Oba Tijani Oladokun Ajagbe Oyewusi Agbonran II (1934-2007)
…It was in the reign of the 13th Timi, Kubolaje Agbonran Gbakanija that under threat from the Fulani’s Ede moved to its present site on the south side of the River Osun. Here there was already a small village named Obotugbo, and its people welcomed the Timi and his followers with great hospitality. A new palace was built, an outer and inner town hall, each protected by a moat, and peaceful life was carried on, broken frequently by the need to join with other Yoruba towns to repel Fulani raiders to defend themselves against their neighbour among them the Ibadan. ֊ R.E. Croockall
The Agbonran Dynasty in the history of Ede has contributed tremendously to the establishment, growth and development of modern Ede. Under the leadership of Timi Kubolaje Agbonran I, the present Ede was built from the scratch, fortified and stood the test of the time of the Yoruba civil wars. Likewise, Timi, Oba Oladokun Oyewusi Agbonran II’s era set modern Ede on the path of economic, social, cultural, religious and political progress. It is, however, not surprising that the huge vacuum left behind with the passing of Oba Adetoyese Laoye, the 11th Timi to have reigned in modern Ede, in May 1975, in the political leadership of Ede. The selection of a successor who would fit into the large shoes left by the larger-than-life image of Oba Laoye was expected to be tough. Indeed, for the almost three decades of his reign, Oba Laoye presided over the ancient city of Ede like a colossus whose influence spanned the length and breadth of Yorubaland and beyond.
Against this backdrop, the selection process which climaxed in the installation of Oba Oladokun Ajagbe Oyewusi, Agbonran II, as the twelfth Timi of the present-day Ede in May 1976 lasted a whole year
Childhood, Education, and Career
Oba Tijani Oladokun Ajagbe Oyewusi was born into the families of Agbonran and Adeleke of the ancient Ede township on 22 January 1934. His father was Mogaji Bello Akanni Oyewusi while his mother was Madam Suliat Oyewusi, who hailed from the Babanla family and the Agate compound of the Ede township respectively. His two parents were successful role models by many standards. His father was a successful produce buyer and farmer during the colonial and post-colonial eras. Mogaji later emerged as the Olori Omo Oba i.e. “head of Princes” in Ede because of his full royal blood. On the other hand, his mother was a successful cloth trader, a respected venture during those days. In an era when only a few women were able to hold their own, Madam Oyewusi was able to erect her mansion. In the ranking of a family of twenty-seven, the young Oladokun Oyewusi was the third male child of his father and the first child of his mother. At their ripe ages, Pa Mogaji Oyewusi and Madam Suliat Oyewusi died in 1969 and 1987 respectively. The father died before the ascension of his child to the ancient throne of Timi of Ede while the mother became deceased a decade after his installation. Meanwhile, before their departure, they had instilled necessary virtues, morals, and discipline in Oladokun Oyewusi for a successful earthly sojourn.
At the tender age of four years, young Oladokun Oyewusi began a sojourn into the world of lessons and opportunities. The mother decided to put him in the custody of his maternal uncle named Shittu Alabi Adeleke who was a popular and successful tailor based at Ojoyin Quarters in Ile-Ife. This decision was partly influenced by the divination during his childhood that predicted that Oladokun Oyewusi would be great in life but must have to travel across the seas. The prophecy prompted the parents to christen him Oladokun which could be interpreted as “wealth from overseas”. It was at Ile-Ife that he began to acquire formal and western education. At the age of five, was enrolled with St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Ile-Ife for his elementary education in 1939. On completion of Standard Four at Ile-Ife, Oba Oladokun was admitted into St. Stephens School in Modakeke for his Standards Five and Six elementary education which he completed in 1947. At that time, St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary School Ile-Ife had no facilities for Standards Five and Six. Young Oladokun Oyewusi was a brilliant student at the primary school level. He always came out on top of his classes and was good at extra-curricular activities. He played football and was a member of the school’s football team. He was a very good sprinter. Later on, he scaled through the highly competitive secondary school admission hurdles of that era and got admitted into the famous Oduduwa College at Ile-Ife in 1948. During this period, there were only two secondary schools (the Oduduwa College and the Ilesha Grammar School) within the Ife/Osun Division. Therefore, many young ones had to undergo serious qualifying examinations to gain entrance into these schools.
