Governance in Ijebu

There were no political parties as known in modern democracy, and yet the ancient administrative set-up which ruled ljebu in those days was democratic in principle. There were political groups which had functions each in the administration of town. The administrative pattern in Ijebu-Ode was the same in all other towns under the sovereignty of the Awajale, in some cases with slight variations.

The Societies were:

1. The Pampa – the people

2. The Osugbo – the executives

3. The Ilamuren – the high chiefs

4. The Odis – the palace assistants (officials) and servants

5. The Parakoyi – the equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce     


Though the lowest in rank, was the mother and spring board of the other groups. The Pampa was the people to whom we refer as the electorate in modern democracy and from them the others derive their authority.  Without the Pampa, the Osugbo and the llamuren, even the Oba did not exist.  The Pampa was the voice of the common people which must be heeded in the administration of the town. Titles in the Pampa Society were as follows: 

1.    The Agbon whose area was lwade Isale

2.    The Kakanfo whose area was Porogun

3.    The Lapo-Ekun whose area was Iwade Oke (Ijasi) 

These three are equals in their respective Wards.  There were also two other chiefs of lower rank. These were: 

1.    The Jagun for the whole of Ijebu-Ode who was attached to Agbon in Iwade Isale.     

2.    The Likotun for the whole of Ijebu-Ode who was attached to the Kakanfo Porogun.

Other Chiefs lower in rank to the Jagun and Likotun were the Ashipas — one for each Ward: Iwade Isale, Iwade Oke and Porogun.  Their functions were to be the medium of information between the mass of the people – the “Womparis”- and the higher chiefs.  Matters of any kind from the outlying districts (the farms attached to particular wards) came through them; but there were however, certain villages which come only through the Olisa and some through the Egbo. 


This is a Cult – a Fraternity of Chiefs and Elders which was also the Executive Authority of the town. It has also a religious character. Two brass images known as “Edan” was the  center of worship in the Osugbo Cult.  It was the highest group and Cult and commanded the respect and obedience of all.  Women were admitted into it by initiation but such w\omen must have passed bearing age.  Titles in Osugbo in order of precedence were:  

1)  Odele Olurin 2) The Oliwo 3) The Apena 4) The Akonoran 

They had different functions in the Osugbo, the Apena being the Chief Steward in the Society.  There was an inner circle known as the Iwarefa consisting of only six members as the name implied including the Apena and the Odele Olurin.  The Oliwo and the Akonoran were not in the Iwarefa Circle.  The Osugbo was the Legal Executive – they enforced the law and executive judgement in capital crimes.  They were also members of the “Owa”  – the King’s Court. 


The llamuren is the class of High Chiefs under the headship of the Olisa.  Other chiefs in this class are the Ogeni-Oja, Egbo, Olotufore, Apebi and other Chiefs that may have been initiated into the class having fulfilled all the conditions of initiation and provided “Eran Iboje” (a feast of ram or goat. 

The seat of the llamurens is ILISA. But when it comes to the (Aafin) Palace of the Awujale, the Ogbeni-Oja takes precedence over any chief. The “Oja” in the Ogbeni-Oja title is not “market” – (its common meaning)  but the PALACE (AAFIN AWUJALE). 

The Ogbeni-Oja title had remained vacant for a long time in Ijebu history.  Not much was known about its relevance and importance until Chief T. A. Odutola became the Ogbeni-Oj a. The position of the Ogbeni-Oja in the society became clearer and recognized during the reign of Awujale Gbelegbuwa II.  The highest title (not hereditary) a free born Ijebu can aspire to is that of Ogbeni-Oja.  Professor E. A. Ayandele confirmed this in his book: The ljebu of Yorubaland, 1850- 1950: Politics, Economy and Society (Heinemans, Ibadan, 1972); part of last paragraph page 11, he wrote:

“Final reconciliation was effected when Odutola was able to purchase the highest title available to a commoner –  ­that of Ogbeni-Oja; a position that put him defacto next in rank only to the Awujale.” 

Again Foluso Longe in 1981 and in his book: A rare breed – The story of Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola last paragraph of page 13 wrote:

“Little is known in the country about Adeola Odutola’s political activities, yet he dominated the politics of Ijebuland from about 1945 to the present time where, in his position as Ogbeni-Oja, he is in his own chieftaincy line next in rank to the Awujale as his Prime Minister and a moving force in Ijebuland.”  Ogbeni-Oja Odutola enjoyed very high and dominant position in the Royal Court of the Awujale.  When Awujale Gbelegbuwa Il acceded to the request of the Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo and granted him permission to wear beaded coronet 1950, it was Ogbeni Oja Chief Odutola who, as representative of the Awujale presided over the ceremony in Ijebu-Igbo and presented the beaded Crown to Orimolusi Jewel Adeboye.

When Oba Adesanya, Gbelegbuwa II, joined his an­cestors in January 1959, it was Ogbeni Oja Chief Odutola who became the Chairman of the Regency Council, and presided over the affairs of Ijebu-Ode during the interregnum.

The Western Region Government also accorded the office of the Ogbeni-Oja deserved recognition, in the official letter to the Local Government Adviser announcing the appointment of the  new Awujale Adetona on 4tn January, 1960 ( Ref. CB41/333), the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government directed: 

“I am to request that Chief Odutola, the Ogbeni-Oja be informed that for the same reason the Minister regrets that he was unable to notify him of the appointment before the publication of the press release.”  Chief Odutola presented the new Awujale, young Oba S. K. Adetona to ljebu people at Itoro, Ijebu-Ode on 14th January, 1960. 

Historians must however note the consolidation and modernization which have been effected in the hierarchy  of the High Chiefs of ljebu-Ode in recent years and during the reign of the present Awujale.  By 1995, Oba Adetona had evolved and established an orderly and traditional sys­tem of succession among this class of High Chiefs.


This was composed of the Oba’s attendants.  Their descendants also come into this rank. They were employed as messengers of the Oba. They were first styled “Agunrins” and later became “Odis” by promotion.  An­other category in this class are the refugees (asaforiji) who sought refuge under the Oba because of one reason or the other from their homes and/or countries.  From this Odi rank some were promoted and then they could leave the Oba’s Palace and occupy land allotted to them by the Oba on which they lived with their own family. They farmed in the Oba’s land for their living, but were always at the Oba’s service whenever he needed them.  But the land will never pass to them. 

This is a Society which was more of a commercial nature than political. It was the equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce.  Members looked into anything pertaining to trades and market disputes. They have Olori Parakoyi (Head) and his Asnipas in running the organization. 


What could be described as the Town Council in those days was the Council for Olorituns known as “Oloritun Medogbon” that is the twenty-five Quarter Heads in ljebu-Ode.  For example, there were twenty-five Quar­ters and each had its own Quarter Head called “Oloritun” whom the people respected and was recognized by the Awujale. The people of the Quarter met regularly in his house and dealt with petty matters among themselves. There, other matters of general public interest were dis­cussed. All these Quarter Heads also met to discuss all matters affecting the common interest of the town. Each Oloritun represented the people of his Quarter: This organization formed the link between the people and the governing authority.