The royal show of shame that recently permeated Osun State, in which the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Rasheed Akanbi, mocked his colleagues in the state traditional council, for suspending him, after allegedly hitting a fellow monarch, has again brought to the fore the need for constitutional roles for monarchs, to be backed by a code of conduct.
Though traditional rulers derive their legitimacy from the people of their domain, they still owe the sustenance of their official reign to government within their locality.
It is true that monarchs are regarded as the spiritual and political heads of their communities, but their spirituality still lies in the hands of the traditional powers that be while they owe their political sovereignty to customary laws and traditions.
In this regard, they must ensure that they conform to the best practices as enshrined in the laws of the land.
What happened between the Iwo monarch and his colleagues, especially the Agbowu of Ogbagbaa, Oba Dhikrullahi Olaniran, is nothing that fell short of a shame and there must be punitive measures to curtail such barbaric acts in future.
Though Oba Akanbi later denied beating up his colleague, it is believed that his denial came as an afterthought from the backlash of his initial comment.
In his first comment after the alleged brawl, Oba Akanbi had admitted hitting the monarch of Ogbagbaa, but justified his action with an excuse that it was in self-defence and that Oba Olaniran was the aggressor.
Using the analogy of a huge difference in police hierarchy, Oluwo had compared himself to a Commissioner of Police and likened the Agbowu to a Constable, while warning other traditional rulers in his domain to desist from selling lands that does not belong them.
He said: “At the peace meeting held at AIG office, Agbowu of Ogbaagbaa interrupted me while I was making my speech; he started calling me unprintable names, pointing his staff of office at me while attempting to stick the staff in my eyes.
“I heavily rejected it with a force, which the Agbowu could not withstand…,” he said.
Oluwo’s action infuriated the residents of Ogbagba, who stormed Osun State Secretariat, Abere, to protest the alleged beating of their monarch.
However, apparently recanting after seeing the backlashes, Oluwo, in what clearly could be seen as an afterthought, said he did not beat his colleague.
But in a most absurd manner, after clearing the air on his suspension, rather than being remorseful, the monarch mocked his colleagues in a most shameful manner.
Exploring the use of a viral video, where he claimed that other monarchs in Osun State were jealous of his rising profile, Oba Akanbi said his suspension was recommended because of his ‘swagger.’
Swagger? Whatever that means to him, he must have misconstrued the true meaning of the word, in which he has now told the world, in his own word, that he is boastful and arrogant.
Should a supposed royal father, especially a first class monarch of an historical town, be boastful and arrogant?
This is exactly what Oba Akanbi has said of his own person, with his own mouth. Whether he understands the import and consequences of his words and actions is a different ball game entirely.
This shows that there is always the need for a thorough search and extreme scrutiny of the character of individuals that would be appointed into the royal stool.
We recall that the then Deji of Akure, Oluwadare Adesina, was deposed for assaulting his wife in public. Such actions taken by the then Olusegun Mimiko administration in Ondo State will, no doubt, serve as deterrent to others in the mould of Oba Akanbi.
There had never been a time when monarchs had the powers of finality and infallibility, even in the days of yore.
In fact, in those days of strict adherence to traditional values and cultures, monarchs are always expected to be above board. Though they are seen as the overall heads of their kingdoms, their powers are subjected to the authorities of the kingmakers and the royal cult groups, such as the Oyo Mesi and Ogbonis, to use the example of the old Oyo Empire.
In Yoruba land, there was an unwritten code of conduct for traditional rulers, where some of them are regarded as direct representatives of the gods, as such, they are expected to be wiser and seen as super-humans and court of last resort for their people.
This code of conduct does not accommodate any unwarranted behaviour for kings because it prescribes strict punishment for any traditional ruler who subverts the community’s interest and this includes punishment by death.
The supreme sacrifice is the most feared in the list of regulations that act as checks and balances in the traditional system and, as such, it serves as prevention to any misbehaviour from traditional rulers.
As such, there were limits to any royal shenanigan that may come out of the palace. Also, in modern times, traditional rulers had been placed under the state customary laws, which may not be as effective as having the bite of a national law.
This is why there must be specific constitutional roles charted for them with strict regulations and sanctions that will act as checks and balances.