Young Prince Oladokun Oyewusi had a very profound experience at Oduduwa College, which provided a series of opportunities for him. He stayed with the school’s vice principal, Chief E. G. A. Gesinde, who guided and monitored his academic and intellectual progress. Many of their teachers were Europeans who ensured the religious implementation of the education curriculum. More so, the teachers were respected and highly motivated and the absence of industrial actions created chances for smooth academic calendars. Also, there was close monitoring of school activities as inspectors visited schools at regular intervals to ascertain the level of compliance to the dictates of the existing education policies. Among his intimate friends at the college were Prince Sijuwade Okunade and Prince Joseph Ayoola who later became the Ooni of Ife and Apetumodu of Ipetumodu respectively. The three of them were always together, studied and played together. Other close acquittances of Prince Oladokun Oyewusi during his college days were Ademola Bakare who later retired as Chief Judge of Ogun State, Awosanmi, Cornelius Oloyede, and Bamgbade Aderemi. Both Richard Akinjide (a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice in Nigeria) and Timothy Oloyede were Oladokun’s seniors during his college days. During his stay at Oduduwa college, Prince Oladokun cultivated the culture of industry and hard work. He was very committed to both academic and extra-curricular activities. He performed excellently in sporting activities, particularly the two-hundred metres and relay races. He had leadership qualities and the ability to work for a long period, qualities which endeared him to many of his teachers and schoolmates. He graduated from Oduduwa College in 1953.
Life was not a complete bed of roses for Prince Oyewusi during his period at Oduduwa College. An unfortunate incident occurred in 1950 when he got involved in a terrible road accident which almost claimed his life. The mishap took place in Ile-Ife at a place called Esinmirin, near the then Ife General Hospital (now Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex) situated along the Ile-Ife/Ilesha Road. The accident was so fatal that Prince Oladokun Oyewusi was initially certified dead, he was about to be taken to the mortuary when he suddenly and miraculously coughed. He was immediately wheeled back into the ward for treatment and had to spend fifteen days in the hospital before being discharged. Barely two months after this serious encounter, Prince Oladokun had another devastating encounter with death. This time around, he was bitten by a snake along the path leading to the residence of Chief E. G. O. Gesinde (the Vice Principal of Oduduwa College) where he was residing. He was saved by the application of necessary anti-snake bite medication.
After his secondary school education, Prince Oladokun Oyewusi joined the services of Messer G. B. Ollivant Nigeria Limited where he worked until 1960. G. B. Ollivant was one of the biggest trading and commercial firms in Nigeria at that period and despite very good conditions of service, the zeal to pursue his education further remained a mission to be accomplished for Prince Oladokun. At Ollivant, he was very committed and diligent and was able to manage resources and thereby able to save a sufficient amount of money for his overseas sojourn. Throughout his seven years’ stay at Ollivant, he was so upright that no single query was issued to him. In 1961, he proceeded on a journey to the United Kingdom in the search of the golden fleece. His journey abroad was in fulfilment of the prediction of him becoming great in life but must sojourn overseas. To support his educational pursuit, he engaged in a series of jobs to earn additional income. His course of study was Business Administration and Accountancy. Barely three weeks after arriving in London, he was able to secure a factory job. While working at the factory, Prince Oladokun had an accident that resulted in a deep finger cut. Though the finger was stitched, he was out of work for six weeks. About five years after he had left Nigeria, it was widely rumoured at home that Prince Oladokun was dead. The rumour devastated many of his family members and friends, particularly his mother. His mother went to the extent of gathering all the photographs of Prince Oladokun that were in her custody and got them burnt. Her sadness and that of the entire family were only suppressed when Prince Oladokun came home on a visit. By the time of this visitation, he was surprised that virtually everyone had practically forgotten about him.
