• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Oba Lekan Balogun: When the curtains were finally drawn

Though, the beating of the drums actually stopped late evening of Thursday, 14th March this year and in observing the Islamic injunction professed by the late Olubadan of Ibadanland, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Mohood Olalekan Ishola Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, his remains were interred the following day at his ancestral Aliiwo family compound. But, following the tradition of elaborate celebration of the demise of such a personality, all could not have been said to be over until last Saturday, 8th June, 2024. It was the day set aside by the government of the state under the leadership of Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde, to fulfill the promise of giving the late Olubadan a befitting burial made by the governor after the demise of the erudite monarch. And true to his words, it was really a befitting burial for an enigmatic icon who bestrode the world like a colossus while the sojourn lasted.

The government left nobody in doubt of its seriousness with the composition of the committee of almost 40 eminent personalities to midwife the elaborate and very colourful programme witnessed at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium (former Liberty Stadium), Oke-Ado last Saturday, venue of the programme. Led by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Olusegun Olayiwola, the committee which also had as members three other Commissioner, Dotun Oyelade, Wasiu Olatunbosun and Toyin Balogun (Information, Culture and Tourism and Women Affairs and Social Inclusion respectively) ensured the representation of virtually all the critical stakeholders, such as the Olubadan Advisory Council, Iyalode line, the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), the Royal Highnesses, the family, Ibadan Royalty Committee, Security, Local Government and the Palace.

As preparations were being made to host dignitaries at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, there were also plans to host guests at both the Aliiwo ancestral home and Alarere residence of the late Olubadan and the state government ensured that all went well at all the three locations. About 72 hours to the ceremony, the Aare Akinrogun of Ibadanland and the former Chief of Army Staff who also served as Ambassador in Benin Republic, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Tukur Buratai (RTD) had through his Foundation, Tukur and Tukur Foundation organized a three- day medical outreach in honour of the departed Kabiyesi and described as the “Foundation’s way of saying final good bye to an illustrious and enigmatic personality”. While the first two days of the outreach was held at the Aliiwo family compound of the late Olubadan, the third and the final day took place at the main entrance of the venue of the ceremony, Obafemi Awolowo Stadium.

Earlier in the day, right at the stadium venue of the ceremony, a two-hour live radio broadcast on the life and times of the late monarch was held at which the younger brother of the departed Oba, Kola Balogun led three others including ‘the first contribution of the late Olubadan to humanity’ (that’s the usual Kabiyesi’s style of introducing her), Olufunmilayo Osinowo, Aderoju Balogun and my humble self to extensively spoke on the departed hero.

A day of speeches and they were not in short supply. The chief mourner and the governor of the state, Makinde told the creme de la creme of the society that witnessed the ceremony that the late 42nd Olubadan of Ibadanland lived a fulfilled life and would be fondly remembered for his contributions to the growth and development of Ibadan and Oyo State. Governor Makinde recalled that the late traditional ruler worked with the state government to achieve what he described as the seamless review of the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration in 2023, adding, “the successful review of the Oyo State Chiefs Law in 2023 will enable the government to install the next Olubadan soon. One thing I want us to take home today is that Kabiyesi Lekan Balogun and I did what people thought Napoleon could not do. The Executive Arm of government and the Legislature, on the 26th of May, 2023, amended the Chieftaincy Law of Oyo State so that the governor does not need to go to the Council of Chiefs to amend the declaration of traditional rulers. Kabiyesi Olubadan and I amended the Ibadan Chieftaincy Declaration. Those who are yet to see the document can go and look for it to confirm. That is the declaration to enthrone the Olubadan of Ibadanland”.

Condoling the family of the late Olubadan and the people of Ibadan and Oyo State in general, the governor urged everybody to take solace in the good life led by the late Kabiyesi, saying, “so, I want to once again thank you all and to console the family. We all lost baba but we should take solace in the fact that baba lived a very fulfilled life”. He used the opportunity to make first public comment on the nomination of the next Olubadan when he said, “the state government has accepted the recommendation of Olubadan-Elect, Oba Owolabi Olakulehin by the Olubadan-in-Council. I have seen the recommendation of the Olubadan-in-Council and I have accepted it. Oba Olakulehin would be enthroned when he is fit, because due process has been followed”.

