Aggrieved kingmakers plotting against emergence of new Alaafin– Basorun

The Prime Minister and Basorun of Oyo, High Chief Yusuf Akinade, talks to FATTEH HAMID about the controversies surrounding the selection of the new Alaafin and the disagreements between his faction of kingmakers and another group led by the Agbaakin of Oyo, High Chief Asimiyu Atanda

Why is there a disagreement between your faction and the other faction led by the Agbaakin of Oyo?

They are the ones who can say whether there’s any disagreement. We are not fighting and I don’t have any disagreement with any one of them because I’m their leader and not their follower. Whatever I’ve done to wrong them, let them come out and tell the public what it is that Basorun has done that is wrong. When we commenced the selection process for the new Alaafin, we were all there together. We started the process together and ended the process together. There was no disdain or issues over what we did till we were done. After all our sittings, we all agreed on who was competent to be the new Alaafin and that we would all follow him. We agreed to that in unison and signed to that effect. Without any compromise or disdain, without adding or removing from it, the local government chairmen and I went to deliver the name of the selected candidate in a document that was duly signed by all kingmakers to the right person in government – the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Segun Olayiwola. Aside from that, I know nothing about anything hidden or a secret meeting that I can explain. They (the other faction) are the ones with the issues; they are the ones who know who they met and what they did that led to issues about who they want to follow. Wherever I’m headed, I love to always carry everyone along so that they would know my direction and I don’t go back on it.

While addressing journalists in Oyo town on Monday, High Chief Atanda stated that the governor rejected the candidate that was forwarded to his office last year. How true is that?

They should ask the governor to explain to them. How can I know the governor’s mind when nothing was communicated to my office? If they said that a letter was written and it is truthful, I did not set my eyes on anything of such and all correspondence on this issue is meant to be directed to me. When we delivered the document of proclamation to the governor on October 4, 2022, a week later, on October 11, 2022, one of the aspirants filed a suit in court against us stating that the procedure we used in selecting the candidate we chose was not right. At that time, a letter was brought to me and I told them that I did not need any paper since we were being sued and every one of us who was involved was concerned. We got a lawyer to represent us in court.

However, it is very fortunate that the judgement in court was in favour of the Oyomesi; it favoured Governor Seyi Makinde and also favoured the Attorney General and others whom the suit was filed against. The court stated that the process we followed that produced the candidate we selected and submitted to the governor was right and excellent and it is left for the state governor to make the pronouncement of the person that we have presented to him. Since then, there has been no word, no fights or disagreement up until recently. Since October 4, 2022, when we submitted the name to the state government, it is more than a year or just a few days to a year if I’m not wrong. If they have now come out to say that we are fighting, you should ask them where we had the disagreement or meeting that led to us having different opinions. That is all I know and I’ve not gone to take bribes or take money from anyone behind them. I don’t do that! What they want, they cannot tell the world and I cannot say that. I do not have any disagreement with them and that’s all.

It was stated that the rejection was based on the fact that the warrant chiefs picked in place of the two Oyomesis that are not alive were not selected with the right procedure. Is that true?

What a pity! You see, on the issue of warrant chiefs representing members of the Oyomesi who are not alive, there was no warrant chief that I selected on my own. When we selected the first warrant chief to replace Ashipa, the names of five candidates were sent to the commissioner and it wasn’t as if it was just a name that was presented. Also, I didn’t follow them there when the names were submitted, so they cannot say that I was there and dictated what should happen. My God who knows me and created sees that I didn’t follow them. We wrote the five names and submitted them. After that, a response was received and a candidate, Aare Ago Basorun, was selected for us. I am not the government that made the decision. We continued with our work and then, we got done with the process and the Alapinni told us all that his life was 50-50 and he could either live or die due to his ailment. Alapinni died and we said that we must choose a warrant chief to replace him. We wrote the names of six persons to the government again and they brought a paper selecting the person to replace him from the list we sent. You can ask the government or the commissioner about this. Don’t forget that this was after the process had been concluded and we had submitted it with the signatures of everyone involved. I don’t want to mention names; just one person wants to unsettle this entire process. If they believe that I’m lying or have done anything wrong, they should let us go to the shrine of ogun (god of iron) and swear and we should swear with the earth and whoever is the betrayer should go with it. But no, I’m a Muslim and I believe in Allah; the Qur’an doesn’t judge and it takes time but you see ogun, it doesn’t take time and it works and delivers faster.

Do you think there is a conflict of interest?

We won’t stoop low to do what is not right because of an interest. With all that they have been doing, if the world sees it clearly, people would know who should be stoned. Is it not Oyo and the entire Yoruba race that we are working for? We are not working for personal interests. We work in the interest of the people and as long as we are making progress, everyone will see it. You and everyone else in the public sphere should also gazette what I said. We started a selection process together, concluded the process, signed the proclamation documents and submitted them to the government. Then one of the aspirants filed a suit against the Oyomesi and the government, we won the case and then someone was brought to replace Alapinni after we had already concluded and someone now wants us to restart an already concluded process before he was brought to replace Alapinni all in the name that he is a warrant chief. Who does that? A process that the person he is replacing started and ended with us? The governor hasn’t told us to go and conduct another selection process and all that they did is among themselves to bring out all of these. Also, with all the people present, we met with the governor several times. They (the other faction) are just looking for what is not (lost) with all they are doing. There’s nothing wrong, the governor, in fact, welcomed us very well with what we had done because he is not an unfortunate person. If he was unfortunate, we would tell the world because there’s nothing he would do and he wouldn’t kill us but he is not; he is a competent hand and a reasonable person who looks at things critically and justly.