One of the high points of Prince Oladokun’s trip to London was his encounter with a Guyanese lady, Lynetta Viola. The South-American lady was a student at the Royal College of Medicine in Reading, Berkshire. Their acquittance and love became so strong and consolidated that Prince Oladokun had to leave London and travel with Viola to Guyana. With this journey also, Prince Oladokun flew across the important Pacific Ocean. Even though it was never on his initial agenda to pick a wife in the course of his journey, Prince Oladokun got betrothed to Lynette Viola in 1962. Upon his graduation as an accountant and business administrator, Prince Oladokun worked with the Post Office on contract at Middle Temple and later took a job as an interpreter at the highest court in Britain, the House of Lords. He had a very good working career in Britain. After fourteen years outside the shores of Nigeria, Oba Oladokun returned to Nigeria in 1975. Incidentally, his return coincided with the demise of Oba Adetoyese Laoye, the eleventh Time of Ede.
The family into which Prince Oladokun Oyewusi was born was a big one. It was a polygamous family. His father had three wives and he z the twelfth among twenty-seven children. Among the male children, he is ranked third in terms of seniority. Early in life, Prince Oyewusi was known to be a very jovial person with a robust sense of humour. He was known to be humble and famous as an entertainer. He had a natural flare for dancing and was fond of entertaining people, especially during the annual Ileya festival. Also, he usually entertained friends and relations with his rhythmic dancing steps during the annual birthday celebration of his sister. On such occasions, he would dance around Ede town while people would sing his praises, referring to him as a king in the making.
Ascension of Oba Oladokun Oyewusi as Timi of Ede
The throne of Timi of Ede is one of the most revered traditional institutions across Yorubaland. Oba Adetoyese Laoye who occupied the throne before him was a well-known traditional monarch throughout Yorubaland. Therefore, his demise on 18 May 1975 created a big vacuum in the traditional political terrain and leadership of Ede. The selection process for a successor began almost immediately after the observation of the necessary traditional mourning period. The position of paramount rulers in Yorubaland is very significant and succession dispute is a common occurrence after the demise of an Oba. While some communities witnessed prolonged succession disputes, others were fortunate to develop mechanisms by which these disputes are settled quickly or prevented. The principle of rotation among the identified ruling houses is one of the mechanisms that were adopted by many Yoruba communities to curtail the crisis. Upon the demise of Oba Adetoyese, the Agbonran ruling house whose turn it was to produce the new paramount ruler for the ancient kingdom braced up for the occasion. The ruling house quickly conducted the groundwork and consultations aimed at minimising the expected conflict associated with the selection processes.
This proactive stand yielded results as the royal family reached a consensus on the candidacy of Prince Tijani Oladokun Ajagbe Oyewusi. The majority opinion supported his nomination against nine other aspirants within the Agbonran family. Hence, it was decided that Prince Oladokun should be presented for the next stage of the traditional selection processes.
Since the Agbonran ruling house had agreed on a preferred candidate for the vacant stool, the candidate would have to be presented to the traditional kingmakers of the kingdom for ratifications. The numerical composition of the traditional kingmakers varies from community to community across Yorubaland. As for the ancient Ede kingdom, the kingmakers were seven in number. At a meeting held on 18 February, 1976 to consider the proposed candidate, the candidacy of Prince Oladokun Oyewusi was rejected by a 4 to 3 vote. The majority opinion of the kingmakers cited the lack of popular support for the candidacy of Prince Oladokun Oyewusi from the populace as the reason for rejection. People saw this rejection as contrary to common-sense and tradition because the person presented before the body of kingmakers was a sole candidate from the Agbonran royal family, the next to the throne. This popular opinion was further backed by the provisions of Section 2 (ii and iii) of the Chiefs Law of the then Oyo State. Also, the reason for the rejection (lack of popularity or majority support) ran contrary to the dictates of Section 10 of the Chiefs Law as tenable for rejection. Due to the failure on the part of the traditional kingmakers, Section 13 (i and vi) of Chiefs Law was invoked. This section provided for the appointment of warrant kingmakers to perform the traditional and customary ratification process.
Upon appointment, the warrant kingmakers conducted an on-the-spot investigation in Ede to ascertain the credibility of both the candidature of Prince Oyewusi and the position of the four customary kingmakers that voted against him leading to his preliminary rejection. The visitors interrogated with a cross-section of the populace including eminent personalities, princes, chiefs, and the kingmakers. Virtually all of the interviewees admitted that Prince Oyewusi was eminently qualified. The visitors further discovered that the actual reason for the rejection of Prince Oyewusi’s candidacy by the traditional kingmakers was because he refused to offer bribes and personal gratifications to kingmakers. The warrant kingmakers, therefore, ratified the nomination of Prince Oladokun Oyewusi to the throne. His nomination was accepted by the Government. It was only his papers that were passed to the Oyo State Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs for consideration and approval. His candidacy was approved by Brigadier David Jemibewon, the then Military Governor of the old Oyo State, on 12 May 1976.
