Exclusive: How Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi Died at Afe Babalola Hospital

“Traditional rulers should be seen as the perfect embodiment of the culture of the place, as well as the synthesis of the aspirations and goals of the nation. This is not only in social values of veracity, egalitarianism, justice and democracy; but in dress, utterances and comportment; even the mere necessary trivialities that mark Nigeria and the locality as a distinctive entity” – Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi (Sept. 1984)

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi Atanda Lamidi, better known as Iku Baba Yeye, has joined his ancestors at the age of 83.

He breathed his last at the Afe Babalola Hospital, where his friend of nearly 50 years, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN was attending to him through his well qualified doctors.

According to sources, Alaafin had been ill for a while before he became very weak about a forth night ago.

He was then moved to the multi-system Hospital located within Afe Babalola University in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.

His condition reportedly worsened on Friday night and he passed on.

As a first class Yoruba oba, and one of the frontline custodians of the Yoruba tradition, and culture his burial rites began immediately with his first son, Prince ‘Tunde, and other children receiving the monarch’s remains at Idi-Igba, Oyo town early Saturday morning, and proceeded to the palace where other rites, most of which were done behind closed doors, commenced.

Palace sources confirmed that the traditional rites were concluded before the revered monarch’s remains were taken through Islamic rites of passge.

Alaafin, who was a reputed boxer during his youthful days, was then committed to mother earth at a spot allocated to him, where Alaafins, who had gone to be with their ancestors, were laid to rest.

Iku Baba Yeye held sway for 52 fruitful years, and made history as the longest-reigning Alaafin.

The late Alaafin of Oyo was from the Adeyemi branch of the Alowolodu family. He was born on October 15, 1938.
During his late childhood stage, he lived briefly at Iseyin.

Adeyemi III was the son of Oba Adeyemi II, the former Alaafin of Oyo who was deposed and sent into exile in 1954 for having sympathy for the National Council of Nigerian Citizens ( NCNC), a pre-colonial era party formed by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and other activists.

He succeeded Alaafin Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II in 1970 and was crowned on January 14, 1971.

By tradition, the head of the Oyomesi, Basorun of Oyo, High Chief Yusuf Ayoola, would take over pending the selection of a new Alaafin.


Alaafin Adeyemi III was born Lamidi Olayiwola Atanda Adeyemi on October 15, 1938 into the Alowolodu Royal House, and as a member of the House of Oranmiyan to Raji Adeniran Adeyemi (born 1871), who later became Alaafin in 1945, and Ibironke of Epo-Gingin, who died when he was young. His father is said to have had over 200 wives. His paternal grandfather was Alaafin Adeyemi I Alowolodu, who ruled during the Kiriji War, and was the last independent ruler of the Oyo Empire before British colonialism.

Alaafin Adeyemi’s father, and Adeyemi III’s great-grandfather was Oba Atiba Atobatele, who founded New Oyo. Atiba’s father, his great-great grandfather, was Alaafin Abiodun, and is a direct descendant of Oranmiyan, the founder of the Oyo Empire.

Lamidi’s father, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi II Adeniran, was deposed and exiled in 1954 for sympathizing with the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). He had come into conflict with Bode Thomas, deputy leader of the Action Group.

According to oral tradition, Bode Thomas shouted at him for not standing to greet him as the chairman of NCNC during a political gathering at a party. Oba Adeyemi II Adeniran who felt insulted, stood and asked Chief Bode Thomas Thomas why he was barking and then swore that Thomas would soon get home and bark like a dog.

The tale bearers say that Bode Thomaa on getting home began to bark like a dog, he started coughing blood and died while walking back home leaving his entourage. Shortly, Herbert Macaulay heard of the catastrophe, and along with Chief Obafemi Awolowo accused Oba Adeyemi II of poisoning Thomas, and then exiled him from his kingdom.

He lived out the rest of his days in Lagos where his subjects still visited him until his death in the early 1960s.

