Celebrating Oba Sikiru Adetona’s 64 Years Reign As Paramount Ruler Of Ijebuland

Oba Dr Sikiru Kayode Adetona, the Awujale of Ijebuland is the kind of king monarchs aspire to be. And after 64 years on the throne, that prestige has not waned.

Installed as king on April 2, 1960, just a few months shy of Nigeria’s Independence, Awujale’s reign is currently older than the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As it stands, he is the longest-reigning first-class monarch in Nigeria. These are not mere statistics, they are hard facts that prove, Oba Adetona is a king blessed by God and honoured by men.

A cursory look at the life of this esteemed ruler is proof that when there are kings who are not limited in wisdom, power, goodness, and love for subjects, then monarchy would be the best of all systems of government. Every year, at the Ojude Oba festival, multitude of Ijebu citizens throng home from around the world to celebrate and felicitate with their beloved king. They do this not out of duty or enforced obligation, but out of a deep-seated love for their king and their land.

But Awujale’s path to the throne was not one paved with velvet and inlaid with a thornless bed of flowers; no, it was rough, the journey was tough, and the experience could sometimes be bitter, as with that of men with great destinies. But these only served as stepping stones to his future, unanimously given, throne.

Ọba Sikiru Olukayọde Adetọna, Ọgbagba Agbotewole II, was born 90 years ago on May 10, 1934, into the Royal House of Anikinaiya of Ijẹbuland in his father’s house in Imupa, Ijebu Ode.As a prince from the line of Oba Adeleke, Ọgbagba Agbotewole I (c. 1825–1906), who was the Awujalẹ of Ijẹbuland from 1895 to 1906 and a descendant of Olu-Iwa, the legendary first Awujalẹ and Ọbanta, another founder of the Ijẹbu kingdom. Oba Sikiru was born to greatness.

After attending various Baptist Schools, Ereko, Ijẹbu-Ode; Ogbere United Primary School, Oke Agbo, Ijẹbu-Igbo; and Ansar-Ud-Deen School, Ijebu-Ode between 1943 and 1950, he attended Olu-Iwa (now Adeola Odutọla) College, Ijebu-Ode from 1951 to 1956. Between 1957 and 1958 he took up an appointment with the then Audit Department of the Western Region, Ibadan.

From there on he resigned his appointment in 1958 to pursue further studies in accountancy in the United Kingdom.

By a letter dated January 4, 1960, referenced CB. 4 1/333, the Permanent Secretary in the Western Region Ministry of Local Government conveyed to the Local Government Adviser in Ijẹbu Ode approval of the Western Region Governor in Council, the appointment of Prince Sikiru Kayode Adetona as king, and his confirmation as the new Awujale of Ijebuland with effect from that date (January 4, 1960).

Prominent Ijẹbu sons like the late Ọgbẹni-Ọja, Chief (Dr.) Timothy Adeọla Odutọla, Bọbasuwa I, Chief Emmanuel Okusanya Okunọwọ (MBE, KFNM); and Aṣiwaju, Chief Samuel Ọlatubọsun Ṣhonibare began to arrange for the home-coming of the King-elect. And on January 18, 1960, the Head of the Ijẹbu Ode Regency Council, the Ọgbeni-Ọja, Chief Timothy Adeọla Odutọla formally presented the new traditional ruler to the whole world.

A man of tradition, he embarked on the customary traditional seclusion at the Odo for three months.

It would be remembered that even though Oba Sikiru Kayọde Adetọna had earlier been nominated along with five others by the ODIS, his great destiny prevailed and he was unanimously selected by the kingmakers in conformity with Section 11 of the Chiefs Law of 1957 applicable in Western Region. The then Governor signed the Instrument of Office approving Prince Sikiru Kayọde Adetọna as Awujalẹ of Ijẹbuland, and the formal coronation took place on Saturday, April 2, 1960.

But in the midst of all these, he had many documented and undocumented trials and travails.Looking back, Oba Adetona’s extraordinary destiny serves history in preservation. His is a life to be wished for, a legacy that must be preserved, and a story that must continue to be told for generations to come.Not many kings want their life story in the public domain, instead, as second-in-command to the gods, they prefer that air of mystery to ensure that their rule remains absolute and their personal affairs secret. But Awujale is a different kind of king – an erudite.

He authored his biography, laying his cards bare and ensuring that many can learn the lessons of history through his life’s story. This is what formed the basis of the soon-to-be-released biopic, ‘Awujale’ by Ultimate Communications, as directed by Tunde Olaoye. Currently gearing for an Ijebu premiere later this month, the film follows the life of Oba Sikiru through the ages in an unfolding story. This documents through film the life of one of the greatest obas in Yoruba Land.

As he marks his 90th birthday, it is only fitting that one should say ‘Kabiyesi O! Long may the crown sit on the head, long may the shoes fit the wearer, and long may you reign.

” But in prayer, many would secretly say to the creator “May I be as great as the king, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, the Awujale of Ijebu Land.”

Seun oloketuyi Producer of the biopic writes from Lagos

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