Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has shed light on his decision to instruct traditional rulers in Oyo State to stand and then sit during a recent event, clarifying that it was a response to their perceived disrespect towards the state’s governor, Seyi Makinde.
The incident in question occurred during the inauguration of two projects in Iseyin, Oyo State, where Obasanjo was the special guest of honor.
In a short video that circulated online, Obasanjo expressed his displeasure at the seated monarchs’ failure to rise and greet Governor Makinde, considering it a sign of disrespect for the governor and his office.
Obasanjo’s actions sparked criticism, with some viewing it as a breach of Yoruba culture and a desecration of royal dignity.
The Oluwo of Iwo, Abdulrosheed Akanbi, sternly rebuked Obasanjo for his “stand up order” to the monarchs and demanded a formal apology.
Responding to the controversy, Obasanjo explained his perspective in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES while attending the burial of politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi in South Africa.
He recounted arriving at the event with Governor Makinde, and as they entered, everyone else at the venue stood up in respect, except for the monarchs, who remained seated. Obasanjo considered this a breach of protocol and disrespect for the governor’s office.
“When it became the governor’s turn to speak, every other person at the venue, including me, stood up as demanded by protocol and out of respect for the governor and his office,” Obasanjo said. “Again, the Obas refused to rise. They all remained seated.”
Obasanjo then inquired about this practice in Oyo State and learned that the monarchs had a history of showing disrespect to their governors. This prompted him to address the issue.
In his explanation, Obasanjo emphasized the importance of observing both constitutional and cultural norms.
He noted that by the constitution, the governor is the leader of the state and deserves respect from all, regardless of their status or age.
He emphasized the need for mutual respect, saying, “Respect begets respect, and they must learn to deal with their governor with respect if they want to be respected in return.”
Obasanjo also used the opportunity to highlight the significance of respecting culture and giving honor to those in positions of authority, in line with the Omoluabi ethos.
He recalled his own actions during his administration, where he publicly prostrated to greet kings and encouraged traditional rulers to uphold the values of age and position in Yoruba culture.
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