Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president, has explained why he instructed the traditional leaders of Oyo State to rise before sitting.
This comes after Obasanjo received criticism for his behavior last Friday at the groundbreaking ceremonies for two projects in Iseyin, Oyo State.
In a widely shared video, Obasanjo chastised the monarchs for not rising to welcome Seyi Makinde, the state governor.
Their actions, according to the former president, showed disrespect for the governor and his office.
Obasanjo then gave the signal for the traditional leaders to stand and welcome Governor Makinde.
Well-known Nigerians have asked Obasanjo to apologize to the monarchs for ordering them in light of the recent development.
However, Obasanjo claimed in a Premium Times interview that he behaved in that manner because the monarchs showed the governor Makinde nothing but absolute disrespect.
The former president spoke from South Africa, where he was there for the funeral of politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who passed away on September 9 at the age of 95. He stated, “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 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 realise 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.”