By Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
It was indeed shocking to many people that the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, could join his ancestors without giving them a notice. They had thought the first-class monarch would still live for many years.
One of the things that marked out Oba Adeyemi from other traditional rulers in Yorubaland is the panegyrics that were usually recited in his favour. The praise singers would say: ‘Iku de o’ (Death has come). ‘Omo iku ti iku o gbodo pa’ (A child of death that death cannot kill). ‘Omo ofo ti ofo o gbodo se’ (The child of losses that can never suffer losses). Omo adanu ti adanu ko gbodo se’ (The child of destruction that cannot be destroyed).
But death brushed aside the panegyrics late in the evening of Friday April 22, and laid its fangs on the monarch and took him away to the great world beyond to join his ancestors.
Sunday Sun checks revealed that Oba Adeyemi III was effectively in charge of Oyo Kingdom during his reign that lasted for about 52 years. But for death he would have turned 84 years in less than six months.
Every politician of note in Nigeria at one time or the other had visited Alaafin in Oyo to solicit his support to fulfil their ambitions. They knew that he was highly influential. The majority of his people in Oyo town would not dare to disobey his command on the direction that they should go on any particular issue.
The majority of those that have become president of Nigeria had visited the palace to seek the support of the departed monarch at one time or the other.
It was disclosed that there are some chiefs in Oyo Kingdom that were always ready to carry out to the letter directives from Alaafin, either social or political.
Presently, his son, Prince Akeem Adeyemi, is a member of House of Representatives, representing Oyo federal constituency. Currently, he is seeking to return to the Green Chambers in Abuja from 2023 for a record third term.
The people of Oyo State would not even forget how Oba Adeyemi and some other notable leaders in the state, prevented a former governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, from re-election in 2011.
Alao-Akala, who also died earlier this year, had dabbled into the traditional institution in the state. Prior to the intervention, Alaafin was the permanent chairman of Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs.
But Alao-Akala reviewed the headship of the council, and concluded that the chairmanship of the council should be rotated among three paramount rulers in the state. They are Alaafin himself, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, and the Soun of Ogbomosoland. Alaafin opposed the review vehemently.
At a time, it was alleged that Alao-Akala said a sitting governor has enormous powers to the extent that he can dethrone any king. This reportedly got to Alaafin who resolved that he would not allow dethronement to be a family cause for the Adeyemis, because his father, Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II, was also dethroned by the government of the defunct Western Region under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Oba Adeyemi III was quoted to have said he would commit suicide if Alao-Akala was re-elected as governor in 2011 because he would have used the instrumentality of office to deal with him.
The late monarch, however, confirmed this during the last Ramadan lecture organised by the administration of a former governor of the state, the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi, at the Government House Arcade, Agodi, Ibadan in 2018.
He said that three personalities, including himself actually took it upon themselves that Alao-Akala would not be re-elected.
He mentioned the late Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Arisekola Alao, and an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Muideen Bello as the trio.
But nobody can remove the fact that Oba Adeyemi was very social. He would attend functions in traditional special ‘Aso Ofi’ and at times in ‘Damask’ that were well ironed and starched. He was an orator, both in Yoruba and English. He was also an excellent writer.
Oba Adeyemi had many wives during his lifetime, many of who belong to the younger generations. One common feature of all his younger wives are that they are all fair in complexion and beautiful.
Some of the people that spoke with Sunday Sun in the palace stated that the late Alaafin took after his father, Oba Adeniran Adeyemj II, who they said had about 200 wives. But he could not surpass the record of his father because he did not have up to 200 wives. He was said to have got married to a new wife some weeks ago.
How he was feared by mighty and lowly people
Oba Adeyemi III was greatly feared by the mighty and lowly people during his lifetime. The fear started before he ascended the throne of his forefathers in the early 1970s.
The people that opposed his appointment as 45th Alaafin of Oyo then feared that he might be spiritually ruthless like his father, Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II, who was dethroned and banished to exile by the government.
His father was accused of being spiritually responsible for the death of a young prominent lawyer and politician, Chief Bode Thomas, who died barking like a dog.
The Alaafin Adeyemi II allegedly commanded him to bark like dog because of an alleged disrespect for the monarch. But no law could actually prove the metaphysical power linked to Adeyemi II.
Based on the fear, another candidate was raised to become the 45th Alaafin. As gathered, he did not have the financial muscles of those that opposed him, and he sought the assistance of a business tycoon known as Ashamu for sponsorship. They approached the then Ooni of Ife, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, and the then Commissioner for Local Government in the then Western Region of Nigeria, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, who later became governor of old Oyo State in 1983.
As gathered, it was Olunloyo that helped Alaafin to convince Colonel Adeyinka Adebayo, the then military governor of the region. He was appointed and was crowned about 52 years ago.
In the political cycle, the fear of Alaafin was the beginning of wisdom.
Investigations revealed that since the return of democratic governance in Nigeria in 1999, the former governor of Oyo State from 2011 to 2019, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, and the incumbent Governor Seyi Makinde have been the only ones that did not incur the wrath of the monarch.
Alhaji Lam Adesina, who governed the state from 1999 to 2003, had a crush with Alaafin, as well as his successor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja.
The governor of the state from 2007 to 2011, Adebayo Alao-Akala, also had a fight with Alaafin.
But none of the three governors that fought with Alaafin returned to power for the second term.
But Senator Ajimobi, managed his relationship with Alaafin very well and he enjoyed the support of the monarch, which contributed to his electoral victory for second term in office in 2015.
It was also believed that he had the power of life and death. He was not an ordinary king and his words were usually backed up by the spiritual powers that be for them to come to reality.
The monarch was born on October 15, 1938, into the Alowolodu Royal House, and as a member of the House of Oranmiyan to Raji Adeniran Adeyemi, who was born 1871, and later became Alaafin in 1945, and Ibironke of Epo-Gingin, who died when he was young.
His paternal grandfather, according to historians, was Alaafin Adeyemi I Alowolodu, who ruled during the Kiriji War, and was the last independent ruler of the Oyo Empire before British colonialism.
Alaafin, a lover of boxing, was a boxer before ascending the throne of his forefathers, succeeded Alaafin Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II in 1970, during the governorship of Colonel Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, on November 18, 1970.