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Culture, politics and history enthusiasts across Nigeria are anxiously awaiting the emergence of a new Alaafin of Oyo. As the race to the throne took off with the screening of aspirants by the ruling house, SAMUEL ADEGOKE unveils the shortlisted 48 princes who scaled the first hurdle and the intrigues ahead of the potential winner
For the first time after 52 years, the ancient town of Oyo faces the task of picking a new Alaafin. The demise of the last occupant, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, threw the throne open. He joined his ancestors on April 22, 2022 after a glamorous 52-year reign.
Princes in Agunloye ruling house started preparing for the race to the throne from the day the news of his death broke. Agunloye ruling house is expected to produce the next Alaafin.
The ruling house, which has five branches, says it parades princes who are accomplished professionals and successful business men suitable for the throne. The crown has been rotating between Alowolodu and Agunloye ruling houses. Though there are other descendants of Oba Abiodun Atiba who was crowned the first Alaafin in the present day Oyo, they are yet to be accommodated in the Alaafin of Oyo Chieftaincy Declaration.
Already, Oyo State Governor Oluseyi Makinde has urged kingmakers to speed up the process, assuring that he would approve any selected prince.
Why Alaafin throne is keenly contested
The Alaafin stool occupies a primate position in Yoruba land and African history. The rise, strength and power of the old Oyo empire gave the throne the primacy in West Africa. They also added to its nobility and its occupier.
The greatness made colonial masters accord the throne a primus inter pares position in Yoruba land, thrusting upon it a massive consenting authority over several other Yoruba communities that cut across today’s states.
The throne was further elevated by the immediate past Alaafin, who soaked himself in deep history of the town’s origin, greatness and influence across centuries. The late Oba Adeyemi III’s public conduct, rich knowledge of history, unparalleled love for Yoruba culture and tradition as well as his tenacity to pursue his convictions to a logical end, added more honor and glamour to the throne.
Oba Adeyemi III recommended and secured the elevation of many baales to beaded crown-wearing obas including the Olubadan and Soun of Ogbomoso. Others include Timi of Ede, Okere of Saki, Aseyin of Iseyin, Aree of Iree, Akirun of Ikirun, Olufi of Gbongan and Alayegun of Ode-Omu. He also enjoyed the honour of personally conducting their crowning.
The Alaafin is still the consenting authority to the communities in Oyo and Oke-Ogun areas of Oyo State.
New race to the throne
The Agunloye ruling house has shortlisted and presented names of 48 princes for processing. The candidates were said to have been shortlisted among a large number of princes who submitted letters of intent.
Handing over the applications to Baba Iyaji (head of princes) High Chief Mukaila Afonja on June 9, the head of Agunloye ruling house (aka Mogaji) Pa Samuel Adeladan, said the applicants were eminently qualified, pointing out that they are accomplished princes from five branches of the ruling house.
He told Chief Afonja that the Mogaji of each branch of the ruling house conducted initial screening while the committee set up by the ruling house, which he also headed, discovered some who were found wanting in tracing their roots in the ruling house.
Adeladan also urged Chief Afonja not to accept applications from any other person, stressing that only the 48 are the true sons of Agunloye ruling house. He added that the family was ready to accept and support any of the candidates that is selected.
Among the candidates is the 84-year old retired Archbishop of Methodist Church of Nigeria Prince Ayo Ladigbolu. He hails from Ladigbolu royal family of Agunloye ruling house.
By now, the applications are with the Oyomesi which will do the selection. The Oyomesi comprises the kingmakers, who will review the resumes of the candidates, their credibility and other relevant characteristics in addition to consultation with the Ifa oracle for a perfect selection. The Oyomesi is headed by the Basorun of Oyo who is the prime minister.
The Oyomesi, which serves as a council of advisers to the Alaafin, comprises the following:
A. Basorun of Oyo, who is the head and prime minister
B. Asipa of Oyo
C. Agbaakin of Oyo
D. Alapinni of Oyo
E. Lagunna of Oyo
F. Shamu of Oyo
G. Akinniku of Oyo
The Oyomesi will select and forward the name to the state government through Atiba Local Government which handles Alaafin’s affairs.
The candidates OKE APO (GBADEGESIN)
Abdul Rashidi Adewale GBADEGESIN
Dr. Abidoye GBADEGESIN
Abdrasak Adegoke GBADEGESIN
Kabiru Adebayo GBADEGESIN
Isiak Olatunde GBADEGESIN
Basiru Adeniyi GBADEGESIN
Monjeed Abiola GBADEGESIN
Lukman Adelodun GBADEGESIN
Babajide Aderoju GBADEGESIN
Abdmonjeed Adekunle GBADEGESIN
Ajibade Adebayo ADELADAN
Tella Biliaminu KOLAWOLE
Tiani Hammed ADEBAYO
Salami Saheed BABATUNDE
Ladigbolu Adewale ADEREMI
Adekunle Mutahir ADEGBOYE
Alh. Tesleem Oriade LADIGBOLU
Adekunle Kamal ADEYEMI
Adebisi Jeleel ADENIYI
Oluokun Kasali AGUNLOYE
Adekunle Gafar ADEBAYO
Tella Meroof ADENIYI
Owoade Wahab Folorunso ADEREMI
Adewusi Mukaila OLANREWAJU
Olaide Dauda OLADIMEJI
Tella Adeniyi KAREEM
Agunloye Adelayo ADEREMI
Aderogba Idowu AGUNLOYE
Morounranti Hakeem ALAYOAYO
Gbadegesin Taofeek AGUNLOYE
Remilekun Enitan ADENIYA
Akinade Abdul Rahman ALAYOAYO
Archbishop Prince Lawrence Sanda Ayo Ladigbolu
Lukman Alabi Olugbenga Ladigbolu
36.Hakeem Abiodun Adeyanju Ayinde Ladigbolu
Ayobami Adewumi Sanda Ladigbolu
Amidu Abiodun Ladigbolu
Muideen Adekunle Ladigbolu
Kolade Tunde Saani Ladigbolu
Adegboyega Ibrahim Ladigbolu
Abdulquadri Opeyemi Ladigbolu
Ismaila Aderemi Belawu Adekunle Ladigbolu
Adebimpe Wasiu Abiodun Ladigbolu
Taofeek Adewumi Ladigbolu
Rasaki Kamorudeen Osuolale Ladigbolu
Owoade Hakeem Babatunde Adetunji
Owoade Ibrahim Abiodun Olayiwola
In an interview with reporters, Pa Adeladan explained that the family was looking forward to a candidate “that is capable to enhance culture and tradition of Yoruba land and Oyo in particular.” He stressed: “ Any Alaafin that is not in line with that is not satisfying the Yoruba race. Tradition and culture are paramount to us. Oyo has been in the lead.”
When asked about the age bracket of the expected candidate, he said: “Any qualified candidate will be fine. These candidates have been reviewed. Their documents speak volumes of their pedigree. They all have good education and are highly experienced.”
Now that the race hots up, members of the Oyomesi will definitely be under pressure from some of the candidates as they move to curry their favour.
During the presentation of the list, Baba Iyaji had revealed that several interested persons had visited him, seeking his favour but said that he assured them of following the declaration strictly.
A source close to the Basorun, High Chief Yusuf Ayoola, told Newspeak that though his door was open to all, he has been assuring all stakeholders that the Oyomesi would not depart from tradition of following due process in selecting the next Alaafin.