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Obasanjo: The Clash Between Protocol and Tradition

In a recent and highly publicized incident, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo found himself at the center of a protocol versus tradition clash during a formal event. The incident unfolded during the unveiling of the Iseyin Campus of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology on September 15, 2023.

As dignitaries gathered for the event, a video captured a commanding and authoritative voice that unmistakably belonged to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He was addressing traditional rulers from various parts of Oyo State who were in attendance, all clad in their traditional flowing robes and clutching their staffs of office.

Obasanjo’s stern commands to the traditional rulers to stand up and sit down, reminiscent of military drill instructions, quickly drew attention and sparked a debate about decorum and respect at formal events.

The incident occurred during the arrival of the state governor, Seyi Makinde, and Obasanjo himself. Obasanjo explained that he had noticed that, unlike other attendees who stood to welcome the governor and his entourage, the traditional rulers remained seated. Furthermore, when Governor Makinde began to deliver his address, the monarchs again stayed seated, leading Obasanjo to express his displeasure.

In the world of formal events attended by top government officials, it is a well-established tradition for all those already seated, including traditional rulers, to rise as a sign of respect when dignitaries enter. This practice is a simple demonstration of courtesy and acknowledgment of the importance of the arriving officials.

While Obasanjo’s point about protocol breach is valid, his approach to addressing the situation has come under scrutiny. Some suggest that he could have handled the matter more diplomatically. Options available to him included seeking a private audience with the traditional rulers after the event to discuss the situation or making his observation public without resorting to military-style commands.

The incident serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between protocol and tradition and the importance of navigating such situations with wisdom and diplomacy to prevent further conflicts.

As discussions and commentaries continue to swirl around this incident, it is hoped that lessons have been learned on both sides, and that it contributes to promoting harmony and understanding among different segments of society.

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