The Olubadan (Olubadan means Lord of Ibadan) is the royal title of the king of Ibadan land in Nigeria. Ibadan was founded in the 16th century, but the present Yoruba people only took control around 1820.
By 1850 they had established their unusual succession principle, which is quite different compared with other traditional Yoruba rulers in that it alternates between two lines.
It usually takes decades to groom an Olubadan for the stool through stages of chieftaincy promotion, thus meaning that just about any male born title-holder of the metropolitan center is a potential king.
There are two ruling lines to the throne of Olubadan, Egbe Agba (civil) and Balogun (military), from where Olubadans are appointed on rotational basis to occupy the stool on the death of a monarch. The next to Olubadan and most senior on both lines are the Otun Olubadan and Balogun, who under the Western Nigeria Law are recognised as second class traditional rulers and who are included on the Nigerian equivalent of a civil list as a result.
Others are the Osi Olubadan, Asipa Olubadan, Ekerin and Ekarun, as well as Otun Balogun, Osi Balogun, Asipa Balogun, Ekerin and Ekarun Balogun, while the Seriki and Iyalode, (“mother of the town”, female chief) are also members of the Olubadan’s privy council.
The 11 high chiefs that formed the Olubadan-in-council, apart from the Seriki and Iyalode, are recognised as the traditional head of each of the 11 LGs in Ibadanland. It was learnt that the progenitors of Ibadan frowned on the involvement of the senior chiefs in partisan politics because of the salient neutral roles they were expected to play in their domains.
For instance, they are appointed as presidents of customary courts, who are expected to adjudicate on matrimonial, land, boundary and other communal disputes.
The Olubadan has the sweeping powers to depose or peg a chief, irrespective of the person’s position on the chieftaincy line. By implication, high chiefs on the lower cadre could be promoted above a high chief whose position was pegged. Even when forgiven, in the event that he was penitent, the promotion would not be reversed while the offending high chief served his punishment.
For instance, during the reign of Oba Fijabi II, between 1948 and 1952, a wealthy Balogun, who was next to Olubadan, was said to have had his chieftaincy pegged. About the same time, a holder of the title of Osi-Olubadan was also hammered for acts of disloyalty to the cause of Ibadanland, an offence regarded as treasonable felony.
Spirited efforts made by a former Minister in the old Western Region to seek redress from the government and the courts when his chieftaincy title was also pegged, was reported to have failed.
Although he was said to have been forgiven after seeking help outside the courts, his juniors who had been promoted above him were said to have remained his seniors thereafter.
In 1983, the late Olubadan, Oba Yesufu Asanike, withdrew the honorary title of Are Alasa from the then Governor of the old Oyo State, the late Chief Bola Ige, for an act considered as being disrespectful to Ibadanland.