It was a sad moment for residents of Oyo town in Oyo State on Saturday as the foremost monarch in the state, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi joined his ancestors.
The young and old trooped out in large numbers to pay their last respect to the Alaafin as he was laid to rest.
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The Alaafin, who was 83 years old and had spent 52 years on the throne, was said to have been confirmed dead at the Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State after a brief illness. His reign was the longest in the history of Oyo land.
Daily Trust on Sunday observed on Saturday that major markets in Oyo town, such as Akesan and Owode, were shut to honour the late monarch.
Our correspondent reports that aside from the dignitaries at the palace, located at Oju-Obata, sympathisers from across the state flooded the palace.
The chief imam of Oyo land, Masud Ajokidero, performed the Janazah, an Islamic rite on the deceased around 12pm on Saturday and laid him to rest.
Speaking with reporters after the Janazah, the head of the kingmakers (Oyomesi) and the Basorun of Oyo land, High Chief Yusuf Akinade Ayoola, said the monarch was already recuperating and set to be discharged from the hospital before his medical condition relapsed.
He was said to have instructed the Oloris who were with him at the hospital to get themselves ready as he would soon be discharged from the hospital.
Kabiyesi, according to Chief Ayoola, had informed the consultants of his readiness to go home, but he was advised to stay till Saturday for further medical checks.
Kabiyesi, according to Chief Ayoola, told the medical consultants, “Come and discharge me I want to go home.”
Also speaking, a former member of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Leke Oyatokun, said his wife was the personal secretary to the Alaafin, adding that the late monarch sponsored his election to the assembly.
With the death of Alaafin Adeyemi, who was enthroned on the platform of the Alowoloju family, Awujoola is expected to produce the next king of the ancient town.
Iku Baba Yeye: Encyclopaedia of Yoruba culture and tradition
The late monarch, Lamidi Adeyemi III, was born on October 15, 1938 into the Alowolodu royal house and as a member of the House of Oranmiyan to Raji Adeniran Adeyemi. As he was fondly called, Iku Baba Yeye, whose mother, Ibironke of Epo-Gingin, died when he was young, was the son of the late Raji Adeniran Adeyemi, who became Alaafin in 1945. His paternal grandfather was Alaafin Adeyemi I Alowolodu, who ruled during the Kiriji war, and was the last independent ruler of the Oyo Empire before British colonialism
History shows that Oba Adeyemi was brought up in some places in the southwestern part of the country.
Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III ascended the throne of Alaafin in 1970 at a young age of 31, shortly after the end of the civil war. He became the king when Colonel Robert Adeyinka Adebayo was the military governor of Oyo State.
One of the notable features of the late monarch are his 12 young beautiful wives. He attended most events with his senior wife, Ayaba Abibat Adeyemi.
The other wives are Ayaba Rahmat Adedayo Adeyemi; Ayaba Mujidat Adeyemi; Ayaba Rukayat Adeyemi; Ayaba Folashade Adeyemi; Ayaba Badirat Ajoke Adeyemi; Ayaba Memunat Omowunmi Adeyemi; Ayaba Omobolanle Adeyemi; Ayaba Moji Adeyemi; Ayaba Anuoluwapo Adeyemi and Ayaba Damilola Adeyemi.
His father is said to have had over 200 wives.
The late king was the chancellor of Uthman Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto from 1980 to 1992.
The Alaafin was the permanent chairman of the Council of Obas and Chiefs in Oyo State until May 3, 2011 when the late former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala announced that the state government had passed a law that introduced rotation of the office of the chairman between the Alaafin and two other kings in the state – the Olubadan of Ibadan and the Soun of Ogbomoso.
His death is the third of a senior monarch in Oyo State within five months – the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, Ajagungbade III, aged 95, died on December 12, 2021 after 48 years on the throne, while the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, aged 93, died in January 2, 2022.
Buhari, Obasanjo, govs, others mourn
Meanwhile, tributes have continued to pour in from notable personalities across the country for the late Alaafin since the news of his death broke.
Many Nigerians, including politicians and corporate organisations, have been reacting to the death of the monarch.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement issued yesterday by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, commiserated with the government and people of Oyo State over the passing of the Alaafin.
He said the reign of the highly revered traditional ruler covered major historic transitions in the country and witnessed transformation in his domain.
President Buhari stated that the Alaafin’s 52-year rule was remarkable in many ways, adding that 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.
Also, former President Olusegun Obasanjo paid glowing tributes to the late Alaafin.
Obasanjo’s letter of condolence to the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, an engineer, said Oba Adeyemi died “at a crucial state in our nation’s history when his wise counsel and rich experience are greatly needed.”
