Lipede Mofolorunsho

LIPEDE Mofolorunsho Oyebade, ninth Alake of Egbaland who reigned from August 1972 till his demise in 2005, one week after his 90th birthday. As the Alake, Lipede was part of the lobbying for the creation of Ogun State, and the designation of Abeokuta as the state capital. He is remarked to have demystified the palace with his unprejudiced reception of callers. Lipede assumed his role at a moment in history when the use of the traditional office was fast fading away. Fate required therefore that he carved a new set of roles for his office; a task which, according to his biographer, Gbenga Sesan, he accomplished assiduously. “Anybody who succeeds the way he does,’ said Siemeon Adebo of him, ‘year to year in maintaining, retaining the sincere loyalty of all ranks of Egbas and also the loyalty of Egbas outside Abeokuta, is great.”[1]

 

Origin

Alake Lipede originates from the Jibodu Ruling House of Ake. His father, Adebowale was linked to royalty by his maternal grandfather who ruled while the Egba was yet settled in Abeokuta. Adebowale was an early convert to Christianity, and he had eight children by Adeline Abiola, with only two reaching adulthood. His hope to become a clergy was met with the brick wall of the Ifole crisis of 1867, in which early Egba Christians suffered severe persecution. He was earmarked for the throne when it became vacant in 1920, but was denied due to his illiterate status.

 

Places of Growth

Lipede was born 26 January 1915 in an Abeokuta that had just been subsumed into the administrative complex of a greatly heterogeneous Nigeria. The uniqueness of this ambitious and over-represented modern government by natives in contrast to what have you in similar kingdoms in Nigeria had miffed Governor General Lugard during his visit in 1912. Two years later, Egba had come under Nigeria, and whatever appearances of urgency in development had subsided. His schooling began at St. Peter’s School, Ake.
 

Travels

Oyebade was ten years old when he first left the precincts of Ake. In 1933 he was transferred to finish his secondary school in Lagos by his brother who explained he believed he could afford more discipline in the school there. Work life commenced in Lagos in 1937, and he was transferred in his role as a Custom officer to Warri shortly after. Oyebade met and married his girl there in Warri even though his only near relation was Sir Adetokunbo Ademola who was the Magistrate in charge of the region, and who fate handed the task of breaking to him the news of his mother’s death. Subsequent transfers took Oyebade and his family to London in 1956, and back in 1960 to be forwarded to Calabar before returning to Lagos in 1962 for a change of job.

 

Relationships

 

Childhood

The Victorian Abeokuta era was for many Christian families centered on church activities. For Oyebade, memorization of bible verses was obligatory. The fierce discipline of parents at home and teachers in school formed the principal source of worry. Respondents commented Oyebade showed no signs of royalty in his elementary school and there were no signs he thought of himself as a possible future Alake though he mentions being to the palace during Oba Gbadebo and Ladapo Ademola’s reigns. Tennis at the St. Peter’s School yard was a common pastime. Oblivious of the religious import, he participated in the Egungun Itoko festival for fun. While schooling in Anglican Grammar School, Oyebade trekked from Ake to Igbehin. At this time his father had passed on and his temperament had transitioned from the rascalism of infancy to near introversion.

 

Family

The Lipedes, in an interview of Thomas Fadimu by Oyebade’s biographer, was said to be composed of enlightened persons who had known the value of education in the early days. Like the Sofoluwes, and the Howels, they were in the forefront of modernization in Erunwon. Alake Oyebade Lipede was the only child of a junior wife in his father, Adebowale’s polygamous family. His father’s ambition to transfer his life’s wish of becoming a clergy to his children did not come to fruition. After his father’s death, decisions considered as a preserve of fathers were made by his brother, A.O. Lipede who later became an Abeokuta councilor. Late in the 1930s Oyebade Lipede got married to an Egba muslim, Wosilat, in Warri. Their first child, Adeniran Lipede who trained as a medical doctor came in 1942.  In 1973 he married Monsurat Olabimpe Sowami who had just left school the previous year, and was working for a construction company. Like the first wife, her background was staunchly Muslim. The Alake was widowed of his first wife in November 2, 1973.

 

Affiliates

Oyebade Lipede was appointed president of the Apapa Club in 1970, an exclusive association of elites which he joined eight years earlier. He is a member of the St. Peter’s Cathedral church in Ake.

 

Contemporaries

Simeon Adebo, the Nigerian representative at the UN was a primary level schoolmate and lifelong friend. Sir Adetokunbo Ademola who was a far cousin was considered a formidable choice during the search for Alake Gbadebo II’s successor. In 1966, shortly before the Aburi Accord, he went on a peace mission and met with Hassan Katsina in Kaduna, and Odumegwu Ojukwu in Enugu with fellow Obas, S.K Adetona of Ijebu-Ode, and Oba Adesida of Akure[2]. Oyebade Lipede was the Oba during the administration of David Jemibewon, military administrator of the Western Region who supervised on behalf of the Federal Government, local petitions for the creation of states in 1975. With eminent persons of his kingdom such as Professor Saburi Biobaku, a case for Ogun State was presented.  Olusegun Obasanjo, who had participated almost anonymously in his coronation ceremony was second in command under this (Murtala Mohammed) administration. In 1984, Oyebade Lipede took part in the centenary anniversary of the death of the Balogun Keesi, who fought in the Dahomey wars under the rule of Alake Okukenu, as a guest of Dr. Majekodunmi, who was a surgeon and successful public servant. Oladipupo Diya and Raji Rasaki also served as governor of Ogun State during his reign.

 

Education

From St. Peter’s School, Ake, Oyebade went to Abeokuta Grammar School for his secondary education which he completed at CMS Grammar School in Lagos. His registration at AGS, which was in line with family tradition, fell into the period of the legendary Rev. I.O. Ransome Kuti and Rev. Kuye’s headship.

 

Influence

Oyebade in his position at the Marketing and Export Department of the Nigerian Customs included the supervision of export commodities. He ensured also they conformed to international standards. In 1955 he went round ports in Europe where Nigerian produce are purchased. He was put in charge of the shipping section at the Nigerian Produce Marketing Company which he joined in 1962. His chairmanship of the Apapa Club signifies in Biographer Biobaku’s valuation, that people had come to accept him as a leader.

As the Alake, his skills in diplomacy was put to use in ending the Agbekoya uprising of January 1975. The protesters, a group of farmers known as Agbekoya, meaning, “farmers reject hardship” had in the new year took to town to register their displeasure with the state government’s newly introduced tenement rates. Following the announcement of the Federal Government intention to create more states within the federation in August 1975, Oyebade Lipede responded by inaugurating a meeting of eminent Egba indigenes with a view of fashioning a case for the creation of Ogun state with Abeokuta as capital city.
 

Motivation

Biographer Gbenga Sesan denies Oyebade showed any ambition or even passion for public service. Though he sought originally to serve the church, his first appointment was motivated by his attraction to the khaki uniform, helmet, and general appearance of men of the Nigeria Customs.  Oyebade’s centrist approach, often derided as too compromising by some of his affiliates, is illustrated in his attempted appeasement of the so called big five , all members of the Action Group, who were opposed to his predecessor, Gbadebo II due to political party differences. The philosophy of his reign, as put by Saburi Biobaku, is of conciliation and pacification with the aim of maintaining the unity of the diverse Egbaland.

 

[1] Lipede: A Dove of Destiny, Gbenga Sesan et al., Gbenga Sesan & Associates, Abeokuta, 1992

[2] Awujale: The autobiography of Oba S.K. Adetona Ogbagba II, Mosuro Publishers, Ibadan, 2010, Pg. 199

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