The ranking of kings or Obas in Yoruba land is a topic that has caused series of controversies as to who is the most powerful Yoruba King in Nigeria. In a report, the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, declared the answer to that question that the Ooni of Ife remains the number one monarch in Yoruba land and should be given the honour as the number one king in the Yoruba culture.
This post will list the ranking of first class traditional rulers in the Yoruba Empire as listed by the Alake of Egbaland. He identified ego and pride as the sole reason behind the disunity among Yoruba traditional rulers and people in Yoruba land, and called for peace for the progress of the Yoruba speaking people.
Below is a list of the ranking of five principal monarchs in Yoruba land according to their order of superiority.
1. Ooni of Ife
The Ooni of Ife is the most powerful king in Yoruba land. The current Ooni of Ife is Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi. According to the Alake of Egbaland, the Ooni is the first of the five principal Obas in Yorubaland just like the Sultan of Sokoto is the highest ruler in the northern part of Nigeria. This is because his supremacy dates back to the origin of the Yoruba tribe. He is also one of the most influential figures in Nigeria.
2. Alaafin of Oyo
He is the second in line in the ranking of Yoruba monarchs in Nigeria, Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III was born 15 October 1938 and he is the current Alaafin, or traditional ruler, of the Yoruba state of Oyo and righful heir to the throne of its historic empire. His dynasty dates back to the old Oyo empire which recognizes him as the emperor of the Oyo empire. He is among the list of the richest Yoruba king in Nigeria.
3. Oba of Benin
Some say that the Oba of Benin, or Omo N’Oba, is the highest traditional ruler in Nigeria as he wields influence over the Edo people and is a popular figure in Nigeria. He heads the historic Eweka dynasty of the Great Benin Empire. It is also said that the Yorubas in Nigeria descended from the Benin people, hence the tittle Oba is being used to mean a king. The title of Oba was first created by Oba Eweka I, Benin Empire’s first ‘Oba’, who ascended power between 1180 and 1300. His son, grandson and now his great-grandson, Ewuare II were traditional rulers of Benin in modern-day Nigeria.
4. Alake of Egbaland
Fourth on the list of ranking of obas in Yorubaland is the Alake of Egbaland. He is the paramount Yoruba king of Egba, a city in Abeokuta, Ogun State, southwestern Nigeria. Egba consists of Egba Alake, Owu kingdom rule by the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Oke-Ona and Gbagura. He was the one who cleared the air concerning how the monarchs in Yoruba land should be ranked starting from the Ooni of Ife to the Awujale of Ijebuland.
5. Awujale of Ijebuland
He is the least on the list of 5 powerful obas in Yoruba land. His kingdom, Ijebu (also known as Jebu or Geebu) was a Yoruba kingdom in pre-colonial Nigeria. It was formed around the fifteenth century. According to legend, its ruling dynasty was founded by Obanta of Ile-Ife. The current Awujale of Ijebuland is Sikiru Kayode Adetona.
There is a recent tussle as to who is superior between the Oba of Lagos and the Ooni of ife (Yoruba Emperor). This should not be so as history backs the Ooni as the most paramount ruler of the Yoruba speaking people.