By Hon. Femi Kehinde
This is Nigerian Broadcasting service- (B’olu badan ba ku ta ni o joye?) (who is the next king, if the Olubadan passes on); ojogede dudu inun takun (he eats an unripe plantain and suffers stomach discomfort); ko so ni gbese ni bi lo si le keji (there is no debtor here, go to the next house) and Eko je Ibadan lowo 130 (Lagos owes Ibadan 130 thousand pounds)” was the signature tune of the Radio Nigeria Broadcasting Service.
This signature tune was the drumming ingenuity and creativity, since 1956, of no other person, than the drummer king, Oba John Adetoyese Laoye 1, Timi of Ede (December 1946 –May 16 1975). Radio services in the Western Region of Nigeria had been popularised by the Government of Obafemi Awolowo in 1955, when he brought redifussion boxes, for the listening pleasure, of the people of the Western Region.
It was a repeater one channel radio broadcast signals which brought news, commentaries and general entertainment programmes, for a paltry sum of five shillings at the end of every month, to every subscriber. In displaying his drumming dexterity, Oba Timi, Adetoyese Laoye, never knew perhaps, that a day would come, when there would be succession brouhaha, after the demise of an Olubadan, sparkling off a succession crisis. The Olubadan stool, has been the most fascinating royal succession, without rancour, in producing 41 Olubadans, since Ibadan came into being.
The establishment of Ibadan as a municipal, and then a regional power, began with the role of Bashorun Oluyole about the year 1836. This remarkably gifted warrior, led several successful military campaigns, among which was the final route of the Fulani army in Osogbo in 1840.
Olubadan title had been rotated interchangeably since then, between the Olubadan line (civil line) with 22 rungs of the ladder and the Balogun (military line) with 23 rungs of the ladder. The ingenuity of these amazing creation, without rancour and Ruling houses, was so fascinating to the first Ibadan British Resident – Captain Roberts Lister Bower- (1893-1902), who as Ibadan’s first Ajele, commended these spectacular succession process and reported to the British authority of, and the need to recommend this model to other traditional cities in the Yoruba nation.
The popular Bower’s tower, was erected in his honour, in December 1936, during the reign of Olubadan Abass Okunola Aleshinloye- (1930-1946.) Bower’s successors, Captain Fuller (1897-1902), Captain W.A Ross, (1913 to 1931) and Captain Ward Price that succeeded him in 1931, all applauded these ingenious succession process of crowning Olubadan. Ibadan from its early history has always been circumstantial and cosmopolitan.
It is undisputable that Ibadan has grown to become then, the third most populous city in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, it was hitherto, the most cosmopolitan city in Africa. From ancient myth, comes a more striking account of Ibadan’s stupendous growth.
It is settled history that Lagelu, the Yoruba warlord and generalissimo was its founder around 1829. Lagelu upon his arrival in Ibadan, from Ile-Ife, had summoned a babalawo (Ifa Priest), about the future of Ibadan. Myth further added, that at the throwing of “Opele” – the sacred nuts, the Ifa priest called for a sacrifice of, amoung other items, 200 snails. When the snails were brought, the priest scattered them in various directions, saying- “creep on as far as you can and that is as far, as this town would also grow”! The snails according to the myth, travelled far and wide, in multiple directions and that is why Ibadan has been expanding ever since.
Lagelu’s 200 snails have not stopped their crawling! Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje-Ogunguniso I, ascended the throne of the Olubadn of Ibadan land on the 4th of March 2016 till the 2nd of January, 2022, when he bade the world farewell, at the Univeristy college hospital and was buried the same day in accordance with muslim rites. He was born on the 25th of August, 1926.
He had started life as a tailor and later established the Babalaje records in 1960. He was self trained and self taught. An Ibadan man, Senator Abiola Ajimobi was a governor, when he ascended the throne of the Olubadan of Ibadan land. Uniquely, Ibadan Cheiftaincy stool rotation, respects the change of baton between the Olubadan and the Balogun line.
