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Death of Olubadan –in-waiting alters ascendancy process in Ibadan kingdom


Otun Olubadan, Kuye

Otun Olubadan, Kuye

High Chief in the Olubadan-in –Council, Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, Omowale Kuye died at the University College Hospital Ibadan.

Kuye was the highest-ranking high chief in the Otun Olubadan chieftaincy line. His death occurred two weeks after the demise of another high chief, Balogun of Ibadan Land, Sulaimon Adegboyega Omiyale. Considering royal succession system of Ibadanland, the two are qualified to be the next Olubadan.

The Guardian reporters, IYABO LAWAL (IBADAN) writes that death of the two high chiefs of Ibadan may have changed the order of kingship succession, but the power structure remains the same.

The death within two weeks of two Ibadan high chiefs and next in line to the Olubadan stool will no doubt alter the well-arranged traditional structure of ascendancy to the throne of Olubadan. Nonagenarian, High Chief Sulaiman  Adegboyega Omiyale  had been on the queue for 35 years, as the Balogun of Ibadan land , he was the next in line to the throne but he couldn’t fulfill the dream of becoming the Olubadan as he died at the University College Hospital ( UCH) at the age of 95.

While the people are still trying to recover from the loss, the Otun Olubadan,  Chief Omowale Kuye who is also a step to the olubadan throne from the civil line also died last Friday. Kuye, an elder statesman was a former Permanent secretary Budget and Planning in the presidency,
Omiyale, who became Mogaji of the compound in 1967 was one of the colourful Ibadan high chiefs and represented the Olubadan of Ibadan land at several events, in his lifetime. He was one of the promoters of Yoruba culture and tradition. Despite the fact that Chief Omiyale died at a very ripe age, his death is seen at some quarters as unfortunate because he was just a step away to become the Olubadan. Although, the incumbent Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Samuel Odulana is still alive at 101 years, the passing away of Omiyale and Kuye will no doubt upset the hierarchical system. It will change the ranking as it is, as some of those on the queue will be promoted up.

Kuye was on line to become the next Olubadan. He was just a step away. But fate had other plans. Though age was not on his side, According to sources, Kuye was still relatively okay in the early hours of Thursday even if he had been sick for some time now. But by 7 pm, those who were around him began to get worried. Thirty minutes later, the former director-general, special duties, in the presidency, breathed his last and joined his ancestors. And according to Islamic injunctions, he was committed to mother earth less than twenty-four hours later.



Before his death, Kuye had been battling illness and he had been in and out of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, UCH. His eldest son, Demola, said that his father died after a protracted illness, relating to old age, at UCH on Thursday evening. The family, according to him, would meet after the burial to discuss how to immortalise the former federal Permanent Secretary, Budget Affairs, who was also honoured with the title of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic seven years ago.

Chief Omowale Kuye was born on May 18, 1928. He attended Salvation Army School, Apatere, between 1935 and 1941. He proceeded to the prestigious Ibadan Boys High School in 1942 and finished from the school in 1948. Kuye was to move to another prestigious institution, the London School of Economics, of the University of London where he bagged Bachelor degree in economics in 1963. He also attended the Council of Legal Education, London where he bagged a degree in law, B.L, in 1965 and later the School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, University of Syracuse, Syracuse-New York, in the United States of America, for his Master degree in Economics Planning and Budgeting. This was in 1970, and finally the Nigeria Law School in 1978.

The Ibadan high chief started his working career at Federal Ministry of Trade in 1967 and left there in1970 when he was transferred to the Federal Ministry of Industries where he was between 1971 and 1976. He became Assistant Director, Expenditure Budget, Federal Ministry of Finance in 1978, the same year he was called to the Bar. He later served as Assistant Director in charge of Revenue Budget at the Federal Ministry of Finance  in1979 and later Head, Budget Department Ministry of Finance same 1979 and he was there till 1985 when he became Permanent Secretary, Budget Affairs till 1988). Kuye had the privilege of serving under former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he was military head of state and also first executive president of the country, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.

Kuye could be described as one of the nation’s foremost civil servants who had a sound understanding of the art bureaucracy. He not only knew his onions as far as the public affairs management was concerned, he was someone who was so painstaking when handling official matters and meticulous when presenting memos. Late Kuye recalled that when Obasanjo was military head of state, he was someone who felt he knew the answer to everything being discussed and who though he knew the subject at hand inside out. In a newspaper interview in 2010, Kuye had this to say about the two-time Nigerian leader: “You know Obasanjo has knowledge of everything under the sun. He is a medical doctor, a statistician, he is a lawyer, he is a farmer, he is a pastor; you just name it. He is a medical doctor because I know one of his ministers, a minister of health, resigned because Obasanjo assumed the role of medical doctor and was telling the medical expert what to do as a medical expert.”

