Adesoji Aderemi

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Titus Martins Adesoji Tadeniawo Aderemi I (15 November 1889 - 7 July 1980), also known as Adesoji Aderemi, was a Nigerian political figure and Yoruba religious leader. He was the King of Ife from 1930 until 1980, preceded by Ademiluyi Ajagun. He was a member of the Oshinkola ruling house of Ife.

Life

Adesoji Aderemi was born in Ile-Ife to the family of Osundeyi Gbadebo and Adekunbi Itiola. His father died when he was eight years of age and he was subsequently raised by his mother. Though, it was the intention of his mother to train him in the ways of the traditional religion, her conversion to Christianity, the emergence of Christian bands at Ife and the erection of a primary school in the town influenced the religious growth of the young Aderemi.

Aderemi attended St Phillips, Ife as one of the first students in Ife to attend a local school in 1901. Thereafter, he acted as a teacher at the school, took to private studies and worked with the Nigerian railway service. While at the railway service, he started out as a staff of the Engineering Department before being transfered to the Traffic Department. He then trained as a traffic instructor where he was given the opportunity to work in various locations of Nigeria. He left the railway service in 1921 and went into a successful produce and transport business venture.

The death of Ademiluyi Ajagun on June 24, 1930 created a leadership vacuum in the ancient city that was later filled by the newly crowned Aderemi, who was installed in September, 1930. He was chosen over the lesser educated rivals, Prince Adewoyin from Lafogido ruling house and Prince Adedire from Giesi house. As Ooni, he was instrumental in the establishment of Oduduwa College, in Ife and later the establishment of two feeder primary schools. In 1947, he was a member of the Nigerian Legislative Council.

In June 1948, after responding to a request form some Yoruba students abroad for the establishment of an Egbe Omo Oduduwa in Nigeria, the Egbe or group was formally inaugurated in Ife. The group was created to unite the disparate sub-ethnic Yoruba groups. Aderemi also found himself in the midst of a disagreement between the people of Ife and Modakeke. The disagreement arose when a Modakeke progressive union began to protest unfair charges by land owners from Ife. After some disturbances, the case was transfered to the courts but the then highest court of appeal ruled against Modakeke. However, a rival group, the Egbe Omo Ibile Ife also arose causing disturbances in the town.

Aderemi also saw himself in a long drawn battle with the Ife Divisional and District Council over the allocation of forest reserves in ife in particular the allocation of one of the 6 designated reserves to a Aderawo Timber Trading Company in which the Oba had interest. Aderemi also served as President of Western House of Chiefs and the Legislative Council of Nigeria. He served as the governor of Western Region, Nigeria between 1960 and 1967.

During colonial rule, the Ooni gained considerable amount of power due to the colonial policy of indirect rule and being labeled a first class Oba among traditional rulers in Yoruba land. The policy of Indirect rule was used to ensure native awareness and consultations about colonial policies affecting the regions. The British leaned on existing native political structures and hierarchy, particularly the traditional rulers for political consultation and tax collection. Later on, the Ooni with the consent of the leading Yoruba political leaders used his position to close the gaps of exploitation of divisional differences among Yorubas and tried fervently to rally the Yoruba towards a common goal. In 1962, the king acting as governor, used his power to remove the premier of the region, sensing the premier did not have the support of the majority members of the House of Assembly. The event escalated the political rivalries in the region.



References

  • A. I. Asiw Aju, Political Motivation and Oral Historical Traditions in Africa: The Case of Yoruba Crowns, 1900-1960 Journal of the International African Institute > Vol. 46, No. 2 (1976).