The Obas (kings) of Lagos are ceremonial rulers of the coastal city. Originally, Yoruba people dominated Lagos but it became the largest and capital city due to its financial capacity and attraction to people from diverse backgrounds.
Despite not having any political power, the Obas of Lagos are regarded as prominent personalities as politicians usually pay obeisance to them to garner grassroots support for their ambitions.
History has it that one Ashipa, who was a war captain of the Oba of Benin, received the special title of Oloriogun (War leader) due to his dexterity in fighting battles.
The Oba of Benin gave Ashipa the mandate to rule Lagos with annual tributes as a sign of allegiance to the Benin kingdom.
Another account claims that Ashipa is the son or grandson of the Oba of Benin while other accounts note that Ashipa is a Yoruba corruption of the Benin name Aisika-hienbore (translated “we shall not desert this place”).
Based on the mandate, Ashipa received a sword and royal drums and embarked on the tedious journey to Lagos. The Oba of Benin attached a group of Benin officers to Ashipa to protect the Kingdom’s interest in Lagos.
According to history, Eletu Odibo headed the group of Benin officers as they formed the first members of the Akarigbere class of Lagos White Cap Chiefs.
Before the British arrived in Nigeria, the Oba of Benin had the sole responsibility of approving whomever the Lagos people picked as their King. Without his endorsement, the Oba cannot take over the throne.
However, when the British forces defeated Oba Kosoko on December 28, 1851, the Oba of Benin lost his grip on Lagos.
The battle is popularly known as Bombardment of Lagos or Reduction of Lagos or locally as Ogun Ahoyaya or Ogun Agidingbi (after boiling cannons).
As a result, Oba Kosoko became the last King to pay the annual tributes to the Oba of Benin. History has it that the tribute is part of the levies paid by the people of Lagos.
Surprisingly, Oba Akintoye who became the King after the battle failed to remit the annual tribute to the Oba of Benin.
He “seized the opportunity of his restoration under British protection to repudiate his former allegiance” to Benin and defied several threats to pay the tributes.
All the former monarchs of Lagos used the titles of Ologun (derived from Oloriogun) until recently when they adopted the title, Oba of Lagos.
Oba Rilwan Babatunde Osuolale Akiolu is the current Oba of Lagos. The kingmakers of the Lagos traditional kingdom selected him on May 23, 2003 and he was crowned as the 21st Oba of Lagos on August 9, 2003.
List Of Obas Of Lagos From 1682 Till Present
Ado (1716–1755) (son of Ashipa/Esikpa)
Eletu Kekere (c1775 – 1780)
Ologun Kutere (also Ologunkutere / Ologunkuture) (1780-1801) or until 1803
Gap between Ologun Kutere and Adele (c 1805 – c1810/11)
Adele Ajosun (1811-1821)
Oṣinlokun Ajan (Oshinlokun, Eshinlokun) (1821–1829)
Idewu Ojulari (1829–1832) or until 1835
Adele Ajosun (second term) (1835-1837)
Akitoye (second term) (1851-1853)
Oyekan I (1885–1900)
Eshugbayi Eleko (1901-1925)
Ibikunle Akitoye (1925–1928)
Sanusi Olusi (1928–1931)
Eshugbayi Eleko (second term) (1931-1932)
Falolu Dosunmu (1932–1949)
Adeniji Adele (1949–1964)
Adeyinka Oyekan II (1965–2003)
Rilwan Akiolu (2003–)
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