LAMIDI OLAYIWOLA ADEYEMI: 50 YEARS ON

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Alaafin of Oyo, LAMIDI ADEYEMI

Eric Teniola digs into history as the Alaafin of Oyo celebrates the golden anniversary of his coronation

The drums will roll out on Thursday, January 14 on the golden anniversary of the coronation of the Alaafin of Oyo, Iku Baba Yeye, Igba Keji Orisa, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III. I am sure the Iya Ilu- the traditional drum and the Shekere will be sounded on that day. If his empire has not disintegrated, there will be celebrations on that day in Awe, Moniya, Igboho, Iponri, Fiditi, Ayete, Ado Awoye, Jabele, Shaki, Shapetin, Ikoyi, Ede, Ejigbo, Abugaga, Ipapo. Ajuwa, Igbeti, Igbo Ora, Ajegunle, Lanlate, Offa Meta, Kosobo, Ogbomoso, Iwo and other surrounding towns in Oyo. Expected at the event is the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who will represent president Muhammadu Buhari .

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed will be there too. Also expected is the man who made the coronation possible 50 years ago, Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo, who was the Commissioner for Chieftaincy and local government affairs in the old western state. Chief Lekan Alabi ,who was 70 recently , told me on phone, that the Alaafin is planning big for the golden anniversary. Till the 70’s the Alaaafin had a palace at Oke Aremo in Ibadan.

The Oyo Empire grew to become the largest Yoruba state. It rose through the outstanding organizational and administrative skills of the Yoruba people, wealth gained from trade and its powerful cavalry. The Oyo Empire was one of the most politically important states in the entirety of Western Africa from the mid-7th to the late 18th century, holding sway not only over most of the other kingdoms in Yorubaland. The collapse of the empire is still the worst tragedy that has befallen the Yoruba people till today. If the empire has not disintegrated, there would have been no need for the amalgamation of 1914. The British would have met an empire and negotiated with the people of that empire of same national identity, same national consciousness, same culture and same lifestyle. There would not have been clamour for restructuring. It is argued today that the amalgamation is like a curse now. A union that has become damnable. A nuptial facing possible divorce.

No Alaafin in modern times has celebrated 50 years on the throne. The nearest was Alaafin Siyanbola Onikepe Oladigbolu who reigned from 1911 to 1944 while Alaafin Adeniran Adeyemi II only ruled from 1945-1955. Alaafin Atobatele Atugba ruled from 1837-1859. Alaafin Aloworodu Adeyemi ruled from 1876 to 1905. In modern times, the shortest reign was Alaafin Amodo who reigned from 1833 -1835. Alaafin Adeyemi III has been very fortunate. Oyo has witnessed a lot of growth during his reign. The Alaafin was given his staff of office on that sunny Thursday January 14, 1971 in Oyo by the Military Governor of Western state, Brigadier Robert Adeyinka Adebayo.

He has seen the entrances and exits of 21 governors namely, Major General Adeyinka Adebayo (August 1966- April 1971), Brigadier General Christopher Oluwole Rotimi (April 1 -1971 –July 975), Admiral Akintunde Akinyoye Aduwo (July 1975-August 1975), Col. David Medayese Jemibewon (March 1976-July 1978), Col. Paul Tarfa (July 1978-October 1979), Chief Bola Ige (1 October 1979-1 October 1983), Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo(1 October 1983-31 December 1983), Lt. Col. Oladayo Popoola (4 January 1984-September 1985),Col. Adetunji Idowu Olurin (September 1985-July 1988), Col. Sasaenia Oresanya (27 July 1988-August 1990), Col. Abdulkareem Adisa (September 1990-January 1992), Chief Kolapo Olawuyi Ishola (2 January 1992-17 November 1993, Navy Capt. Adetoye Oyetola Sode (9 December 1993 -14 September 1994), Col. Chinyere Ike Nwosu (14 Sep 1994-22 Aug 1996), Col. Ahmed Usman (22 August 1996-August 1998), Comm. Pol. Amen Edore Oyakhire (16 August 1998-28 May 1999), Dr. Lam Adesina (29 May 1999-28 May 2003, Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja (29 May 2003-28 May 2007), impeached in January 2006, reinstated in December 2006; Chief Christopher Alao-Akala(12 January 2006 -(29 May 2007-29 May 2011), Chief Abiola Ajimobi (29 May 2011-29 May 2019), and the incumbent Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde (29 May 2019. In fact the present governor of Oyo State, Oluseyi Makinde was four years old when Oba Lamidi Adeyemi ascended the throne on January 14, 1971.

