The Areago of Ogbomosoland: Intrepid Warlord, Prime Minister, Deputy Soun

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The Areago of Ogbomosoland: Intrepid Warlord, Prime Minister, Deputy Soun< Femi OGUNLANA The reigning Areago of Ogbomosoland, High Chief Sobalaje Otolorin, has been in the news for some time now. The process for the installation of a new Soun of Ogbomosoland first brought him into limelight being the head of the kingmakers (afobajes). The lingering hullabaloo over the retention of the Chief Imam of Ogbomosoland, Sheikh Teliat Yunus Ayilara, on the basis of his true identity, whether he truly belongs to the family he claims to be from – Imam Ayilara family – the slot of which he used to rise to the position, is another catalyst for the notice gravitating towards the Areago in recent time. As head of the kingmakers, the Areago chaired the sittings that led to the nomination of Prince Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye as new Soun, whose approval is pending before the Oyo state governor. Also, a January 20 letter by the Soun-in-Council, advising Teliat Yunus to "step aside" as Chief Imam pending the resolution of the issue by the family was signed by the Areago. All these critical roles he has played underscored the eminent position, status and rank of Areago in Ogbomoso socio-cultural and trado-political milieu. [caption id="attachment_7810" align="alignnone" width="300"] Areago Otolorin – A descendant of Areago Labosin

The Areago stool in Ogbomoso
The Areago chieftaincy is as old as the throne of Soun. Soun Ogundiran Ogunlola, the first monarch of Ogbomoso and founder of the town’s ruling dynasty, who is believed to have begun his reign in the early part of the 17th century after obtaining the sceptre of rulership, made great exertions to lay the foundation of strength for the town. One of his strategies was attracting irrepressible warriors. Some of the earliest warlords he drew in were Lajinfin and Aolu. To retain their loyalty he created Lajinfin the Jagun and Aolu the Areago. The traditional structure of the community was set over time and Areago emerged as the most important and leading traditional chief. Today, the cabinet of Soun consists of seven traditional chiefs including Areago, Jagun, Bara, Ikolaba, Abese, Balogun and Iyalode. While Soun is the chairman and head, Areago is his deputy, the chief of ministers, the prime minister. They constitute what is called the Ilu. This body is the highest decision making body in Ogbomoso. Besides, the chiefs, excluding the Iyalode, make up the kingmakers and are headed by the Areago, which further underpins his prominent position. And as kingmakers, they also have the authority to depose Soun.


As the head of kingmakers, the Areago has special privilege in the selection of a new Soun; he alone has the power of second ballot, which often arises in the event of a tie in the first ballot. This was what transpired in the ongoing exercise. Of the six kingmakers, only four were available to participate in the selection process – the Balogun having died and the Abese ineligible on the ground that he was yet to obtain his certificate of chieftaincy. The four kingmakers i.e. Areago, Jagun, Bara and Ikolaba voted two apiece and the Areago in exercising his right of second ballot cast the deciding vote. Such is the power of the Areago in the Ogbomoso socio-cultural and traditional milieu. In the absence of Soun he is the next in command.

In the days of yore when war was the vogue the Areago led the Ogbomoso expeditions – of defence and conquests – as commander-in-chief. So, Areagos are always men of means in terms of competence, capability and are verse in metaphysical power. The Areagos led many wars to victory in the past. They are a formidable pillar in Ogbomoso, and one of the major reasons the town earned the sobriquet, “Land of the valiant,” and why it never suffered defeat in wars or ever conquered. The Areagos in the past were saddled with control of some entrance gates into the town to protect them and collect tolls. The Areago chieftaincy is no doubt a revered one, very core to the Soun institution and to the maintenance of peace of Ogbomoso as well as to the sustenance of its territorial integrity. Without the Areagos playing such vital roles, the history of Ogbomoso would perhaps have taken a different course.

