Ilorin stands still as Emir turbans Oyawoye 'Baba-Adini of Kwara'
A new feather was added to the cap of the pioneer Professor of Geology in Africa, Jamiu Mosobalaje Olaloye Oyawoye, when the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Zulu-Gambari, on Friday installed him as first Baba Adini of Kwara State. AHMED 'LATEEF chronicled the historic event.
If a proverbial horseman rides in the stomach of a renowned African geologist, Professor Jamiu Oyawoye, he would have a seamless passage. The horseman would not only ride smoothly, but make some unusual movements without any hiccups.
The octogenarian has every reason to rejoice and be thankful to his maker for the accolades that had characterized his sojourn in the last eight decades.
Being a prince of a prominent town of Offa, Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State, Oyawoye is a scholar of high repute.
In the academic circle where he has spent greater part of his life, the Offa-born prince is never a pushover. The academic feat, which ultimately elevated him as the first Professor of Geology in Africa due to his ceaseless and series of research adventures, undoubtedly made him a rallying factor at the Premier University of Ibadan.
Despite his retirement from active ivory tower service, Oyawoye has not stopped making useful contribution to issues of national discourse whenever the need arises.
His erudition and academic prowess, which culminated in his retirement has made him a phenomenon in his hometown. His palatial mansion in Offa plays host to both internal and external visitors whenever he is available to receive them.
As a man of destiny that he is, Oyawoye has everything working for him perfectly. To refer to him as a bridge builder and troubleshooter is not an exaggeration.
Well loved for his truthfulness, frankness and bluntness, the revered scholar is also serving the role of a mediator, who intervenes on issues that could ordinarily trigger civil disturbance or public unrest.
Apart from academic field where Oyawoye inscribed his footprints as a shrewd and astute scholar, religion is another area in which he is acclaimed to have made landmark achievements.
He is known within the Islamic circle for his personal contributions to the growth and development of the religion. This, he does, through moral and financial support to Islam on one hand and organizations within it on another.
His resolve to devote the latter part of his life to the service of Almighty Allah might have spurred him to single-handedly build a Mosque for one of the foremost Islamic organizations, Jamaatul Nasril Islam, the project which has become a reference point.
In recognition of Oyawoye's selfless sacrifice to the cause of Islam, however, the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman, Kwara State Council of Chiefs made historic decision when on Friday he formally conferred on him the most covetous title of Baba Adini of Kwara. The conferement ceremony was first of its kind in the annals of the state.
The court yard of the Emir's Palace filled to the brim as eminent Nigerians including well to do Offa indigenes and Islamic scholars gathered to witness the occasion.
Dignitaries at the ceremony were Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Sola Isiaka Gold; Vice-Chancellor of Summit University, Offa, Professor Oseni Bukoye Oloyede; Chairman, Transitional Implementation Committee, Offa Local Government Area, Hajia Iyabo Adisa Ibiyeye; Chairman, Kwara State House of Assembly Committee on Information, Sports and Youth Development, Prince Saheed Popoola and Senior Special Assistant to the State Governor on Media and Communication, Dr Muideen Femi Akorede.
The ceremony was also attended by traditional rulers such as Elese of Igbaja, Oba Ahmed Awuni Arepo; Elerin of Erin-Ile, Oba AbdulGaniyu Ibrahim Olusokun; Emir of Shonga, Dr Aliru Yahaya; Olosi of Osi, Oba Abdulkareem Adasofegbe Arowobeku; Elesie of Esie, Oba Yakub Babalola and Olukotun of Ikotun, Oba Abdulrazak Abioye.
The arrival of the motorcade of the Emir of Ilorin into the palace court yard was triumphant like as palace drummers and trumpeters led the convoy accompanied by exotic cars of other custodians of tradition.
Speaking after the formal turbaning ceremony, the Emir of Ilorin said the decision to bestow Oyawoye with the title was to acknowledge his invaluable contributions to the propagation of Islam and Islamic education in particular.
The monarch noted that the entire Muslim community was proud of the achievements of the octogenarian, which informed the resolve to confer on him the covetous title.
"I salute you in view of your notable contributions in the development of Islam, the Kwara State Jamaatul Nasril Islam and Islamic education in Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole. You eminently deserved to be recognized for your landmark achievements.
"The entire Muslim Ummah in Kwara State is proud of you for all your formidable achievements and express our delight for them. It is therefore our joy and pleasure to confer on you, Professor Muhammed Jimoh Mosobalaje Oyawoye, the title of Baba Adini of Kwara State", the Emir said.
In his acceptance speech, the new Baba Adini of Kwara described the title as a surprise and noted that it would spur him to work more for Islam.
He recalled that his relationship with the Chairman, State Council of Chiefs was dated back in Ibadan when the Emir served as a jurist before his voluntary retirement.
In a chat with The Herald On Sunday, the TIC Chairman of Offa Local Government council, Hajia Iyabo Adisa Ibiyeye, expressed delight over the conferement, saying it was apt and a clarion call for all to inculcate spirit of unity.
"Actually, the entire community is very happy and pleased about it, and he (Oyawoye) is actually worthy of the title of Baba Adini of Kwara State, because as I know, he is very religious and God fearing man, and we are all happy to celebrate with him on this occasion.
"The title is very apt at this moment, and it tells all of us that we should all come together and work in unity, and use religious as a pivot to draw everybody closer.
In his comment, Saheed Popoola of Kwara State House of Assembly, observed that Professor Oyawoye has carved a niche for himself and assisted many people.
"I feel so happy. Baba in Offa Local Government and Kwara State in general is not an ordinary person. He has assisted so many people and has done so many things for him to be remembered. I want to use this opportunity to thank our Emir for, at least, recognizing the good that has come from our place in Offa.
We thank him so much. God will continue to be with him, and I want to say that Baba will have long life and prosperity", he said.
A prominent Offa indigene, Alhaji Bisi Oyeleke, who also spoke at the ceremony, said the honouree contributed significantly to the course of Islam.
"I feel proud and honoured to have somebody so respectable in the country, he has been so honoured by the Emir of Ilorin. I'm particularly proud that they recognized his achievements not only in academics but in religious circle. He has done a lot and God has granted him long life.
So, it is an honour well deserved.
"It is happiness galore for us. More so, he (Oyawoye) is a prince from Offa. He is an Aremo. The honour given to him is well appreciated. Usually, if not for religious reasons, princes don't get turbaned, they get crowned. But his own came because of his Islamic principle.
"He has spent a lot to the cause of Islam. From his citation, he on his own built the Mosque for JNI, which was supposed to be done by all members. And for Emir (of Ilorin) to have recognized that and gave him the honour, its unique. We pray that he has long life to hold the honour.
"He should try and unify the Islam, and not only Islam, all religions in the country so that it will foster progress for all. He should not limit it to religion, probably in his homestead too. He should try and bring unity to the whole town, where he comes".