Adetona At 86 And His 60 Years of Robust Reign ... And Still Counting - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Sunday, May 10, 2020

Adetona At 86 And His 60 Years of Robust Reign ... And Still Counting

         •Oba Adetona

The Daily Crucible

By Providence, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, Ogbagba 11, clocks 86 today gracefully and doubles as the longest reigning monarch not just in Ogun State of Southwest Nigeria but also in the country.

 Ijebu - Ode, the traditional Headquarters of his domain ought to have been abuzz today with a beehive of festivities to celebrate his impactful 86 illustrious years and also 60 years on the throne of his forebears which he attained last April 2 but by queer design, the Coronavirus pandemic that is humbling authorities and nations around the world, has robbed him of that opportunity by foisting social distancing on humanity and making large gatherings unadvisable for the time being.

But that has not stopped his people from using platforms outside physical contacts to celebrate the iconic traditional ruler in Nigeria nay West Africa.

Oba Adetona was born into the Anikinaiya Ogbagba Royal Family of Ijebu Ode. His father was Prince Rufai Adetona of Imupa area of the ancient town founded by Obanta.

The monarch is regarded as the longest serving traditional ruler in the country and perharps, gerontologically, the oldest too.

And by virtue of his standing, he has had the rare privilege of  witnessing the up and down of Nigeria, her chequered political trajectory, leadership challenges from civilian to military rule, military to the civilian rule, Civilian to Military and finally, military to civilian as if in a relay game where barton was passed from one athlete to another, all be it in a back and forth fashion, until sanity returned to the nation's democratic space in 1999.

No wonder he is a repository of knowledge and wisdom in leadership which had continued to help him weather the storm and intrigues which government after government often throw on the path of traditional rulers to the hurt of some of them not so schooled sufficiently in the kiln of the tight rope of monarchy.

Adetona mounted the throne when he was barely 25 years. His journey to the throne began in 1960 when he was recalled from the United Kingdom where he was studying Accountancy.

His nomination for the Awujale Stool of Ijebuland was approved by the government of the defunct Western Region through a letter dated January 4, 1960.

Born on 10 May, 1934, Oba Adetona’s reign has been a monumental success and a pride to the Ijebu people. The monarch personifies the attributes of Ijebu people which include fierce and sturdy independence, candour, objectivity, sincerity, entrepreneurial spirit, reliability and resoluteness.

He has succeeded in raising the status and reckoning of the Ijebu people to global reckoning. He is regarded as one of the country’s greatest monarchs, dead or alive. A philosopher king and astute defender of his people,  Oba Adetona’s fame and popularity extends beyond the shores of Nigeria.

During the days of the late General Sani Abacha, the Awujale was among the few leaders that stood to be counted on the side of history. He refused to sell out.

 Nigerians will not forget in a hurry that he stood on the side of his son, General Oladipupo Diya, against all odds when the Odogbolu - born  General was dragged before a military tribunal over a coup many deemed to be phantom.
Also, when civil democracy returned and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Operatives were unleashed on the owner of Globacom,  Dr. Mike Adenuga, a major telecom operator, during the then administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, it was the courageous Awujale that rose against the unwarranted harassment of Adenuga by EFCC until respite came Adenuga's way.

It is one of the reasons the reverred monarch is well loved by his people and admirers.

Six years ago, the then President Goodluck Jonathan, described him as a “big masquerade” whose wealth of experience has helped the country in no small measure while former Lagos State Governor and  All Progressives Congress (APC)  National leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu described Adetona as an honest and courageous person.

Also,  a veteran  journalist, activist and Publicity Secretary of the Ogun State Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Tunde Oladunjoye, eulogised the monarch at 86, describing his person and reign as not only exciting and admirable, but also unequalled in terms of fame, poise, sagacity and grace in the annals of traditional rulership institution in Nigeria.

"The reign of Kabiyesi Alaiyeluwa, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Adetona, CFR, Ogbagba II, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland is not only exciting and admirable, but also unequalled in terms of fame, poise, sagacity and grace in the annals of traditional rulership institution in Nigeria.

"For he alone, as a point of fact, has the rare distinction till date of being the only monarch in Nigeria who has not only reigned, but also has the rare honour and privilege to dine and wine along with 15 Nigerian Presidents, 23 State Governors, about 40 Council Chairmen in his own primary domain of Ijebu-Ode, three Ooni of Ile-Ife, two Alaafin of Oyo, four Alake of Egbaland, two Akarigbo of Remoland and eleven Olubadan of Ibadanland.

"Two important factors would seem to be at play in the chequered life of the venerated monarch – excellent personal character and divine grace.  These positive factors have helped in no small measure to shape the ever glowing life of Kabiyesi to the joy and admiration of all his subjects, relations, friends, business associates and acquaintances, at home and abroad," Oladunjoye stated.

And sixty years down the line on the throne and at 86, Oba Adetona who is often referred to as the Orisa Ijebu by his people, had remained forthright, fearless and courageous leader in Yorubaland and Nigeria.

Although, he admitted that "the beginning was a bit rough," but thanked "Almighty Allah for blessing all his activities."

At his 80th birthday, six year ago, he promised himself one thing: to "continue to stand on the side of truth."

The Octogenarian, apparently not desirous of having Ijebuland slide into retrogression after over five decades of witnessing monumental progress and developments coupled with enviable peace and unity, urged his people to sustain the tempo by ensuring that the stool does not go to the money bags or wrong persons.

He tersely advised them during the last Ojude Oba cultural festival to "go for a capable successor" when ever he joins his ancestors, urging Ijebu sons and daughters to reject any Awujaleship candidate that could set Ijebuland on the path of backwardness.

"My prayer is that Ijebuland will continue to grow from strength to strength. Call on God for direction when picking my successor. Ask God to guide you," he had said.

With his charisma and sagacity, he has been able in the last 60 years to nurture this Ojude Oba annual cultural festival from being an homage paying visit to him by the Ijebu Ode Muslim community led by the second Balogun of Ijebu - Ode,  Chief Odueyungbo Kuku at the time, to becoming a unifying traditional festival.

The monarch has continued to use it to build bridge of unity  among the Ijebus, even deploying it deftly to also foster peace, religious tolerance, greater unity and economic development of the Ijebu nation, Ogun  state and Nigeria.

The festival has grown to become one of the most popular socio-cultural event in the entire South–West region of Nigeria and indeed a global tourist attraction which glamorises the success and enterprising spirit and equestrian touch of the Ijebus. 

It is also to  the credit of Oba Adetona that the age - grade social system that is referred to as Regberegbe by the Ijebus,  and which also formed one of the major symbols and characters of Ojude Oba cultural carnival, is where the enterprising spirit, healthy rivalry and drive for success are honed among the Ijebu sons and daughters.

If there is anything that this monarch would have loved to see come to reality as he marks his 60th coronation anniversary or in his life time, it is the creation of an Ijebu State out of the present Ogun State. The dream is so  dear to his heart and had pursued it with all his might, having considered it as an injustice that Ijebu province remained the only one that is yet to attain the status of a Statehood of all other old Provinces in Nigeria.

That dream almost came to fruition in 2012 when he hosted the then Senate President, David Bonaventure Mark, at that year's edition of the Ojude Oba festival. Mark did express his support for the creation of Ijebu State and assured at the  time that more States, including Ijebu State, would be created before the expiration of that Legislative Assembly but that did not happen. It is still hopeful that Ijebu state will materialise one day in future. This is wishing Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona more years on the throne with good health and blessings.

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