Abasi Alesinloye became the (Baale) of Ibadan in 1930. He was a coronet head called Baale Elelubo. The time of his ascension was a glorious dawn for the indigenes of the town. They had been under the reign of a pro-Alaafin Baale in the person of Oyewole of Foko area of the town Ibadan people had many grouses against Oyewole. Hostility against Baale Oyowole got to boil point when protesting Ibadan people destroyed his palace. At this point, it should be mentioned the colonial administration rebuilt it. It was, therefore, not a surprise that Alesinloye was seen by the people as a true Ibadan-politics produced Baale unlike his predecessor, Baale Oyewole.
The era of Alesinloye was noted for the fast-tempo development which could be said to have sprawled from Lagos to Ibadan. Remember that was the last principality in the political development in Yorubaland before the arrival of the colonial master that provided security for the residents.
Alesinloye’s era witnessed the dawn of rail transport, which ran through the town. There were also pockets of to new commercial barons, who came to settle in Ibadan. Lebanese, who settled at Gbagi area close to rail line and railway station at Dugbe. Besides, there were also rail workers who settled at Ekotedo area of the town.
The bitterness of Alaafin Ladigbolu against Ibadan people was not unconnected with his being pelted with stone by youths in the town. It was an open insurrection against Oyo empire if not that the Britons who had swept Oyo empire into the dust bin of history were in power.
With the demise Oyewole, most Ibadan people who had sympathy for Shittu Are who was a symbol of hatred to Alaafin could literally said to have been delt with by Ladigbolu. No wonder Ibadan people said bye to a stooge of Alaafin. This, it was believed, had made Ibadan to experience a new lease of life and a change in status for good. The town became the provincial headquarters of Oyo province. The new status had attracted many good things to the town.
The making of Ibadan provincial headquarters was done by the colonial administration to make running of the government easy and smooth.
At the time Alesinloye came on throne, Ibadan was deep in the usual rivalry among senior chiefs in the town especially those who were loyal to Oyewole and the new Baale, Alesinloye. The intra-town politics was targeted at currying colonial masters patronage.
Besides, the setting up of Legislative Council in Lagos in 1922 through what was then tagged, Clifford Constitution, was a major development that gave Nigerians an opportunity to be represented and participate in the constitutional development of their the country. This was a major constitutional step after the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates by Lord Luggard who was the first governor-general of the newly merged country. The legislative Council set up by Clifford gave Ibadan an opportunity to have a representative in the legislative chamber sitting in Lagos.
The Balogun of Ibadan, the late Chief Salami Agbaje, was the representative of Oyo province in the Legislative Council. A wealthy man of his time, who was out to do everything in his power to serve interest of Ibadanland.
It was at this period that a warm relationship developed between the new Baale, Alesinloye and Balogun Agbaje, which greatly benefited and sped up the development of the town. Acount of the town’s politicking revealed that Balogun Agbaje, who made his money from supplying planks that were used in the construction of rail tracks from Ibadan to Jebba, had become what could be called a Budding City Boy of Ibadan. He had fostered good relationship with many white leaders in government, commerce and industries that were extant at the time. He enjoyed good patronage from the government of the day too and he was a member of the Legislative Council in Lagos.
Balogun Agbaje harnessed his influence to make Ibadan greater. On this front, many Ibadan people, who were detractors of Agbaje had accused him of assidiously working to fasten the development of Ibadan and, of course, raise its traditional ruler’s status in anticipation of when he (Agbaje) would become the traditional ruler of Ibadan. This, it was claimed was the major reason for his teaming up with Baale Elelubo to fight the cause of raising the status of Ibadan ruler from Baale to that of King.
Agbaje, who was not unaware of the hostility that had earlier dogged the relationship between Shittu Are a generalissmo of the defunct Oyo empire and Oba Adigbu was careful and diplomatic not to betray the Ibadan people’s sentiments that marked the emergence of Baale Elelubo, Alesinloye, who was the successor of Baale Oyewole of Foko. To assuge and woo Alaafin to buy into the scheme that would promote of the Baale of Ibadan to a King, Agbaje, on several occasions bought expensive gifts that had a touch of royalty for Alaafin. Agbaje’s act of kindness was to warm his way into the heart of the Oba Ladigbolu, softening his hard stance against Alesinloye, thus having a new heart towards the development of Ibadan and a new status for the town’s coronet leader.
Agbaje saw what he was doing to raise the status of Baale of Ibadan to that of King as something worthwhile. He knew of many benefits that would accrue from it, perhaps because of his exposure in commerce and relationship with the white colonial masters that he was writing his name into the history of Ibadan. He was not unaware that he would not be the immediate beneficiary of the change in the status of the ruler of Ibadan. He, however knew that if he lived long to become the traditional ruler of Ibadan, he would be called a King. Besides, history would not close its eyes to the noble work he was doing. On several occasions Agbaje paid courtesy visit to Oyo and on each occasion, he was always having something (present) impressive ones to give Alaafin. He didn’t, however, stop there. He engaged in persuation and diplomacy in the corridor of power in Lagos, advocating his stance on the new status of Ibadan ruler he was advocating. He did everything in his power to persuade colonial masters to support and approve a new status for the fuler of Ibadan.
The new status of Ibadan, the provincial headquarters of Oyo province, was even cited as a major reason for the ruler of the town to be promoted to a crown-wearing King. The wish and prayers of Salami Agbaje was granted by the power that be and in 1939, the first Olubadan, Abasi Alesinloye was crowned. Thus dropping the tittle Baale Elelubo.
-Tajudeen Adigun 08039180360
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