Ascendancy to the stool of Alaafin of Oyo is facing its own disputes already, as a contestant to the throne is now challenging the number of ruling houses that are recognised in the ancient Oyo kingdom.
The Olori Omooba (head of princes) of Oyo, Chief Mukaila Afonja, has, however, warned that no one should start any agitation on the succession to the Oyo throne now, until the funeral rites of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi lll are over.
Afonja had during the week, disclosed to the Nigerian Tribune in an interview that there were two ruling houses in the kingdom: Alowolodu and Agunloye but added that they had many family branches.
The immediate past Alaafin, Oba Adeyemi III, according to the Olori Omooba, came from the Alowolodu Ruling House while his predecessor, Alaafin Ladigbolu Gbadegesin, came from the Agunloye Ruling House.
Going by history and if the age-long arrangement is strictly adhered to, the next Alaafin would come from the Agunloye Ruling House.
However, rejecting the position of High Chief Afonja the Mogaji (Head) of the Olawoyin Royal Family, Oyo, Prince Tijani Adebayo Olawoyin Atiba in an advertorial said the two ruling houses had been merged by the state government to accommodate all eleven children of Atiba, their ancestor.
Olawoyin Atiba said: “To put the record straight and for the purpose of clarity, the attention of the governor is drawn to the extant declaration and overt position of government as expressly, succinctly and copiously reflected in the letter dated 8th December, 1976, signed by one S. O. O. Opadiran and captioned “Letter to Atiba Descendants on Alaafin of Oyo Chieftaincy Declaration.”
The letter according to Olawoyin, reads in part: ‘I have been directed by the Secretary to the Oyo State Military government and Head of Service, to inform you that the Oyo State Executive Council has declared the chieftaincy declaration in respect of Alaafin of Oyo defective and has directed that the chieftaincy committee of the defunct Oyo Southern Local Government Council prepare a new Declaration providing for only one Ruling House, the Atiba Ruling House, to include all the descendants of Atiba.
“It would be recalled that after the coronation of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, the inquiry panel headed by Adekunle O. Ladeinde was constituted in 1973 and resumed duty till 1974. This was in tandem with the promise made by the government sometime in 1970.
“Arising from the foregoing, I appeal to the executive governor of Oyo State to put on hold the activities leading to recognising the Agunloye Ruling House in the process of selection of who becomes the next Alaafin erroneously advertised by the Baba Iyaji of Oyo as the next to the throne, as such will amount to flagrant violation of the government directive of 1976 which declared the then existing two ruling houses (Agunloye and Alowolodu) defective and replaced with Atiba Ruling House which serves as umbrella for all the male children of Atiba,” Olawoyin said.
However, the Olori Omooba, Chief Atanda, in his reaction on Friday told newsmen that he was aware of the development and explained that it was rather early to be discussing the issue of who became what, now that the funeral rites of Oba Adeyemi were still on.
Chief Atanda added that the window for the application of interested contestants to the throne would be thrown open after the eight-day Fidau prayers on Saturday.
He said: “I am aware that somebody is contesting the number of ruling houses in Oyo but this is not the right time to be discussing a matter like this.
“Whoever thinks that he is qualified should come along with his application when the window is eventually opened.
“We are going to screen and verify all the applications. Whoever that is not qualified will be screened out.
“The final list of the shortlisted candidates will be forwarded to the kingmakers, known as Oyo Mesi-in-Council. There is nothing like controversy. There is a
an age-long traditional procedure. The selection of the new Alaafin will not be an exception.”