It must be emphasised, however, that Prince Oladokun Oyewusi never wanted and expected he could be chosen as the Timi. Though he was aware of his royal blood, he wanted to live life as simple, peaceful, and comfortable as possible. The echelons of the Agbonran royal family had to mount pressure on him to come and assume the throne of his ancestors after the death of Timi Laoye. He yielded to pressure and returned to Nigeria in 1975. Having been appointed in May 1976, the coronation ceremony that followed was very colourful. It was a moment of joy, ecstasy, and merriment. The unique and grand ceremony was witnessed by sons and daughters of Ede and important dignitaries from different parts of the world. Ede town went gay with festivity. Commercial activities were brought to a total halt as markets and shops were closed. Drummers, singers, and dancers took to the streets of Ede adding fun and excitement to the ceremony. He was formally installed as the twelfth Timi of Ede on 18 June 1976. Before this formal installation, however, some traditional rites were performed. For instance, he observed the mandatory traditional stay in incommunicado at the Iledi for three months. The Iledi was located at the compound of one of the recognised traditional chiefs, the Babasanya or Ikolaba compound. After this exercise, the Oba-elect moved to the palace at exactly 2:00 am when the people were still in their beds. At dawn, the arrival of Oba Oladokun Oyewusi, Agbonran II at the palace was announced to the public. The announcement was accompanied by royal traditional drumming. At the sound of this drum, the people of Ede trooped to the palace to pay homage to their new monarch. They prostrated and knelt before him and prayed for him to have a long and prosperous reign over the town.
The entire people of Ede, both at home and abroad, were filled with excitement at the ascension of Oba Oladokun Oyewusi to the throne of the Timi of Ede. The entire Ede people agreed that he was the most qualified for the stool of the Timi at that period. They, therefore, offered prayers to God for abundant blessings for him and the ancient town. The people had the unshaken belief that his reign would bring about transformation in the town. In a nutshell, the people’s expectation was very high for good leadership and transformation from the newly coronated monarch. The new monarch, on the other hand, understood the wishes and aspirations of his people and was much prepared for the new challenges of leadership. At the coronation ceremony, he assured his people that his reign would be peaceful and prosperous. The ceremony was adjudged the best in the history of Ede in terms of grandeur, organisation, and orderliness.
In his Reign: The Socio-Economic and Political Developments
The three decades reign of Oba Oladokun Oyewusi was an epoch of peace, progress, unity, love, and tranquillity in the annals of the history of the ancient kingdom of Ede. One of the initial strategic policies of the dynamic Oba was the introduction of an Open-Door Policy. Through this policy, the new Timi of Ede threw open the doors of the palace to innovations, opinions, suggestions, and the like. This was to harvest an avalanche of ideas that would assist to galvanise developments within the township. Also, the policy was intended to generate popularity and overwhelming acceptance of the new king among the populace. Unlike other paramount rulers in some other places, Oba Oladokun Oyewusi made himself very accessible to the people of Ede regardless of socio-economic status and religious affiliations. With or without formal appointments, a good number of the populace was granted unrestricted access to the palace of the new Timi. Through this approach and policy, decisions that affected the generality of the people were taken by consultations and consensus. The chiefs, elders, family heads, religious groups, and other interest groups were duly consulted during the process of decision-making. Among the advantages of this policy was that it endeared the king in the hearts of the people and made them support the king in his drive towards advocating for development within the ancient kingdom. Under the leadership of Oba Oladokun Oyewusi, sons and daughters of Ede at home and in the diaspora were encouraged to embark on community development projects. These projects included the construction of roads, culverts, bridges, community halls, dispensaries, deep wells, and public toilets. Some of them engaged in the rehabilitation of dilapidated public structures such as public school buildings.
