But for providence, he would not have become the Alaafin of Oyo. He is a monarch with class and command. An opportunity with him is always like an exploratory adventure. He is a repository of knowledge. Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, who turns 79 today, is one of Africa’s most powerful and most influential kings.
Insideoyo.com‘s Sikiru Akinola profiles the life of the enigma who has been Alaafin for close to 5 decades
Born into the royal family of Alowolodu Ruling House on October 15, 1938, he lived with his father, Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II until 1954. Losing his mother, Ibironke, at an early age, left him with little or no motherly touch and never had to stay for a long while with his father. He was almost always a lonely man.
Being a staunch Muslim, his father- the late Oba Adeniran enrolled him in a Quranic School in Iseyin. He later returned to Oyo to be living with the headmaster of St. Andrews Primary School. He was thereafter taken to the Palace of the Alake of Egba, Oba Oladepo Ademola. His educational journey hit the rock following the 1947-48 demonstration of Egba women against “tax without representation” led by Mrs Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. The effect forced Oba Ademola to abdicate his throne to live in exile at Osogbo.
He returned to his father in 1948 and was later sent him to live with Sir Kofoworola Adebayo Abayomi in Keffi, Ikoyi, Lagos. While in Keffi, he attended Obalende Modern School, owned by Pa Domingo; father of the renowned musician Adeyomi Domingo. He later attended Tinubu Methodist School overlooking the famed fountain, the first General Bank. Oba Adeyemi came second in his Entrance Examination into secondary schools inLagos Island and was offered places at two great- schools Igbobi College and St. Gregory’s College, Obalende. He chose to attend St. Gregory’s College Obalende in accordance to his guardian’s wish. Obalende was a cross-cultural settlement and living in there required wit and will, otherwise one will be walked over.
Though unlettered, his father appreciated the value of education through the contact he had with the British Administrative Officers that came to the Old Oyo Empire. Young Prince Adeyemi left St. Gregory’s College with very good grade and had the choice to study one of law, economics and public relations. He chose to study Law because he majored in English doing both narrative and descriptive essays; coupled with a good retentive memory and a fantastic ability to remember dates and people, he felt his future in law was secured. His quest for law changed when his father was deposed on February 14 , 1946 two days to the planned travel abroad. He was offered a job at the Royal Exchange Assurance, Marina, Lagos.
Journey To The Exalted Throne
After Oba Bello Gbadegesin, who succeeded Oba Adeniran, joined his ancestors, 32-year old Prince Lamidi Adeyemi was picked as successor, in1970. This was at the time he was working as an insurance clerk. His nomination did not go without the intrigues that usually characterise the selection process of a new king.
The race to the throne started in 1968. He was said to have been invited along with ten others from his ruling house to contest for the vacant stool of the Oyo Empire. Three parametres- eligibility, popularity and stamina to discharge the responsibilities of the office of the Alaafin of Oyo.
The contention was more intense to the extent that some of the princes from the larger royal families in Oyo became contenders. Among these were Aremo Sanni Gbadegesin, Prince Olanite Ajagba, Prince Afonja Ilaka, Prince Lamidi Adeyemi, and Prince Sanda ‘Ladepo Oranlola.
He emerged first, defeating ten others after a vigorous screening exercise. However, due to what observers believed to be a political interference. According to Oba Adeyemi, “the government refused to endorse my appointment, saying the procedure was not right.”
The process was said to have been done again for 2 more times. The same result was case. The Oyomesi were pressurised to rise against his candidature, but they maintained their stand. The process had to be put on hold until after the civil war, when the whole process started all over again. On November 18, 1970, he was chosen. And he moved into the palace after completing the necessary rites under the tutelage of the Oyomesi in January 1971.
Meanwhile, he had already married two of his wives, Olori Abibat Adeyemi (Iya Dodo) and Olori Rahmat Adedayo Adeyemi (Iya Ilekoto) before his ascension to the throne of his forebears.
