Forty years is quite a long time. To God be the glory for the life of His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr) Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran II, Owa Obokun Adimula of Ijesaland to have had the chance to witness 40 years on the throne, and to give leadership in, and many dramatic and developmental changes in Ijesaland and Nigeria in general. Oba Aromolaran’s mantra is, “Education is life; education is light. It dispels all darkness.” Oba Aromolaran followed his dream like the Biblical Joseph and today his name is ‘specially emblazoned in the Royals’ Hall of Fame for his good deeds, not only for his native Ijesaland but also the entire Yorubaland. And he lived the dream. He burnt the midnight oil and scored big.’ Today, ‘the name Adekunle Aromolaran still rings bells in the consciousness of those who read hos books for their ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels examinations in Economics and Government in the 1970s.’ Indeed, Oba Aromolaran’s fruitful ‘fertile mind and intellectual acuity’ remains an inspiration.
For Oba Aromolaran, ‘truly, royalty brings instant recognition and puts the beneficiary in that echelon where money, women and influence reign. But he refused to be carried away by any of those in the knowledge that though some of those things may make you one of the most sought-after men around, what secures the future for the royal is his strength of character, personal convictions and the goals he sets for himself. With these at the back of his mind, the young Aromolaran brushed aside all princely fantasies and tastes, and upped the ante for himself.’ According to Shola Oshunkeye, Oba Aromolaran ‘desired more than the traditional stool. He aimed for the sky. He resolved to be king in a different kingdom – the academia. However, if providence ever permitted him to sit on the throne of his forefathers, he wanted to do so with a PhD in his bag. He wanted to be an academic of an uncommon hue, the first PhD monarch in Nigeria.’
Having ruled from September 24th, 1966, Oba Aromolaran’s predecessor, Owa-Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Peter Adeniran Olatunji Agunlejika II (1912-1981) joined his ancestors on September 26th 1981. Oba Aromolaran II, ‘a millionaire publisher… was unanimously chosen in 1982 by all Ijesas at home and in the diaspora to become the 40th Owa-Obokun Adimula and Paramount Ruler of Ijesaland precisely with effect from 20th February, 1982. He was coronated by the then Government of the old Oyo State, the Late Chief Bola Ige amidst pomp and pageantry on Saturday, 15th May, 1982.’ The Federal Government of Nigeria, in consideration of Oba Aromolaran’s meritorious and selfless services to the Nigeria nation honoured him with the award of the Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR).
Oba Aromolaran, a fervent Christian, worship at Otapete Methodist Cathedral, Ilesa. He did not gate crash into power. Oba Aromolaran is the first Nigerian Oba to hold a PhD and his first book, Economics for West Africa was published in 1966 in collaboration with his friends, Alabi Ogun and Areoye Oyebola. Oba Aromolaran’s pen since ascending the throne ‘never lost its power and his proclivity for writing has never waned.’ Chief Ebenezer Babatoper, a former Nigerian Minister for Transport, explained that Oba Aromolaran ‘prepared himself very well for the challenges and obligations of office. He educated himself to the post-graduate, doctorate level. He was never presented with an honorary doctorate degree. He passed all necessary examinations and excelled in all intellectual destinations relevant to the award of a doctorate degree. Before becoming a traditional ruler, he made a success of publishing the Aromolaran publishers. He never gave up his love for scholarship after he had ascended the throne of his fathers. Baba Kabiyesi, Owa, is a very warm and ever loving father. You may disagree with him. You cannot however fault his love for educational truth and honesty.’
