April 24, 2022

‘How Alaafin of Oyo died’

Alaafin of Oyo

• Yoruba, Buhari, Obasanjo, govs, Tinubu, others  mourn

•Are Onakakanfo, Gani Adams, clarifies  burial rites

•Succession battle begins as Basorun takes over in regency capacity

By Our Reporters

The Yoruba race, yesterday, was thrown into mourning following the demise of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who was said to have died at Afe Babalola Multi-System Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, AMSH.

Sunday Vanguard learned that the monarch, who was 83-years-old, had been ill before his demise.

He joined his ancestors on Friday night, according to sources at the hospital, five days after he was admitted for the treatment of a “chronic illness”.

The news of the top Yoruba king’s demise reverberated across the country. Earlier, there was confusion over the veracity of the news, especially on the social media following a statement by his Media and Publicity Director, Bode Durojaiye, dismissing the news.

He had urged members of the public to disregard the “unfounded report as the paramount ruler is a hale and hearty.”

However, the palace of the late king later issued a statement, confirming his demise. 


  “Alaafin is dead. Details in due course,” Durojaiye later said in a terse statement.

The remains of the top Yoruba traditional ruler were taken to Oyo town in the early hours of yesterday for burial rites.

His first son, Prince Tunde Adeyemi, and his siblings were said to have received the remains of the late monarch in Oyo town.  The funeral rites began at 11:55 am amid a huge crowd of sympathizers who converged on the palace upon hearing the news.

The Chief Imam Of Oyo State, Masud Ajokidero, led other members of the state League of Imams to the palace for the burial.


Ajokidero and other Islamic clerics performed the funeral, Janazah, prayers at 12:35 pm outside the Aganju Forecourt.

After the Islamic prayers, the late monarch’s remains were taken back to the palace where traditionalists held final rites behind closed doors.

His body was later brought out into the main hall where he had received visitors when he was alive.

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Medical case

Narrating how the foremost Yoruba monarch died as a result of chronic illness, a source close to AMSH said Adeyemi arrived at the hospital Sunday, April 17, but didn’t recover from the illness he was suffering from despite the efforts of the highly skilled specialists at the high profile hospital who had worked round the clock to save him. Another source close to the hospital simply described the late Alaafin’s illness as a medical case.

As of last night, there was no official reaction from the AMSH Management as telephone calls were put to the Chief Medical Director, Dr Kolawole Ogundipe, and that of the Director of Corporate Affairs, of Afe Babalola University, Mr Tunde Olofintila, were unanswered.

The late octogenarian monarch was a close friend of Aare Afe Babalola, the founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University and it was gathered that he was always at the hospital for routine medical check up.


Following his death, the Basorun of Oyo, who is the head of kingmakers, Oyo Mesi, would take over pending the appointment of a new king.

Oyo, the headquarters of the historical Oyo Empire, has a monarchical system headed by Alaafin.

An administrative council and governing body made up of Oyo Mesi provide checks and balances.

Oyo Mesi is headed by the Basorun, who, in the past, had the power to demand a king’s suicide by sending him a calabash of eggs.

With Alaafin’s demise, the Ladigbolu ruling house is expected to produce the next king. The late king was crowned on November 18, 1970, at the age of 31. He hailed from Alowolodu ruling house.


Meanwhile, Nigerians across ethnic, religious, political and social divides, mourned the late king, who was described as a stabilizing force and symbol of peace. Those who mourned the affable monarch include President Muhammadu Buhari, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, governors, traditional rulers and regional bodies. Buhari described Alaafin’s 52-year reign as remarkable.

The President condoled with the government and people of Oyo State, saying his reign covered major historic transitions in the country and witnessed transformations in his domain.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, he stated: “Alaafin of Oyo’s 52 years rule was remarkable in many ways, most significant was the emphasis he placed on human development, thereby encouraging learning as a culture and formal education as a necessity while promoting values of peace and stability.”

Huge loss to Nigeria —Makinde

Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, described the incident as a huge loss to the state, Nigeria and the Yoruba race. The governor, who described Adeyemi’s death as a personal loss, noted that he was an ever-supportive royal father and a worthy leader, who spared nothing in trying to make the state and Nigeria greater.

His words: “I have been informed about the death of our father, His Imperial Majesty, Iku Baba Yeye, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III.  I express heartfelt condolences to the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, which Oba Adeyemi chaired for decades, the Oyomesi and the entire people of Oyo Kingdom.

“I equally commiserate with the Oloris, children and entire Adeyemi family on the demise of their patriarch and worthy father. Kabiyesi’s departure is a huge loss not only to Oyo State, to which he committed 52 years of his life as the Alaafin of Oyo Kingdom, but also to Nigeria and the entire Yoruba race.”

He left a lasting legacy —Sanwo-Olu

Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Gboyega Akosile, described the death of the Oba as a great loss to the people of Oyo town, the traditional institution in Oyo State and Nigeria as a whole.

