On October 29, the entire Ebiraland in Kogi State was thrown into mourning following the demise of the paramount ruler, the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, His Royal Majesty (Dr) AbdulRahaman Ado Ibrahim, at the age of 95.
Soon after the announcement of his death by the Secretary of the Ebiraland Traditional Council, Alhaji Salihu Sule, thousands of mourners trooped to Azad Palace, his palatial home in Okene, to pay their last respects.
“We lost our daddy and leader this early morning of Sunday in an Abuja hospital where he was being treated for an age-related ailment for three weeks now.
“We are in shock and pain over his death. He was indeed a good father and leader for not just Ebiraland but Kogi and Nigeria as a whole,” Sule said.
Many of the mourners who spoke to Daily Trust recounted his fearlessness, wisdom, entrepreneurship, doggedness and peaceful disposition.
The late Royal Majesty, Dr AbdulRahaman Ado Ibrahim, was born on February 7, 1929, to the family of the second Attah of Ebiraland, Ibrahim Onoruoiza, of the Omadivi clan, who reigned between 1917 and 1954.
The young Ado was said to have completed nursery and Quranic education at the age of 11 years.
He completed his secondary education at Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife (now Osun State), in 1949 after spending three years (1943–1946) in Ondo Boys High School, finished Okene Native Administration School in 1940, and was admitted to Okene Middle School in 1941.
Thereafter, he moved to the London School of Economics (1952), where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Statistics in 1954.
He then went to the Business School of Harvard University, where he earned his MBA in 1959.
Dr Ibrahim ascended the throne of Ohinoyi of Ebiraland following the death of Ohinoyi Sanni Omolori of the Oziada clan in 1997, becoming the fourth Ohinoyi of Ebiraland.
The late monarch was said to be the most celebrated and flamboyant traditional ruler in central and northern Nigeria.
He was noted for his rare commitment to showcasing the culture of his people and their ability to go with modern trends.
His palatial home, popularly known as Azad Palace, is testimony to his resolve to bring the kingdom at par with current trends.
According to his subjects, until his death, Azad Palace was still under construction and rehabilitation.
“Our Royal Majesty loved his palace with passion. He modelled it in the mould of Buckingham Palace of Queen of England in London.
“There is no year he will not retouch one aspect of the buildings. We always come around to watch with enthusiasm the area he will touch every year,” Dr Aliyu Abdullai, a community leader from Okene, said.
According to many, the late paramount ruler was a man gifted with rare wisdom who displayed it greatly in his decisions on sensitive matters.
This, they claimed, had ensured a peaceful reign and coexistence between Ebiraland and other tribes.
For instance, Mallam Enesi Adeiza, a community leader in Okene, said that in the heat of disinformation and misinformation by fake news peddlers in their attempt to cause disaffection between the Igala and Ebira tribes, the late royal father displayed a rare wisdom that calmed down nerves to that effect.
“He stood his ground, using all fora to send out a message of peaceful coexistence, and ensured that the divisive tendencies of the tribal jingoists did not see the light of the day,” he said.
He added that at his 92nd birthday ceremony in 2021, which attracted people from all walks of life from within and outside the country, the late Ohinoyi demonstrated his resolve for peaceful coexistence.
“All the dignitaries were asked to pay royal greetings to our Ohinoyi shortly after he came out and took his seat.
“Jokingly, the late Royal Majesty stopped the representatives of Ata Igala, His Royal Majesty, Alaji Mathew Opaluwa Ogwuche Akpa II, from leaving their seats to pay royal greetings. He said it’s a mark of disrespect for him to allow Ata Igala to leave his seat to greet him.’’
He added that the exchange of royal banters that followed the “spinning humour” changed the environment with a culture of respect, with the kernel of the message noting that both tribes are one and should entertain, respect and coexist peacefully with one another.
“That episode alone has doused the flame of ethnic chauvinists who were out fanning the ember of divisiveness by distorting facts about the two great tribes, which are products of the Kwararafa kingdom of the ancient days,” he said.
In one of his last public outings, the royal father canvassed for a role to be given to the traditional institution in the constitution of the land to assist in stemming the tide of insecurity that has bedevilled the nation.
He said the people at the helm of affairs in the nation should note that the security of the land is not a one-man show but a collective responsibility for the desired effect.
He added that for the hoodlums terrorising the nation in different communities to be neutralised effectively, the traditional institutions should be involved.
These and many more of the qualities of the late Ohinoyi saw thousands of people besieging the palace to mourn his death.
Residents said his body, which was received in Okene around 6.40pm, took almost an hour before it reached the palace for the final interment.
Also, markets, shops, and other economic activities were shut down in the town as a mark of respect for him.
Meanwhile, prominent people have been pouring encomiums on the late royal father since his death was announced.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in a statement by his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, said the death of the Ohinoyi was a painful loss to the country, describing the late monarch as peace-loving, affable and a cerebral king.
“The Ohinoyi of Ebiraland was in a class of his own. He was highly respected and admired for his deep insights, wisdom and sophistication. He had a masterful way of handling issues. He was very knowledgeable and wise,” he said.
Also speaking, the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and Gombe State governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, said the entire northern governors mourn the loss of the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland.
“The distinguished first-class monarch remained a man of peace and an exemplary leader whose reign was characterised by dedication, commitment to unity, harmony and understanding among the people.”
Similarly, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State said the late Ohinoyi was a distinguished scholar in Islamic and cultural affairs, and his contributions were truly exceptional, not only in the progress of Kogi State but throughout Nigeria.
“For me, I have lost a father figure and a trusted confidant with the passing of Sa’aki. As we all know, His Royal Majesty Ado Ibrahim was renowned not only for his role as a traditional leader but also as an expert in conflict resolution,” he said.
Also, politicians in the state, including Senator Dino Melaye (PDP candidate), Senator-elect Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, Muritala Ajaka (SDP candidate), the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Durosinmi Meseko, Kogi State deputy governor, Chief Edward Onoja, and a host of others, described the late monarch as a man of his words who impacted society positively while alive.