By Ayodele Fagbohun
“Ibadan Omo a j’oro sun, Omo a je’gbin yo, omo a f’ikarawun fo’ri mu’, meaning Ibadan are people that can eat “oro” for supper that can feed on snails and use the shells as basin for taking pap-eko”.
Ibadan the greatest and rising African city in tropical Africa and the political headquarters of Western Nigeria started as a veritable war camp.
It emerged victorious after a prolonged inter-tribal warfare of the 19th century at Apomu village in which the united forces of the Egbas, Ijebus and Oyo refugees from the north had been annihilated by the Fulanis.
By and large, Ibadan remains the nucleus and the base of Yoruba politics. A cosmopolitan city which is a great asset, patrimony and undying legacy to be fortified and well nurtured for the attainment of progressive, welfarist good governance.
Ibadan must be a show piece for the race and rebirth for the unity, survival and progress of the country at large.
Ibadan is a different and unique state from old Oyo. An intrinsic and distinct feature of Ibadan is a clear departure from the monarchical principles of old Oyo in favour of a republican constitution in which the chiefs attain high office by promotion based not necessarily on birth as on military exploits in battle, political sagacity and acumen.
This open iberal society gave fillip to influx of adventures from different parts of Yoruba nation to Ibadan for livelihood and to seek for fortunes.
By this effort, Ibadan not only a vastly populations and turbulent but also a powerful community.
Secondly, the economic base of Ibadan’s military might depended on the exploitation of domestic slaves recruited from the fratricidal civil wars. The slaves were used as cheap labour in the farming plantations in hamlets and farm steads scattered around the city.
The stupendous growth in populations in Ibadan as an entrap of invariably gained momentum to a thriving and flourishing empire. Thus, Ibadan brought under its control and suzerainty a great number of towns and villages which paid annual tributes in cash (in cowries) or in cash to Baale of Ibadan later to be entitled in accordance to modern trend as Olubadan the paramount ruler of Ibadan.
The resources were used to purchase arms and ammunition along the coast for further territorial expansion.
The foregoing, however does not by any jolt diminish the history of Ibadan, founded by Lagelu an Ife warrior and farmer originally known as “Eba-Odan” which means, the field between the forest and savannah grew up to a large settlement.
With the passage of time and usage, the name Eba-Odan became: Eba-dan” and now Ibadan as it is known and called today.
Due to its central and strategical location between hinterland and the coast, Ibadan naturally attracted people of diverse interests principally the traders and warriors.
The second tradition or origin was linked when Lagelu and his roving people were residing on Eleyeile Hill. On the hill, the people suffered privation and many hardships. They fed on snail and on a fruit called “Oro” which were found and handpicked in the hill.
No wonder, Ibadan people are described and eulogized to high, heavens in the following epithet: “Ibadan omo a j’oro sun, omo a je’gbin yo, omo a f’ikarawun fo’ri mu translated literally as “Ibadan are people that can eat oro for supper, that can feed on snails and use the shells as basins for taking pap-eko.”
From the different but very similar stories about the origin of Ibadan, it is unassailable to deduce that the town came into being as the late renown historian, Saburi O. Biobaku had observed: Ibadan emerged from the period of the Yoruba wars as the scourge of their neighbours and the bulwark of Yoruba defence against the advancing tide of Fulani conquest.”
By 1950, the population of the urban/rural areas of Ibadan continue to rise in geometric proportion to 800,000 out of whom almost 460,000 lived in the urban area. Ibadan city exemplifies two sector pattern of urban development which is peculiar to West Africa sub region.
A vast majority of urban dwellers live in traditional quarters of the town, characteristic of Yoruba compound or family unit of the “Single storied dwellings of laterite mud roofed with corrugated iron sheets.
Ibadan as the economic centre, capacity and political headquarters of western region, there was gravitational pool of non-indigenous Nigerians mainly non Ibadan to the city for commercial, professional occupational and other sundry reasons.
In this connection, I must say, despite the age long ethnic rivalry and jealousy between the Ibadan and Ijebu, these ethnic groups and others are able to co-exist harmoniously in concord and tolerate one another in all facets of life owing to the hospitality and affable disposition of Ibadan people. No doubt, the city continues to grow daily by leaps and bounds!
It was the colonial British administration which open great vista for growth, laid the foundation and blazed the trial of development of Ibadan as the capital city of Western Region.
Colonial government built Mapo Hall, the headquarters of Ibadan City Council, University College, Ibadan in special relationship with imperial university of London in 1948.
University Teaching College was formally opened by Her Royal Highness, the princess Royal on 20th November, 1957.
A tower 60 fit and 11 ft square stands a memorial to captain Bower, the first British administrative officer in Ibadan. From the tower named after Captain Bower, a visitor can have a name after captain Bower a visitor can have a broad view of the entire Ibadan city.
These are some of the colonial heritage and relics of British administration in the western Region.
Whereas, Chief Obafemi Awolowo of Ijebu extraction in his tutelage self governing arrangement as leader of government business. Western Region 1952 subsequently premier 1954 to 1959 introduced ground breaking and impacted landmark achievement unequalled in the affairs of the region.
Awolowo Administration introduced free education built liberty stadium, cocoa House, Premier Hotel, First Television House in Africa, South of Sahara, Western state Agricultural Investment Corporation amongst other laudable projects all in Ibadan.
It was a turning-point in the administration of good and responsible government in Nigeria, indeed in black Africa.
In the interim, the momentum of good governance in all its ramifications must be sustained by the present corps of politicians and political office holders in Yoruba speaking states to continue with re-animated vigour where the likes of Awolowo, Ajasin, Bola Ige, Bisi Onabanjo, Ambrosse Alli, Lateef Jakande and Cornelius Adebayo, former elected governor of old Kwara state laid down the staff of office.
Ibadan city should not be taken as a pilot scheme to serve the greed of some brazen interlopers who have no business in government.
Rather, Ibadan must be jealously guarded and preserved in the best performance in socio-cultural and political activities to meet the desired needs, aspirations and yearning of Yoruba race.
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