HIS Highness Alhaji Umaru Sanda Ndayanko(1937-2002) the late Etsu Nupe was Permanent Secretary in Kaduna in 1964.
He ascended the throne in 1975 and was nominated as a member of the Constituent assembly in 1976. When he died in 2003 his people mourned his passage, for the development he brought to his kingdom. One of his sons, Senator Dangana Ndayanko has since been elected into the Senate.
The former Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Anirare Aladesanmi II ruled Ado Ekiti from 1937-1983.
Alhaji Muhammadu Dikko (1885-1904) was the 9th Emir of Katsina between 1906-1944. He ruled for 38 years. He was succeeded by his son, Alhaji Usman Nagogo (1905-1981) who also ruled for 37 years. He was the father of late Major-General Hassan Usman Katsina, the first Military Governor of Northern Nigeria.
The Sarkin of Gobir, Alhaji Muhammadu Bara reigned from 1975 to 2004, and ruled for 29 years.
On a bright Sunday on April 2, 1960, the former OGBENIOJA of Ijebu, Dr. Timothy Adeola Odutola in the presence of Bobasuwa Okunowo, Chief Samuel Olatunbosun Shonibare and over 120,000 jubilant people from many parts of the country gathered at Obanta square in Ijebu-Ode, when he presented a young handsome man, Sikiru Kayode Adetona, born on May 10, 1934, to the people of Ijebu-Ode as their Awujale.
It was the beginning of a prosperous reign that has spanned till date, for over 53 years.
Tall, big and friendly Oba Adetona’s big stature also reflects the largeness of his Ijebu Kingdom.
His father Prince Rufai Adetona is from Anikinayo Ogbagba royal family of Ijebu-ode while his mother Alhaja Ajibabi Adetona nee Onasile hailed from Ijebu-Igbo, hence his close family ties with Dr. Michael Adenuga Jnr.
My friend Fasi Adetokunbo Yusuf is fond of telling anyone who cares to listen, that Oba Adetona is special gift from God to the Ijebu people.
The Igwe of Nnewi, Igwe Kenneth Onyeke Orizu III, has been on the throne since 1963, thus marking 50th year on the throne this year.
There are other traditional rulers we are expecting to be 50 years and above on the throne.
The Emir of Zaria, Dr. Shehu Idris was crowned in 1976, he is 36 years on the throne. He is a charismatic figure.
Oba Adekunle Aromolaran,the Owa Obokun Adimula II of Ijesha land is 31 years on the throne. He is a phenomenon.
Oba Oladunni Jimoh Oyewunmi, Ajagungbade III, was born on May 27, 1926,and was crowned the Soun of Ogbomoso on October 24, 1973.
He has been on the throne for over 39 years. He is an outstanding figure.
Iku Baba Yeye, the Alaafin of Oyo,
Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Atanda Adeyemi (74)JP, CFR, LL.D, Permanent Chairman Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, who once lived with the Alake of Egbaland Oba Ademola in his palace in Abeokuta and Sir Kofoworola Adebayo Abayomi in Keffi,Lagos, was installed the Alaafin of Oyo in November 1970 by former Governor Robert Adeyinka Adebayo. He is 42 years on the throne. He is a living legend.
Alayeluwa ObaOkunade Sijuade II,Olofin Oduduwa, was crowned Ooni of Ife on December 8, 1980 by late Governor Bola Ige. He is 32 years on the throne. He is a living metaphor.
The Emir of Jama’are, Muhammadu Wabi has been on the throne since 1975, while the Emir of Gumel, Ahmad Muhammed Sani Dan Maina Muhammed has been reigning since 1981. They are remarkable leaders.
The Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Shehu Usman Abubakar has been reigning since August 1984, the Shehu of Damaturu,Hushimi Ibn Umar El-kanemi has been in power since 1973.
The Olu of Warri, Oba Agiame Atuwatse II has been on the throne since 1987.
I have not left out of the list other traditional rulers deliberately but for lack of space.
We may not all agree on the relevance of the institution of traditional rulers, but we must all endorse that the institution still represents a vital part of our tradition and culture even in the present age of globisation. They are the roots of our culture and the roots are the strongest part of the tree.
I am aware that the institution was once brutalised by the British colonialists, Military and the politicians and is still being undermined by the Political class, but the traditional rulers are the most essential group left now to preserve and protect our glorious past.
And who says we don’t have a past. We have a beautifulpast, a strong past for that matter.
And as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1840-1935) wrote, “historic continuity with the past is not a duty, it is only a necessity”.
Mr. ERIC TENIOLA, a former director at the presidency, wrote from Lagos.