Olubadan Oyewole Foko was Olubadan between 1925 and 1929 and was succeeded by Olubadan Aleshinloye, the longest standing Olubadan, who reigned between 1930 and 1946. Perhaps he had taken some slots out of his two successors- Olubadan- Akere and Olubadan Oyetunde, who both reigned briefly in 1946.
In other words, in the year 1946, there were three Olubadans Alesinloye,- Akere and Oyetunde. Olubadan Bioku who succeeded Olubadan Oyetunde reigned briefly between 1947 and 1948. The year 1948 also had two OlubadansOlubadan Bioku II, who reigned between 1948 and 1952. Briefly, Olubadan Ali Iwo, reigned in 1952, and was also succeeded by Olubadan Apete, who reigned till 1955.
The great Ibadan Monarch, traditionalist, administrator and evangelist of the Christ Apostolic church- Oba Isaac Babalola Akinyele, reigned between 1955 and 1964. He was a non portfolio Minister in the Obafemi Awolowo Government, between 1955 and 1959 and was thickly involved in the Western Re g i o n Government crisis, through his mediatory efforts.
He wrote the popular-”Iwe Itan Ibadan in 1911″. He reigned till 1964- and was succeeded by Oba Yusufu Kubiowu in July 1964-, a brief reign. Olubadan Kobiowu was the youngest reigning Olubadan as at the time of his ascension to the throne in July 1964.
He came briefly and left briefly. He died in December, 1964. Olubadan Salawu Akanni Aminu, succeded Kobiowu in 1965, he reigned in his Yemetu, Ibadan palace and died in 1971. He was succeeded by Olubadan Gbadamosi Akanbi Adebimbe who also reigned briefly, between 1976 and 1977., in his Eleta Palace.
The great Oba Daniel Tayo Akinbiyi, reigned between 1977 and 1982. D.T Akinbiyi was highly educated, having trained as a teacher, in the famous Wesley College, Elekuro, Ibadan, between 1916 and 1918. He was also involved in Ibadan local politics in 1925 and was a founding member of the Ibadan Progressive Union (IPU), that was formally inaugurated in 1930.
Daniel Tayo Akinbiyi was a Customary Court judge and he was a Judge that almost jailed Adegoke Adelabu, who was arrested for contempt, for drumming right in front of the court room, while the court was in session.
D.T Akinbiyi was an Action Group apologist, while Adegoke Adelabu was a strong NCNC Party Chieftain. D.T was a successful business man and had a flourishing factory that produced Aerated waters named “Akinbiyi Exelsoir” otherwise known as “Oti Akinbiyi” and also a soap factory that he started in 1958. Mr. D.T Akinbiyi, later Oba D.T Akinbiyi (Olubadan), in an article in the Nigerian Tribune of December 22, 1951, whilst tolerating Adelabu’s “garrulity and insolence” admonished that an “an old hourse knows more than a young colt” which however did not diminish the fact, that Adegoke, was highly intelligent and dynamic. D.T Akinbiyi started his chieftaincy career in 1946 as Mogaji of the Akinbiyi family and later took the title of Aare Onibon in 1953.
He continued to climb the 22 chieftaincy steps by series of promotions, until he got the highest title of Otun Olubadan and became the traditional ruler of Ibadan in 1977. He composed the famous- “Ibadan ilu mi,” with music by the late Mr. F.J Adeyinka. This was the intimidating credential of the Olubadan who Asanike succeeded in 1983.
Olubadan Yesefu Oloyede Asanike, ascended the throne on the 4th of February, 1983 and died on the 24th of December, 1993. He was a king with humour, wit and sacarsm. He was the 37th Olubadan and descended from the Asanike family in Idi Aro Ibadan.
As Olubadan, his formidable lieutenant- Otun, was Emmaqnuel Adeyemo Oparinde, who succeeded Asanike in 1994 and reigned till 1999. Adeyemo also had intimidating credentials. He was in the military in 1940 as a volunteer, to train the newly recruited army clerk at Kaduna, during the second World War and was appointed a liason officer for communications as a result of his ability to speak and understand Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and Englsih Languages.