Lamidi Adeyemi succeeded Alaafin Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II in 1970, during the governorship of Colonel Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, after the end of the Nigerian Civil War.

In 1975, the head of state, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed included Oba Adeyemi in his entourage to the hajj. He was chancellor of Uthman dan Fodiyo University in Sokoto from 1980 to 1992. In 1990, President Ibrahim Babangida appointed him Amir-ul-Hajj in recognition of his commitment to the consolidation of Islam in Nigeria.

He was married to Ayaba Abibat Adeyemi, his senior wife with whom he attended most events, or with one of the twelve junior wives that he is also married to.

His other wives were Ayaba Rahmat Adedayo Adeyemi, Ayaba Mujidat Adeyemi, Ayaba Rukayat Adeyemi, Ayaba Folashade Adeyemi, Ayaba Badirat Ajoke Adeyemi, Ayaba Memunat Omowunmi Adeyemi, Ayaba Omobolanle Adeyemi, Ayaba Moji Adeyemi, Ayaba Anuoluwapo Adeyemi, and Ayaba Damilola Adeyemi.


Of the few hospitals in Nigeria that provide standard and quality services that are at par with facilities in developed countries is the Afe Babalola Multi Systems Hospital (AMSH).

Located in Ado-Ekiti the capital of Ekiti state, AMSH is a 400-bed teaching hospital affiliated to Afe Babalola University, one of Nigeria’s foremost private tertiary educational institutions. The hospital was established in 2018 to serve as a centre of excellence in health care delivery and education, as well as bridge the critical gap in health care investment in the country.

Its establishment was supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) with a loan of $40million (N14.6billion) to Afe Babalola University, the first non-sovereign (non-government) loan by the continental bank in Nigeria.

The hospitals operates the accredited SafeCare Standards, provided by PharmAccess Foundation. This empowers health providers to continuously monitor and improve service delivery through innovations that promote transparency and benchmarks quality. Since its establishment, the hospital has been providing specialized medical treatment and procedures such as cancer diagnosis, cardiac and thoracic surgeries amongst others.

The medical facility provides among other things the following:

An all-round medical facility

A world class diagnostic centre

Top notch cardiac and kidney centres

Engendering emergency care & hospitality

Bridging the quality gap

Image credit: Nigeria Health Watch

Across the nation, Nigerians from all walks of life, especially notable personalities from different fields of endeavours, have continued to send in their tributes on the late Alaafin of Oyo.

Among those whose tributes and condolence messages have reached public space are President Muhammadu Buhari, past and present governors, politicians, traditional rulers, entrepreneurs and more. Some of them are:


The Aareonakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, described death of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III as a national tragedy, colossal and personal loss to him, saying the foremost Yoruba monarch had lived a worthy life all through his reign.

Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media Kehinde Aderemi, expressed shock at the news of Oba Adeyemi’s death, stating that Nigeria, Yoruba and the ancient town of Oyo has lost a great monarch, whose life was a true reflection of a complete Yoruba monarch.

He said: “Kabiesi’s death is surely a national tragedy, it is a personal loss to me and it ended a chapter in the annals of this country. The Yoruba has lost a true and revered monarch and a repository of history and knowledge

“A sudden cloud has overwhelmed the entire Yoruba land and we can hardly forget the roles of Alaafin as a top Yoruba monarch in a hurry.

“There’s is no way I can figure out this colossal loss. Alaafin has been a strong pillar in the service of our race. He was an Iroko among all trees and a strong voice for the Yoruba race. Alaafin was, till date, the longest reigning monarch in Oyo history. No monarch had reigned for 35 years in Oyo, but Alaafin outlived that, spending 52 years on the throne.

“He occupied the sacred stool with much understanding of his pivotal roles as the Alaafin.With much honour, reverence and candour that gave him the required confidence, wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

“He showed great capacity, tenacity and several qualities that made him a strong force to be reckoned with.

