Life and Times of Late Ohinoyi, Abdulrahman Ado Ibrahim

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The people of Kogi State received with shock, the death of the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Dr Abdulrahman Ado Ibrahim, on Sunday, October 29, 2023. The paramount ruler of Ebira land died at the age of 95, in an Abuja hospital where he had been receiving treatment for age-related ailment.

Abdulrahman Ado Ibrahim was the fourth traditional ruler and Ohinoyi of Ebira land. He was a son of the second Attah, now “ohinoyi”, of Ebiraland, Ibrahim Onoruoiza, of the Omadivi clan, who reigned from 1917 to 1954.

Ibrahim was born on February 7 1929. He attended both western nursery and Quranic schools. He went on to conclude his primary education in 1940 at the Native Authority (NA) Primary School in Okene. He began his secondary school education at Ondo Boys High School and later moved to Oduduwa College, where he graduated in 1949. In 1954, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the London School of Economics and a master’s degree from Harvard Business School in 1959.

Following the death of Ohinoyi Sanni Omolori of the Oziada clan in 1997, the Lagos-based entrepreneur and son of the second paramount ruler of Ebiraland, Abdulrahman Ado Ibrahim, ascended the Okene throne as the second Ohinoyi or fourth independent traditional ruler of Ebiraland on June 2, 1997.  

HRM Dr. Ado Abdulrahman Ibrahim, CON, FNMGS, FNSME, DSc, LLD, an incisive thinker; in him, social science, philanthropy and tradition intersect to serve both humanity and culture.

HRM Ado Ibrahim was an informed cultural anchor and messenger for his people in a period of rapid change; adroitly spearheading the renewal and modernization of Ebiraland. Pushing a progressive vision for the Nigerian state, he tenaciously espoused tradition and culture as relevant tools for building a just society.

He was a social scientist who was more at home with analysis and actions. His earthiness and folksy charm easily disarmed and sucked everyone into his growing army of admirers.

The vibration of energy Dr. Ado Ibrahim emitted was reminiscent of that from an active volcano, as a result of his intensity of focus and depth of concern for his kingdom and country. 

Every important life mission needs specific preparation. For the Ohinoyi Ebira, this was an imperative. What’s more – to reign over the swashbuckling Ebira people who are republican by nature, outspoken and very hard working, a king must be up to the scratch.

His enthronement as the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland was a grand occasion, attended by thousands of Ebiras and international diplomats and was broadcast on major Nigerian Television stations for days. He ruled Ebiraland from his magnificent pavilion, AZAD Palace named after his son. The palace is rated as one of the most beautiful palaces in West Africa.

Dr. Ado Ibrahim competently provided leadership to the people and his illustrious life indeed, was very eventful. It can be remembered, with vivid recollection, his vast business empire, which provided employment opportunities to several thousands of people. His philanthropy in terms of scholarships to many indigent students, contribution to building of schools, mosques and other worthier causes, are equally well documented. In these areas, he remains a role model, mentor and source of inspiration to several generations of Nigerians.

Since he assumed Office on 2nd June, 1997 as Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, His Majesty proved to be a veritable bridge-builder and peacemaker. In several private conversations with illustrious sons of Ebira, he always dismissed the acrimonious exchanges between the contending parties in the overall political contestations of Ebira land. Even when the Supreme Court in August 2015 affirmed his appointment as the Paramount traditional ruler of Ebira people, he chose to remain magnanimous in victory. He worked assiduously to reconcile and unify his subjects.

The late Ohinoyi represented a shining example of a sound mind in a sound body. That was one secret that he owed his admirers. Besides, his majesty continued to enjoy the friendship of the rich and powerful as well as the weak and the poor. This also was a puzzle to many of Ebira sons and daughters. The Ohinoyi’s reign in accordance with his age was long and peaceful.

Before his death at a ripe age, the Ohinoyi of Ebira land entered the special 4.7% age bracket of the World’s over 90; this pushes a vision for Ebira, which identifies the most singular challenge as the need to reverse the decline and restore the foundations for development and growth in this great and historic land. He believed that Ebira must be restored to its past supremacy by keeping abreast of change while upholding and preserving its identity as a people. He also believed that Ebira land must be part of the mainstream in Nigeria and should maintain and strengthen its ties and links with the world around it.

Dr. Ado was highly elated when Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan picked PDP ticked to contest senatorial position.  She is the first female candidate to ever try that. In December 2022, Ado Ibrahim declared his support for Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan of the PDP vying for the Kogi Central Senatorial District ultimate position; that notwithstanding, the state government as of then and currently is being run by an opposition party, the APC.

Dr. Ado Ibrahim abhorred tribal hatred and sentiments being branded by modern-day politicians.  To him, all sons and daughters of Nigeria are his children.  When the candidate of Social Democratic Party, SDP, Murtala Yakubu Ajaka on Friday, August 25, 2023, visited Okene, the heartland of Ebira civilisation and seat of Ohinoyi of Ebira land, thousands trooped out to welcome him.

Political pundits have always believed going to Kogi Central for a governorship campaign was like daring a lion’s den, especially, since 2019. It would be recalled that Okene Local Government Chairman, had in 2019, stopped the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Engr. Musa Wada from campaigning in Okene, citing security concerns.

While welcoming the governorship candidate, the Ohinoyi of Ebira Land, AbdulRahman Ado Ibrahim gave his royal blessings. He told the SDP candidate that, “My palace is wide opened at any time. No one tells a father not to welcome his children. Young man, you have an ambition, are you going to drop your ambition because someone is threatening you?”

Today, Ebira land faces the challenges of enhancement of its culture and tradition, community development and self-help, re-focusing the youths towards functional education and gainful economic activities, and generally harnessing its resources and energy at home and in the Diaspora for the good of Ebira. Addressing these issues and challenges calls for a leader who possesses a unique combination of attributes, which incidentally, HRM Dr Ado Ibrahim had aplenty.

HRM Dr. Ado Ibrahim was gentle but firm, resolute and fair. He did not shirk responsibility for his own actions and those of his delegated subordinates. He was blessed with excellent managerial skills as well as local, national and international exposure and connections. He was a man of principles and he was open, transparent and diplomatic. Above all, he was well versed in and committed, as bridge builder, to upholding the ancient customs and traditions of the proud people of Ebira land in the praxis of the modern 21stCentury. Adieu, Your Royal Majesty.

– Abdul Aji writes from Lokoja.

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