After Aolu, Labosinde assumed the position. It was Labosin who founded the popular Jagun Market (Oja’Jagun – Mars Market) in Ogbomoso. He wanted a market in front of his house like Soun had Oja Igbo Market (Defence Grove Market) opposite his residence. Olugbon who decreed the market to existence invoked the Ajagun (Mars) spirit as was the practice and after a long prayer rendition declared “Ajagun yi o bawa se,” (Ajagun will help us do it), and that gave the market its name till today. It’s the number one traditional medicine items (lekuleja) market in Ogbomoso today. Labosin was a reputable warrior who led the destruction of several enemy forces. After his demise Oluronbi rose to the position of Areago. Some other Areagos were Oniyirokun, Lanlewu, OriOro, Oyawe, Kayode , Akinfenwa, Taiwo, Paimo and Oyeyiola.

It was indeed an Areago, Akinfenwa, who proposed the rotational order adopted for Soun chieftaincy in the 1800s and which was adapted into the Soun Chieftaincy Declaration decades later. Areago Akinfenwa had argued in favour of the five children of Soun Kumoye who reigned earlier to constitute the ruling houses. These are Toyeje (Abuirumaku), Oluwusi (Gbagun), Bayewuwon (Olaoye), Bolanta and Odunaro.

At crucial moments in the history of Ogbomoso the Areagos have always stepped in to offer direction. It’s a position highly reckoned with, that should not be toyed with. They have rendered immense feats only surpassed by the Souns that give them a bragging right in a community dominated by warriors and men of means.

The reigning Areago, High Chief Otolorin was installed in 1990. He hails from the Areago Labosin family. Labosin, it should be recalled was the second Areago and founded Oja Jagun in the early years of Ogbomoso.


High Chief Otolorin schooled and worked in Ghana before returning to Nigeria. He worked in several places such as the Nigeria Tobacco Company (NTC), the Ogbomoso Shoe Factory and the Coca Cola Bottling Company, Ilorin branch, where he was electrical superintendent. It was while he was at Ilorin that he was called upon to fill the vacancy in the Areago stool.

Today, there are seven Areago chieftaincy families constituted by seven of the past Areagos. They include Labosin, Oluronbi, Oniyirokun, Oyawemimo, Akinfenwa, Kayode and Oyeyiola.

Otolorin is not less in reputation. The vacancy in the position of Soun (as the last Oba His Imperial Majesty Dr Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III died on December 12, 2021), has unveiled his sterling qualities in the mould of his ancestors. As acting chairman of Ogbomoso North Local Government Traditional Council, he has shown courage and boldness, bluntness and frankness, vision and mission and maintains unyieldingly, a principled stand on whatever he believes in. His ideological positions and uncompromising attitude make him a man devoid of ambiguity.

While speaking with recently Areago Otolorin disclosed he prudently learned at the feet of late Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, emphasizing however that many of the things he was told by the late monarch are making greater meanings and deeper sense to him now. For over a year now, he has led the Ilu chiefs and by extension, Ogbomoso as a community. Tolerance, forbearance, calmness, comportment, unpretentiousness are some of his other virtues, which are apposite in a volatile society as Ogbomoso.

His contributions are enormous. In the face of security threat posed by bandits in 2022 when kidnap incursions were made into Ogbomoso, he worked tactically with other stakeholders to ward off the danger and the city has thrown off the yoke; in the selection of a new Soun, he provided the obligatory but firm leadership to come up with a nominee acceptable to a vast majority of the people; in the crisis currently tearing apart the Muslim community in Ogbomoso over the issue of Chief Imam, he has acted along with the Ilus and traditional title holders in the best interest of the city by urging a quick resolution while the matter of true identity of the imam is sorted out.

Some may disagree with him but he has provided far-sighted leadership. Furthermore, during his traditional headship, the long awaited federal polytechnic, Ayede took off (at a temporary site), road constructions – intra- and inter-city roads were/are being executed and some federal government facilitated projects by indigenes were also begun.

He continues to triumphs over the challenges rearing their heads but by which he is unfolding an imperishable legacy.

Long live the Areago of Ogbomosoland!

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