A young man cannot become the Olubadan of Ibadanland, even if the young man is rich. His stupendous wealth and connections with the high and mighty in society cannot earn him the crown of Olubadan. The unavoidable structure that could take an aspirant to the palace does not allow or tolerate a hop, step and jump, long jump, on the game field. The throne of Olubadan is not just for the pick of any person who is enthralled by the glamour and glory of the revered seat of the oba of the second-largest city in Africa. This has nothing to do with a conspiracy theory against the youth. No.
Youths are the tomorrow of today’s parents, the continuation of the lineage. Besides, it’s an open secret that every parent especially in Yorubaland prays for his/her children to surpass him/her in achievements and in every other sphere of life. Undoubtedly, this is proof of every town or community’s love for its youths. For the sustenance of homo sapiens and continuity of the human race on earth, youths are the keys. They are the hope of every society. As much as Ibadan places much value and confidence on its youths, that affection and love for youths do not extend to chieftaincy affairs and the kingship of the ancient city of valour.
This has nothing to do with the belief in associating grey hair with wisdom. No. Ibadan people believe in the precociousness of gifted young persons. They also know that brawn is an additional attribute, a factor, that youth could use to advantage if applied with wisdom. Such a youth’s acquisition of experience, which is the source of wisdom through ageing, is not accorded any recognition or regarded as anything special to be coveted chieftaincy matters, especially on the rungs to the Ibadan throne. The structure put in place by the founding fathers of the metropolis has no priority for the youth.
Ab initio, Ibadan was not a city of coward, indolent and timid persons. Only the brave, strong, fearless and strong could eke out a living on the street. So, it was for the indigenes of Ibadan. In modern times, the street is akin to the jungle, where every animal is on its own. In the past, people whose philosophy of life and the daily principle of functionality was aggression and war were the people who were welcomed to the town with open hands. It was a town that made a fortress out of the hill, called Oke Ibadan at Eleiyele area, not the John Pepper Clark’s poem: Ibadan, a city of seven hills of rust and gold sprawling and glittering in the sun.
In history, Ibadan is a town that had been twice destroyed. No wonder the indigenes in the past didn’t take security matters lightly. At the inception of the third Ibadan, that is today’s Ibadan, the indigenes resorted to aggression and fierceness in war as the town’s standing and guiding policy. The third Ibadan founders fervently believed in war. To them, too much of love of peace could mean nothing, but predation. They had no choice, war-likeness was the only path to survival as the two earlier destructions and bitterness fed to them made the town a war camp always in war mobilization mood.
First, it had no ruling house. All houses in Ibadan were abodes of rulers and princes. Every true indigene of Ibadan is a prince and princess. The princes, as a matter of duty to their town, must at all times be ready to go to war in defence of their town or go on an aggression mission to suppress, capture and plunder any town that was the target of their attack. In such a setting, it was not a surprise that every free-born man of the town was likely to be a soldier who would be in war front fighting or contributing to the winning of the war, by providing logistics support and any other material that could assist the active warriors in winning the war.
No wonder, the founding fathers were opposed to a ruling house. They regarded their community as a joint endeavour where every resident had an equal stake in the protection of the town in case of an aggressor seeking an expansion of his territory and preservation of the town, Ibadan, against any unbecoming development that may adversely affect the town’s development was fiercely resisted. That was why the town was, therefore, by convention, a town of equals as residents had an equal stake in the security of the town. The two lines of chieftaincy that lead to the Olubadan throne are the civil and military lines. The civil line has 22 rungs for climbing, while the military has a 23-step ladder that aspirant to Olubadan’s seat must scale. The two lines are long and in comparison with an itinerary of becoming Oba in other towns in Yorubaland. Every navigator needs longevity, good health and wealth for sustenance to attain ambition. A throne seeker, who starts his journey on the Seriki line, a sub-line to the military, may face a higher huddle of becoming Ekerin Balogun on his path to the Olubadan stool. A person on the Seriki line in quest of promotion to Ekerin Balogun depends on luck or is it misfortune of simultaneous death of two chiefs on the same day, each from the two lines that lead to the Olubadan throne.
The rungs that take an aspirant, eyeing the Olubadan throne, to his desired palace are many and take time to climb. There is no shortcut or any unconventional means of expediting the journey. The recognised rungs are the only acceptable paths to the throne. There is the Balogun line and the administrators (Egbe agba) line. The third line is the Seriki line which could be described as a para-Balogun line. The Balogun line is the military line for warriors, while the (egbe agba) is the civil line. Before 1945, the Balogun line was enjoying a special privilege as every Balogun was sure of becoming Olubadan once there was a vacancy. In 1945, however, legislation gave birth to the civil administrators (Egbe agba) line. From that point, the Olubadan throne became a rotatory affair between the military and the civil lines. Henceforth, an Otun Olubadan could also become the Olubadan if there is a vacancy. If an aspirant tries to be smarter, his case may end up like the story of a camel wanting to pass through the eye of a needle. It may likely turn out to be impossible. Yes, every Olubadan aspirant must of necessity become Olubadan in stages or one bit at a time. Ibadan, unlike many other towns and cities in Yorubaland. Ibadan doesn’t have a ruling or ruling house. In Oyo town, there are two ruling houses, Ladigbolu and Adeyemi. Only sons (princes) born in the two families can aspire to become the Alaafin. If a town has one ruling house, only male products of the family could nurture a realization of becoming a king.
In a town where there is only one ruling house that, however, is not the case of Ibadan. All male indigenes of the metropolis called Ibadan are by virtue of being free-born of city princes. This means that they can aspire to become the Olubadan. In Ibadanland, however, the itinerary to the throne is a long and tortuous one. The journey requires good health, longevity and, of course, money.