Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has provided context on the controversial incident where he demanded Oyo traditional rulers stand up to greet Governor Seyi Makinde. Video showed Obasanjo scolding seated monarchs at an event before making them rise and then sit back down.
The action drew widespread criticism as a desecration of culture, including a rebuke from Oluwo of Iwo Abdulrasheed Akanbi who said respect must be earned not demanded. Obasanjo has now explained he acted because the obas breached protocol by remaining seated when Gov. Makinde arrived and spoke.
Obasanjo revealed that at the event, only the monarchs refused to stand when Makinde came in or rose to speak, flouting basic courtesy and respect for the governor’s office. He confirmed asking if that was the practice in Oyo, then decided to address it.
The former president said he respects culture deeply, prostrating before kings when required. However, the constitution also establishes protocols, with state governors as the leader deserving recognition. He stated that respecting authority does not disturb culture.
While Obasanjo apologized for the manner of delivery, he reiterated that the fundamental issue was the dismissive conduct of the obas towards Gov. Makinde which he sought to correct. The tense exchange has spotlighted the need to balance constitutional requirements with cultural values.
Obasanjo affirmed his regard for traditional hierarchies but maintained that proper decorum and deference must be accorded official roles like governors per constitutional dictates. The situation remains contentious, but his explanation provides insight into the rationale behind his controversial intervention.