The Making And Uniqueness Of Olubadan Stool – Mogaji Wole Arisekola

Each time an Olubadan is to be crowned, many people wondered why Ibadan people choose to have very old men as their Oba and consequently almost every 10 years, a coronation ceremony occurs. The reason is simple, in 1850, IBADAN adopts a widely 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. The development means any male born title-holder of the metropolitan is a potential king.
As at today the longest serving Olubadan in history, Olubadan Okunola Abass, spent 16 years on the throne.

The traditional chieftaincy system that produces the Olubadan of Ibadanland essentially consists of two approved lines – Otun and Balogun lines. Now, the Balogun line has a 23-step rung, while the Baale line is 22-step rung before the eventual emergence as Olubadan in a promotional system that abhors supersession unless there is an exceptionally grave circumstance.

It is worth telling that Ibadan started as a camp for warlords from many places. Leadership was recognised on the strength of war captives, prowess and even mystical power. The situation then, as it is now, is that leadership must be rotational. 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. Others are the Osi Olubadan, Asipa Olubadan, Ekerin and Ekarun, as well as Otun Balogun, Osi Balogun, Asipa Balogun, Ekerin and Ekarun Balogun.

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 local governments in Ibadanland. Each of them has a palace from where they control their local government. Successive Olubadans had made their places of residence their palaces on ascension to the throne. The palace of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, built at Oja’ba in Ibadan, had been left unoccupied for so long. Oba Yesufu Asanike engaged the use of the palace to receive important dignitaries when he was on the throne. Now, the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), the apex organisation of Ibadan indigenes, has planned to construct a befitting palace for the Olubadan at Oke Aremo.

The Olubadan is the paramount ruler of Ibadanland and, upon his approval, Baales are appointed for provinces and communities. According to Baale Taye Ayorinde, the Baale of Ekotedo, “A Baale could only appoint his chiefs for the community only with the specific approval of the Olubadan, being the prescribed and consenting authority.”


Every family and clan in Ibadanland has a Mogaji. Mogajis are family heads. They control the affairs of their family and ensure law and order. They are made Mogajis by the Olubadan after they have been so appointed and the family written to formally inform the Olubadan and the Council. In Ibadan, there are over 2,500 Mogajis or family heads at present. The installation ceremony of Mogajis is often performed at the palace of the Olubadan with pomp and fanfare. A Mogaji is a potential Olubadan in waiting if he eventually succeeds to join the ladder. It takes a whole lot for a Mogaji to become Jagun, the lowest rung of the Olubadan ladder, as there are competitions from other Mogajis.

To become Jagun, however, Baale Ayorinde said there are three things to consider. A prospective candidate could be from an historical Ibadan warrior family or having done valiantly to save the land in one form or another. The candidate might also have done something worthwhile for his community or Ibadanland as a whole, while his wealth, which he had used for the uplift of the downtrodden, could be another consideration.

When there is vacancy for the Jagun position, the Olubadan-in-council would consider the prospective candidates and hereby appoint one to the Olubadan line or another to the Balogun line, depending on where there is vacancy. The appointees would now become Jagun on either and or both lines. The promotions of such Jaguns are not, however, random, as they are promoted in a sequential and orderly procedure. Upon vacancy in any of the lines, the title holder of a lower rung is promoted to the next rung of the ladder. The Balogun line has 23 rungs while the Olubadan line has 22 rungs. The next Olubadan alternates between the Balogun and the Otun Olubadan.

The promotion in the line of Balogun follows this pattern: From Jagun – Ajia – Bada – Are-Onibon – Gbonnka – Aare Egbe Omo – Oota – Lagunna – Are-Ago – Ayingun – Asaju – Ikolaba – Aare-Alasa – Agba-Akin – Ekefa – Maye –Abese – Ekarun Balogun – Ekerin Balogun – Ashipa Balogun – Osi Balogun – Otun Balogun and eventually to Balogun. The journey from Jagun to Balogun will take a prospective candidate through a 23-rung ladder, and, having reached the top of the ladder, he becomes Balogun and would, therefore, wait for his turn to emerge the Olubadan of Ibadanland.

The promotion in the line of Olubadan follows the same pattern, but is 22 rungs : From Jagun – Ajia – Bada – Aare Onibon – Gbonnka – Aare-Egbe Omo – Oota – Lagunna – Are-Ago – Ayingun – Asaju – Ikolaba – Aare-Alasa – Agba-Akin – Ekefa – Maye – Abese – Ekarun Olubadan – Ekerin Olubadan – Ashipa Olubadan – Osi Olubadan and finally to Otun Olubadan. The nomenclature looks the same with that of Balogun, until when the prospective candidate finally gets to the Ekarun Olubadan. Upon emergence as the Otun Olubadan, the candidate is set to emerge the next Olubadan of Ibadan land on his turn.

Baale Ayorinde gave English meanings of some of the titles thus: Otun – second in command/Commander of the right wing; Osi – third in command/Commander of the left wing; Asipa – Leader of the Vanguard; Ekerin – Fourth in Command; Ekarun – Fifth in Command; Abese – Superintendent of foot soldiers; Maye – Stationary Veteran Soldiers; Ekefa – Sixth in command; Agba-Akin – Chief of the Brave; Aare-Alasa – Chief of the Squire; Ikolaba – Sango’s apron man; Asaaju – Front ranker (front liner); Ayingun – Official war wager; Aare-Ago – Overseer of Blood Relations; Laguna – Swivel Lance Comptroller General; Oota – Sharp Shooter; Aare-Egbe-Omo – General of the Youth Wing; Gbonka – Dignified war wager; Aare-Onibon – Brigadier-General of Gun Combatant Shooter; Bada – Chief Spy; Ajia – Commissioner; Jagun – Warrior/Defender of the ruler.

When death occurs of any member on the ladder, there has to be installation ceremony to the next rank for affected candidates not less than 21 days after the burial of the last occupant. The Olubadan, upon notification of such death, will approve the promotion of others and perform installation ceremony for them at the palace. This is one of the reasons Ibadan chiefs are called Agbotikuyo (someone who rejoices at the death of another candidate).
Ori mi Dara,pe Ibadan ,ni won bi mi ooo eeee.Ibadan,ilu alaafe ilu oloye ti wa ni,ori mi dara,pe Ibadan ,ni won bi mi oóooo eeeee.

© Mogaji Wole Arisekola writes from Ibadan.

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