As the selection of Prince Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye, a Pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, as the new Soun of Ogbomoso land continues to generate controversy, the Head of the kingmakers in Ogbomoso, High Chief Sobaloju Otolorin, weekend, cleared the air, affirming that Olaoye is the next king of the ancient town.
He dismissed the claim by the Laoye Ruling House that the family had not selected anybody to fill the vacant stool, asserting that due process was followed in the selection of the crown prince.
Otolorin, who is also the Aare Ago of Ogbomoso, disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Ogbomoso.
The Head of the Kingmakers said what was being insinuated in regards to the selection of Olaoye was far from the truth.
He, however, said he had promised, during the selection and interview exercise, to embrace the three religions, namely: Traditional, Christianity and Islam.
It would be recalled that the Chairman of the Screening Committee for the Laoye ruling house, Alhaji Abdulwahab Laoye, last Thursday, disclosed that the family had not selected anybody, and therefore, called on the public to disregard what he termed as a rumour.
Oba Jimoh Oyewumi, the late Soun of Ogbomoso, joined his ancestors, on Sunday, December 12, 2021, hence the need to select the new king among the 23 candidates to fill the vacant stool.
Otolorin, while speaking further said many factors were put into consideration before a name was arrived at, insisting that no kingmaker collected bribes from any candidate and that the kingmakers acted in the best interest of the town.
He pointed out that Prince Ghandi’s name was on the list of the 23 proposed by his family, noting that the denial now was a surprise.
The head of the kingmakers emphasized that neither religion nor bribery played any role in the selection, adding that it was not within the purview of any ruling house to screen out any candidate but to present to the kingmakers whoever showed interest.
Otolorin said what the family could have done was to encourage the aspirants to step down for each other before it got to the kingmakers, affirming that the family had no legal right to screen out any candidate except on a valid reason like maybe he is not a true born of the family or he has a deformity.
“The problem began when all members of their so-called screening committee put the names of their children and nephews forward, because of that they couldn’t resolve it. For instance, their Mogaji had three nominees, the family secretary had his child, another family head called Cashman had his nominee, and one Alhaji Wahab (Chairman of their screening committee) had his own, every one of them. That is why they couldn’t resolve it.
“So, they had 23 names which they brought to us and we asked them if all of them are eligible and they said yes, that was why they sold forms to all of them.
“They forwarded the names to the local government in accordance with the law and the council sent the list to us which we consequently considered with local government officers as observers. That is where the assignment of the family ends. We invited them one by one to interview them and we found useful information furnished by the family on each of them.
“The first question we threw at them is that you knew there was more than one religion being practised in Ogbomoso- Traditional, Christianity and Islam, whether they were ready to embrace the three religions. Each of them said yes.
“We also told them it was not a matter of saying l have N10 million in my account, it is beyond that. In the first place, the palace is now empty you have to replace everything from furniture to the last thing. In addition, we informed them there were many court cases pending, the burden of which you would shoulder for years, we let each of them know, that whoever would rise to the throne would have to be adequately prepared for the financial burden. Furthermore, there are staff in the palace, most of whom are not being paid by the government but by the late Oba. So, we told them this was an additional responsibility and they all agreed, yes.
“We further told them that on Fridays, members of the royal families and others did come to the palace to be feted by the late Oba that there won’t be government assistance. All this is documented by the local government officers who sat as observers.
“We now went through their CVs and seriously considered, who had the wherewithal to step into the gigantic shoes, we considered their profiles meticulously, this is not a matter of saying l am a pensioner.
“However, before this time, their screening committee members and other clans’ heads were trying to approach us to seek undue advantage for their preferred candidate. I was ready to swear with the Bible that Ghandi never came here. l never knew him. I spoke to him for the first time on the day of the interview and he even used a face mask. Though, on the day we held the eighth-day Fidau of late Baba Soun also came and some people pointed to him that was another eligible prince but he also used a face mask. And then he came with former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he came to pay a condolence visit on the demise of the late Oba and again he used a face mask, so I never knew him.
“I am saying categorically that what we did was not based on religion, if a Babalawo had the best profile we would have chosen him. We need someone who is capable financially and who has impressive clout, someone who will not be taken for granted in the comity of Obas, Ogbomoso is beyond that, we need someone who can hold his own among other Obas.
“Then they talked about the issue of Abese not voting. He caused it, personally, l didn’t know the government did not recognize him, he had not gotten approval since 2019. I didn’t know until now when the government said he could not sit with us because he is not recognized. I protested but they brought out the vouchers from 2019 and l saw “X” consistently marked against his name, implying he was not paid. They said if he was not recognized by the government, why would he be paid?
“So, l pleaded he should be allowed to sit as an observer along with the Iyalode who is not statutorily qualified to vote. They were allowed. So, we chose whom we chose and on the second day, we forwarded the name to the state government. It is now left in the hand of the government, we are through with our own assignment too.
“I now heard they are holding meetings they would come and burn my house, let them come. They tried to bribe us but we rebuffed them, we don’t need their money we will do what is right, we told them. If an Oba is crowned and he deems it fit to do anything for us we will be obliged to take it but not to be induced financially. We don’t want a situation where we won’t be able to check the Oba if he starts to indulge in excesses after his coronation because we had collected bribes. That is why we turned down their advances.
“We had chosen in the best interest of Ogbomosoland. They now went to hold a press conference, which is of no consequence. No ruling house has power in law to screen any aspirant, what they can do is to cajole, appeal and encourage their princes to step down for one another they can’t screen them. It is only the kingmakers that have the power to screen. And that we have done and submitted the name to the governor. They can say whatever they like, it is water under the bridge. If we collected money, would l be free to sit comfortably in my home like this? I didn’t collect money from anyone, it is an unfounded rumour. Let me repeat this, all the Laoye clans’ heads, came individually to solicit for their children and we did not oblige them. Ask them. And they all promised to abide by the outcome.
‘Now they are saying Gandhi is not their child. You put together 23 names and his name was number 13, you sold the form to him and you interviewed him at the Town Hall. And you are now saying you don’t know him. Yet, his father contested the throne in the past though you didn’t support him. I just knew his father and l were together on the Board of Directors of the Ogbomoso Community Bank, he (Prince Oladunni Olaoye) was made the Chairman of the board after Alata left. It is some of them told me recently that that was his father, just recently, it is the same people that are now saying he is not of their family again. Everything is in the hands of God, if anyone says Balogun would not sit with us we would have said it’s not possible.
“I told them if you chose someone not financially capable l won’t contribute a kobo if asked to. How will an Oba ask me to make contributions? That is the truth l will not lie, l am a Catholic. What money would you take that you won’t be able to sleep because of a guilty conscience? What we need is a worthy Oba and it is what we did. The other capable person, Lawyer Oyetunde, his Yoruba is not fluent, you will think that it is a Ghanaian that is talking but based on his profile he is capable too.” He explained.