Former President Olusegun Olusegun Obasanjo has reacted to
the controversies being generated by his order to monarchs to stand and then
sit during the inauguration of two projects in Iseyin, Oyo State last Friday.
Obasanjo was a special guest of honour at the inauguration
of the road projects constructed by Governor Seyi Makinde.
However, rather than the projects, it was Obasanjo’s order
to traditional rulers at the occasion to stand and then sit as depicted in a
video that went viral and grabbed the headlines.
Yoruba groups, monarchs and other critics have accused
Obasanjo of disrespecting the traditional institution with the way he treated
the kings at the occasion.
Taiwo, one of the former wives of the former President also
appealed to the traditional institutions in Yorubaland to forgive her former
husband in a statement on Sunday.
However, Obasanjo in an
interview with Premium Times justified his action.
He said he ordered the traditional rulers to stand during
the occasion because they refused to do so during his arrival alongside
Governor Makinde at the event.
Obasanjo said the refusal of the traditional rulers to stand
up was a disrespect for Governor Makinde and a breach of protocol.
He added that the monarchs also refused to stand up when the
Governor mounted the podium to read his address.
The former President said he later learnt that the Obas have
always shown disrespect for the Governor and that’s why he decided to correct
them at the occasion.
“It later became the turn of the governor to speak. As he
rose, every other person at the venue, including me, stood up as demanded by
protocol and in respect for the governor and his office. Again, the Obas
refused to rise. They all remained seated.
“I then asked people around whether that was the practice in
Oyo State. I was told the Obas have always displayed disrespect for their
governor. I wondered where they got that from and then decided to speak to them
“As far as I am concerned, there is constitution and there
is culture. By our constitution, the governor is the leader of a state.
Everyone must respect him no matter his or her status or age. He deserves
respect no matter how young he is and protocols must be observed.
“That was why I spoke to them the way I did. I wanted them
to realise that it is not part of Yoruba culture to disrespect authorities.
Respect begets respect and they must learn to deal with their governor with
respect if they want to be respected in return.
Obasanjo noted that contrary to the criticisms that have
trailed his action, he has a lot of respect for traditional rulers.
“I respect traditional rulers and even when I was President
and till today, I treat them with reverence. I prostrate, bow and knee before
them as necessary.
“I respect our culture. But let us also know that there is a
Constitution which puts a chairman as head of a local government, a governor as
head of a state and a president as head of our country.
“Whatever we do must be in respect for that arrangement. I
am saying there is culture and there is constitution. One must not disturb the
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