Ogbomoso: How new Chief Imam emerged, as turbaning ceremony holds today
The Ogbomoso Muslim Community is agog as a new Chief Imam will be turbaned today, November 19, 2021.
The new Grand Chief Imam Toliat Oluwasina Yunus Ayilara, formerly Chief Imam of Adiam Memorial Central Mosque, Iporo-Ake, Abeokuta, emerged after a rigorous process and will officially begin his duty today – leading the Jumat prayer at the Ogbomoso Central Mosque, Oja’gbo.
His turbaning ceremony will take place at the palace of Ogbomoso also in Oja’gbo, to be performed in the presence of Soun of Ogbomosoland, Oba (Dr) Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III JP CON CFR.
“It’s all the wish of Allah,” a Muslim cleric said while commenting on the emergence.
Imam Toliat Yunus Ayilara is 40 years old and he was least expected to emerge but that is the way Allah wants it.
His emergence did not come on a platter, it underwent a process that was herculean.
There are six families who occupy the position of Chief Imam of Ogbomosoland in turn. These families are Masifa Oke-Odo, Ayilara, Adun-in Saja, Bango Isale-Ora, Abogunde and Alawiye.
Until now only one Chief Imam had been produced by the Ayilara family – Imam Mahamudu Ayilara, who played the role between 1917 and 1919.
Thus, the family was beckoned to nominate its candidate(s) by the committee saddled with the assignment headed by Pakoyi Adinni of Ogbomosoland, Sheikh Alhaji Surajudeen Aleem, who is the next in rank to Grand Imam of Ogbomosoland.
Initially, ogbomosoinsightonline.com learnt that five persons of Ayilara family scattered in some areas in Ogbomoso including Ayilara Isale-Afon and Oke-Agbede, indicated interest in filling the position.
The Ayilara Imam house is significant in that the family aside being a family that produces Chief Imam of Ogbomosoland it is also eligible to the position of Chief Imam of Ikoyi, Chief Imam of Iresaadu and position of Giwa Adinni of Ogbomosoland.
The five contestants are Toliat Ayilara (Oke-Agbede, a resident of Abeokuta); Muftau Ayilara (Oke-Agbede); Habeeb Ayilara (Oke-Agbede and resident of Kaduna); Sikirullahi Ayilara (Oke-Agbede and resident of Ogbomoso); and Quzeem Ayilara (Oke-Agbede and resident of Ilorin).
Nonetheless the last two lost out when the family held an election leaving Toliat, Muftau and Habeeb, as the three candidates to slug it out.
The committee that did the final selection coordinated by Balogun Adinni and Asiwaju Adinni, held its final sitting on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at the Ogbomoso Central Mosque.
“The committee was thorough and guided at every minute by the demand of Soun of Ogbomosoland to come up with the name of a popular candidate, one that will not instigate people to impugn him,” a Muslim cleric who preferred anonymity said.
Therefore, competency was a factor that was highly considered. Also, knowledge of the Quran, connection, formal education etc were the other considerations,” it was further asserted.
The last three candidates bought forms at the cost of N20,000 (twenty thousand naira) each and underwent oral interviews which bordered on such topics as their names, fathers and grandfathers’ names, vision for Ogbomoso and their plans on initiating development and harmony (both intra and inter religion), leveraging on outside connections to facilitate progress, fluency in Suratul Fathia recitation, Yoruba language, their backgrounds, Arabic knowledge and on such salient things.
The process finished at about 9pm from the afternoon it started but they avoided announcing the winner to avert crisis.
“Yes, the winner could not be announced that night because tension and uneasy calm enveloped the auditorium. Nobody could envisage what would happen should a winner be announced that night. There were over 200 people on ground, and there was need to avert violence,” ogbomosoinsightonline.com was further told.
So, the announcement of the winner was delayed till Thursday, November 11, and was held at the palace and each was required to come with his close family. Pledge was extracted from them that acrimony would be eschewed and that whoever emerged would be supported by others.
The final stage was at the Soun palace. And here Alhaji Toliat Oluwasina Yunus Ayilara was announced as the new Grand Chief Imam of Ogbomosoland.
With that final phase songs of jubilation broke forth setting the stage for the official installation today.