.Formal screening of the princes will begin on September 5
The traditional head of the ruling families has submitted a list of princes aspiring to the throne of the Alaafin of Oyo to the government, PREMIUM TIMES has learned.
Mukaila Afonja, the Baba Iyaji of Oyo, submitted a list of 86 princes to the Atiba Local Government secretariat, the custodian of the Palace of the Alaafin, on Tuesday.
The formal screening of the princes will start on 5 September, this newspaper was told.
“I hereby submit the compiled list of 86 candidates who have shown interest in the vacant stool of Alaafin of Oyo from the Agunloye family,” reads Mr Afonja’s letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
More known among those listed are Lukman Gbadegesin, a former public servant in the Obasanjo administration; Lawrence Ladigbolu, a retired archbishop; Kabir Gbadegesin, the Accord’s candidate for Oyo Federal Constituency election in 2015; and Ayo Sanda, a civil servant.
PREMIUM TIMES understands that the Oyo State government had earlier in August directed the local government to begin the formal administrative process to select the next Alaafin. Subsequently, the local government’s chairperson, Mojisola Olakojo, asked Mr Afonja to send the list.
The top Yoruba traditional seat has been vacant following the demise of Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi in April. Adeyemi, who died aged 83, reigned for nearly 52 years having been crowned in late 1970.
Sources among the shortlisted princes, Oyo Mesi, and local government officials said the screening of the candidates will start on Monday.
Each day, a batch of 10 princes will be interviewed by the Oyo Mesi, the kingmakers, in the presence of government officials. The screening exercise will therefore take “roughly” two weeks.
A member of the Oyo Mesi said the interviews would focus on the background, social capital, network, and leadership abilities of the aspirants and their knowledge of history and cultural values as well as how much they are able to demonstrate the ability to provide a pan-Yoruba traditional leadership.
Meanwhile, although only 49 names were submitted to the Baba Iyaji by the Agunloye family, he sent 86 for the screening, apparently accepting interests from princes other than those vetted and nominated by the family.
The extant Alaafin Chieftaincy Declaration of 1961 allows the Agunloye and Alowolodu families to produce an Alaafin on a rotational basis. It is now the turn of the Agunloye.
Both families are descendants of Abiodun Atiba, who re-established Oyo in the present location in 1837.
However, the descendants of other sons of Atiba, apart from Alowolodu and Agunloye, are agitating that they are allowed to produce the next Alaafin.
Governor Seyi Makinde publicly rejected their agitation at the state burial of the Alaafin, saying that the 1961 declaration remains in force.
Apparently, the traditional establishment has also decided to proceed with the selection process using the 1961 declaration.
After the screening and consultation with diviners, the Oyo Mesi will advise the state government of the selection of the 45th Alaafin.
The letter and the list of the nominated princes are published alongside this report.