It is neither an accident nor happenstance that my subject of today became not only one of the most powerful monarchs in Nigeria but also the most learned; perhaps.
As a blue blood, an heir apparent to one of the most powerful thrones in Yorubaland, the young Prince knew that he would, one day, be King. He dreamed the dream. He knew what he saw in his dream. And he was happy living in the world of his dream. Even though some thinkers believe that a man is no better than his dreams, the young Prince knew what he saw. He knew it was none of those fantasy stuffs that many dreams are made. Despite the strength of his conviction about what he saw, the young man knew that noble birth, though confers great honour and privileges on members of the eminent family, does not necessarily guarantee merit or competence or expertise.
Consequently, he brushed aside all princely tastes and ambitions, and upped the ante for himself. He desired more than the throne. He aimed at the sky. He resolved that if he would ever be king, he wanted to be the first PhD monarch in Nigeria, an academic of uncommon hue ever to sit on the throne of his forefathers.
As the last born of his mother, the probability of his becoming King was like 40:60. Like the Biblical David, who was the last of Jesse’s sons, Prince Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran was the last of the children born by his mother, Olori Tinuola Aromolaran, for his father, Oba Oduyomade Aromolaran 1, who ruled Ijesaland in present day Osun State, from July 1920 to July 31, 1942. Like David, the shepherd boy, who Prophet Samuel, on God’s instruction, anointed to be King over Israel, God Almighty and the gods of the land also favoured and chose Prince Gabriel Aromolaran at the goodness of time to be Owa Obokun Adimula of Ijesaland..
Also, like the Biblical Joseph, the dreamer, the young prince followed his dream. He resolved that if he was ever chosen by God to rule his people, he would want his name specially emblazoned in the Royals’ Hall of Fame not only of his native Ijesaland but also that of the entire Yorubaland. And he lived the dream. He burnt the midnight oil and scored big.
By the time he was chosen to succeed Oba Peter Adeniran Olatunji Agunlejika 11, who joined his ancestors on September 26, 1981, having ruled from September 24, 1966, Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran 11 had not only bagged some degrees, he had also become a publisher of repute in Africa. He had written dozens of books in Economics and Government, and become a millionaire publisher.
As a student in Ilesa Grammar School, between 1970 and 1974, I read two of his books, Economics for West Africa and Revision Notes in Government, before my first love, the sciences, separated me from both subjects. In Ghana, where I have sojourned since December 2013, the name Adekunle Aromolaran is still very popular among those who studied Economics and Government at both O and A levels in the 1970s upward. I believe Nigerians of that era, who studied those subjects, would recall their experience with nostalgic feelings.
Born on October 13, 1937, Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran 11 got a B.Sc in Economics from the University of Ibadan in 1964. With that, he enlisted in the old Western State Civil Service and was sent on several courses abroad. His unquenchable thirst for knowledge would see him enrol for a management course at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). Later, he got his Masters in Development Economics.
In 1965, he obtained a Graduate Diploma in Public Administration at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University. Not too long after that, he started his Ph.D programme at the University of London but later transferred to his alma mater, the University of Ibadan. He became the first Nigerian monarch to hold a Ph.D. His work was supervised by Prof. Olajuwon Olaide, a former Vice Chancellor of the University.
A worthy recipient of the national honour of the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic, CFR, Oba Dr. Aromolaran 11 has been honoured with several doctorate degrees, including an LL.D (Honoris Causa) by the Federal University of Technology, Yola, Adamawa State, where he served as Chancellor between 2002 and 2012.
A trained teacher, prolific writer, and erudite scholar, Oba Aromolaran 11, resigned from the Western State Civil Service in 1971 and plunged into private business, establishing the highly successful Aromolaran Publishing Company Limited, Ibadan. He published about 100 books, most of them selected as the official titles for the West African Examination Council’s O and A levels examinations. Although Ilesa, the headquarters of Ijesaland, has witnessed some progress since Oba Aromolaran ascended the throne in 1982, many believe there is a lot of room for improvement. Many of the citizens would like the highly revered monarch to collaborate more with the Government of Osun in attracting investments to the town. In case you didn’t know, Ilesa, indeed, Ijesaland, places utmost premium on education; it’s noted for its aggressive agrarian culture, and widely acclaimed for its versatile business culture. The land is blessed with large deposits of world-class quality gold and allied solid minerals.
Though these minerals are legally and illegally mined, there is not much in the social and economic life of Ilesa, and indeed, Ijesaland, that commensurates with what is taken from its soil. Many Ijesas earnestly yearn for the Government of Osun and the local authorities, working in tandem with the Federal Government, to ensure that citizens of Ilesa, and indeed, Ijesaland, benefit very well from the blessings from their soil.
It is believed that if the town, whose indigenes are noted for commerce and dynamic marketing, and contribute enormously to the economy of the South West and Nigeria as a whole, is given accelerated development, youth unemployment would be history. The massive population of Yahoo Plus Boys and land grabbers now making life miserable for compatriots and prospective investors would be degraded and run out of business. If that is done, peace would reign. Inhabitants would sleep with their two eyes closed. And everybody would be happy thereafter.
I end this tribute by joining other Ijesas at home and in the diaspora to celebrate and congratulate our worthy and progressive Oba at 80. I pray God Almighty, who has been Kabiyesi’s help in ages past, and continues to be his hope for the future, will keep him in sound mind and good health to lead Ijesaland to enviable heights and immeasurable prosperity. I also pray I will be there to felicitate with him when he celebrates his centennial anniversary, and beyond. Happy birthday, Kabiyesi Oba Alase, Igba Keji Orisa.