In the traditional Yoruba political system, the palace plays important administrative, political, social, and commercial roles. Throughout Yorubaland, the palace serves as a repository of historical knowledge and also a tourist site. The palace of Timi of Ede demonstrates the importance of the Ede kingdom in the historical evolution and development of the Yoruba nation. It constitutes something akin to the secretariat or seat-of-power of modern governments. The palace of the Timi of Ede was under-construction when Oba Oladokun Oyewusi assumed the throne, the immediate late Timi (Oba Adetoyese) embarked on the project shortly before his demise. Considering the importance of the palace and himself being a very urbane man, Timi Oladokun Oyewusi was committed to the completion of the palace. His commitment to the completion of the palace was further influenced by the fact that it was his forefather, Agbonran I, that led the people to settle at the present site and constructed the first palace early in the nineteenth century. The site was initially known as Igbo Obotugbo. The king personally donated a huge amount of financial resources and motivated donations from indigenes, residents, and philanthropists towards the completion of the palace. One of the advantages of the completion of the palace project was that it put an end to the situation where the previous Timis adopted their individual/personal abodes as the palace. The palace became the permanent residence for him and subsequent Timis of Ede. During the formal opening of the palace on 26 January 1978, Oba Oladokun Oyewusi provided a historical insight into the origin of the palace. He was quick to sing the praises of his predecessor, Oba Adetoyese, who initiated the project.
He further said that it was his great-grandfather, Agbonran I, who first settled in the present Ede around 1815, that Agbonran constructed the first palace for the town. The relics of the ancient palace still exist and it is a traditional rite for a newly selected Timi to live in the old building before he moves to his preferred apartment. Agbonran I’s successors (e.g. Ajeniju, Arahanran, and Oduniyi) built their palaces around the same site.
One of the indelible legacies of colonial rule on Africa was the whittling of the political power and authorities of the traditional rulers and institutions. Governance and provision of rules and social amenities became the responsibility of the colonial government, a situation which continued during the post-colonial period. Proactive traditional rulers, therefore, became advocates for the government’s presence within their respective enclave, particularly because the state resources were no longer in their control. To this extent, Oba Oladokun Oyewusi was able to deploy the capability of his strong personality and connections to attract projects that promote socio-economic developments in the ancient town of Ede, particularly through the government. For instance, the establishment of the Cocoa Processing Industry during the reign of Oba Oladokun Oyewusi brought physical development to Ede and also provide employment opportunities to citizens across the spectres of the economic ladder. Another physical development project was the establishment of the Osun State’s orientation camp for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exercise. This camp and the activities in it brought about the influx of people from various parts of Nigeria into Ede. The presence of these people on annual basis had a multiplying socio-economic impact on the people. In addition, the establishment of the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, during the reign of Oba Oladokun Oyewusi contributed to the physical and socio-economic developments of the ancient township. The location of this institution within Ede brought about the coming of many young talents into the town.
The place of the traditional beaded crown within the terrain of the Yoruba traditional political system cannot be underestimated. To reinforce this, a Yoruba adage goes thus, “ade ni a fi n mo Oba” meaning “the crown distinguishes the king”.
Before the enthronement of Oba Oladokun Oyewusi, the previous Timis wore no traditional beaded crown. But during his reign, Oba Oladokun Oyewusi worked assiduously and secured the right for Timis to wear the beaded crown. This attainment was not on a platter of gold, Oba Oladokun Oyewusi used the instrument of historical records, his exposure, and connections to achieve the desired goal. Being a well-educated Oba, the king dug deep into Yoruba history and brought evidence to support his advocacy for a beaded crown for Ede. It was this effort that made the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III accept the right of Ede kings to wear the beaded crown. The Timi and Ede then became what the Yoruba people generally called “Oba Alade” and “Ilu Alade” respectively. Another importance of the beaded crown is that it distinguishes the Timi from other kings of lesser status and grades. It also signifies that Timi would not prostrate before any human being on earth again. The consent of the Alaafin was necessary because the Ede people took their descendancy for Oyo. However, it must be noted that the possession and appreciation of historical knowledge by Oba Oladokun Oyewusi assisted in achieving the feats. At every available opportunity, the king consistently emphasised the important place of Ede in Yoruba history. He seized the opportunity to explain that Ede was founded to protect the helpless and became a homestead to fight all forms of exploitation, social, and economic terrorism. He emphasised that the Ede people were originally warriors who did not use their military prowess to plunder other communities but to protect them. It was to suppress the rebellion of Ijesha, a vassal state of Oyo, that prompted Alaafin Sango to send Timi Agbale (a dedicated and reliable warrior of the Oyo army) to Ijesha. After suppressing the rebels at Ijesha, Timi Agbale did not return to Oyo. He decided to stay under an Ede tree through which a community was established. This place became known as Ede Ile. Around 1815, another leader (Time Kuboje Agbonran I) led the Ede people to a new place within the vicinity. This new place was initially called Igbo Obotugbo.
