By Bode Akinbode
The Oyo State government on Thursday explained that two first-class monarchs, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III and the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso I, were not stopped from entering the Lekan Salami Stadium Complex during the unveiling of its main bowl on Wednesday.
The government, in its reaction to media reports that the two monarchs were prevented from entering the stadium by security operatives, through a statement by Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said that the two foremost royal fathers were too important to the state government to be prevented from attending the event, to which they had been duly invited.
The statement reads: “The inability of the monarchs to gain access into the main bowl was because of the huge enthusiastic crowd that swarmed on the stadium and obstructed the movement of the monarchs’ convoys to the designated VVIP Drop Off zone, which was the easiest channel to their reserved seats.
“What happened was that security operatives advised that the drivers of the revered monarchs make their way through another gate, since their convoys were unable to access the VVIP Drop Off Zone from the gate they entered through.
“From the VVIP Drop Off Zone, it would be easy for the monarchs to access the VVIP box without meandering through the stairs, as that would have unduly stressed them given their age.”
It added that seats of the monarchs were already reserved, and that the government valued their presence, saying:
“It is unthinkable that some individuals would try to create a wedge between the palaces of the respective monarchs and the state government, which holds them in high esteem,” the statement added.
It noted that all other monarchs who were inside the VVIP box including the Olugbon of Ile Igbon, Aseyin of Iseyin, the Okere of Saki, the Olu of Igboora were well recognized.
“This was evidence that the government places huge premium of respect on the stools of our forebears as occupied by the Kabiyesis.
“His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde wishes to categorically state that the Alaafin and the Olubadan were well-expected at the event and that their seats were reserved.
“The government frowns on reports indicating that the convoys of the revered monarchs were not treated accordingly and would take appropriate steps to correct any untoward indication,” the statement added.
The statement, however, cautioned fake news mongers, whom it said were seeking avenues to punctuate the glorious event at the Lekan Salami Stadium by circulating bad news.
“For instance, some online reports claimed that the Aseyin of Iseyin was not allowed entry. That is very far from the truth. The Aseyin was inside the stadium and he stayed throughout the event.
“It is instructive that the Kabiyesi has come out to clarify that falsehood and also adduce reasons, which could have been responsible for the inability of the Alaafin of Oyo and Olubadan of Ibadanland to gain access into the Stadium.
“Some of the mischief makers also alleged that former Governor Rashidi Ladoja boycotted the event and this too, is a big lie, as the Osi Olubadan attended and gave a goodwill message at the event.
“We can only advise mischief makers and fake news carriers to stop their ploys, as no antic would work against the good intentions of the governor and the positive impact that the remodelling of the once-neglected Lekan Salami Stadium has made on Oyo State,” it said.
The governor’s media aide equally described attempts to rubbish the stadium project by some opposition elements as misguided, stating that the claim that only the stadium cost N5 billion was untrue and mischievous.
He maintained that the amount being touted was for the cost of fixing the entire sports complex, which is in phases.