Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, has signed into law a bill that provides for how traditional rulers and chiefs are to be selected, appointed, recognized and buried.
Titled “A Bill for a Law to provide for an approved method for the selection, appointment and recognition of Obas and Chiefs in Ogun State and for Other Related Matters”, the law seeks to redefine the traditional institution to reflect the current realities.
Among other things, the law provides for the preservation, protection and exercise by Traditional Rulers of their fundamental rights to be installed and buried according to their religions or beliefs and for other related matters.
Traditionalists had opposed the law and declared that it was an attempt to push cultural practices into extinction, but the Christian and the Muslim communities described the bill as “a welcome development.”
Signing the Bill on Monday in the presence of three Paramount Rulers - the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle; the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi and the Awujale of Ijebulan, Oba Sikiru Adetona, who is the promoter of the bill, Abiodun said it had become imperative to review the existing law as the state could not have laws that are antiquated and contravene the fundamental rights of individual traditional rulers.
"I believe that one of the unique things about this law beside the fact that it is set out to improve the method for the selection of Obas and Chiefs, is the clarity that this law provides as it relates to the passage of our Kabiyesi.
"This law seeks to improve on the previous existing Western Nigeria laws on where there had been ambiguity as it relates to how our kabiyesi will be buried. It states emphatically that the families of the respective Obas should have a say on how they are buried henceforth. It now allows the families to determine how our Obas will be interred and, of course, without prejudice to the traditional rites that are meant to be performed by the customary laws. Going forward, the families now have a say on how our royal fathers should be buried", the governor stated.
Abiodun who described traditional institution headed by traditional rulers as the closest and oldest form of administration at the grassroots, assured that government would collaborate with them to deepen development in the grassroots, as they are reliable and dependable.
The governor appreciated the Awujale for his doggedness and persistent in seeing to the review of the law in line with the provision of the Constitution of Nigeria.
He also lauded members of the House of Assembly for ensuring that the bill went through rigorous exercise as it was subjected to public hearing because of the interest people have on how Obas and Chiefs are appointed.
While noting that the law was another step towards building the future, the governor said the state would continue to blaze the trail on laws that are in tandem with modern times and the socio-economic development, declaring that laws that are antique and contravene what the state stands for would be reviewed.
In his remarks, Speaker of the Assembly, Kunle Oluomo said the bill passed through the toughest proceedings in the history of the House as it generated a lot of issues from members of the public, adding that the lawmakers have done their bit to ensure that the bill is in consonant with the nation's constitution.
The the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Oluwasina Ogungbade, said the law which is the first in the southwest of the country, was put in place to further make the traditional rulers contribute more to the development of the state, expressing the hope that it would be a template for other states to copy.
Also, Oba Sikiru Adetona, who was the Chairman, Ogun State Council of Obas when the bill was initiated, said it was a great achievement for people as the bill attracted a lot of attention from both Christians and Muslims.
He commended the governor and the speaker for making it happen, and thanked God for keeping him alive to witness the development.
On his part, the Olu of Ilaro said with the new law, things that were wrong had been put right, while the Akarigbo of Remoland, remarked that "the law goes beyond burial rites of Obas, as it has put many issues bordering on traditional institution in the right perspective", expressing the hope that containing matters would be amicably resolved with the new law.
Other dignitaries at the event included the deputy Speaker, Hon. Akeem Balogun, Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tokunbo Talabi, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Afolabi Salisu, Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Mr Dapo Okubadejo and other cabinet members.