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Excitement as Ibadan monarch turns 100 tomorrow

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When on Friday, August 17, 2007, the immediate past governor of Oyo
State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, presented staff of office to Oba
Samuel Odulana, Odugade 1, as the 40th Olubadan of Ibadanland, at the
basement of the ancient Mapo Hall, it was a dream come true for the 93
year-old monarch who started his journey to the throne in 1972 with
his appointment as the Mogaji of his family compound at Oja-Igbo.
Indeed the carnival-like ceremony was witnessed by prominent
indigenes, residents and important dignitaries from within and outside
the country.

As the Otun Olubadan, High Chief Samuel Osundiran Lana was unanimously
elected by the 11 kingmakers that made up the Olubadan-In- Council on
11 July, 2007 to succeed Oba Yunisa Bankole Oladoja Ogundipe, who died
on July 6, 2007. And looking resplendent in traditional aso oke and
crown on his head, the first sign that the monarch would not be a push
over was his coronation speech in which he called on all indigenes of
the city to come together to enhance its economic development with the
assurance that he would spend the rest of his life to reclaim the lost
glory of the city. While maintaining that the time of lawlessness in
the city was over, the royal father assured that he would see that the
traditional institution cooperate with the law enforcement agencies to
rid the city of all forms of vices.

His words: “I hereby pledge to spend the rest of my life pursuing the
mission of restoring Ibadan’s glory, for this purpose we need the
cooperation of all the sons and daughters of Ibadanland at home and
abroad and the goodwill and help of all other residents and friends of
the city. First of all, let us all constantly pray and work for the
peace and progress of Ibadanland so that we may continue to be
blessed.

” I, therefore, use this opportunity to call upon all Ibadan sons and
daughters and their socio cultural organisations located in Ibadan
,Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt , Kano, Enugu and overseas to come back
home to invest in the rural areas belonging to your families. In the
area of security, Ibadan must move with the tide of modernity, nobody
should think he can take the law into his hands with impunity and
thereby scare away peace loving people. I appeal to all community
leaders to take legal steps to make their communities crime free.

“We want to assure all law enforcement agencies of government that all
traditional institutions in Ibadanland led by me will cooperate with
them to rid Ibadan and its environs of all acts of brigandage,
thuggery, vandalism and other anti- social behaviours.”

However, it is pertinent to know precisely who Oba Odulana is. Widely
acclaimed to be an educationist, soldier, administrator and statesman,
he hails from the Ladunni Compound in the Oja Igbo area of Ibadan
metropolis and was born at Igbo-Elerin in the Lagelu Local Government
area of Ibadanland on Thursday, April 14, 1914 to Pa. Odulana Ayinla.
He began the seemingly long journey to the throne with his appointment
as the Mogaji (head) of his family compound at Oja-Igbo in the city in
1972. He succeeded in taking the first traditional chieftaincy title
of Jagun Olubadan in 1976. And with 22 steps already taken on the
ladder of traditional chieftaincy he keeps a date with destiny as one
of the longest living Olubadan of Ibadanland. And it is apt to note
that one of the qualities of Ibadan Obas is that of age, longevity and
with it, wisdom.

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Oba Odulana earlier in life began his elementary education at Saint
Andrew’s School, Bamigbola, in the present Lagelu Local Government
area in January 1922 and obtained a transfer to Saint Peter’s School,
Aremo in 1929. He completed his middle school education at Mapo
Central School in December 1936. He equally strengthened his education
via correspondence college. The monarch had a brief stint with United
African Company (UAC) as a Produce Clerk before taking up teaching
appointment at the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Elementary School,
Jago in the present Ona- A r a Local Government in 1938. He also
taught in several schools from 1939 to 1942. He however willingly
relinquished the chalk to pick the more challenging duty as an army
officer during the 1939 Second World War. The lessons learnt at his
duty post was well utilised such that upon the end of the war in 1945,
he was put in charge of the demobilisation of retuning soldiers in
Lagos which earned him an exemplary character award of the Army Fourth
Brigade and this climaxed in an immediate appointment with the
Colonial Office Education Department in 1946.

The monarch while in the civil service, where he was until 1959,
actively assisted in the establishment of both primary and secondary
schools in various parts of the old Western Region of Nigeria. He
voluntarily retired and embraced politics to represent his people in
the 1959 pre-Independence federal elections as a member of the House
of Representatives. This led to a string of political achievements
such that he was appointed the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime
Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, in the country’s first
independent cabinet. In 1963, he attended the epoch-making
Commonwealth Conference in London. He also became the country’s
Minister of State for Labour. In 1964, he led the Nigerian
Parliamentary delegation to the London Constitutional Conference to
restructure the then British colonies of Rhodesia and Nyasalandnow
known as Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The royal father’s political career was truncated by the 1966
Nigeria’s first military coup, but he evolved to become a
philanthropist, progressive and community icon. He graced the Ibadan
sociocultural landscape with so much fanfare that gave rise to him
being the co-founder of prime organizations, mobilising Ibadan people
for grassroots developments, such that The Ibadan Economic Foundation
and the Ibadan Progressive Union which were created to ensure that the
high standards of patriotism and self-sacrifice of the Ibadan founding
fathers are maintained by the present generation of indigenes. These
laudable achievements, no doubt, contributed to his conferment of a
honourary degree of Doctor of Management Technology by the Federal
University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State in December 2005. Oba
Odulana has also bagged the national awards of CFR.

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As a royal father who believed in the sacredness of the royal
institution, one of the challenges he faced immediately he assumed the
throne was cutting the wings of one of his High Chiefs, the late
Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP), who was not only a member of the Olubadan-In-Council but also
called the shots not only in Ibadanland and his political activities
were getting controversial on daily basis.

To prevent the traditional institution from what he termed as ridicule
, he issued a statement to the effect that High Chiefs who are members
of the Olubadan-in- Council must not participate in partisan politics
since the palace is expected to be neutral.

This was, however, to put the monarch in a rift with Alhaji Adedibu
who maintained that Oba Odulana cannot cage him by stopping him from
playing politics.

Though prominent indigenes intervened to settle the rift between the
monarch and Adedibu, it was still an open secret that the relationship
between them was not the best before the death of the late strongman
of Ibadan politics in 2008 with many of his supporters believing that
the monarch gave the order because of the latter’s sympathy for the
then Action Congress of Nigeria ( ACN ), while Adedibu was in PDP

One other challenge that Oba Odulana has fought till today is his
opposition to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111, assuming the
position of Permanent Chairman of Oyo State Council of Obas and
Chiefs. Indeed with the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi
Ajagungbade, the Olubadan has continued to insist on the rotation of
the Chairmanship position such that any government in the state that
does not agree with this position is certain not to get the support of
the monarch.

For instance, it was only towards the end of his tenure when he signed
into law a bill that made the position rotational that Oba Odulana
could be said to have supported the administration of Otunba
Alao-Akala. And to play safe, the present administration of Senator
Abiola Ajimobi, has stopped the meeting of the Council of Obas on the
stand that there is a case concerning the issue in court.

For a monarch who has served and continued to serve his people, it
will be an understatement that the largest city South of the Sahara
will roll out the drum to celebrate his centenary anniversary. Indeed
right now, the ‘Ibadan House’, is wearing a new look in anticipation
of the anniversary while the epoch-making event is expected to be
graced by the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; the Senate
President, Senator David Mark; the Nobel Laurette, Prof. Wole Soyinka,
and other distinguished personalities from all walks of life.

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