Royalty, Philantrophy and Governance: Awujale at 86

“Let me also assure you today that the only outstanding project to be completed in my lifetime is the Institute for Governance studies in OOU.  Issues of drawings relating to the building had been completed, and financial allocations for its commencement and completion had been settled with concerned parties.  By the special grace of Allah, he will grant me His mercy to be able to deliver this to your institution before I go back to him”.  – Oba (Dr.) S. K. Adetona, (2020).

The above quote speaks volumes about the commitment, determination and interest of a philanthropic Royal Father who sees education as a vehicle to promote good governance in our society.

But for the emergence and spread of the dreaded COVID-19, the construction of the new Institute for Governance Studies would have reached advanced stage by now.

Kabiyesi is wholeheartedly committed to this new project just like the way he strategically planned and mobilized both human and financial resources for the take-off of the Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance, a lofty project, which he dutifully immersed himself with a humongous financial commitment running into over half a billion naira. Such a donation coming from an octogenarian Monarch remains unprecedented in the history of Professorial Chair Endowments in this country.

That he is very much around with us today and indeed celebrating his 86th birthday, having been born on 10th of May, 1934, it will not be out of place to provide commentary on the philanthropic gestures and institutionalization of good governance through Education by Oba (Dr) Sikiru Kayode Adetona at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye.

Assuming the throne of his forefathers at an unusual age of 26, was a clear indication that Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona is every inch a born King.  The iconic King remains the longest serving monarch in Nigeria.

Back in 2016 at the prestigious Oriental Hotel, stately overlooking the Lagos lagoon, history was made by the Awujale when he instituted half a billion Naira Endowment Fund to be known as Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance.  The Chair resides in the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye.   The event, which took place on a Thursday afternoon, 10th of March, 2016 witnessed the presence of who is who in Nigeria with Professor Akin Mabogunje, the Pioneer Pro-Chancellor of this University delivering the maiden edition of the Annual Lecture series of the Professorial Chair in Governance which heralded his Royal Majesty’s 82nd Birthday Anniversary.

At that occasion, Kabiyesi made it clear in his address entitled “We Must Not Give Up” that the governance of Nigeria has been a matter of concern to him for many years.  He noted that those who otherwise would have, genuinely served the country were discouraged as politics became petty dirty and corrupt.  Kabiyesi also informed his audience, among which were four sitting Governors and a former Governor of Central Bank that the nation’s economy was in shambles coupled with decaying infrastructure and a steady decline in the quality of Education.

Alaiyeluwa, thereafter, declared that these were major concerns for him and people of his generation. Thus,” one of the reasons for the endowment of this Chair,” said Kabiyesi.  He added that “it was my fervent prayer and hope that the discourse, research and innovative thinking that this Professorial Chair will stimulate will help the next generation lift this country out of its seemingly intractable problems.”

The glorious event of that day marked a huge turn around for Olabisi Onabanjo University in the areas of infrastructural development, and constant engagement of the nation through regular discourse from the outcome of researches on governance emanating from the Chair.

 Professor-Akin-Mabogunje-oou
Professor Akin Mabogunje, the Pioneer Pro-Chancellor of this University delivering the Maiden Edition of the Annual Lecture series of the Professorial Chair in Governance

Less than a year after instituting the endowment, a distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Professor Ayo Olukotun was appointed as the Pioneer Chair.  Events were moving rapidly with the delivery of its Inaugural Lecture entitled “Governance and the Media in an Emergent Democracy:  A Study of the Role, Record and Changing Profile of the Nigerian Media 1999 – 2017”. It was held at the Adeola Odutola Hall, Ijebu-Ode in May, 2017.

Since then, it has become a tradition for the past three consecutive years to celebrate the birthday of Awujale with incisive, trail blazing public lectures which, of course, were focused on contemporary and burning issues emerging from the researches of the Chair endowed by our revered Monarch.

The-Ogun-State-Governor-Oba-Lamidi-Adeyemi-and-the-Awujale-of-Ijebu-Land
(L-R) The Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, His Royal Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and the Awujale of Ijebu Land, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona at his 85th Birthday Anniversary

In May, 2018, the Second Anniversary Lecture was on “Civil Society and Governance in Nigeria’s Evolving Democracy, 1999 – 2018 while that of 2019 was aptly captioned “Grassroots Governance:  The Soft Underbelly of Nigeria’s Political Architecture”.  Boldly deviating from the norm and most probably to harness the perspectives of governance from well informed political gladiators, at that time, the Lecture was laced with a panel of discussants that included the Presidential Candidate of the Young Progressive Party in 2018 (YPP), Professor Kingsley Moghalu and the only female Presidential Candidate in the 2015 election, Professor Remi Sonaiya.

These lectures, which are statutorily delivered annually by the Occupier of Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance, Prof. Ayo Olukotun, has enabled Olabisi Onabanjo University, to promote scholarship, rigorous research activities and have opportunities for collaboration with scholars and institutions committed to issues of governance.

In between these academic endeavours, flurry of activities were going on in areas of infrastructural development.  Typical of Kabiyesi, he has mandated the Board of Trustees of the Professorial Chair at the inception of its inauguration to ensure that a befitting state of the art building complex to be fully funded by him was constructed and handed over to the University within a record time.

The Building was expected to provide accommodation for the Chair, a Guest House to visiting Researchers and Investigators, provide information and data services in a dedicated building to augment the Central Library Services of the University.

