Ex-Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has broken silence on why he ordered traditional rulers in Oyo State to stand and then sit during an event which has sparked controversies online.
This is coming days after Obasanjo was criticised for his action during the inauguration of two projects in Iseyin, Oyo State, last Friday.
Obasanjo in a viral video had condemned the monarchs for failing to rise to greet the state governor, Seyi Makinde.
The former president described their behaviour as a sign of disrespect for the governor and his office.
This prompted Obasanjo to order the traditional leaders to rise and greet Governor Makinde.
The development has prominent Nigerians ask Obasanjo to apologise to the monarchs for ordering them.
However, Obasanjo, in an interview with Premium Times, revealed that he acted the way he did because the monarchs displayed utter disrespect for Governor Makinde.
He said, “I arrived at the event venue with the governor,” the former president said from South Africa where he was attending the burial of politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who died on 9 September at 95.
“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.”