Unlike other traditional rulers in the south-west, the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, refrained from giving President Goodluck Jonathan an open support for his bid to remain in power as he told the President that traditional rulers are not supposed to show bias on matters of politics.
The Ooni of Ife His Imperial Majesty, Oba Sijuade Olubuse II, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and other traditional rulers had openly endorsed the aspiration of President Jonathan to return to office through the March 28 presidential election when the President visited them in their respective palaces lately.
The Awujale said it is improper in Ijebuland and in Yorubaland for an Oba to canvass for votes for any candidates seeking elective posts.
According to him, Royal Fathers in Yorubaland only provide avenues for voters to make their choices.
The Oba said this when President Goodluck Jonathan paid a private visit to him in his palace in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
Jonathan, who arrived the palace around 11.15am in a convoy, was accompanied by the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Adamu Mu’azu; a former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Governors of Bayelsa and Ondo states, Seriake Dickson, Chief Bode George, Olusegun Mimiko and others.
The royal father said any Oba canvassing for votes for any political party’s candidate would be courting trouble. He said rather than engaging monarchs for campaign, each candidate must go out and sell his or manifesto to the electorate.
He said, “In Ijebu here, it is not possible for any Oba, not even only in Ijebu, in Yorubaland, to go out and say vote for this, vote for that; that person is looking for trouble.
“But give them the opportunity to present their programmes so that people can make up their minds on what to do. I think this is a very sound democratic principle and that is what I have decided to do, to give you the opportunity of meeting with the people.”
Oba Adetona noted that it was when the candidate would have presented the manifesto that the voters would decide whether or not to vote for him or her.
He said, “One, they see you as a person. Whether to engage with you or not to listen to you and see if there are areas where we can meet is a question for individual reason. As a result, everybody congregating belong to different groups.They are members of the PDP, the All Progressives Congress, All Progressives Grand Alliance. They belong to various interests, and when they come, they get to the gate, they shed their togas.
“The PDP will remove their PDP, the APC will remove their own. They will remove their own. They are going to the palace to meet their ruler, their paramount ruler; to receive that important august visitor who is coming to their land and give him all honour that is entitled to him.”
He, however, advised the electorates to vote for those that had the fear of God and integrity and not those who would mortgage their future, after offering them gifts.
He said, “Each time I have cause to talk to our people, I have always told them in the churches and mosques that when you’re going to vote, make sure you back your sons and daughters who will give something back to you; not the ‘Ojelus’ (looters).
“Those who will be honest with you, who know the way of God; those are the people you should vote for; not those who will give you two, three spoons and mortgage your future. It is not right.”
The monarch, who prayed to God to guide the country right, acknowledged that he had never seen any election that was full of tension in the last 55 years like the current one coming up in less than two weeks.
President Jonathan had earlier in his speech highlighted his achievements to the monarch, which he said, cut across party, ethnic and religious lines in the last four years.
He said, “In the road infrastructure, we have tried. Railway is back, we are trying to improve our terminal buildings and security environment in our airports.
“The Health sector, we have tried both in the tertiary level, or what we call health tourism. Some of our hospitals are now open for kidney transplant and at the primary level we are able to eradicate guinea worm and we are on the way of eradicating polio completely from this country.”
President Jonathan explained that his administration’s focal activities when re-elected would be the implementation of the report of the National Confab as well as facilitate the construction of four deep sea port projects which include the Olokola in Ijebuland, that of Badagry, Akwa Ibom and the Age in Bayelsa State.
Speaking earlier on behalf of Ijebu Traditional Council, the Dagburewe of Idowa, Oba Yinusa Adekoya, had drawn the attention of the President to the non-appointment of indigenes of Ijebuland to any prominent position at the federal level.
President Jonathan who promised to correct this if re-elected, described Ijebuland “as a great land and there’s no government that will neglect the people of Ijebuland, I have to take that very very seriously.”