The reign of Timi Oyewusi brought about a series of development and progress in Ede. Barely a few months after his official installation on the throne, the Ede Local Government Area was created with the ancient Ede township as the administrative capital and economic nerve centre of the LGA. This status increased the level of socio-economic development within the town as many people from diverse social and economic backgrounds began to troop into the enclave. Furthermore, social amenities such as electricity, pipe-borne water, telephone services, and postal services were brought to Ede. In addition, financial institutions began to establish their branches within the ancient town of Ede. Still, in the realm of political administration, Timi Oyewusi contributed his quota towards the creation of Osun State in August 1991. He was a staunch member of the committee that championed the cause and drafted a series of memorandum and proposals that later paved the way for the creation of Osun State. His commitment to the creation of the Osun State project yielded dividends to Ede township and Local Government Area as the first Executive Governor of Osun State, Alhaji Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, who was elected in 1993 was from Ede.
Apart from the governor, many other indigenes of Ede took active parts in the politics and administration of Osun State during the reign of Oba Oyewusi. Honourable Adejare Bello from Ede town, for example, was elected as the Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly. Timi Oyewusi personally encouraged the sons and daughters of Ede to take active parts in politics at both the state and national levels.
In modern times, community development has been an outcome of collective activities from both the government and local people. To galvanise the people’s participation in socio-economic development, Timi Oyewusi was very instrumental in the establishment of the annual Ede Day celebration. The first of this annual event was held on 3 April, 1993 and many important dignitaries from different parts of Nigeria such as Governor Isiaka Adeleke, Chief M. K. O. Abiola, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and many others graced the occasion. One of the advantages of this celebration is that it provides opportunities for Ede indigenes, at home and abroad, to return to the source. They took the opportunity to compare and contrast the level of development in Ede and that of other places in the world. Where there are lapses, these indigenes make efforts to contribute by establishing industries and engaging in community development projects either individually or collectively. The indigenes in the diaspora also seized the opportunity of the annual event to reunite with old friends and family members. Another advantage of the annual Ede Day celebration is that it is an avenue through which local and international captains of industries visit Ede. Many of them use the opportunity to negotiate how their businesses and industries could be established within the ancient town. Simply, Ede Day has become a period for rededicating themselves to the service of their beloved town, to make it the pride of all its descendants.
The fact that Ede witnessed rapid development during the three decades of Timi Oyewusi cannot be underestimated. There was a monumental increase in the level of physical and infrastructural developments. For example, there were only four secondary schools in Ede but by the 2000s the number had increased to fourteen. There was a deliberate effort from the Timi and other elites to encourage parents within Ede to send their children to schools across levels of education. This campaign paid off as it led to a drastic increase in school enrolment, school facilities, and school teachers. Other educational institutions that were established in Ede during his reign and owing to his blessings include the Catholic Junior Seminary and the Redeemers’ University. Timi Oyewusi personally granted the Redeemer’s University a total of 1,500 hectares of land for the construction of the permanent site for the university. His reign brought about massive road infrastructures within the ancient town such as the Ede bridge, Ibadan-Iwo road, arteries of roads that interlink the entire township and a railway station.
Through the rail transport that passes through the town, goods and passengers are carried to places such as the northern states of Nigeria and the coastal city of Lagos. The good network of intra-city roads made it possible for taxis and commercial motorcycle operators to operate effectively within the nooks and crannies of the town. In addition, there is an airstrip at Ido-Osun which is a few kilometres from Ede. The airstrip facilitates easy landing and take-off of aircraft. Apart from the effective road networks, the presence of telecommunication outlets also aided local and international communications within Ede. The MTN Communication Limited, the biggest mobile phone operator in Nigeria, switched on its engine room in Ede in December 2003. With this, wireless and mobile communication with every part of the world was made easy.
