By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
A group under the umbrella of Yoruba Traditional Youth Leaders Chiefs, has called on Yoruba kings to shun partisan politics to gain due respect as traditional rulers.
The Youth Leader of the group, Jimoh Taofeek, gave the charge, while reacting to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s command to some traditional rulers in Oyo State last week.
Taofeek said, “Traditional rulers should command the desired respect known for their positions by staying away from partisan politics and religious bigotry, because they are fathers to all, irrespective of religion affiliation. The Obas who are the custodian of our culture and tradition can be maturely corrected without humiliation in order not to relegate our heritage.
While lamenting the way and manner the traditional rulers had been turned to mere ceremonial leaders, Taofeek blamed the colonialists, whom he said put an end to the roles of traditional rulers at the Berlin conference of 1884/1885, when the African continent was partitioned amongst the then colonial powers of Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Belgium.
He added that “there was no constitutional role given to traditional rulers in Nigeria Constitution since 1979”.
“What our people failed to understand is that the British destroyed our traditional institution, but returned to their country to re-organize, defend and promote their own royal institution.
Taofeek also noted that the position of Obaship is a lifetime, compared to political office that is for a while.
He therefore called for the constitutional amendment that will create a Ministry for the traditional institution to make traditional rulers another independent arms of government.
“The creation of the Ministry will give them roles to play in nation building and as well make them members of Federal and States Executive Councils, stressing that this will enable them to be part of policy-making process from inception to implementation towards development of the society as the body that is closer to the community”, said Taofeek.
He commended Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state for according due respect and honour to traditional rulers in the State, positing that the governor’s attitude to the traditional rulers showed he has utmost respect for the traditional institution of the Obas.
Taofeek called on other political office holders to emulate Abiodun’s humility and simplicity, stressing that the governor has always been lenient to some Obas by overlooking certain breaches of protocols, despite his position as the supreme leader in the state