The centrality of the traditional institutions at its apex, the Obaship is of profound importance in Yorubaland. The Yorubas revere the institutions and its mixture of tradition as well as democratic checks and balances.
In the First Republic, in the crucial transition from colonial society to flag Independence, the institutions were immersed, in the head long drive towards modernization. Unlike in the Northern Region, indirect rule was not used in the Western part of the country. Some of the Obas clearly stood. For example, the first Governor of the Western Region, the then Ooni of Ife, Oba Adesoji Aderemi; the then Alake of Egbaland, the Olowo of Owo, all played commendable roles at a critical juncture. Their contributions are still remembered with gratitude and quite rightly too.
What has unfortunately been happening since, has quite frankly been disconcerting. Far from been revered, some of the Obas have become objects of scorn and ridicule. This is an unfortunate trend. The unedifying spectacle of the Oba as hustler cannot, but be a devastating commentary on the current state of the firmament in Yourbaland. Hitherto, Obas in days of yore were quite contented with tributes in the form of farm produce, gifts and so forth. Sadly, not anymore. The hustle for filthy lucre has degraded the institutions in many quarters. Fundamentally, it has altered the relationship between the Obas and their people. It has to be stated here that the biggest tribute, of course, will always be the bond between the Obas and their people.
The desecration of the bond has had awful consequences. Obas now openly connive with illegitimate civil powers and previously military impositions, to the detriment of their own people. All of this is, because of the hustle for government procurement popularly referred, in the local parlance, as contracts. Obas now demean themselves and the age-old revered institutions they hold in trust in the perennial pursuit of government patronage. Not surprisingly, many become entangled in messy deals. This has hardly edified them. In addition, Obas are now chasing contracts through the use of proxies and fronts. This is disgraceful.
Fortunately for Yorubaland, most of the culprits-in-chief are ageing. It is now in auspicious to rebuild the sanctity of the institutions. The acts of corrupt relationship with the powers that-be must cease. There is a need for the population to be led, rather than exploited. The traditional rulers must be in the vanguard of jealously guiding and protecting the rights of their people.
They must use their authority to fight for the rights of their people. They are custodians of a tradition and of an established set of rights and obligations. To re-establish their authority, they must place their relationship with governments at arms length. A period of soberness is called for. In the sad case of Osun State, it must not be said that Obas aided and abetted the current spate of gangsterism, rampaging the state. Standards must be restored, for the very straight forward reason that these institutions are too central to the health of Yorubaland to be allowed to sink into perfidy. There is a social contract between the Obas and their subjects, the time to restore it, is now.