• Oba Adetona celebrates 80 in grand style
By Tope Templer Olaiya
Some people are so poor in life that all they have is money, a fact accentuated by a popular saying among the Southwestern Nigerians that people are the quality of a man’s true assets. This was highly demonstrated at the weekend in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State during the grand luncheon party and climax of the activities marking the 80th birthday of the Awujale and paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona.
It was a quality audience of first-class monarchs, politicians, astute businessmen and illustrious sons and daughters of Ijebuland that filled up the 2,500-capacity hall at the Otunba Dipo Dina International Stadium.
Leading the pack of dignitaries was President Goodluck Jonathan’s representative, his Chief of Staff, Gen. Jones Arogbofa; the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina; Governor of Bayelsa State, who has traced his lineage to Ijebu, Seriake Dickson; and the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amsun (right) his wife, Olufunso (2nd right), the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona (2nd left) and his wife, Olori Oluwakemi (left), during the Grand Luncheon to mark the Awujale’s 80th birthday held at the Otunba Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu-Ode.
Others who added colour to the occasion with their presence included Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, host governor, Senator Gbenga Amosun; the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akinolu; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo; Chief Michael Adenuga; Otunba Subomi Balogun; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; Aremo Segun Osobo, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Pastor Tunde Bakare; and Nasir El-Rufai among a host of many others.
At exactly 11:45am, the celebrant was ushered into the hall that had been exquisitely draped in glistering yellow and white colours, by a retinue of his council of chiefs, members of the organizing committee, the Ijebu Renaissance Group and palace guards. He was led to his exalted seat with songs from the musical legend, who manned the bandstand, Chief Ebenezer Obey.
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (right), his Bayelsa counterpart, Hon. Seriake Dickson (2nd left), Chief of Staff to the President, Gen. Jones Oladeinde Arogbofa (left) and the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona (2nd right)
Proceedings began immediately with opening prayers offered by Oba Rilwan Akinolu. His birthday cake was cut after which the Awujale danced to songs chanted by an eminent group of Ijebu octogenarians, who welcomed him to the exclusive club of the aged 80s.
Then the floodgate of speeches and goodwill messages followed. The president’s Chief of Staff said it was not possible for the president to fulfill his promise to Awujale of felicitating with him on his landmark celebration due to the current security challenge confronting the country. Arogbofa, who promised that the challenges would be resolved sooner than Nigerians expect, however, told the Awujale that the president would still pay him a private visit at a later time.
Amosun said the Ijebu paramount ruler loves his people to a fault and has used his wealth of experience over the years to bring prosperity to his subjects and the people of Ogun State.
“He has been a rock and pillar of support to me, including my predecessors. We would not have achieved much without his support and other royal fathers in the state. He is a man of peace and I have benefitted immensely from his wealth of experience.
“In appreciation of this, I today rename the first flyover in Ijebuland to Oba Adetona flyover bridge, so that in years to come, when the history of Ijebu State is being written, the story will be told of the exploits of their illustrious son of Ijebuland whom the bridge is named after,” he said.
Dickson described Oba Adetona, who is also marking his 54th year on the throne, as one of Nigeria’s finest and best traditional rulers, who have been an exemplary figure to a host of other traditional rulers in the country.
Justice George Oguntade in his remarks said the Awujale’s 80th birthday celebration was in honour of a great man of intellect, “a man who cannot be deceived and who will not deceive you; whose goal is to unify Ijebu nation and bring to reality the Ijebu statehood.”
Responding, the celebrant thanked his guest who had taken the pains to be at the event in spite of the prevailing security situation in the country. He reiterated the call for traditional institutions to be given a constitutional role in the country.
“In the pre-colonial era, the traditional rulers were in charge, but the indirect rule imposed by the colonialists elevated their appointees, who are local politicians above traditional rulers. When we gained independence, the conditions of the obas were worse than when we were under the Oyinbos.
From left: Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the celebrant, Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Adetona; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akinolu; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo; and Otunba Subomi Balogun
“We were given paltry sums of money that made the head to constantly be in conflict with the stomach. But I am grateful to God for blessing all my activities when I went into distributorship business with Portland Cement at Ewekoro. The rest today is history.”
Going down memory lane of his 54 years experiences on the throne, he advised politicians to sheathe their swords for peace to reign in the country. “I will advise politicians to take criticisms honestly. There should be no politics of bitterness that should tear us apart. Also, leaders must be careful of their advisers, who may want to pitch them against imaginary enemies for their own selfish reasons,” he admonished.