An 18th century Philosopher, William Feather, once wrote that “one of the indictments of civilizations is that happiness and intelligence
are so rarely found in the same person’’.
His Imperial Majesty, Iku Baba Yeye, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, is indisputably a traditional ruler with
More than 47 years after he ascended the throne of his forefathers,
Alaafin has brought elegance into the traditional institution, not only in
Oyo but also in Yorubaland.
Obviously, the story of Yoruba is not complete if you leave out the
Iku Baba Yeye, Alase Orisa as he is popularly called.
Not only does he impresses the knowledgeable audience with his mastery
of colonial history, his captivating speeches usually attract rounds
of standing ovations that leave the audience wondering if he is indeed
a monarch or a visiting Professor of African History.
He is a story teller and an incorrigible performer not only in social
values of veracity, egalitarianism, justice and democracy, but in
dress, utterances and comportment.
When Alaafin speaks in Yoruba and English Languages, you marvel at his
depth of knowledge.
You just don’t want him to stop. He is indeed a repertoire of history
Despite the fact that he is 80 on the 15th of October, 2018, when he
begins to talk about historical events both local and international,
with statistics and date, then you wonder how he remembers all these
He is a beauty to behold when he dances rhythmically to traditional
music, as his dance steps go in tandem with tunes of the music.
The contributions of Oba Adeyemi to the preservation and promotion of
Yoruba culture, his efforts toward the unity and progress of the
Yoruba as well as promotion of the traditional institution were
He is an epitome of intelligence, repository of knowledge culture and
symbol of intellectualism in royalty.
The Royal Enigma,,who is celebrating his 48th coronation in a low key,
spoke recently in an exclusive interview with BODE DUROJAIYE, on
1, QUESTION: How do You feel as you clock 48 years on the throne?
ANSWER: I feel totally fulfilled and give gratitude to God for His
grace. My thanks and appreciation also go to the people of Oyo across
board, and indeed the Yoruba at home and n the Diaspora for their
support and reverence to my person and the institution of the ALAAFIN
2, What are Your major achievements for Oyo people?
ANSWER: I think by this question you are straight-jacketing me in a
narrow confined of Oyo environment. Be that as it may, continued peace
among Oyo people irrespective of partisan political differences is
vital to any development, be it social, political and economic. This
is what political scientists called socialisation. The entire Oyo
people see the Palace as a symbol of their oneness. In terms of
infrastructural developments from both the Federal, State and Local
Government levels, there had been tremendous achievements in Oyo
Federal Constituency [Afijio, Atiba, Oyo-East and Oyo-West Local
I thank God and my people for what Oyo is today. At the Federal level,
we have such institutions like the Federal College of Education
[Special], the only one of its kind not only in Nigeria but in the
West African sub-region, the Federal School of Surveying, the only one
of its kind in Nigeria. At the State level, the Emmanuel Alayande
College of Education, while at the private level we have the Ajayi
Crowther University [by the Anglican Mission], and the recently
approved Atiba University. On the whole, Oyo has four tertiary
institutions, including two private universities. All these are
possible because of the peace options and the socialization techniques
which we have adopted for Oyo.
For instance, Oyo had been divided into large Quarters manned by
Principal traditional Chiefs namely the Oyo Mesi. Each of these
Quarters were sub-divided into smaller units and manned by other
category of high Chiefs. The ladder known as Compound are manned by
the Baales. While the third cadres were groups of Compounds
[Agbo-Ile]. The responsibilities are fixed from the lowest to the
highest ranks. These chains of administrative units enable the
ALAAFIN to move along with the people in crystallizing developmental
efforts of His domain.
That is why you ever heard of any major religious crisis both inter
and intra. The ALAAAFN’s ears are always on the ground as far as
security and security are concerned. As far as I am concerned, respect
to legally constituted authorities at all levels is a prerequisite of
the ALAAFIN’s administration right from history.
3, QUESTION: What is the secret of Your youthful look?
