Former President Olusegun Olusegun Obasanjo has shed more light on his encounter with monarchs in Oyo state last Friday.
The incident happened at the inauguration of two projects constructed by Governor Seyi Makinde in Iseyin where the former president was a special guest of honour.
The incident grabbed headlines and elicited mixed reaction on and off social media, while some condemned the actions of the elder statesman, saying he disrespected the monarchs, other citizens asserted that the monarchs deserved such treatment as they’ve desecrated the traditional stool.
Reacting to the controversies generated by his action, Obasanjo said he did what he did to let the mornachs know the official order of hierarchy in a democratic setting.
Justifying his action in an interview with Premium Times, Obasanjo said he was reliably informed that the monarchs didn’t respect governor Makinde.
He said he ordered the traditional rulers to stand during the occasion because they refused to do so during his arrival alongside Governor Makinde at the event.
Obasanjo said he held traditional rules in high esteem but the constitution which placed the head of the executive arm of government at all tiers of government above everyone else must also be respected.
He said: “I arrived at the event venue with the governor. 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.
“I then asked people around whether that was the practice in Oyo State. I was told the Obas have always displayed disrespect for their governor. I wondered where they got that from and then decided to speak to them about it.
“As far as I am concerned, there is the constitution and there is culture. By our constitution, the governor is the leader of a state. Everyone must respect him no matter his or her status or age. He deserves respect no matter how young he is and protocols must be observed.
“That was why I spoke to them the way I did. I wanted them to realize that it is not part of Yoruba culture to disrespect authorities. Respect begets respect and they must learn to deal with their governor with respect if they want to be respected in return.
“I respect traditional rulers and even when I was President and till today, I treat them with reverence. I prostrate, bow and knee before them as necessary. I respect our culture. But let us also know that there is a Constitution which puts a chairman as head of a local government, a governor as head of a state and a president as head of our country. Whatever we do must be in respect for that arrangement. I am saying there is culture and there is constitution. One must not disturb the other.”