This contributed significantly to social and economic activities within the ancient town. In the case of healthcare delivery, the reign of Timi Oyewusi witnessed important developments in terms of infrastructure. In addition to the General Hospital at Ede, there were three maternity centres, five dispensaries, seven health posts, and several private clinics and hospitals within the township. To boost the security of the town and support the activities of the Nigerian Police Force, the vigilante group was established during the reign of Timi Oyewusi. Essential tools for security such as torchlight, gunpowder, batteries, and lanterns were provided for the group.
In the aspect of religious activities, Timi Oyewusi demonstrated an exemplified model of an all-round leader. He was raised and later became a very devout Muslim who believed in the oneness of Allah and the observation of the Islamic tenets. His unrelenting effort at promoting Islam led to the commissioning of the Ede Central Mosque during his reign. In October 1976, he was invited by the Federal Government of Nigeria to be part of the government’s delegation to Mecca for the annual holy pilgrimage. In 1983, he was again invited to be part of the Federal Government delegation to Mecca under the leadership of the then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Major General Tunde Idiagbon. For the third time, in 2001 Timi Oyewusi was also among the official delegation to Saudi Arabia for the annual Islamic religion activity. He was the first Timi to perform the holy pilgrimage three times. As a devout Muslim with a liberal heart and as a very accommodating king, Oba Oyewusi became the first Timi to visit Jerusalem in 1998. On the other hand, the Timi was committed to the observation of traditional religious rites and duties imposed on him. The worship of the deities like Sango is one that the Timi must lead his people to observe annually. To this extent, Timi Oyewusi played a central role in the annual Sango Timi Festival. It was as a result of his leadership quality that the Timi was conferred the national honour of Commander of the Niger (CON) by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005.
One of the principles that made Timi Oyewusi succeed on the throne was the principle of consensus and consultations. Before he takes a major decision, he consults his chiefs and this method has been beneficial to the people of Ede. Principal among these chiefs was the Balogun chieftaincy line which included the Balogun, Otun Balogun, Ashipa, Seriki, Ekerin, Ekarun, Ekefa, Are-Abese, Are-Onibon, Asaju, Areaago, Bada, and Sarumi. The house of chiefs was initially saddled with the preparation and administration of wars and maintenance of peace within the town. Another set of chieftaincies was the Jagun house of chiefs which was charged with the responsibility of prosecuting the wars and gathering intelligence about enemies. Today, the chiefs in this line are responsible for the installation rites of all chiefs including the Timi. They were charged with the responsibility of appeasing the gods and discharging the rites that may be prescribed for the peace and well-being of the town. Chiefs in this line include Jagun, Majeobaje, Olukotun, Ogala, Akogun, Olukosi, and heads of religious cults in Ede. The third house is the Babasanya chieftaincy which retained the functions of household duties. This line saw to the welfare of Timi and his household and they were Timi’s confidants in matters relating to health and social problem. In this line were Babasanya, Ayope, Ejemu, Bara, Alauje, and all hereditary chiefs whose chieftaincies were restricted to their families alone. The Ikolaba chiefs were also chamberlains to the Timi. They were Timi’s advisers on spiritual and cultural matters. Chiefs in this category included Ikolaba, Areago, Sobaloju, Oloba, Otun Ikolaba, Otun Areago, and Ajiroba. It was from the support of these chiefs that Timi Oyewusi muscled the intellectual capacity and moral clout to cope with the complexities of rulership in a fast-changing society.
In his lifetime, Timi Oyewusi, the Agbonran II, was a friend, a trusted and dependable ally to his people at all times. He was a monarch with character, honour, and integrity. His association with people and organisations within the enclave was transparent and he saw the monarchical institution as a plank for the development of his domain. He was extremely passionate about the advancement of the town and the welfare of his subjects. Hence, the people of Ede gladly conferred on him the title of “Monarch of Peace” and “Monarch of the People”.
Siyan Oyeweso, Professor of History, Osun State University, Osogbo, Fellow, Historical Society of Nigeria (FHSN); Fellow, Nigerian Academy of Letters FNAL writes from No. 12 Siyan Oyeweso Street Ede, Osun State, Nigeria.
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