My last encounter with him
Recounting the last encounter he had with the late Afeyemi, he said: “I was at the palace last month where Kabiesi led us to Bishop Ladigbolu’s event in Oyo and he was hail and hearty. By virtue of my position, I always keep in touch and I know what it means to be an Aareonakakanfo of Yoruba land, so it is a personal loss and a rude shock to me.

“It is a national tragedy because of what the foremost Yoruba monarch symbolised to Nigeria, to Yoruba land and to Nigerians.

“The news of Alaafin’s death sounded like a thunderstorm. It reverberated as if there was an eclipse in the entire Yoruba land. That shows how important the Alaafin’s stool is to our race.

“Baba’s 52-year reign was full of outstanding moments, but it is sad we lost that encyclopaedia of Yoruba, African history and global histories at this critical time in the history of our nation.

“In his 52- year of reign, Alaafin brought enormous respect to the Yoruba traditional institution. So, I am not only bereaved personally, I am also short of words to describe the extent of this huge loss. Kabiesi’s death has created a big lacuna for the Yoruba traditional institution.

“He brought development to Oyo town in all sectors, including social, political, economic, even in the area of education, sports and a cultural development. He was a topmost cultural icon, well respected across the world and symbol of true Yoruba distinct values and heritage.

“Alaafin was the only monarch that installed two Aareonakakanfo of Yoruba land in his life. He installed the late MKO Abiola in 1988 and 30 years after, in 2018, he installed my humble self as holders of the prestigious position that began in 1530.

“As far as I am concerned, Kabiesi’s life was full of great memories and his death is a national tragedy and huge loss.

“The news of his death today, really reminded me of the days I lost my father and mother. Those were the saddest days in my life.

“Though, Kabiesi died at a very old age, he was the Chancellor of four universities. Two prominent universities in Nigeria and two abroad, and he had influenced four different universities located in Oyo town.

“In truth, we will sorely miss his wise counsel. We will miss his voice and resoluteness. We will miss his wisdom and knowledge of history.

“We will miss his comportment, and compassion. We will miss his character and strength. We will miss his articulate discourse, especially, on pertinent national issues. We will miss his strong conviction to the Yoruba cause. We will miss his ideas and ideologies. And in all, we will miss his whole being.

“I commiserate with the Oyo state governor, Eng. Seyi Makinde and the good people of Oyo state. I also commiserate with the Oyo Mesi.

“I commiserate with the Oloris and the princes and the princess and I share in the pain of the entire Oyo town and all the Obas in Yoruba land, because Alaafin’s death is very personal to me, and it is no doubt, one death too many. I pray God to give the entire Yorubaland, the strength and the fortitude to bear this collosal loss.”


Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, described the death of the Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, as “a huge loss to the state, Nigeria and the Yoruba race”.

Makinde, while describing Oba Adeyemi’s death as a personal loss to him, said that he was “an ever-supportive royal father and a worthy leader, who spared nothing in trying to make Oyo State and Nigeria greater”.

The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Taiwo Adisa, said, “Kabiyesi’s words of advice and guidance were always golden and helpful”.

Makinde expressed his condolences to the Oyo State Traditional Council, the Oyomesi, Oba Adeyemi’s immediate family, the people of Oyo Kingdom and the entire Yoruba race.

The governor, however, prayed to God to grant repose to the soul of the departed traditional ruler.

According to Makinde, apart from Oyo State losing its last man standing in the rank of experienced monarchs with long years of royal leadership, it has also lost a royal institution and an authority, which Alaafin Olayiwola Adeyemi III had become by virtue of his high-octane understanding of Yoruba history, politics and national development.

He said: “I have been informed about the death of our father, His Imperial Majesty, Iku Baba Yeye, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III.

“I express heartfelt condolences to the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, which Oba Adeyemi chaired for decades, the Oyomesi and the entire people of Oyo Kingdom.

“I equally commiserate with the Oloris, children and entire Adeyemi family on the demise of their patriarch and worthy father.