…Working With 20 Governors
1) General Adeyinka Adebayo (1971)
2) Colonel Christopher Oluwole Rotimi (1971-75)
3) Navy Captain Akintunde Akinyoye Aduwo (August – September,1975-83)
4) Colonel David Mediaysese Jemibewon (1975-78)
5) Colonel Paul Tarfa (1978-79)
6) Chief Bola Ige (1979-83)
7) Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo (October- December 1983)
8) Colonel Oladayo Popoola (1984-85)
9) Colonel Adetunji Idowu Olurin (1985-88)
10) Late Colonel Sasaeniyan Oresanya (1988-90)
11) Late Colonel Abdulkareem Adisa (1990-92)
12) Late Chief Kolapo Ishola (1992-93)
13) Naval Capitan Adetoye Sode (1993-94)
14) Colonol Chinyere Ike Nwosu (1994-96)
15) Colonel Ahmed Usman (1996-98)
16) Compol Amen Edore Oyakhire (1998-99)
17) Late Alhaji Lam Adesina (1999-2003)
18) Senator Adewolu Ladoja (2003-2007)
19) Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala (2007-2011)
20) Sen. Abiola Ajimobi (2011- Till date)
…Has Saw the Reign Of 12 Presidents
1) General Yakubu Gowon, (1971-75)
2) General Muritala Mohammed (1977-76)
3) General Olusegun Obasanjo (1976-1979)
4) Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1979-83)
5) General Muhammed Muhammadu Buhari (1984-85)
6) General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (1985-93)
7) General Sani Abacha (1998-99)
8) General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Interim)
9) Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007)
10) President Umaru Yar’Adua ( 2007-2010)
11) President Goodluck Jonathan ( 2010-2015)
12) President Muhammadu Buhari (2015 till date)
In 1979, he was honoured with the national honour of CFR by the Federal Government. In 1980, became the pioneer Chancellor of the then newly established University of Sokoto, now Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, for a first four- year tenure. At the expiration of that first tenure, the senate and council of the University recommended him for another term. The president and visitor to the university graciously approved the request,thus he was appointed for a second term. And at the expiration of the second term, in an unprecedented manner, he was
appointed for yet another term, the third term, thus giving him a total of 12 years as the Chancellor of the university, a feat yet to be matched by anybody in the annals of
Chancellorship of university of Nigeria.
In January 1988, he installed late Chief MKO Abiola as the Aare Ona Kankanfo in recognition of Abiola’s contributions to the social, economic, cultural and political development of Yoruba land and Nigeria at large. Two years later, the Federal Government under the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida, appointed the Alaafin as the Amirul Hajj operation to lead the Muslim faithful in the 21 states of the federation.
King of Kings
Oba Adeyemi has installed and crowned many kings. “Following the powerful motion I moved at the floor of the Old Oyo State House of Chiefs, the government approved the beaded crown of the two traditional in 1976,” the monarch had told journalists in an interview. This made him crowned the first Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Adebimpe and the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewunmi Ajagungbade.
In 1975, the Onjo of Okeho got elevated. In1977, the Onitede of Tede, Oba Olulokuntoo got the beaded crown. In 1979, the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Mashood Osuola, also got the beaded crown. Timi of Ede, the late Oba Oyelusi Tijani Agbaran II, also got elevated. In 1980 and 1981, Oba of Kisi, Oba Yusuf Ariwajoye and Okere of Saki, Oba Abimbola Oyedokun, and Sabi Iganna got promoted respectively. Others were the Baale of Ile-Ogbo, who got elevated to the status of an Oba to Olu of Ile-Ogbo in1995, Olobu of Ilobu, Oba Asiru Olatoye Olaniyan who got his own in 1986. Alayegun of Ode-Omu, Akire of Ikire-Ile, Akirun of Ikirun, Aree of Ire, Olunisa of Inisha, all in Osun State also got beaded crown, courtesy of the Alaafin. Baale of Igboora, Jacob Oyerogba got elevated as a crown wearing Oba with the title of Olu of Igboora in 2001. In Ogun State, the Oba of Ipokia got the beaded crown got elevated at the instance of the Alaafin. Last but not the least, Baale of Igangan, Lasisi-Aribiyan who got elevated to the status of an Oba as Oba Lasisi Aribiyan, the Asigangan of Igangan and was awarded beaded crown in 2002.
Adeyemi The Boxer
Living in tough areas of Lagos Island like Faji, Olowogbowo and the famed Ojuolomokoto made him a sportsman. Before his ascension on to the throne of his forefathers, he trained and still trains as a boxer.
He runs, jogs and plays football. When time permits, he does as much as six kilometres and skips the rope.