Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A toast to Olubadan of Ibadanland at 100

In him you find the discipline of a trained soldier, the consummate nobility of a gentleman and the astuteness of a man of honour” – Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State paying tribute to Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade 1 on his centennial anniversary. .

Hearty felicitations to Kabiyesi, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade 1, the Olubadan of Ibadanland on his 100th birthday anniversary. In truth, I have never physically met the Olubadan but I have been attracted to the royal father by few similarities we share. First is that we were both born in Ibadan. Second, we are both Christians. Third, we were both educated in Ibadan. Fourth, we both taught in Ibadan and lastly, we were both born in April; while he was born on the 14th, I was born exactly two weeks after.  Beyond the comparison, the life and time of Oba Odulana is a moral legation. He has been aptly described as a living legend. A man of many parts. He has been a civil servant (teacher and administrator), a parliamentarian, a soldier, a philanthropist, an elder statesman and a royal father. Oba Odulana is the 40th Olubadan and the only one to live up to 100 years on the throne.

In these days of terrorism, epidemic and unending tragedies, I cannot help but wonder how some people still manage to live up to 100 years of age. It is a great feat. It must be a divine grace. In order to appreciate the very rich, inspiring and exemplary life of the Olubadan, let’s take a look at what his biographers have to say about him.

“Born at Igbo Elerin in the Lagelu Local Government Area of Ibadanland on Thursday, April 14, 1914 to Pa Odulana Ayinla, he 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 St. 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”.

“He had a brief stint with United Africa Company as a produce clerk before taking up teaching at the Church Missionary Society Elementary School, Jago, in the present Ona-ara Local Government Area in 1938. He also taught in several schools from 1939 to 1942. He however, willingly relinquished the chalk to pick the more challenging duty of Army officer during the 1939 World War 11. …… Upon the end of the war in 1945, he was put in charge of the demobilisation of returning soldiers in Lagos, which earned him an exemplary character award of the Army Fourth Brigade and this climaxed into an immediate appointment with the Colonial Office Education Department in 1946”.

“While in the civil service, where he was until 1959, Oba Odulana 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 Constitution Conference to restructure the then British colonies of Rhodesia and Nyasaland now known as Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia”.

“Oba Odulana’s political career was truncated by the 1966 Nigeria’s first military coup, but he evolved to become a philanthropist and community icon……These laudable achievements, no doubt, contributed to his conferment of a honorary degree of Doctor of Management Technology by the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, in December 2005”.

“His ascension to the throne kick-started with his appointment as the Mogaji (Head) of his Ladunni family compound, at Oja-Igbo in 1972. In 1976, Olubadan became the Jagun-Olubadan. Thus, with a steady rise, moving 22 steps on the ladder of Ibadan’s unique chieftaincy succession system within a period of 31 years, Oba Odulana became the Olubadan of Ibadanland on Friday, August 17, 2007”. This was at the ripe old age of 93! This is a classical case of a crowning glory after an adventurous life.

In celebration of the royal father, a weeklong activities spanning Monday, April 14 (his birth date) through to Saturday, April 19 were held. These include a church service, carnival show, symposium, Jumat service, stage play, chieftaincy award, a grand finale party and homage by his subjects. A docu-drama titled Olubadan of Ibadanland: The Living Legend, The Pride of Africa produced by CEO Africa was also unveiled in celebration of the monarch who is regarded as the oldest king alive in Africa, if not in the entire universe.

Many notable Nigerians have been showering encomiums on the paramount ruler of Ibadanland. Amongst them is President Goodluck Jonathan who personally led a team of eminent Nigerians to rejoice with the king on April 15. According to the President: “Oba Odulana is a man of impeccable character, whose tenure has witnessed peace and tranquillity”. In the opinion of Oyo State Number 1 citizen, Governor Abiola Ajimobi “Those who knew him, even pre-his ascendancy to the throne, speak eloquently about a man who typifies honour and nobility. In the Olubadan is a demonstration of the elusive concept of Omoluabi. The Omoluabi, for the purpose of clarification, is that man who carries nobility, human goodness and trust around him like a pouch. With Kabiyesi, you know where you stand as he does not suffer fools gladly. In him you find the discipline of a trained soldier, the consummate nobility of a gentleman and the astuteness of a man of honour. His own (brand of) politics transcends the type found on the streets today”. 

One of his chiefs, the Jagun Balogun of Ibadanland who is also a seasoned lawyer, Chief Lowo Obisesan, described Oba Odulana as a rare breed of royalty, whose kind was rare to find in any clime. According to him, “He is a honest and truthful leader, with very high integrity and sense of value. He says it as it is without fear or favour…” Chief Obisesan noted further that a hallmark of the king’s integrity was that he never based conferment of chieftaincy titles and honour on pecuniary consideration unlike other traditional rulers.

My prayer to God is for Him to grant me sound health and longevity as He has done for our revered monarch. My wish for Oba (Dr.) Samuel Odulana Odugade 1 is that God in His infinite mercy will grant all his noble heart desires. 100 hearty cheers to you Kabiyesi.