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Ibadan Monarch

Ibadan, the land of warriors, is a city of destiny. It emerged as the chief beneficiary of the decline and fall of the old Oyo Empire. Before 1829, it was an abandoned settlement, which was re-occupied by the Yoruba allied forces from Ijebu, Ife and Oyo. Thus, it became known as the war encampment and town of warriors. Even, in the days of yore, Ibadan was always seized by intrigues in peace times. This attribute is captured by the town’s cognomen: Ija’gboro larun Ibadan (Street fight is Ibadan’s darkside).

There is no single family in Ibadan without its ancestral home elsewhere. For example, Basorun Oluyole was said to be the grandson of Alaafin Abiodun. Olugbode was from Owu. Latoosa came from Ilora. Ogunmola and Baale Ali Idiwo came from Iwo. The Alayandes came from Oyo, Ladojas from Iseyin and Olunloyos from Egba-Owu. But, once people migrated to the settlement, they became indigenes. It could be said that, in the early days, hierarchical military titles corresponded with political leadership. Thus, any indigene could aspire to leadership through the dint of hard work and military exploits. The starting point for any potential aspirant is to become the Mogaji of his compound. The greatest contribution of Ibadanland to Yoruba kingship is the non-controversial and orderly succession. The system is devoid of competition, acrimony, strife and rancour.

Two lines, according to the time-tested tradition, could supply the occupant to the stool. These are the Olubadan and Balogun lines. The agitation by the former Seriki of Ibadan, the late Chief Adisa Akinloye, for the inclusion of the seriki line met a brick wall.

In modern times, Ibadan grew in importance and served as the administrative centre for Southern Nigeria (1946-1951), capital of Western Nigeria (1951-1967), capital of old Oyo State 1976-1991) and new Oyo State from 1991 to date.

Historically, there was no Olubadan who was unworthy of the title. Even, before the title was changed or upgraded to Olubadan, past Baales, Bashoruns, Baloguns and the only Aare Ona Kankanfo who ruled the city, were men of valour.

To achieve promotion, soldiers must fight and conquer. War was the main occupation, source of livelihood, wealth and fame. Ibadan could not be described as a kingdom because its heads did not obtained their crowns from Ile-Ife, the cradle. Yet, at the height of its military glory, Ibadan warriors once approved the appointments of monarchs in Ife and Ilesa. An example was Ayikiti, who was assisted to become the Ooni by Latoosa. In many other towns and villages, monarchs leaned on Ibadan to survive. However, the dictatorial tendency of Ibadan Ajeles led to the stiff resistance by Ijesa/Ekiti allied forces led by Ogedengbe and Fabunmi, a prince from Okemesi. The result was the 16 years of Ekitiparapo war.

All Olubadans were colourful. They were courageous statesmen. They had garnered experience in administration because they had to climb the hierarchical ladder to the prestigious throne. Many of them left behind worthy legacies.

Oluyole, who was said to be the son of Agbonrin, the daughter of the well-loved Alaafin Abiodun, earned the title of Basorun from Alaafin Atiba after the Eleduwe war. He became Ibasorun at the same time  Kurumi of Ijaye became the Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yorubaland. But, he did not reside in Oyo with the Suzerain, although he was next in rank to the king as the chief of the seven principal councillors comprising the Oyomesi. According to Rev. Samuel Johnson, author of the History of Yoruba, Oluyode, popularly called Iba Afokoja, went to Oyo to have the title conferred on him. But, since he was not obliged to live in the capital, his duties at the annual bebe festival were delegated to other chiefs.

In Ibadan, the next in rank to Basorun Oluyole was Oderinlo, the Balogun. In the days of Oluyole, Ibadan soldiers confronted their Fulani counterparts at Osogbo. The latter had to return to Ilorin, unable to fulfil their dream of dipping the Koran in the sea. Terrified, the Atawoja of Osogbo beckoned on Ibadan for help. When the soldiers returned home, Basorun asked Elepo, who had declined to be his Balogun and refused to go to the Osogbo war, to leave Ibadan. He was a wealthy ruler. Although he sought to become the Alaafin by plotting against him, he did not succeed. He was a great friend of King Kosoko of Lagos.

Like Oluyole, Ogunmola was a brave soldier. Her daughter, Omosa, was also very brave. When he became the head of Ibadan, he declined the title of Baale. In his view, it was meant for a weakling who could not go to war. Rather, he demanded for the title of Basorun, although the occupant of the position, Gbenla, was still alive and there could only be one Basorun in Oyo Kingdom. His request was granted by the Alaafin and two basoruns existed at that time. In his book, Johnson described Ogunmola as a bold, hardy, fearless and astute person. He also promoted justice and fair play. The Basorun believed that gallantry should be rewarded.  Thus, when Samuel Peeler, also known as Bioran, was accused of appropriating a deer on his farm by some hunters, he was not punished because he reminded the Basorun that he was entitled to the dead deer as a gallant soldier who lifted the bodies of dead and wounded soldiers from the battle field to the camp during the Ijaye war. Ogunmola fought in that war. But, he would have executed Ogedegbe, if Latoosa and other chiefs had not pleaded with him.

After Ogunmola came Baale Orowusi, who was in conflict with his Balogun, Ajobo, for supporting Prince Odigbadigba for the stool of Owa of Ilesa. But, when Latoosa and Ajayi Ogboriefon broke the news to him that Ajobo had left the town, the Baale went inside his house and never came out in the public until his death was announced. He promoted peace in Ibadan and environs during his short reign. He also advised the responsible positions should be given to old men because they had experience. He also said that Ibadan administrators should rely more on the sons of the soil than slaves who may not be inclined to protecting Ibadan interests.

Orowusi was succeeded by Latoosa, who took the title of the Aare Ona Kankanfo by displacing the rightful holder, Ojo Aburumaku from Ogbomoso. In his view, the titles of Basorun and Baale were of lower ranks that brave soldiers should not take. He was a popular ruler; never afraid of war. But, he was always suspicious of his rivals. For example, he liquidated Seriki Iyapo. He declared war against Ekiti, when Fabunmi beheaded the head of his ajele in Okemesi. The ajele was said to have violated the wife of the prince. The war lingered for 16 years. Although Latoosa later came to the war front to take charge, victory eluded him. Having alienated his contemporaries, he was surrounded by young men of valour who were not ready to fully cooperate with him. He was said to have died in the camp in 1885.

The first educated Olubadan was Pastor Isaac Babalola Akinyele, the first President of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC). He was a lover of education; in fact, he founded the Ibadan Grammar School. He was also a man of peace. He worked for the progress of the city in all ramifications.

Ibadan was also fortunate to have Daniel Akinbiyi as Olubadan. He was a grassroots politician.

His successor, Olubadan Oloyede Asanike, was also colourful. Barely literate, he was, nevertheless, an encyclopedia of Ibadan history, tradition and custom. He was very humorous; kind and courageous. He spent 11 years on the throne.

Oba Asanike was succeeded by Oba Emmanuel Adeyemo Operinde, a former commissioner in the defunct Western State. He was a great politician.

Under his successor, Oba Ogundipe Arapasowu, the agitation for Ibadan State was intensified by the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCIC). The proposed state, according to the association, should cover Ibadan/Ibarapa areas.

Oba Samuel Odulana was a no mean ruler. He had made marks before he ascended the throne. A teacher and colonial soldier, he participated in politics and won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1959 as an independent candidate. That feat attested to his popularity and wide acceptance by the electorate. He was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary by the late Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Oba Lana was a man of peace who promoted fraternity among indigenes.

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