For many years to come, the people of Ile-Ife, Osun State might likely struggle to see again such magnificence, colour, glamour and grandeur of the rich Yoruba culture exhibited last Saturday when billionaire magnate and philanthropist, Chief Kesington Adebukunola Adebutu was installed as the new Odole Oodua by the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi. The ancient city, regarded as the cradle of Yoruba nation, shook to its very foundation as over 100 traditional rulers; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former President, Olusegun Obasanjo; General Oladipupo Diya (rtd); Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams; several state governors, ministers, corporate titans and other luminaries gathered to witness the history-making ceremony in honour of Adebutu.
The Odole Oodua said to be the highest and most prestigious chieftancy title in Yorubaland, was pioneered by Oranmiyan as a prince in Ile-Ife before he eventually became a king during his lifetime. The prestigious position was designed, from time immemorial, for the purpose of assisting the Ooni in the task of rallying all peoples of Oduduwa origin wherever they are across the world for unity, peace and progress. Aside Oranmiyan, only two eminent personalities had previously held the venerated title —late sage and former Premier of Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and late legal luminary, Chief G.O.K. Ajayi. And by this title, Adebutu has become a foremost Yoruba leader. Indeed, as a towering figure, the cap fits accordingly. From the day the wealthy tycoon, fondly called Baba Ijebu, was announced as the third eminent Yoruba in contemporary time to step into the shoes left by Oranmiyan, there has been excitement in the air as many dignitaries and friends from far and near looked forward to the coronation rites.
The ceremony commenced on Friday with the unveiling of the prototype of Adebutu’s special gift to the people of Ile Ife: Oodua Heritage House, a multibillion naira beautiful edifice which will be built within the Ooni’s Palace to commemorate his conferment as Odole Oodua. After the turning of the sod, there was a welcome dinner at the banquet hall of the palace. On the coronation day, Ile-Ife roared to life as a galaxy of top personalities streamed into the city. From his base at the Ife Grand Resort, Adebutu was chauffeured in a gleaming new maroon Rolls Royce Phantom with customised number plate “Odole” to the coronation ground trailed by a long convoy of exotic cars. The Phantom, Spotlight gathered, was recently acquired purposely to celebrate the new title and the gaming magnate shelled out a whooping sum of N380 million for the luxury whip to make it the 6th Rolls Royce in his fleet. Midway, he stepped down from the Phantom to mount a horse-drawn chariot for a spectacular journey to the Oonirisa Palace with hundreds of people lining up both sides of the streets. Accompanied by the Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun and his son, Hon. Ladi Adebutu, his first port of call was the Oranmiyan Groove where he was taken through several traditional rites. The next was the Ogun Laadin Shrine inside the Palace where Adebutu received blessings before moving to the inner chamber of the Palace for the final blessings of assignment from the Ooni and official installation as the new Odole Oodua. He was presented two gold swords and other paraphernalia of office amidst cheers. He was later made to dance the iconic Odole dance like it was done for his predecessors, late Chief Awolowo and Chief G.O.K Ajayi, before the cheering crowd who clapped in admiration. Later into the ceremony, Adebutu’s wives —Dame Caroline Oladunni and Kofoworola Aminat— were installed as Yeyemode Oodua and Yeyerewa Oodua respectively.
Thereafter, there was a 5-star reception at a special marquee mounted within the Palace. At the ceremony anchored by ace broadcaster, Prince Bisi Olatilo and Gbenga Adeyinka Ist, many dignitaries poured encomium on Odole Adebutu. President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, hailed the choice of Adebutu as the new Odole Oodua. “Before anyone could be conferred with Odole Oodua title, such person must be eminent and he must have contributed immensely to humanity and the society. I am happy that Sir Kessington Adebutu is being conferred with this title today and I pray that his reign would be eventful. As Odole Oodua, you should play an active role in promoting Yoruba cultural heritage and values,” the President said.
During the reception, the revered Ooni gave a very special recognition to Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, when he stood to welcome her on her arrival, alongside Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, into the reception venue.
The event was spiced by several traditional performances by different cultural groups after which King Sunny Ade entertained the guests with good music. As the only artiste on stage, KSA rocked in his usual jolly style till late into the night to make it a fitting finale to a very grand occasion for the business magnate who said that after the Odole title, no more chieftaincy title for him. “Ojo kii ro ki iri tun se (Once rain falls you cannot have dew again). After the Odole, it is goodbye to chieftaincy titles,” he said.