school children immediately. That was a rude command to royal fathers. He could have allowed the matter to die down after reproaching them instead of ordering them to stand up after the reprimand.”