Alaafin was brave, cheerful —Obaseki

Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, described the late Alaafin of Oyo as “a great ruler, who displayed kindness and compassion to his people, espousing the virtues of hard work, diligence and love for humanity

“Brave and cheerful, Oba Adeyemi embodied the ideals of the Yoruba nation, promoting the rich culture and heritage of the Yoruba and providing wise counsel to those who sought guidance from the throne.”

He was preserver of culture —Ortom

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, described the late monarch as a brave king who did everything possible to preserve the culture and tradition of his people.

Adeyemi had faith in Nigeria —Obasanjo

On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said: “As a patriotic and highly respected traditional ruler who had immeasurable love for his people and great faith in a united Nigeria, he stood out as a voice of forthrightness in national affairs and he was as well a fervent promoter of mutual tolerance and understanding not only among the diverse people who live in his domain but also across the country.   

“It is well acknowledged that it was during his reign that Oyo Town got transformed into the modern city it has become today and not surprisingly, his contribution to nation-building was also acknowledged in the conferment of the esteemed national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR, on him and other honorary degrees that he received from some Nigerian and outside educational institutions.”

He represented our moral values —S/West govs

Chairman of South West Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, described the passage of the Alaafin as a big blow to the Oyo kingdom, Yoruba race and the country at large. 

Akeredolu in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, said the news of the transition of the revered monarch was received with shock. He said: “We have lost a quintessential traditional ruler and custodian of Yoruba culture.

 His contributions to the development and advancement of the country and Yorubaland, in particular, are unquantifiable. 

“He was a great pillar. A great giant who did not only represent our cultural values but also preserved and promoted Yoruba culture. He was a repository of knowledge.

“With over five decades on the throne of his fathers, Oba Lamidi III was the longest-reigning Alaafin whose reign has been the most remarkable for the entire Oyo Kingdom. He was a symbol of Yoruba unity.” 

Readiness to stand by his belief stood him out ——Afenifere

Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, described the late king as a colossus.   Afenifere, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi, said the late Alaafin was a personification of royalty and nobility.

Ajayi said: “He was a colossus because he was at home in discussing virtually any subject – particularly those bordering on any aspect of Yoruba history, contemporary and ancient. Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who ascended the throne at age 31 in 1970, was prepared for the post without any outward display of this preparation going by the circumstance of his enthronement. 

“In other words, it can be said that he was unconsciously preparing for the exalted office even when he was a prince. And after being crowned as Alaafin, he dug deep into all that made the Yoruba tick. He was very much at home with the history of virtually every town in Yorubaland. Hardly could he be found wanting in any aspect of Yoruba tradition and norms going by the richness of his contributions to whatever subject he was to discuss. 

“One other thing that stood for the late Alaafin was his readiness to stand by whatever he believed in irrespective of the controversy such a position might generate. Such is one of the virtues of purposeful leadership.”

It’s a great loss to Yoruba nation —YCE

Secretary-General of Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Dr Kunle Olajide, described the death of Alaafin as a great loss to Nigeria and the Yoruba nation in particular.

Olajide in a telephone conversation with Sunday Vanguard said Alaafin’s reign was eventful. 

“He kept strictly to the tradition of Yoruba land and commanded a lot of respect,” he added. Others who paid tributes to the late king include Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi and Ondo State Council of Traditional Obas.

Alaafin fostered harmony —Tinubu

National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said the late Alaafin fostered harmony and brought prosperity to the Oyo kingdom.

He said: “Wisely ruling on the throne for 52 years, he became the longest-reigning Alaafin that ever ruled the Oyo Kingdom. With his transition, a big Iroko has fallen. His passing was an auspicious era in the ancient Oyo Kingdom, but also for the Yoruba and the entirety of the black race.

  “An elder statesman and patriot, Alaafin Adeyemi was bold and courageous. He spoke truth to power. His interventions in national affairs helped the nation navigate difficult moments and helped usher in a more just society.

“He played vital roles in the struggle for democracy, working assiduously towards the establishment of our democracy.

In recognition of his important contributions to peace, religious harmony and stability in Nigeria, the nation gifted him the high honour of Commander of the Federal Republic. ‘’

He was a unifier — Awolowo family

Similarly, the family of the late Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, described the late monarch as a unifier.

A statement by Ambassador Olatokunbo Awolowo –Dosumu, said: “ The news of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III joining his ancestors has come as a shock to us. He was a great Oba who brought respectability to the stool bequeathed to him by his fathers.”


In a related development, Are Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, last night, dismissed claims that the late Alaafin was buried according to the Muslim rites.

Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, stated that the transition and burial rites of the foremost Yoruba monarch were purely traditional and not religious.

The Yoruba generalissimo added that prior to the announcement of Adeyemi’s death on Friday, the Isoro and the Oyo Mesi had observed core traditional rites which, he said, went through the night and ended till 11 am yesterday before Basorun and the family of the Alaafin notified Governor  Makinde who later announced officially. 

While warning those attaching religious meaning to the burial of the Alaafin to desist from spreading lies, Adams insisted that the Oyo Mesi and the Isoro had done the normal traditional rites, before the formal announcement, adding that the final process of the rites would be done last night.

Vanguard News Nigeria