While welcoming the guests on behalf of the State Government earlier, the Secretary to the State Government, Olanike Adeyemo, a professor, extolled the virtues of Oba Balogun, whom she described as an intellectual and a patriot. She praised the dedication and commitment of the late Ibadan foremost traditional ruler to the progress and growth of the state.

Speaking in the same vein, the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Aare Akinrogun of Ibadanland, Lt. Gen. Buratai (RTD) described the late Oba Balogun as a responsible traditional ruler, who lived to serve the people. He said the late Oba Balogun dedicated his life and time to promoting the unity and oneness of Nigeria. According to him, “the late Olubadan was a detribalised Nigerian who lived to serve humanity, Nigeria and the people of Ibadanland. He did not just accord me respect as an elder statesman, I was also honoured with a chieftaincy title of Aare Akinrogun of Ibadanland and I am proud to be associated with the late Olubadan.” The former Ambassador to Benin Republic, who prayed for the success of the Olubadan-designate, Oba Owolabi Olakulehin urged him to build on the legacies of his predecessors.

Responding on behalf of the Aliiwo dynasty, the Baba Kekere Olubadan and the younger brother of the late Kabiyesi, who was a member of the Ninth Senate, Mohammed Kolawole Balogun praised the governor for the ceremony, described as a fulfilled promise by the governor. He acknowledged with gratitude the support of the government for the late Oba Balogun and the family reiterating that the ceremony truly manifested the promise of a befitting burial Engr. Makinde made to give to the 42nd Olubadan on his demise.

The ceremony, which had on stand two great musicians, Chief Ebenezer Obey and Taye Currency was spiced with cultural display and what could be described as drum fiesta. It was an occasion that brought out the best in the energetic and workaholic Culture and Tourism Commissioner, Dr. Olatunbosun. But, for the heavy downpour that blessed the event, may be people would have stayed the night over celebrating an uncommon departed monarch.

As customary, the three widows of the late Olubadan, Oloris Olayinka, Olufunmilayo and Khalimat were in attendance as well as members of the Olubadan Advisory Council. There were other dignitaries from far and near. They included Senators Hassan Gussau, (Zamfara), Uche Ekwunife, (Anambra) and Lere Oriolowo (Osun). The Inspector General of Police (IG), Kayode Egbetokun was represented by the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, who was just promoted Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and Acting PDP National Chairman, Umar Iliya Damagum was also present.

On the entourage of Aare Akinrogun of Ibadanland, Lt. Gen. Buratai (RTD) were the Olowu of Kuta, Oba Hammed Oyelude Makama, HRM Adekemi Omorinbola, the Regent of Asin, Iwaro-Oka; Major General Bulama Biu (rtd); President of the 29th Regular Course, Commodore Teidi (rtd), and Brigadier General Muazu, the Garrison Commander, Division 2 Garrison Command. Others included Colonel Emmanuel Adegbola (rtd), Oladimeji Odeyemi, Ibrahim Danfulani, the Sadaukin Garkuwan Keffi, Femi Oyewale, the Publisher of Sahara Weekly and Lateef Onijo, among others.

On the roll call of the hosts were the Deputy Governor, Bayo Lawal and his wife, Ajibola Lawal, PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), Taofeek Arapaja, former deputy governors of Oyo State, Hamid Gbadamosi, Moses Alake and Hazeem Gbolarumi. Also in attendance were the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Iyabo Yerima, represented by Justice Akinniyi Akintola, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Segun Ogunwuyi and the Head of Service, Olubunmi Oni, mni. Also, the General Officer Commanding, 2 Division, Maj. Gen. Obinna Onubogu, Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta states, Dawud Makanjuola Akinola, traditional leaders, religious leaders and captains of industry were also in attendance.

Thus, that’s how the curtains were finally drawn and the chapter permanently closed on the life and era of the most educated (a Ph.D holder) Oba to have ever reigned in Ibadanland. A Senator of the Federal Republic from Oyo Central Senatorial District between 1999 and 2003, a University Chancellor, dogged fighter, a Lennist/Marxist ideologue, a detribalized, philanthropist and a humanist per excellence, highly cerebral and holder of prestigious National Honour of the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR), the 42nd Olubadan of Ibadanland (11th March 2022-14th March 2024) would have been 82 years on earth on 18 October this year having been born on same date in 1942.

Still feel pain saying good night, Kabiyesi!

 

.Ogunsola was Personal Assistant Media to the late Oba Balogun.

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