He had served in Burma, India, Somalia and Malta and rose to the position of Staff Sergeant before his demobilisation in 1946, having rejected the offer to proceed to Sandhurst Military Academy in London. After his demobilisation, he was seconded to the Ibadan Native Authority as treasurer in 1947.
As the chancellor of the ex-chequer of the largest city in Africa’s south of the Sahara, he was Chief Adviser to the Native Authority and Olubadan-in-Council. He was also in 1956, the sole president of the Ibadan Customary Court at Oke-Are. He was also appointed the Minister for local government affairs in 1962, under the late Chief (Dr.) Moses Adekoyejo Majekodumi, then the Administrator of Western Region.
Adeyemo started the first chieftaincy steps in 1953 and rose steadily through the ranks, by scaling 22 rungs of promotion ladder in the Olubadan line of Chieftaincy hierarchy, that saw him to the coveted throne of the Olubadan of Ibadanland on the 14th of January, 1994.
Adeyemo, as Asanike’s deputy, was a formidable deputy and close ally. When Asanike became Olubadan in February 1983 at an advanced age, nobody ever thought that he would reign for ten years. He was frail, fragile and walked with extreme difficulty.
But despite his advanced age, he was an Oba filled with wisdom, wit, humour, sacarsm and native intelligence. He had a deliberate melancholic and askance look. He also had an unsmiling face that was laced with dignified candour. In the ten years of his reign as Olubadan, there were so many beer palour tales and stories, some unverifiable of Late Oba Asanike’s wit. There was a popular story of a cocktail party, organised by the then military governor of Oyo State that Olubadan Asanike attended in the company of Emmanuel Adeyemo, the Otun Olubadan.
At the party, scotch egg was served. As his deputy, Adeyemo picked some scotch eggs. The late Asanike was said to have turned to Adeyemo remarking- “Deyemo, o ma fi Akara yi je tan, won ma ngbe eko bo?” Meaning- Adeyemo, do not finish the akara, they would soon bring the accompanying corn pap (eko) Most times, he deliberately looked vacant, as if he would not see the next day.
He would tell his Otun Olubadan “Deyemo, emi o ti se tan ati ku emi nin je Akara re” meaning “Deyemo, you will certainly die before me, because I am not ready to die now.” It was a hard and morbid humour. AdeyemoOtun OluIbadan, was once engaged in a hearty discussion, with a visiting governor abd Asanike quickly looked at him and said, “Deyemo, o so fun Gomina pe mi ni Olubadan ni?” meaning “Deyemo, didn’t you tell the governor that I am the Olubadan?”
However, in August, 2017, an unfortunate incident happened, that distorted Ibadan’s famous traditional succession pattern, without regards to Ibadan culture, tradition, mores and history. A sitting governor, like Louis XVI, who, at the height of his imperial madness had roared- “l’etat c’est moi!”, meaning- “I am the state, the state is me!” made history, by an executive fiat, through a gazette and in contravention of the Ibadan Chieftaincy declaration laws of 1957, made 9 Ibadan king makers, substantive kings, at a ceremony, on a Sunday morning in Mapo hall.
The aghast, bewildered and dumb founded reigning Ibadan monarch as consenting authority, was not let into the picture. It was done, mala fide, that is- in bad faith, without, his consent, knowledge and/or acquiescence. One of the king makers, the Osi Olubadan, refused to fall into this bait and apparently challenged this aberration in court and he won.
To discerning minds, it was a jig saw puzzle that king makers became kings, in the life time of a reigning monarch! King sunny Ade, the ace juju musician had sang it so beautifully in one of his recordsOba ki pe meji l’afin Ijoye le pe mefa l’afin This incidence of 2017 has now raised a succession conundrum that only the sitting governor- Engr Seyi Makinde, can now unfurl.
Timi Laoye’s drumming question, now becomes more apparent and realB’OLUBADAN BA KU TANI O JOYE? HON. (BARR.) FEMI KEHINDE LEGAL PRACTITIONER AND FORMER MEMBER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, ABUJA, REPRESENTING AYEDIRE/IWO/OLA-OLUWA FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY OF OSUN STATE. (1999-2003).