Since the demise of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the former Alaafin of Oyo, there have been torrents of speculations about the emergence of his successor and the criteria for the selection.
Adeyemi succeeded Alaafin Gbadegesin Ladigbolu in 1970, and after 52 years on the throne, civilisation has greatly influenced the tradition and culture of the ancient town.
There has also been a change in the number of Oyomesi — the prominent palace chiefs who are known as the kingmakers.
But despite these changes, the existing chieftaincy declaration still serves as a guide for the selection of Oyo kings.
THE TWO RULING HOUSES
The declaration states that there are two royal houses in Oyo — Alowolodu and Agunloye. The two families are to take turns ascending the throne.
The late Alaafin was from the Alowolodu royal family, so it is now the turn of the Agunloye family.
The Agunloye family is also known as ‘Ladigbolu’ or ‘Gbadegesin’ in some quarters.
ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LADIGBOLU AND GBADEGESIN?
After the demise of Oba Adeyemi, a debate began on which family will present the next king between Ladigbolu and Gbadegesin.
Clarifying the confusion over the names, Ayo Ladigbolu, a retired archbishop of the Methodist Church and prominent elder of the Ladigbolu family, told The Cable that they are one family under Agunloye royal house.
He said: “The late Alaafin Gbadegesin was the son of Alaafin Ladigbolu. The full title was Oba Belo Gbadegesin Ladigbolu The Second.
“The father was the first and the next one from the family will be the third.”
HOW IS THE SUCCESSOR NOMINATED?
Based on the chieftaincy declaration, the ruling house that is to produce the next king, in this case, the Agunloye house, will nominate candidates at a meeting which will be summoned by the head of the family.
The candidate or candidates will then be presented to Baba Iyaji, a titled prince of Oyo, who will subsequently submit the names to the Basorun, head of the Oyomesi.
The Basorun will then summon a meeting of the kingmakers and present the list to them.
Explaining further, Ladigbolu said the candidate acceptable to the majority of the kingmakers will be thereafter proclaimed the next Alaafin.
WHO ARE THE KINGMAKERS?
Ladigbolu told TheCable that apart from the government declaration which guides the selection of Alaafin of Oyo, the Oyomesi (kingmakers) will have the final say.
Although seven kingmakers were once recognised, the number has dwindled with the nullification of one of them.
“There are seven kingmakers according to the declaration. They are Basorun, Asipa, Agabaakin, Alapinni, Lagunna, Shamu and Akiniku,” Ladigbolu said.
“But Asipa is no longer existing so there are only six kingmakers remaining.”
‘ONLY MALE MAY BE PROPOSED’
According to Ladigbolu, women are exempted from being considered for the throne of Alaafin of Oyo.
“The chieftaincy of Oyo has an official declaration. It was made under section four, sub-section two of the chiefs law cap 19 of the customary law regulating selection of the Alaafin of Oyo chieftaincy.
“The person who may be proposed as a candidate shall be through the male line only.”
NO SPECIFIC TIME-FRAME
There is no specific time frame for the selection of the next king of Oyo because it all depends on those who run the process, says Ladigbolu.
Although the family will be given 14 days to hold a meeting and submit a list to Baba Iyaji, if the list contains more than one name, the process will take a longer time.
“The kingmakers may have to interview the individuals presented before taking a decision. The selection of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi took a bit longer time because of the political atmosphere then,” he said.
“There was a lot of tension and litigations so it was not a smooth process.
“We pray that this time, there will not be a delay just like Seyi Makinde, the state governor, appealed to the kingmakers to be quick about the process.”
‘TOO EARLY TO MEET’
Does the Agunloye(Ladigbolu/Gbadegesin) family already have preferred candidates for the kingmakers? Ladigbolu said it is too early to start considerations.
He said it will be irresponsible to begin the process when the town is still mourning the passage of Alaafin Adeyemi.
“I am from the Agunloye ruling family but it is too early to meet. This is a mourning period because we just lost a king. I have been busy since Alaafin died and it will continue till after the eighth day,” said the retired cleric.
ALL COMERS AFFAIR
In selecting the next Alaafin, the law does not specify age, educational background, knowledge of the tradition and culture of Oyo or personal wealth as criteria.
All males of the Agunloye are qualified to come forward and signify their intention to become the next Alaafin.
WILL THE NEXT KING USE LATE ALAAFIN’S PALACE?
According to Ladigbolu, the present palace was not the property of the late king. He said it is the traditional seat of the Oyo royal throne and all kings reign from there, except when it is under renovation or reconstruction.
“Alaafin means the owner of the palace. Oranyan was the first owner. The palace is where the king resides,” he said.