Influential Nigerian king dies at 101

Oba Samuel Odulana OdugadeImage copyright
Steve Martin/BBC

Image caption

Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade fought in World War Two

An influential monarch in south-west Nigeria, the Olubadan, or ruler of Ibadan land, has died at the age of 101, his son has confirmed to the BBC.

Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade, who ruled over Nigeria’s third largest city Ibadan, died in his sleep on Tuesday evening, Nigeria’s Punch newspaper quotes palace sources as saying.

An official announcement of the Yoruba king’s death is expected later.

Although largely symbolic, the Olubadan still has strong regional influence.

‘Very stern’

Nigeria’s many monarchs vary in hierarchy and importance with some ruling over large areas, while others are traditional rulers of a village or town.

The Olubadan is one of the few unelected figures whom the government would consult on major policy issues in the south-west, reports the BBC’s Chris Ewokor from the capital, Abuja.

Speaking to the BBC, his son Prince Gbade Lana described the late Olubadan as “a good father, very very stern”.

“He preached humility… he taught us that once you are humble you will be able to achieve anything in life.”

The Olubadan of Ibadan:

  • The title means “Lord of Ibadan”, a Yoruba community founded in the 16th Century
  • The king reigns over a population of nearly three million people
  • Ibadan is the capital of south-western Oyo state – the third-largest metropolitan area by population after Lagos and Kano
  • Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade was the 40th Olubadan
  • A former teacher, soldier, civil servant and politician, he was crowned at the age of 93 years

What’s the point of Nigeria’s traditional kings?

Mr Lana, himself the Oyo state commissioner for information, said he hoped his father would be remembered for “the passion he had for Ibadan as a city… to see that Ibadan grew and became a better place”.

A World War Two veteran, the late monarch was also a seasoned civil servant and a politician who served as a minister in the 1960s, our reporter says.

In 1964, he led the Nigerian parliamentary delegation to a London conference about how to restructure the then-British colonies of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, now Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

The name of his title, Olubadan, has been trending on Twitter across the country, since the news of his death broke.

Oba Odugade was on the throne for seven years following the death of the previous Olubadan in 2007.

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