Opinion: Behold Nigeria! In the light of their relentless proliferations: are your kings still kings and the inner linings of their crowns sacred

 Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi (lll)
Once upon a time, our kings were known to be kings indeed and the inner linings of their crowns sacred.

I am referring to the time when there are not many of them and when indeed their words were laws, and nobody dares steep in contempt their declarations.

I am talking also about a time when the process that normally throws up a new king was not just lucid but predictable, comprehensive and divine.

In Yoruba land for instance, after a reigning Oba has rejoined his ancestors, the selection process for his successor is usually narrowed down to include a couple of eligible ruling houses for ease of procedural management by the kingmakers.

In a few exceptional cases, the selection process could even be narrowed down to just one ruling house where it is a fact of history that the ruling house in question is the next in line to produce the new Oba.

A classic example was the one which led to the emergence of the current Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi.

Finally, Setiu or Ifa is consulted and whosoever it chooses automatically becomes the new king and everybody go home happy.

You will agree with me that time indeed has changed and in so many respects too.

But what do we have these days?

In defiance to the sanctity of the scenario so described above, we have seen situations where ambitious money bags without royal blood flowing in their vein make a frantic attempt to hijacked and desecrate the process.

Some have succeeded and it does not go without far-reaching consequences for both the realm and subjects concerned.

We have also seen situations where the process has degenerated into violence and mindless killings of each other by rival ruling houses which are laying claims to the vacant stools.

Perhaps the most disturbing one to me would be the unwarranted multiplicity of kingdoms and kings across the land which started during the military era when royal stools all of a sudden become dole for loyalists, and more so a tool for whittling down the powers and influences of pre-existing paramount rulers of the concerned realms.

Only recently, in a move I considered to be unprecedented in the history of chieftaincy and traditional matters anywhere in the country; well, I might be wrong; the Oyo state governor, Ajibola Ajimobi, elevated 29 whopping former Baales and quasi-chiefs to the status of Obas.

The class does not matter here.

And I can only hear the rumbling of a thousand Shekere and the chorus of 'Oba n ki o' translated to mean the king salutes rending the air.

While I want to felicitate with the new modern day Obas for ascending to the thrones of their forefathers that is if there are any in the first place; I wish to query not just their relevance but also the motive behind the action of the governor in the face of societal realities which deemed such unsustainable.

Let me say may their reign be long even though it would be done largely in vacuum understandably going by the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended.

Today's Obas and their counterparts across the country have been reduced to merely beggarly foot soldiers and stooges of political authorities headed by the governors.

They are equally a drain on the lean resources available to the various levels of governments.

Their enthronements and dethronements are done at best according to the dictates of the whims and caprices of governors.

No one can forget the sudden disgraceful removal of former Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki, by the government of late General Sanni Abacha.

In fact, that has been a regular recourse of all state governments in Nigeria since the day of military rules like I pointed out earlier.

And the reasons for these are not farfetched.

I remember it was the practice of successive military junta that feels threatened by the nonconforming existing A-list traditional rulers to try and whittle down the power and influence they wield within their realm so they resort to the proliferation of kingdoms and kings around them who would in turn act as a check on them.

Looked at from another perspective, has any constitutional provision been breached?

Not really because the constitutional right and privilege lie with the democratic authorities to so act.

But then it might also pique your mind as it does mine that what roles are the new kings meant to perform?

Besides being the saving basket or custodian of the culture of the people; the role of our kings have become at best ceremonial overtime if not completely irrelevant.

Can someone tell me what the creation or elevation of a staggering 29 Obas in addition to the existing multitude will be doing if not merely to satisfy primordial craze by our people for the beads, titles, and crowns?

I mean how a state can be having an Oba or traditional ruler per every kilometer of the realm knowing full well that the constitution has not made any provision for them whether to join the governor and other elective public officials in discharging the governance responsibility to the state.

To me, it is an act of political recklessness and disservice to the traditional institution itself on the part of the governor and whoever is planning to replicate the same.

For God's sake, we are not in a monarchical system. And even if we are certain we do not need this multitude of kings to survive as a people.

They do not and will not enhance their importance as an emblem of our cultural revolution.

Instead of multiplying the offices of the Obas, if anything, will only ridicule their offices in the eye of the global community because I cannot remember any society the world over with as many traditional rulers like we have in this part of the world.

And I am speaking here with particular reference to the Yoruba nation.

My fear then is that before long if nothing is urgently done about this needless proliferation, we might just be having in no time an army of idle kings without a war to prosecute.

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