A copy of the letter was made available to journalists in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Saturday by his special assistant on media, Kehinde Akinyemi.
Obasanjo, who is said to be presently in Ethiopia, condoled with the Oyo State governor, the family of Oba Adeyemi and the entire people of Oyo on the passing of the renowned Yoruba monarch.
The former president described him as a symbol of a nation’s epic struggle for self-discovery and actualisation.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a statement signed by his special adviser on media and publicity, Lanre Lasisi, described the death of the paramount traditional ruler as a sad development that touched him personally.
Gbajabiamila stated that the death came to him as a shock adding that the late Alaafin had been like a father to him.
The Speaker said the late king was a man of peace whose five decades of quality leadership to his people endeared him to the masses.
Also, Governor Makinde, who described Oba Adeyemi’s death as a personal loss to him, noted that he was an ever-supportive royal father and a worthy leader who spared nothing in trying to make Oyo State and Nigeria greater.
A statement by the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that Kabiyesi’s words of advice and guidance were always golden and helpful.
The statement indicated that the governor expressed his condolences to the Oyo State Traditional Council, the Oyomesi, Oba Adeyemi’s immediate family, the people of Oyo kingdom and the entire Yoruba race, praying to God to grant repose to the soul of the departed monarch.
The governor, who stated that apart from Oyo State losing its last man standing in the rank of experienced monarchs with long years of royal leadership, added that it had also lost a royal institution and an authority, which Alaafin Olayiwola Adeyemi III had become by virtue of his high understanding of Yoruba history, politics and national development.
On his part, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, described the passing of the Alaafin as the end of an era.
Emir Sulu-Gambari said in Ilorin that Oba Adeyemi’s departure was also a colossal loss to traditional institutions in the country.
He noted that Oba Adeyemi’s reign witnessed a tremendous display of royalty, excellence, peace and harmony among inhabitants of the ancient town of Oyo and Oyo State in general.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State also commiserated with the government and people of Oyo State over the transition of the Alaafin.
Ortom, in a condolence message to his Oyo State counterpart, described the late monarch as a brave and courageous king who did everything possible to preserve the culture and tradition of his people.
Similarly, the chairman of the South West Governors Forum and Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said he received the news of the transition of the Alaafin with shock.
Akeredolu, in a press statement signed by his press secretary, Richard Olatunde noted, “We have lost a quintessential traditional ruler and custodian of the Yoruba culture. His contributions to the development and advancement of the country and Yoruba land in particular are unquantifiable.
“He was a great pillar and giant who did not only represent our cultural values but also preserved and promoted the Yoruba culture. He was a repository of knowledge.”
Also, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State said the late octogenarian monarch was an influential leader who was committed to the development of his kingdom and beyond.
He remarked that the king led a good life, during which his influence transcended his domain, and indeed, Oyo State.
Also, a former secretary to the Oyo State Government, Sharafadeen Alli, in a statement he personally signed, described the late Alaafin as an encyclopaedia of Yoruba culture and tradition.
According to the governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the death of the Alaafin is coming at a time Oyo State needs his wealth of experience to reshape political and economic activities in the state.
In the same vein, the chairman, Senate Committee on Local Content and the lawmaker representing the Oyo central senatorial district, Senator Teslim Folarin, said the monarch was like a father to him. He added that Nigeria had lost a crusader for peace, stability and unity.
Furthermore, the pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described the late Alaafin of Oyo as a colossus who raised the bar of kingship in Yoruba land and Africa to a very high pedestal.
In a statement by the organisation’s national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere noted that the late Alaafin was a personification of royalty and nobility.
He stated, “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.
Again, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, in his message, described the death of the Alaafin as a loss to the entire Oduduwa race worldwide.
The Ooni, in a statement by his director of media and public affairs, Otunba Moses Olafare, noted that the late Alaafin was a worthy elder whose entire lifetime was dedicated to the promotion of the Yoruba culture and advancement of humanity.
He prayed for the soul of the departed monarch, as well as the family to have the fortitude to bear his death. He also prayed that Oyo people would be spiritually guided to complete the burial of the monarch in accordance with the culture and tradition of their ancestors.
Also, Osun State governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, described the passing of the Alaafin as shocking, saying it signifies the end of an era.
Oyetola also commiserated with his Oyo State counterpart, Governor Makinde and the entire Yoruba race over the demise of the monarch.
He described Alaafin’s transition as a personal loss because, according to him, the late monarch was “a good friend of Osun, who was always ready to identify with our government and celebrate our humble accomplishments.”
From Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan), Muideen Olaniyi, Balarabe Alkassim (Abuja), Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Bola Ojuola (Akure), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos) & Hameed Oyegbade (Osogbo)