It was alleged that you refused to convene another meeting of the Oyomesi after the selection of a new warrant chief because you felt the selection would not favour your preferred candidate. What do you have to say about this?

Forget about that; there’s nothing like that. Who did I want and who did I not want? Was the person chosen my younger brother? He’s not my family (member). The warrant chief was selected by the local government. You can ask the local government. I didn’t select anyone on my own; all those claims are nothing but mere claims. Why would we be done with a process and someone would bring a new warrant chief who was not involved at all when we started because they want to disrupt and unsettle a process we all jointly conducted and concluded? You should also judge what I just said. The public should as well judge what I’ve said. We all agreed on the candidate to become the next Alaafin, and we submitted it to the government. A week later, someone sued every one of us and we won that case. They were thinking that the judgment would go their way and after the court gave its judgement on the case, one of the aspirants is saying that what we have done isn’t right and people are now being instigated against a decision we jointly took. When we make comments, we should all have the fear of God in our hearts. That is why I’m saying that if anyone comes to me to ask questions, I’ll tell them my mind and whatever they add to it is their choice and not mine.

Agbaakin also stated that since the government rejected the candidate submitted, Oyo Mesi had not reconvened on the matter. Did the governor reject the candidate?

The governor did not reject any candidate! There was nothing like that. Whoever will be truthful or would stand by the truth in the world today will be ready to face it. I was right in my palace when two of them (factional kingmakers) went behind me to meet the governor in Abuja. I cannot say what the governor said to them because I wasn’t present there (at the meeting) but the governor didn’t agree with them. One of the questions that the governor asked them, which was very simple, was: Are you not Oyo Mesi? They said they were. He asked them about the complaint that they had brought, asking them whether they signed what was sent to him or not, and they said that they did, and then he asked them why they now chose to reject it instead of doing so at the start of everything. They could not respond. For everything that I’m being asked now, I just had to say my part because I needed to clear myself that the claims they have been making are not correct. I’m telling you the facts and the truth about the issue as a responsible individual and also as an elderly person because none of them is up to me in terms of age. I’m their leader on all fronts and there’s no other person that the government of the state recognises in this matter than the Basorun of Oyo; they are my members. If I’m not truthful and honest as their leader, automatically, there can’t be any more truth. A house built on lies will be destroyed by dew. I’m telling (you) nothing but the truth. I’ve not behaved in a way that will make people stone me. You can come to Oyo to interview people and see what is going to happen. Also, since the court ruled in our favour, we didn’t see one person who called for another case one year later. You can see the mischief in this already; it means that something is behind it and they should be questioned. No one will destroy Oyo for us. If anyone plans to destroy Oyo, it is that person that will be destroyed.

There are speculations that you are pushing an interest to see the emergence of a particular candidate as the next Alaafin of Oyo, with some suggesting that you were bribed. What do you have to say about this?

Whoever says that is left to God! Again, I’m saying that it was a joint decision that we all agreed and signed to, there are documents to prove this. It is just like scoring a goal when playing football and someone tells you to adjust the goal post or remove the goal post from where it was. What about the goal that was scored? Would you cancel the goal already on the scoresheet? Would you have a replay? I know it is your job that you’re doing with all these questions and from this, you will also deduce what the truth is. You can see that I’ve opened my mouth and opened my mind to tell you the correct thing. Whoever is listening to what I’ve said so far will also realise that I’ve said nothing but the truth. I don’t have to lie and I won’t even lie. Whoever alleged that I took a bribe should write to the anti-graft agencies to come and arrest me. I’m in my palace. I’ve not gone anywhere.

You have constantly said that the selection process was right. Why has the Oyo Mesi not reconvened since the governor hasn’t given his approval?

I told you that when we started, it wasn’t the Oyo Mesi alone that did all of these, it was together with the government and they were carried along in all the procedures. We finished the process and we then submitted it to the governor. If we had not conducted, concluded and signed altogether, would I go and present such a document to the governor? We have finished the process, they accepted, signed it and we submitted it. Even the court ruled in the government’s and Oyo Mesi’s favour. After all that, some people are bringing a paper stating that we should reconvene. What for?

Now that there are disagreements between the two factions, will you call the aggrieved kingmakers and reconvene the Oyo Mesi anytime soon?

No! I cannot! From time immemorial, there have always been aggrieved kingmakers whenever a king is being selected and out of seven kingmakers in Oyo, two of them are making an issue against five of us. They should be asked what their problem is. Let us even add the warrant officer they are making claims about. What is certain is that the person (warrant officer) didn’t work with us in the selection process and doesn’t hold water in the scheme of things. It is their interest or the interest of whoever they want to satisfy that they are pushing and nothing will come out of it.

What is the way forward on this issue?

There’s no other way forward than to keep waiting for the state governor, Seyi Makinde, to make his announcement. I have been given a task and what is left now is for me to hand over. It is left to the governor to decide and announce. It is left to him and not me. The Alaafin does not come from my lineage; I cannot become Alaafin. My forefathers headed the selection of the Alaafin and that is undoubtedly right. So what is there to fight about? We continue to wait for the governor to make an official announcement.

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