A legal luminary and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Niyi Akintola, has stated that the traditional institutions in Oyo State greatly influence the political equations as well as who becomes governor.
Akintola who said this in a media chat with pressmen explained that Oyo state was different from other states in the country because the traditional institutions “still rule very strongly”.
The top lawyer has always stated his ambition to succeed Senator Abiola Ajimobi as governor of the state where he once served as deputy speaker of the House of Assembly in the aborted third republic.
At the weekend, Akintola who would be seeking the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) stressed that his personality cuts across political party lines and that people from other political parties in the state wereeady to work with him and even decamp to the APC.
Throwing his weight behind the plan to review the 1957 Olubadan Chieftaincy declaration laws, Akintola lauded Governor Ajimobi for daring to be different by resolving to implement the recommendations of the commission of enquiry set up to look into the review.
He said the review had lingered because of the lack of political will on the part of past administration before him to implement the recommendations of any of the commissions that were set up.
Akintola described traditional stools and traditional leaders as political gatekeepers in the state.
His words: “The reality of our situation on ground is that, this state is different from virtually all other states in the country. This is Oyo state where tradition still rule very strongly. And in this state, the roles of the gatekeepers cannot be wished away. The gatekepers are there and there are layers of it, apart from that we also have the stakeholders and anybody who wants to govern this state cannot wish away the roles of the gatekeepers.
“Ofcourse, our political leaders are gatekeepers also, no matter how good you are as a fashion designer for instance, you need somebody to give you cloths. No matter how good you are as a dancer, you also need a good drummer. No matter how good a person is, you will also need a good platform to contest, so my governor Abiola Ajimobi is a gatekeeper, our traditional institutions are gatekepers in our own case. When I went to my ward, all the traditional rulers and community leaders were there. That shows the role of the gatekeepers. We operate a system called the Mogaji system, you cannot underplay the role of the monarchs like the Alaafin of Oyo, Olubadan of Ibadanland, Soun of Ogbomosho, Ibadan Council of elders, the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes and several others.
“Even when we came on board in 2011, it wasn’t the ACN alone that brought us to power, it was the combination of all these forces. And that is the reality. You cannot underplay the influence of these factors, this is a traditional society not like any other state, where the traditional rulers still wield a lot of influence. Every society has their different patterns of governance. In some state, their’s could be an individual, for instance when Baba Adedibu was alive, he was a gatekeeper and that was the reality. It has no negative effect on democratic principles as it were and that is the truth.
“No one has ever become the governor of the state without the support of these gatekeepers and our political leaders appreciate it that much. These gatekeepers live among the people know their feelings and all what is happening to them”.