“Kabiyesi’s departure is a huge loss not only to Oyo State, to which he committed 52 years of his life as the Alaafin of Oyo Kingdom, but also to Nigeria and the entire Yoruba race.”

According to him, Oba Adeyemi was our last man standing in the rank of most eminent royal fathers with long years of leadership.

“He became a golden king, an institution and an authority rolled into one by virtue of his immense experience, wisdom and understanding of Yoruba history, royalty and politics.


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar have condoled the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, and the family of the lateAlaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi.

Obasanjo described the late monarch as a symbol of a nation’s epic struggle for self-discovery and self-actualisation.

Obasanjo said the late Alaafin stood out as a voice of forthrightness in national affairs. He also described him as a promoter of mutual tolerance and understanding not only among the diverse people who live in his domain but also across the country.

The former president said it was during the deceased’s reign that Oyo town became transformed into the modern city that it has become today. He added that it was his contribution to nation-building that led to the conferment of the esteemed national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic on him.

“Like most great leaders, Alaafin was all things to all people,” Mr Obasanjo said.

“To his family, he was a tower of strength and a committed provider; to his community of Oyo land, he was an early model in national leadership; to his Yoruba kinsmen, he was a worthy Ambassador; and to the rest of Nigeria, he was a symbol of a nation’s epic struggle in self-discovery and self-actualisation.

“Although Oba Adeyemi’s passage is like a dream, especially as he left us at a crucial stage in our nation’s history when his wise counsel and rich experience are greatly needed, I would urge you and all the members of his immediate and extended family to take solace in the worthy legacy and his mark on the history of this country he left behind.

“In fact, we ought to give gratitude to God for his worthy life.”


Mr Atiku said he was an admirer of the deceased and the fact that he remains the longest-serving Alaafin means that the Oyo people and Nigerians will not forget his reign.

The former vice president said the news of the monarch’s demise deeply touched him.


In a statement issued by his special adviser on media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari said Alaafin was significant for human development, adding that he encouraged learning as a culture and formal education and promoted values of peace and stability.

The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari condoles with the Government and people of Oyo State over the passing of Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, 83, whose reign covered major historic transitions in the country, and witnessed transformations in his domain.

“The President affirms that the Alaafin of Oyo’s 52 years of rule was remarkable in many ways, most significant was the emphasis he placed on human development, thereby encouraging learning as a culture and formal education as a necessity while promoting values of peace and stability.

“As a highly revered traditional ruler, President Buhari notes the late monarch’s numerous participations in national meetings and conferences to shape the future of the country, and the living words of wisdom he shared at every opportunity on unity and people-focused governance.

“The President shares the grief with the Oyo State Traditional Council, Oba Lamidi’s family, friends, and associates, particularly in sports where he left another footprint.”

ALAAFIN: Africa Has Lost A Star- Abisoye Fagade

Businessman and Chairman, Oyo-Si-Maa-Dun Foundation, Mr Abisoye Fagade has described the passing of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, as a star whose transition portends a great loss not only to Yorubaland or Nigeria but the entire African continent.

Fagade, in a condolence message stated : “Oba Adeyemi was a pride to all Yoruba in Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, Brazil, Cuba and elsewhere across the globe. He proved his mettle as a worthy custodian of the Yoruba culture and tradition as he was able to convince everyone who cared that he was an Institution

“The late Alaafin successfully reinvented the cultural heritage of his forebears and thus afforded many generations the opportunity to acquaint themselves the required knowledge.

“An average Yoruba son or daughter would have wished that Oba Adeyemi lived longer than he did but we find solace in the fact that he lived a good life and did well as a father to all and also a traditional ruler in Africa. Therefore, we shall sorely miss Kabiyesi Adeyemi (Alaafin Oyo).

“While praying God to grant the late Monarch eternal rest, we beseech Him to give the entire Adeyemi family as well as the good people of Oyo Alaafin and entire Africa the fortitude to bear the loss” Fagade Concluded.

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