Awujale Of Ijebuland, World’s Longest Reigning Monarch Celebrates 64th Anniversary On The Throne

Chief (Dr.) Fassy Adetokunboh Yusuf, lawyer and ex-Ogun Information Commissioner pays tribute to HRM, Oba Dr. Kayode Adetona CFR

The World’s longest reigning paramount monarch, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona is 64 years on the throne. A patriot and nationalist of the highest order, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, was officially crowned on April 2, 1960, six months before the country’s attainment of independence.

His coronation including the presentation of the staff of office was performed by the Governor of Western Region, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, and witnessed by an unprecedented crowd including Nigeria’s Leader of Opposition, Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo and Ijebu notables.

A monarch like no other, he bestrides the traditional institution like a colossus. His reign has been a monumental success and a pride to the Ijebu of Southwest Nigeria, the several tribulations he faced up to 1984 notwithstanding.

He personifies the attributes of Ijebu that include strength of character (omoluwabi), fierce and sturdy independence, candour, objectivity, sincerity, entrepreneurial spirit, reliability, and resoluteness.

There are several accounts on the origin of Ijebu people. The accounts being largely oral, opinions are divided on how the people came to inhabit the present Ijebuland of Ogun State. The seemingly most factual of all the accounts was that the Ijebu people migrated into Nigeria from the Southern Sudanese region called Owadaiye, now corrupted to Waddai.

As if confirming the aphorism that a golden fish has no hiding place, the new Awujale was appointed by the Western Region Government as a Minister and Member of the Region’s Executive Council. This position he occupied until the outbreak of the Western region’s political crisis of 1962. With the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Western Region by the then Federal Government, the Administrator of the region, Dr. Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi, found the services of the young Awujale indispensable. He was made a Commissioner during the Emergency period.

Since 1960, Oba Adetona has succeeded in raising the status and reckoning of his Ijebu people. He is known and perceived as one of the country’s greatest monarchs- dead or alive. A philosopher and social engineer, a thoroughbred and incorruptible monarch, his fame and popularity extend beyond the shores of Nigeria.

A creative and strategic ruler, Oba Adetona has been a significant factor in the nation’s socio-political and economic development and growth.

The Awujale is loyally and devotedly committed to the Nigerian State. He is indeed, a patriot. He has built bridges across Rivers Niger and Benue. He admonishes his people to be thoroughbred wherever they find themselves. No wonder the Ijebu people have not only comported themselves wherever they are, but it is on record that no inter or intra ethnic clash has been recorded in Ijebuland since he ascended the throne in 1960.

He was in the forefront of finding a national solution to the political logjam of 1993 to 1998. Oba Adetona consulted widely and hosted several fora. He was never a sell out. He brokered peace and concord in 1998 and 1999, and the current major actors in the nation’s political parties will readily attest to this disclosure.

It should be stated without equivocation that spoils of office cannot corrupt the monarch. He is just, transparent and equitable.

Oba Adetona loathes any indecency and malfeasance. He eschews corruption like the plague. He has been known to chastise corrupt leaders and quite often to publicly denounce them.

Oba Adetona, to paraphrase Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819 to 1881), is one leader “whom the lust of office does not kill.’’ A leader “whom the spoils of office cannot buy”. A monarch who “possesses opinions and a will.’’ A king “who has honour, who will not lie”. A legend that has always “stood before a demagogue and damned his treacherous flattering without winking”. That every successive administration in Ogun State and Nigeria holds him in high esteem is a manifestation of his incorruptibility and sagacity.

He has immeasurably succeeded in bringing about religious harmony among his people to the extent that religion does not dichotomise Ijebu. The Christians live in harmony with Muslims in Ijebuland. The traditionalists are equally not isolated. The common saying in Ijebu is that “religion cannot divide us”. Albeit Oba Adetona, is the President of the United Muslim Council (an umbrella Islamic organisation for Muslims) and the Vice President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, he attends Christian functions and he is quite versed in Christianity. The Ijebu Christian Community holds the New Year Prayer Session in the Awujale Palace. Many of his high-ranking Otunba and Chiefs are Christians.

Even though blessed with the wherewithal of life, Oba Adetona was able to mobilise his subjects in the 1980s to construct what is today one of the best ultra-modern palaces in the country.

He was at it again when he galvanised his people to construct what is now known as Oba S. K. Adetona Golden Jubilee Centre directly opposite the palace. It is otherwise known as Palace Annexe. The palace extension serves a number of purposes including as venue for the Annual Ojude Oba Festival (the international socio-cultural festival of the Ijebu nation), Royal Arcade, Ijebu National Museum, Regberegbe (Age Grade) Secretariat, Council of Otunba Secretariat, Council of Chiefs Secretariat, Shopping complex, and Tourists’ centre.

The Ijebu monarch, Alaiyeluwa Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona represents the totality of the worthy ancestral heritage of a people that have carved a niche for themselves in governance. It was therefore, not a surprise that the monarch shortly after his 80th birthday in 2014, instituted the Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance in the Department of Political Science. This endeavour has led to the establishment of the Institute of Governance for postgraduate and research studies in Governance, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State.

The multi-billion naira and iconic project is expected to be commissioned by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as part of activities to mark the 90th birthday anniversary of the monarch.

His commitment to education is unassailable. His contributions to education is equally legendary. He fought for the retention of Tai Solarin University of Education when a past administration mooted the idea of scrapping the institution which is the first university of education in the country.

Indeed, Oba Adetona’s contribution to education is legendary. He was appointed the Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology (now Modibbo Adama University), Yola by the Babangida administration. After serving out his term, he received a lot of accolades as a leader with impeccable credentials.

Kabiyesi also served as Chancellor of Crescent University, Abeokuta, and he is currently, the Chancellor of Hallmark University, Itele-Ijebu.

Recently the Ogun State Government renamed the Tai Solarin College of Education as Oba Sikiru Adetona College of Education, Science and Technology. This is a monumental gain for the institution as the education-loving monarch is now embarking on a massive transformation of the institution to make it primus inter pares.

Oba Adetona has brought tremendous honour and dignity to the Traditional institution, especially to Ijebu Traditional Council. His records of excellent and unsurpassable service to his people and the country are heart warming.

We sincerely salute the living legend, the great and amiable monarch as he continues to represent the totality of what the Ijebu stand for as a race. May his reign continue to be peaceful, progressive, and beneficial to Ijebuland, and indeed, to the nation.

Chief (Dr.) Fassy Adetokunboh Yusuf, Legal Practitioner and Distinguished Fellow University of Lagos is Baagbimo of Ijebu and former Ogun State Commissioner for Information, Culture, and Sports.

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