A retired Methodist Archbishop, Ayo Ladigbolu, has spoken about his desire to become the next Alaafin of Oyo, amid the ongoing criticisms over his age and Christian background.
Ladigbolu, 84, in a chat with Premium Times, said he joined the race for the throne following countless appeals and pleas from far and near.
“I joined the race for the throne following countless appeals and pleas from far and near. Especially, those who are knowledgeable about my devotion to, and undying commitments to the greater progress and prosperity of Oyo town, and my undeniable records of current contributions to uplifting the Yoruba culture as well as the honour, glory and splendour of the Alaafin both here at home and in the global community.”
On June 10, the Agunloye ruling house submitted the names of 48 princes to the Baba Iyaji of Oyo land. The Baba Iyaji, according to the Alaafin Chieftaincy Declaration, will forward the names to the Oyomesi, who are the kingmakers.
Ladigbolu’s name was among those sent to the kingmakers. At 84, his inclusion drew criticisms from both within the ruling house and the community.
The immediate past Alaafin, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, died on April 23, aged 83.
But Ladigbolu said his age “is the greatest asset,” which has helped his current contributions to the development of the community.
“Most importantly, age has never been a negative factor in the selection of an Alaafin.
“All previous Alaafins in new Oyo except one have had the advantage of age and maturity from which both Oyo and Yoruba nation have benefited. The only odd single circumstance came about due to exigencies known to historians and most adult members of the public in the 1970s,” he said.
According to Oyo historians, the oldest Alaafin to ascend the throne was Lawani Agogoija, who was crowned in 1905. He died in 1911, his five-year reign was recorded as the shortest of any Alaafin in the present-day Oyo.
While debunking claims that the Alowolodu ruling house is sponsoring him so that the throne would immediately return to their family, Ladigbolu: “My first reaction is a total denial of that false assumption.”
“Nobody is sponsoring me to seek an opportunity to better serve a community which I have served and helped for about 40 years as a responsible citizen and community leader.
“The people are actually urging me and appealing to me to join the race. The pressure is not limited to well-meaning adults but also includes a lot of the common people who have been touched one way or another by my patriotic enthusiasm for the growth and development of Oyo town and the Oyo metropolitan community.
“While I don’t have any sponsor, I can claim the support of many admirers who crave continuity and smooth transition. Thank you for raising these questions,” he added.