Nigeria’s leadership structure is composed of both traditional leadership systems and national democratically-elected leaders. While the latter are elected into power by a democratic process, the former are either appointed by a local council of elders called ‘kingmakers’, or ascend to the throne via heirarchy.
Traditional rulers govern at a much smaller scale than the national leaders. They oversee the affairs of local communities, towns and cities. In Nigeria, every state has a Paramount traditional ruler, and there are also other ‘lower rulers’ who exercise authority under the leadership of the Paramount ruler.
While democratically-elected leaders are known as presidents, governors or local government chairmen, Traditional rulers are generally referred to as Kings, and have special designations that are peciliar to their jurisdiction. For instance, traditional rulers all over yorubaland are referred to as ‘Obas’, those in hausaland are either referred to as ‘Emir’, or ‘Sultan’, or ‘Sardauna’, or ‘Waziri’ (or a few other titles), while those from the eastern part of Nigeria are called ‘Obis’.
Traditional rulers are typically very wealthy and influential. The Obas, most especially, are known for their wealth and opulence, their many wives, and their influence in state and national matters. While in times past most Obas who ascended the throne barely had any form of formal education, the indices are much different these days. Some of the top Obas in yorubaland today are well-educated individuals, and because of that they have been able to add innovation to their leadership.
This post highlights the top ten Obas in yorubaland. They are ranked according to their wealth, magnitude of influence, jurisdiction, and fame.
#1. Ooni of Ife: Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi Enitan
Oba Adeyeye is the current Ooni of Ife. He assumed the throne in the year 2015. He is currently regarded in some quarters as the overall spiritual ruler of yorubaland, due to the fact that Ile-ife – his jurisdiction – is widely regarded as the seat of yorubaland.
Oba Adeyeye is well educated, with degrees in Accounting and other social sciences, both in Nigeria and overseas. He is also well-traveled.
He is arguably the most popular yoruba leader in Nigeria at the moment.
#2. Alaafin of Oyo: Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi (III)
Oba Lamidi is the current Alaafin of Oyo empire. He was born on the 15th of October, 1938. He is one of a kind. Much unlike many of his contemporaries who love secluded lives, he loves to attend events, and he also enjoys sports.
He is famous for having as many as seven wives.
#3. Oba of Benin:
This would surely come as a surprise to many. Nonetheless, based on history, the people of Benin and the entire Edo state are believed to have emanated from the founding fathers of the Yoruba empire. As a result, the Oba of Benin can classified as a Yoruba traditional ruler, despite the differences in languages and customs of the Benin people and the Yoruba people.
The throne of the Oba of Benin is a very sensitive one, and the process of coronation of a new Oba is very protracted and often involves many rituals and sacrifices. Little wonder, the Oba is one of the most influential personalities in Yorubaland, and in Nigeria as a whole.
#4. Alake of Egba: Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo (III)
Egbaland is a very significant part of yorubaland. It’s spiritual leader, Oba Adedotun Aremu is designated as the ‘Alake’ or ‘Oda’ of Egbaland. He is one of the longest-serving rulers in Yoruba land, having been on the throne since year 2005.
#5. Awujale of Ijebuland: Oba Sikiru Adetona Kayode
Oba Sikiru Adetona, the spiritual leader of Ijebuland is perhaps the longest-serving traditional leader still alive at the moment. He has been on the throne of Ijebuland for over six decades.
He is a very influential leader, and he is also very wealthy.
#6. Olubadan of Ibadan: Oba Saliu Adetunji
Oyo state, which is perhaps the largest state among those in the yoruba empire, has more than one traditional ruler. The first is the Alaafin of Oyo, who rules over Oyo town; while the other is the Olubadan of Ibadan, who presides over the affairs of Ibadan.
The current Olubadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, was coronated as leader in year 2016.
#7. Deji of Akure: Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi
His imperial majesty, Oba Aladetoyinbo was appointed as the Deji of Akure in the year 2015. He just the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people of Ondo state.
#8. Oba Francis Adedoyin
Oba Francis is the Paramount ruler of Modakeke, a popular town in Osun state, southwestern Nigeria. He was appointed as the Oba of Modakeke in the year 2009.
His ascension to the throne was not without its share of controversies. It was rumoured that Francis Adedoyin did not belong to any if the royal families that were eligible for Kingship; and the rules of the town state clearly that only individuals of royal blood can ascend the throne.
Now, how he managed to be crowned king is still a mystery. Nonetheless, royal blood or not, he has been crowned Oba.
#9. Oba of Ondo: Oba Victor Adesimbo Kiladejo Ademefun
Also known as Jilo the third, Oba Victor Adesimbo is the current Oba of the entire Ondo Empire. He is also one of the most educated traditional rulers in Nigeria, being a medical doctor. He allegedly attended medical school in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
He has been on the throne of the Ondo empire since year 2008.
#10. Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran II
Oba Gabriel Adekunle is the Oba of Ilesa, in Osun state, Nigeria. The town of Ilesa is very significant to the history of Yoruba people. It holds various historical centres and artifacts, and is also a popular tourist destination.
He is also a very educated man, having been a school teacher during the time of the defunct old Western region. He is also a notable economist and he has written many books till date.