Oba James Aladesuru II at 90: God is secret of my longevity
It is one of the ancient Yoruba towns that traced its origin to the ‘source’ in Ile-Ife. According to history, the man who founded the town, simply known as Ake, was from Ife. He had a wife named Erindo and they had 16 children.
“Among some of the children were Ogbese, Elemi and Osun. After the death of their father, the children were said to have engaged in a fierce battle over who would lead, which is akin to the king of nowadays. They fought one another deploying various incantations (Ogede). The battle was said to have been so fierce and destructive that some of them turned to trees, rivers, while some disappeared or were swallowed by the ground in the process. It was those who heard of or the eyewitnesses to what happened that described the place where the siblings fought themselves with incantations as Igede (Ogede),” said an elderly man in the community who pleaded for anonymity.
Before his Royal Majesty, Oba James Adelusi Aladesuru II, ascended the throne, there had been several royal fathers. However, what is most remarkable about his kingship is the fact that he has spent 64 years on the throne, an uncommon feat none of his predecessors achieved. But as a Christian, Oba Aladesuru believes that only God, who has spared his life and blessed him with uncommon grace, can take glory for his longevity on the stool of his forefathers.
As he marked his 90th birthday and 64th coronation anniversary with pomp and pageantry on September 2, 2023, the revered monarch was full of praises to God. The event, which attracted very important personalities from all over the country who joined the king to give thanks to God for preserving his life, was graced by the representatives of the Ekiti State government, led by the Governor Abiodun Oyebanji.
In his remarks, Oyebanji said: “Attaining the age of 90 and marking 64 years on the throne can only be by God’s special grace. This is why I consider it a great privilege to join royal fathers, chiefs, dignitaries, friends and family as one of our respected royal fathers, HRM Oba James Adelusi Aladesuru II, marks his 90th birthday and 64th coronation anniversary today in Igede Ekiti.
“Having spent 64 years on the throne, Oba Adelusi holds the record as the longest-serving Oba in Nigeria.
“The respected monarch exemplifies strong leadership and a deep commitment to the well-being of his community, our dear state and country. His enduring legacy of service, honour and integrity continue to inspire many, especially the younger generation.
“Long live Kabiyesi, and may your reign continue to bring prosperity to the people of Igede Ekiti and to Ekiti State at large.”
Also, in his tribute to the Onigede, renowned strategy and development expert and Commonwealth Institute Director, Prof. Anthony Kila, who is also a High Chief in Igede Ekiti, described the monarch’s celebration as a personal and collective blessing.
Kila, who is the Balogun of Igede Ekiti, eulogised Oba Adelusi, describing him as a real father, man of peace and lover of knowledge.
He noted that, “with over six decades of reign, the Onigede has seen a lot and has a lot to offer. His years on the throne are a personal and collective blessing and celebration that should be treasured and used as a source of education and inspiration for others in Ekiti and the rest of the world.”
Speaking with journalists at a pre-coronation anniversary press conference, the monarch recalled his childhood, saying that his father, the Aladesuru I, had also served as the Onigede of Igede-Ekiti.
“I knew my father was a king. He passed on when I was just eight years old. It was my mother that was responsible for my upbringing. She took me to live with her elder brother, Chief Ireakari Ogundana, who was responsible for funding my primary school education.
“I started school at Baptist Central School, Igede-Ekiti. Then I went to Ijagbo Offa in today’s Kwara State, where I attended Baptist Primary School. But I finished primary education at Igede here in December 1954. In January 1955, I went to Iseyin in the Oyo area where I spent about two and a half years. It was while I was there that I was summoned here to be crowned Onigede,” he recalled.
Unlike now that crisis and legal dispute usually herald the choice of a monarch, especially in the South West region, partly because of the politicisation of the stool, the monarch recalled that there was no rancour during his time.
“My brothers selected some people; they made findings from Ifa divination and were told that revelations from Ifa favoured me above others. There was no competition. Nobody contested it. They picked me as the person that was revealed as the best and most suitable candidate,” he said.
The monarch said that at no time did he show interest in the coveted throne, noting that it was his people that sought for him even when he was not in Igede.
“On June 8, 1959, the day my brother came to my place of work to pick me up, as I saw him, I had a very unusual feeling of nostalgia. When he got close, I asked him what he has come to do and he brought out a letter written by the state government approving me as the next Onigede, I started crying,” he recalled
He stated that even though it was a pleasant development, the feeling that he would soon lose his friends and also be deprived of his freedom took the better part of him.
Before being crowned as the king, Oba Aladesuru II was an elementary school teacher. He recalled that he was already at the verge of proceeding to Modern School to acquire more education, having saved money for the purpose from his teaching job, before he was asked to come and reign over his people as the Onigede of Igede Ekiti.
“I would have gathered enough money to go to college and perhaps further levels,” he said.
Oba Aladesuru II ascended the throne at 26 years from the Okiribiti Adeyibaka Ruling House, the descendants of the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti. According to the monarch, his journey of ruling the ancient town of Igede Ekiti, the present headquarters of Irepodun Ifelodun Local Council of Ekiti State, has not been without ups and downs. He, however, noted that despite the challenges, massive development has taken place in the town.
“All the things that have happened in the town since I ascended the throne were made possible by God. Since I became the Onigede, a lot of development has come to this town. Then, there were many thatched roofs in Igede. Aluminum roofed buildings were not many, but all that changed gradually and you won’t find thatched roofs here again. Only one tiny road traversed Igede from Aramoko to Ado Ekiti; through self help efforts we opened up several roads that were taken over by both the state and federal governments and asphalted. From just a few primary schools and one secondary school, we now have several of them, both private and public. We also have a degree awarding Baptist Seminary in Igede Ekiti,” he said.
Nevertheless, the community still has many developmental needs and the monarch pleaded with both the state and federal governments to urgently come to their aid by reconstructing dilapidated roads, adding that road infrastructure is key to economic development.
Disclosing that the community is blessed with human capital, he urged the government to establish technical institutions for youths to learn skills and vocations that would be of great value to the society.
He said: “We need more roads in the community because the majority of them are poor and dilapidated, thereby making it difficult for people across the country to visit us and see our potential.
“I am calling on our President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the state Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, to look into the state of roads in Igede, especially the federal road. It was started over 20 years ago.”
Oba Aladesuru II also used the occasion to appeal to the governor and everyone that came to celebrate with him to donate towards a N10 million project he wants to execute for his church.
Responding, the governor promised to personally foot the bill, assuring him that the project would be completed by December this year for the monarch to commission it.
“Baba has shown that he can be a king and serve the King of kings as demonstrated when he came to my office having prayed for 45 minutes in spite of the fact that it was said to be a short prayer,” the Governor said.
Dignitaries at the event included several traditional rulers in Ekiti State and the National President of the Baptist Convention, the Reverend Israel Akanji, among others.
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