Former President Olusegun Olusegun Obasanjo has given insight into why he ordered traditional rulers in Oyo State to stand and then sit.
Obasanjo is being widely criticised over the incident which occurred on Friday during the inauguration of two projects in Iseyin, Oyo State, where the former President was special guest of honour.
In a short video circulated on the internet, Obasanjo is seen expressing displeasure at the seated monarchs’ failure to rise and greet the state governor, Seyi Makinde, describing their behaviour as a sign of disrespect for the governor and his office.
Speaking in Yoruba, Obasanjo then ordered the seated traditional leaders to rise and greet the state Governor Makinde. The monarchs rose promptly and then sat as commanded
Several people have criticised Obasanjo for tongue-lashing the traditional rulers and ordering them to rise, describing his action as a desecration of Yoruba culture.
The Oluwo of Iwo, Abdulrosheed Akanbi, sternly rebuked the former President for his controversial “stand up order” directed at the monarchs.
Oba Akanbi said respect should be earned and not demanded, pointing out that traditional rulers deserve respect from those they encounter.
The Oluwo described kingship as a divine institution that should be treated with utmost modesty, courtesy, and respect. He expressed disappointment in the monarchs who complied with Obasanjo’s directive.
The Oluwo then demanded a formal letter of apology from the former president, arguing that Yoruba monarchs should always be treated with respect.
But when contacted on the matter on Saturday, Obasanjo told PREMIUM TIMES he acted the way he did because the monarchs displayed utter disrespect for Governor Makinde.
“I arrived the event venue with the governor,” the former president said from South Africa where he was attending the burial of politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who died on 9 September at 95. “As we arrived, every other person at the venue rose, but they (the monarchs) remained seated. I was surprised because I considered that a breach of protocol and disrespect for the governor.
“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.