There are other Yoruba Obas who are warming up to celebrate their golden anniversary on the throne too. The Elejigbo of Ejigbo, Oba Omowonuola Oyeyode Oyesosin (84) will celebrate his golden year on January 19, 2024. The Elejigbo reminds me of some of his friends who were members of the installation committee when he ascended the throne on January 25, 1974. I am thinking of Lateef Abbas, Chief Akanni Aluko, Alhaji Arisekola Alao, Mr Tayo Kehinde, Olu Makinde , Biodun Famojuro, Egbon Tunde Akingbade, Chief Adeseun Ogundoyin . It was a colourful day in Ejigbo that day. King Sunny Ade entertained the guests. He later recorded an album in his honour. The paramount ruler of Idanre, Oba Federick Adegunle Aroloye Arubuefin IV, will celebrate his 45th year on the throne on September 8, 2021. On September 8, 2026, he will celebrate 50 years on the throne. Idanre has more than 150 villages. The paramount ruler of Ijesha land, Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran II, Owa Obokun Adimula, was crowned on February 20, 1980. He celebrated his 40th years on the throne last February. The Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewunmi Ajadungbade III, born on May 27, 1926 will celebrate his 50th years on the throne on December 14, 2023. His best friend was Justice Samuel Obakayode Eso from Ilesha, who was a justice of the Supreme Court. My friend, Dotun Oyelade has written so much about Oba Oyewunmi. Ogbomoso is the second biggest town in Oyo State. The paramount ruler of Badagry, Oba Babatunde Akran, the Whenu Aholu Menu Toyi has just celebrated his 42nd years on the throne. By 2027, he will celebrate his golden anniversary.

The Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe Aladesanmi III recently celebrated his 30 years anniversary on the throne. How time flies. I signed the press release which conveyed the approval of governor of Ondo State then, Sunday Abiodun Olukoya which made him the Ewi of Ado Ekiti. I also signed the press releases which also conveyed the approval of the governor of Ondo State Rear Admiral Sunday Abiodun Olukoya for the appointments of the following as Obas. The Ajero of Ijero Oba Adebayo Joseph Adewole Arojojojoye who was crowned on December 16 1991. The Deji of Akure, Oba Atayese Adebobajo Adesida, who reigned in Akure between 1999 – 2005. Oba Festus Ibidapo Adesanoye who reigned in Ondo Kingdom as Osemawe between 1991 till he died in 2006. It was about the same time that Governor Bode George of Ondo State approved the nomination of Oba Yesufu Adebori Adeleye as the Olubaka of Oka who ascended the throne on April 16, 1988. The nominations of the traditional rulers were presented to the Ondo State Executive Council by the then Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Professor Gabriel Isola Olomola from Ado Ekiti.

Mention must be made of Oba Adedokun Omoniyi Abolarin, Orangun of Oke Ila, who personally built a college for his community in Oke Ila, Ifedayo Local Government Area of Osun State. He was born on September 4, 1958 and was crowned in October 2006. I cannot forget Oba Femi Ogunleye, the Towulade of Akinale near Abeokuta, a Journalist/legal practitioner, who personally built a school in his community too.

The Alaafin has now joined the league of traditional rulers who have reigned more than 50 years or near 50 years. Notable among them is Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, the Awujale of Ijebuland, who was born on May 10, 1934. He was crowned on Saturday, April 2, 1960. He became a member of the western region house of chiefs on April 5, 1960. A friend of mine, Dr Fasi Yusuf has written so much about the Awujale. He is a living legend. I saw his son, Prince Adedire at Festac in Lagos recently when my friend Otunba Gbenga Tiamiyu from Iperu turned 70. Oba Rufus Adekolurejo Aderele was the Osemawe of Ondo from 1942 to 1974. He was Osemawe for 32 years.

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The Oyo Empire is still very important to the Yorubas till today. The empire reminds the Yorubas of when they were masters of their destiny under one rulership. The empire stretched from the present Kwara State to Western Nigeria up to Dahomey, which we now refer to as the Republic of Benin. By the middle of the 19th century, that empire had disintegrated with successor states of Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ijaye, Ogbomoso, Egba, Ijebu, Egbado, Ekiti, and New Oyo. Ilorin, though made up of Yoruba people, was now a Fulani kingdom or emirate. The first three–Ibadan, Abeokuta and Ijaye were the leading Yoruba states and their rivalry for supremacy formed one of the main topics of Yoruba history in the 19th century according to K.B.C Onwubiko.

Wishing the Alaafin happy celebrations.