Onpetu: A celebration of history

January 2, 2021
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The Onpetu of Ijeru, Oba Sunday Oladapo Oyediran, Lagbami III clocked 60 on January 1, 2021. He was born on January 1, 1961. The monarch thus far has lived an accomplished life as a banker, a traditional ruler and an evangelist. Oba Oyediran joined the service of the First Bank of Nigeria Plc. in 1981 at Jos, Plateau State after his secondary school education. He was later transferred to Kaduna Branch of the Bank and he rose through the ranks to become an accountant with the First Bank of Nigeria Plc.  He was a union leader in the banking industry. It was while in Kaduna that he heeded the clarion call of the Onpetu and Oluoje lineage in Yorubaland to mount the prestigious throne of the Onpetu of Ijeru, whose domain covered three local government councils in Oyo State. These are Ogbomoso South, parts of Ogo-Oluwa and Oriire Local Governments.

The throne became vacant consequent upon the transition of Oba Yesufu Mobolade Atobatele in 1998. He came to the throne on June 1, 1999 at the age of 39. However, Oba Oyediran has shown that the age of Methuselah has nothing to do with the wisdom of Solomon. His accomplishments thus far have been worthwhile. He brought his activism into the traditional governance and this has helped him greatly in the sustenance of the enviable position of the Onpetu throne and transformation of his domain which hitherto has been a near dormant in terms of development.

Onpetu of Ijeru originated at Ile-Ife and as a matter of fact, he was the monarch of Ido Quarters in Ile-Ife. His relic at Ido in Ile-Ife is Olojudo of Ido. He is a scion of the house of Oduduwa. He inherited the Aare Crown from Oduduwa. This crown is significant to the Ooni of Ife. It is the crown that Ooni wears once in a year during the God Festival – Odun Olojo. It was the Onpetu that used to present this crown to the Ooni every year. Like other Ife monarchs and princes who emigrated to found their own towns either to occupy vacant lands or exercise their authorities over interlopers occupying the land. In the course of his sojourn, he had a brief stay at Edun Abon, Ipetumodu and founded Obandi, Ijeru and Oje towns. Oje was deserted due to succession disputes around 1832 for Ijeru via Ogbomoso where a section of the family resided before the desertion of Oje.

Oje in Ibadan, Oje near Ofa, Kwara State are relics of this Oje. Oje is now a groove where Onpetu leads Olu-Oje worldwide each year to venerate the goddess of Oje River which Olu-Oje lineage believe was beneficial to them as well as Oje ancestors. Onpetu is one of the classical Obas in Oyo State. Alaafin, Olugbon, Aresa and the Onikoyi are the others. All other monarchs except the Aseyin originated from or have their sources from the five either as beneficiaries, sons or servants. But for administrative convenience and the whims of the politicians, these are the imperial majesties for they had the power of life and death in Yorubaland before the decay of the powerful Yoruba Empire. With Oluwo of Iwo, they controlled the whole of Oyo, part of Osun, Ogun and Kwara States and beyond in the case of Alaafin in the pre-colonial period.

Like Alaafi, Olugbon, Aresa and Onikoyi, Onpetu had his descendants spreading throughout Yorubaland. These are Olu-Oje descendant wherever they may be. These people bear Aro as their Orile lineage code of identification and Olu-Oje as totem. It is on record that the first indigenous Baale of Ibadan now Olubadan of Ibadan – Fijabi (1893-1895) was a descendant of Onpetu. His father, Babalola with his siblings like Delesolu who settled Oje (Ibadan) and Lajubutan were part of Oje/Ijeru contingent to Owu War in 1821 – 1823. After the victory of Ife/Oyo allied over Owu, they moved to Ibadan and among the founders of the sprawling city.

Oba Oyediran had greatness enthusiastic upon his shoulders coming from a noble lineage of warriors and statesmen. He had no doubt upheld the heritage in Ijeru and the diaspora. Parts of the efforts to sustain the heritage are the publishing of TOKULOJE – History of Onpetu and Oluoje Lineage in Yorubaland authored by Oba Oyediran. The book chronicled the history of the lineage, exploits and peopling. He has equally projected and protects the enviable throne both as the chairman of the Ogbomoso South Traditional Council, Member of Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs and the leader of Oluoje worldwide. One of the heritage bequeathed humanity by the Onpetu lineage is the Oja Oba/Odo Oba market, the largest foodstuff market in the Southwest and the only Oja Oba market in Oyo State. The market was founded in 1938 and the monarch is doing everything in his power to sustain the market. Similarly, Oba Oyediran who is an itinerant evangelist today (very rare among traditional rulers) is a blessing to Ogbomoso South Local Government, during whose tenure the local government area had been led out of doldrums where she has been due to neglects by the government. This is in view of the developmental project influenced to the local government by the monarch. This includes the Precious Spring School of Basic Studies founded by the monarch to improve the standard of education in his domain.

Adewuyi Adegbite sent this piece through ayekooto05@gmail.com

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