Ilesa was founded in c.1250 by Owaluse, a grandson of Ajibogun Ajaka Owa Obokun Onida Arara, one of the most accomplished great-grandsons of Oduduwa, the royal progenitor of the Yoruba race. The city was described by Rev. William Howard Clark in 1854 as: ‘For its cleanliness, regularity in breadth and width, and the straightness of its streets, the ancient city of Ilesa far surpasses any native town I have seen in black Africa.’ Ilesa (Ile ti a sa, which means “a homeland we chose”), the traditional headquarter of Ijesaland is the capital of the first Local Council in Nigeria, the Ijesa/Ekiti Parapo Council as it was then known. It was established by the British Colonial Administration on June 21, 1900 and comprises of the present Ondo and Ekiti states. Ilesa is the largest town and historic cultural and economic capital of the Ijesha people, and is home to a kingdom of the same name, ruled by an Oba culturally styled as the Owa Obokun Adimula. The Ijesa, as a generic name for the people of Ilesa, ‘Ibokun, Esa-Oke, Ijebu-Jesa, Ipetu-Ijesa, Osu, and Ilase-Ijesa, among others, are honest, hard-working and highly principled people. The Ijesas place optimum premium on education. An average Ijesa family would sacrifice anything and everything to get its children educated. The Ijesas are also widely acclaimed for their vigorous agrarian culture and unique business urbanity and tact; an attribute that earned them the sobriquet, Osomaalo. Transliterated, Osomaalo means waiting patiently to get paid for merchandise earlier supplied, or waiting to claim your right which is being denied you or being trampled. No matter how hard you try to frustrate them, they would wait.’
Oba Aromolaran, the last born of his mother, was born in October 13, 1937 into the royal household of Kabiyesi, Alayeluwa, Oba Iluyomade Aromolaran I, the Owa-Obokun and Paramount Ruler of Ijesaland (from July 1920 to July 31, 1942) and Princess Tinuola Aromolaran – a princess of Esa-Oke in Ijesaland. Oba Aromoran started his primary school education at Otapete Methodist School, Ilesa which he finally completed at the prestigious Agbeni Methodist School Oke Ado Ibadan. Oba Aromolaran attended Ilesa Grammar School, between 1970 and 1974. He was a school teacher before proceeding to Wesley College, Elekuro Ibadan – a Teachers’ Training College. Kabiyesi later studied Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics at Abeokuta Grammar School, Ogun State with Messrs. Femi and Dotun (Twin brothers) Oyewole as his tutors.’ Oba Aromolaran ‘attended the then University College Ibadan (UCI) which was then a College of the University of London (now the University of Ibadan) where he obtained the B.Sc. Degree in Economics’ in 1964. In 1965, he did a Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Administration of the University of Ife then located at Ibadan. Oba Aromolaran went overseas for a management course at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), Pittsburgh/Pennsylvania, in the United State of America and graduated with Master’s Degree in Mathematical Economics. Oba Aromolaran studied and earned his Ph.D. in Development Economics under the supervision of Prof Samson Olajuwon Kokumo Olayide, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan.
Oba Aromolaran joined the Civil Service of the old Western Region, served in various capacities and rose to the post of Deputy Permanent Secretary before he voluntarily resigned his appointment to set up his private business called Aromolaran Publishing Company Limited at Ibadan on December 1, 1971. The Company had branches along the West Coast of Africa: in Ghana, Sierra Leone, London and New York (USA). Oba Aromolaran as a reputable Publisher ‘has authored over 100 Titles for use in Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions both in Nigeria and Overseas and contributed to national and international Journals. Kabiyesi was also an Examiner for General Certificate Education (GCE) Advanced Level Economics for West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) in Nigeria, Sierra-Leone and Ghana.’ Oba Aromolaran was the Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Yola, Adamawa State of Nigeria (now called Modibo Adama Federal University of Technology) from 2002 to 2014. Kabiyesi holds the LLD Degree (Honoris Causa) of the same University. Oba Aromolaran is the current Chairman of the Osun State Council of Traditional Rulers and the President of Ijesa Traditional Council comprising the Twelve (12) Local Governments in Ijesaland. ‘He is also the Prescribed and Consenting Authority over all Chieftaincies in Ijesaland. About One Hundred Beaded Crown Traditional Rulers in Ijesaland are under the control of His Imperial Majesty.’
We have been blessed by Oba Aromolaran’s 40 years reign through his dutiful service to Ilesa, Ijesaland and Nigeria in general. A great deal has changed in Ijesaland since 1982. Throughout the many changes, Oba Aromolaran has been a faithful and stable presence in all our lives, quietly nurtured by his Christian faith and nurturing it in others. Let us to give thanks to God for him and for his steadfast leadership and service.