A friend once sought my opinion on the prerequisites kingmakers, government and the society look out for before installing an Oba (a traditional monarchs) in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
“I am not from any royal family around here. So why ask me?” I quipped.
“As a journalist who is well grounded in African history, I was hoping you will know,” he teased.
Although it was a harmless question, it got me slightly jolted.
Next day, I went in search of my senior historians, Baales (revered community heads) as well as elder statesmen such as Omoba Murphy Adetoro, first civilian council chairman of both Apapa and Eti Osa.
The result is the 10 steps I presented below:
The first prerequisite, of course, is that you must be from a branch of a famous royal family. This is aside having at least five notable Baales (community heads) in your domain.
Once he is sure their lineage is next in line after the death of his predecessor, the heir-apparent must make an open ‘declaration’ among the two, three or four branches (depending on the number) of the chieftaincy family. This is owing to the fact that Obaship (pardon the Nigerian coinage) is done in rotation.
However the caveat here is that before the heir makes a declaration, he must be quite certain that it is the turn of his royal branch. Unless of course, he is the first openly declared potential-monarch in such settlement. Secondly, such development must first be ratified unanimously by the family.
Once the family agrees on a particular candidacy, such heir will be presented to the entire royal branches before thinking of involving the State government.
The ‘Afobaje’ (kingmakers) must also be familiar with him. Depending on the peculiarity of each culture in a given society, the Afobaje could be four, six or eight.
If there are no opponent or contestants, he can count himself lucky. If there are one or more, the Afobaje will be sharply divided. What follows next would not be different from the conventional horse-trading where each of the kingmaker holds a brief or makes a pitch on behalf of his preferred candidate.
Whoever emerges the winner, based on a compromise or unanimous decision, would subsequently be announced and presented to his local government.
From the council, it would move to the chieftaincy commission in Lagos State.
Once the commission finishes its preliminary investigation, it makes recommendation to the governor of the state who in turn asked if due process as followed in the exercise before venturing to approve it.
With that done, the traditional rites, coronation ceremony and presentation of paraphernalia of office follows.
Congratulations, you are now a recognized Oba!