He said it was Liman Ciroma, another top ranking civil servant then, who told Obasanjo not to joke with Kuye because as Liman claimed, “there was nothing Kuye would bring to you without doing his homework.” This was when Kuye prepared a budget and Obasanjo wanted to cancel virtually everything he prepared. Liman was said to have told Obasanjo that anything Kuye did was not done in isolation because one item would always lead to the other. Therefore, the then head of state should think twice before cancelling anything.

Ironically, Kuye was in the Law School when he was told that he would be needed at the federal ministry of finance as permanent secretary. It was same Liman Ciroma that recommended him to Obasanjo. Liman, according to Kuye, had told Obasanjo that, “if you are looking for a good budget man, I had an officer (for you) in the ministry of industries before. He is a sound economist and holds Master degree in budgeting and planning.” Ciroma went ahead to tell Obasanjo that Kuye had a weakness and the latter asked what the weakness was, Ciroma said he was too stubborn. Perhaps, that was why Ciroma eventually pushed him forward; to have someone that could stand up to Obasanjo.  Such was the thoroughness of Kuye as a civil servant that all those he worked for could attest to the fact that he was top of the rung technocrat who honed his skills from the best training institutions in the world.

Since the ancient city started the monarchical system in 1820 with Baale Maye Okunade as the first king, the well-arranged traditional structure that is adjudged the best in the South-West has been followed. This orderly arranged ascendancy to the throne of the Olubadan makes Ibadan unique in Yorubaland. Unlike other cities in the zone where crowning of kings is preceded by fierce battles among contenders, Ibadan is not known for such.

There are twin clear lines to the throne of the Olubadan: Civil and Military, which is translated to Egbe Agba and Balogun. Titleholders are appointed on rotational basis to occupy the stool immediately a king passes on. The next to the Olubadan and most senior on both lines are the Otun Olubadan and Balogun who under the Western Nigeria Law are recognised as second class traditional rulers and who are included on the Nigerian equivalent of a civil list as a result. The remaining Chiefs in the Olubadan-in-Council are the Osi Olubadan,  Asipa Olubadan, Ekerin and Ekarun, as well as Otun Balogun,  Osi Balogun, Asipa Balogun, Ekerin and Ekarun Balogun,  Seriki and Iyalode.
The Olubadan, which is the royal title of the king of Ibadanland, is a revered one.

The ancient city was founded in the 16th century, but the present Yoruba people only took control around 1820. By 1850 they had established their unusual succession principle, which is quite different compared with other traditional Yoruba rulers in that it alternates between two lines. It usually takes decades to groom an Olubadan for the stool through stages of chieftaincy promotion, thus meaning that just about any male born title-holder of the metropolitan center is a potential king.

There are two ruling lines to the throne of Olubadan, Egbe Agba (civil) and Balogun (military), from where Olubadans are appointed on rotational basis to occupy the stool on the death of a monarch. The next to Olubadan and most senior on both lines are the Otun Olubadan and Balogun, who under the Western Nigeria Law are recognised as second class traditional rulers and who are included on the Nigerian equivalent of a civil list as a result. Others are the Osi Olubadan, Asipa Olubadan, Ekerin and Ekarun, as well as Otun Balogun, Osi Balogun, Asipa Balogun, Ekerin and Ekarun Balogun, while the Seriki and Iyalode, (“mother of the town”, female chief) are also members of the Olubadan’s privy council.

The 11 high chiefs that formed the Olubadan-in-council, apart from the Seriki and Iyalode, are recognised as the traditional head of each of the 11 LGs in Ibadanland.

With Omiyale’s death, Otun Balogun, High Chief Saliu Adetunji, is expected to get promotion to the office of Balogun Olubadan while the Osi Olubadan, Senator Lekan Balogun will move up to Otun Olubadan.

A top member of the a Olubadan in council who pleaded anonymity said although the death of two top members of Olubadan in council within the spate of two weeks was saddening, he however said it was not unusual. The high chief in a chat with The Guardian said, “it is unfortunate we lost two high chiefs within two weeks but there’s nothing new. The successive arrangement in Ibadanland is clear; the Otun Balogun will succeed Balogun while the Osi Olubadan will move up the ladder to become Otun.

The incumbent Olubadan is from the civil line so the next monarch will come from Balogun line, everybody on the Olubadan line will move one step up. Then from the Mogajis, one person will become Jagun Olubadan and Jagun  Balogun.”
Therefore, death of the two Olubadan-in-waiting may have altered the order of ascendancy, but the structure of power laid down by tradition remains the same.

And not many kingdoms are so predeterminate about its kingship succession as Ibadan land.

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