The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, will today (Friday) present the staff of office to High Chief Saliu Adetunji as the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland, at the famous Mapo Hall, in the ancient city.
The ceremony is expected to be witnessed by dignitaries from all walks of life, including President Mohammadu Buhari.
Many would believe that Adetunji’s ascension to the throne, coming 45 days after the demise of the former Olubadan, Oba Samuel Odulana, can aptly be described as an act of God.
Going by the Olubadan succession system, which recognises the civil and the military lines as royal lines, and the hierarchy within the Olubadan-in-Council, Adetunji’s right to the throne would have materialised only after the reigns of the former Balogun Olubadan, High Chief Sulaiman Omiyale, and the Otun Olubadan, High Chief Omowale Kuye, if they had all lived long enough to mount the throne.
The highest – ranking high chief in the military (Balogun) line, Omiyale, was next to the late Olubadan while Kuye (from the civil line) followed in the order.
But on November 7, 2015, Omiyale died at the age of 91, paving the way for Adetunji, who was next to Omiyale, to ascend the position of the Balogun.
Born on August 26, 1928 to the family of Raji Olayiwola and Suwebat Amope Adetunji in the Alusekere compound, Popoyemoja, Ibadan, the new Olubadan is the eldest of his father’s 17 children.
His mother came from the Balogun family of Apomu while his father was a renowned Ibadan indigene. Like many influential figures in those days, Adetunji’s father had more than one wife. Of the four children that his mother had, he (Adetunji) and his brother, Ambali (76), are the surviving ones.
Ambali, who is the Aare Musulumi of Odo-Oba in Ibadan, and who now oversees the music recording business of his brother the king, said Adetunji had a humble beginning, starting as traditional attire (aso ofi) weaver, a tailor and later a music promoter.
He said, “In those days, my brother was a tailor and traditional attire weaver. He was also a renowned trader who later ventured into music promotion. In Nigeria today, he is a leader in the music industry.
“People like the late Isola Abioro, Ogo Oluwa Records and so on met him in the business. Because he is not greedy and because of the respect he has for his colleagues in the business, he does not snatch musicians from them. For that reason, he is highly regarded by musicians and other promoters.
“Our mother was a daughter of the former Balogun of Apomu. Our father was an Ibadan indigene who loved music just like Adetunji and he was revered in the city. Our father had many children and many wives but our mother had four, although only two of us are still alive.”
Ambali noted that the journey of his brother to the royal stool began unwillingly in 1976 during the reign of Olubadan Gbadamosi Adebimpe, when he was compelled to accept the leadership stool of the Alusekere compound. Incidentally, the late Omiyale, whose death last year moved Adetunji to the position of Balogun and next Olubadan, was the man who noticed the leadership quality in the new Olubadan and persuaded him to become Mogaji.
Ambali said, “Despite his philanthropic gestures towards Ibadan indigenes and contribution to the development of the city at early age, Adetunji was not desperate to assume any of the traditional leadership position in Ibadan. He preferred to remain anonymous but he was like a gold fish that has no hiding place.
“I remember the late Omiyale telling him that even without being a traditional chief, he was already playing the role of a community leader. It was a long walk to the top but a wait that was worth the pain,” Ambali explained.
As a music promoter, the new Olubadan had lifted many up-and-coming artistes to the big stage. Popular fuji musician, Wasiu Ayinde, is one of them. Through his recording company, he also helped Salami Balogun, Amuda Agboluaje, Tatalo Alamu, Raimi Atolagbe, Iyanda Sawaba and Asanat Omo Aje to stardom. His Omo Aje Records was later renamed Babalaje Records. Ambali also spoke about his brother’s philanthropic gestures.
“My brother is a gentleman and this is a trait he has been demonstrating from childhood. From what I have observed of him, he is a complete gentleman and a philanthropist. He ensures that no one suffers or lacks any good thing around him. We have had stories of my brother borrowing money to pay debts of others, even those who are not his relatives. In the past, Ibadan artistes were not recognised. When he became a promoter, he lifted they and other Yoruba musicians and empowered them professionally. Among the musicians he helped are Alhaji Tatalo Alamu, Dauda Epo Akara, Wasiu Ayinde and Malaika.
“He is still doing that. When he moved to Lagos, several decades ago, he brought a lot of budding musicians to the limelight. He also went to Ghana to promote their music and propagate the course of lifting Ibadanland. My brother is always passionate about issues that concern Ibadan,” he said.
The banker added that the coronation of his father would be characterised by glamour and class, with 25 Nigerian artistes listed to entertain guests.
“Our family is into entertainment business and our partners have been calling to play roles in the coronation programme. In fact, they are involved and it’s going to be a jamboree from Thursday (yesterday) with music carnival that will involve 25 artistes. They will entertain the visitors and it will be televised not only in Nigeria but outside Nigeria,” Abiodun added.
He said despite his father’s advance age, he was strong enough to lead Ibadan and contribute to its greatness.
“At 87, my father is strong enough to rule. In fact, age is no barrier to the Olubadan throne. The late Olubadan (Samuel Odulana Odugade) died at age 101 but age was never a barrier to his performance as a monarch. My father keeps a healthy life. So, he is strong.”