Determined to make good his promise, on Thursday, 25th October, 2018, His Royal Majesty, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona laid the foundation stone of this Building Complex.

Prince-Odubunmi-Solarin,-Mrs.-Mosun-Belo-Olusoga,-Sikiru-Kayode-Adetona
A Ranking Member of OOU Governing Council, Prince Odubunmi Solarin delivering the speech of the Pro-Chancellor, Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga during the Foundation Laying Ceremony of Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance Building Complex

The grand and colourful ceremony was attended by Royal Fathers and highly distinguished persons from across the country.  The Awujale, in company of other Royal Highnesses from within Ijebuland and the Chairman and Members of the Board of Trustees of the Professorial Chair, led by Mr. Tunji Ayanlaja (SAN) were received at the occasion by the members of the University Governing Council led by the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga and the University Management led by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde.

Interestingly, less than a year of laying the foundation stone, Kabiyesi did not disappoint the entire University Community as the Building was expeditiously completed by August, 2019.

Princess-Adetoun-Adetona,-Mr.Tunji-Ayanlaja-(SAN),-OOU-Vice-Chancellor
L-R: Awujale’s Daughter, Princess Adetoun Adetona, Chairman Board of Trustees of the Professorial Chair, Mr. Tunji Ayanlaja (SAN), Council Member, Prince Odubunmi Solarin, Council Member, Chief Samson Oderinde, Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Admin.), Prof (Mrs.) Ebun Oduwole at the unveiling of plaque of the Professorial Chair Building.

While the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Admin.), Professor (Mrs.) Ebun Oduwole were on the spot assessment tour of the project on Wednesday, 7th August 2019, the site Engineer, Mr. Mukaila Oloso informed the two Principal Officers that the building was ready for immediate occupation since all the necessary furniture had been supplied and equipment installed.

Speaking after his inspection tour of the Building Complex, an elated Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde remarked that “this exemplary action by Kabiyesi was a testimony to his integrity and honour at fulfilling promises made.”  The Vice-Chancellor also thanked the Board of Trustees of the Professorial Chair, led by Mr. Tunji Ayanlaja (SAN) for executing the dream of Kabiyesi.

The Chair, Professor Ayo Olukotun who had since moved into his own apartment within the Building complex said that “Am extremely delighted that Kabiyesi Alayeluwa, Oba (Dr) Sikiru Kayode Adetona as it is his style has kept to his words.  The speed with which this particular project was executed is simply phenomenal.”

Professor Ayo Olukotun described the quality of the construction as splendid, adding that the kind of materials used suggested an emphasis of quality, aesthetics and style for which Awujale is well known for.”

Not done yet, Oba (Dr.) S. K. Adetona, a progressive Monarch with uncommon capacity for excellence and service to humanity surprised a delegation from the University when in January, 2020 the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the University Governing Council, Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga led other members of the Council on a courtesy visit to the private residence of the Paramount Ruler in appreciation of Kabiyesi’s immense contributions to the growth and development of the University.  They were taken aback by another unexpected philanthropic gesture from Kabiyesi. There and then, His Royal Majesty promised to construct another iconic Building Complex that will house a new Institute for Governance Studies.

The comments, promises and assurances given by Kabiyesi on that day of the visit, were succinctly captured in the opening quote of the introductory part of this story.
Let me also assure you today that the only outstanding project……………….

Oba-(Dr)-S.K.-Adetona,-OOU-Pro-Chancellor,-Prof.-Ganiyu-Olatunji-Olatunde-OOU
L-R: Oba (Dr) S.K. Adetona, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebu-Land, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, OOU, Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga, the Vice-Chancellor, OOU, Prof. Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde

But for lack of human control over fate, a series of planning activities targeted at laying the foundation stone of this building to coincide with the double celebration of 60 years of Kabiyesi’s reign on the throne and his 86th birthday celebration would have taken place this month.  No thanks to the outbreak of Corona Virus pandemic that has humbled humanity and disrupted its activities globally. 

The Building Complex for the new Centre for Governance Studies will seat on a 21,227.497sq. metres ground within the academic core buildings in the Main Campus.  It is a 2-story building consisting of a library that can take 200 graduate students and a Lecture Theatre meant for 500 graduates.  In addition, there will be 14 offices for the Faculty members including the offices of the Director and Visiting Professors.  Most importantly, 8 Lecture rooms that can take 50 students each with 2 Seminar Rooms that will take 200 participants each are part of facilities designed for the Building Complex.

Congratulating the Awujale, on his 60th Coronation Anniversary and 86th Birthday, the University stated that it rejoiced with its “great benefactor and Quintessential Monarch”.  It also noted the contributions and commitment of Kabiyesi to its growth which she described as “unprecedented in the history of Universities in Nigeria.”

The University went further to extol the virtues of Kabiyesi by stating that His Majesty’s “invaluable contributions to education, cultural revival, and courage to speak the truth to authorities are invaluable qualities that His Majesty consistently exhibit over the past six decades of his reign on the throne.” 

These qualities, according to the University “have endeared Awujale to his subjects and indeed many Nigerians.” The message concluded that through the actions and activities of Awujale “the Ijebus, Yorubas and indeed Nigerians have seen in the Monarch, a Royal Model to be proud of.

Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance Building Complex
Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance Building Complex