The Aare Ona Kakanfo! The Untold Story of How MKO Abiola Was Nearly Prevented From Becoming the Generalissimo
Where were you in 1987? That was the year Oba Yesufu Oloyede Asanike, Olubadan of Ibadan made history. Olubadan installed Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola as the Bashorun of Ibadan. It was a prestigious title befitting of a distinguished personality in the mould of MKO Abiola.
That was the title of the legendary Bashorun Oluyole who was the paramount chief of Ibadan in 1850. It was also the title of Bashorun Ogunmola who reigned between 1865 and 1867. It was therefore historic that exactly 120 years after the death of Ogunmola, MKO Abiola became the fourth person to be conferred with the prestigious title.
It was indeed a befitting honour for someone who had amassed chieftaincy titles from almost every town in Nigeria. As of the time of his installation in 1987, MKO Abiola was reputed to have over 150 chieftaincy titles. He was the Bobajiro of Ode-Remo. He was the Bada Musulumi of Gbagura Egba.
As he drove out of the palace of Oba Asanike that fateful day with his son by his side, MKO must have thought that he had reached the peak of traditional chieftaincy in Nigeria.
He was just settling down in his Ikeja home when he was informed that he had a call. Who was on the line? He asked before collecting the phone. It was the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III.
MKO snatched the phone. “Iku Baba Yeye, Igbakeji Orisa! Kabiyesi!” The newly installed Bashorun paid his homage to the foremost traditional ruler. Alaafin must be calling to congratulate me, MKO thought. Kabiyesi was however not calling to congratulate the business magnate.
“We have decided that you are to be conferred with the title of Aare Ona Kakanfo!” Kabiyesi informed him.