ANSWER: I would like to thank God for the gift of sheer contentment,
discipline, and my philosophy of life. I always try to make of best
ever out of seemingly bad situation[s]. I never allow anything to
bother me unnecessarily. I exercise my brain and body every day, since
I believe that a sound brain must be included in the sound body. I
strive always to be a thinker of formidable range, so that when I am
confronted with a problem, instead of allowing myself to be weighed
down, I try to find alternative solution to the problems confronting
me. Sometimes, I adopt the strategy of some world leaders like the
Greek Military Strategist of old, Marximus Fobius Cunctatus who said
you must not go to battle with your opponent on his own terms, but
strike at the right.
4, QUESTIION: Are traditional rulers relevant as they were before?
ANSWER: Suffice to the dynamics of time, I think they are still
relevant under the laws of the land. There are Chiefs Laws regulating
the appointments, and duties of the Obas, and Chiefs both to their
immediate communities and the State.
5, QUESTION: Would You support constitutional roles for traditional rulers in the current democracy?
ANSWER: I believe there is confusion in this question under the
present constitution we are operating in the country. You haven three
important water-tight compartments as regards the roles of the Federal
vis a vis the State Governments. That is the Exclusive, Concurrent and
the Residual Lists as enshrined in the constitution. Under the
Exclusive List, only the Federal Government has control over the Armed
Forces, Police, Customs, Immigration, Foreign Affairs, Currency,
Citizenship, and Internal Affairs among others. On the Concurrent
List are education, culture, agriculture among others in which both
the Federal and State Governments have control respectively. While,
the Residual List solely belongs to the State Government, such as
traditional institution. Are you now saying that the Residual List
should be abolished and put under the Federal Government? Under which
category will you put traditional rulers, House of Senate, House of
Representatives or the States’ Houses of Assembly? Since 1994, I had
been opposing the centralization of traditional institutions through
the convocation of National Council of Traditional Rulers. It is a
misnomer, and this was corroborated by the Print media who had
consistently condemned such contrivances by the Federal Government as
My advice had always been that traditional rulers should contend
themselves with the peaceful co-existence, and development by
complementing governments’ efforts on internal security.
Since the citizens who are the major determiners of the success or
otherwise of democratic and development programmes are under the
traditional influence of Obas, then the position of Obas as potent
mobilisers, advisers, mediators, facilitators, adjudicators and
nominators should be greatly be harnessed. The traditional
institutions which are the only remnants of our pre-colonial political
system must be preserved, promoted and strengthened through official
constitutional recognitions and acknowledgements. If the British who
colonized Nigeria and introduced liberal democracy still preserve
their traditional institutions by making the Queen of England the
Ceremonial Head of State with powers over the British armed forces,
then we have no reason in Nigeria to throw our Obas to the dustbin of
modern politics and administration.
In spite of the relegation of the traditional institutions in the
modern governance and politics, they have shown an uncommon resilience
which enable them to remain relevant and importance over the years.
For democracy and development to be sustained and consolidated, Yoruba
Obas must be recognised and accorded an important place. This is
because traditions and history have placed them in an uncommon
position that modernity cannot erase. Therefore, the potentials of
Obas towards sustaining and consolidating democracy and development
must be explored rather than jettisoned.
A people without a cultural identity of their own would be lost in the
forward march of world history, and their contributions to human
civilisation forgotten very easily.
6, QUESTION: Is the present Oyo kingdom as powerful and influential as the Old Oyo Empire?
ANSWER: To me this question is superfluous. You can as well ask if
the 15th Century British Monarchy is still as powerful today as before
then. Dynamics of change is a global phenomenon.
7, QUESTIONS: You made Gani Adams as the Aare Ona Kakanfo of
Yorubaland. What informed your choice?
ANSWER: Given the general acceptance of him across all strata in
Yorubaland, and not only in Nigeria but worldwide where the black race
are domicile, I am happy to have made a good choice that is acceptable
to the people.
8, QUESTION: How do You see Nigeria at 58?
ANSWER: Mixed feelings. No doubt our democracy is yet to stabilize
with the accepted global standard. For instance, our people see
election as a do or die affair and as going to a battle. That do or
die syndrome is still present. But I think that with time, we will
overcome all that. With the number of well-educated citizens in
Nigeria and abroad, the dynamic of change will catch up with us, and
Nigeria will shape a purposeful course that will put our scheme of
things in correct pact of rectitude. The present political leaders in
Nigeria are getting old and I foresee the educated young, aspiring
leaders would emerge to steer the ship of State in a completely
different and rightful direction.