Nigeria is no doubt a country of people with diverse culture and traditions and it has remained a major part of their lifestyle and belief, which inherently influence their social views vis-a-vis social class, leadership and life’s attainment. Among the most revered social status for many culturally ingrained folks in Nigeria, is the position of a traditional ruler. Traditional rulers are heads of independent states or communities that existed before the formation of modern Nigeria. In the days of native authorities, they can compared to your typical today governors who oversee the smooth day to day activities of their clans and domains, and are also strong custodians of culture and traditions that have continued to succeed one another with history and time.
The position of traditional rulers in Nigeria has witnessed tons of powerful men and women who before royal class have done well for themselves in their choosen fields. In the olden days we have had many who were priests, hunters, farmers, business persons etc. And in the present day, we have too many Kings who are Retired Military generals, Medical doctors, business moguls, Professionals, accomplished bankers, successful lawyers and most respected Rtd Judges and many from diverse fields of human endeavors sitting on the thrones of their fore fathers, and education has continued to be a big attraction to royalty in Nigeria.
Gone are the days when royal fathers are too crude and uneduacted but today, monarchy has witnessed almost best of men on thrones. And it is interesting to see scholars not found wanting in this regard. In the last 5yrs, the Nigerian traditional leadership class has added many numbers of university professors to the royal lines more than ever in Nigerian history and they have continued to put their scholarly wisdom to good use for greater benefits of their subjects and could be better put as perfect blends of tradition and modernism.
Naijalocals here, have put together 10 Nigerian Kings who are Professors across different tribes and ethinic groups. Have a look…
1.THE ASAGBA OF ASABA, HIS ROYAL MAJESTY, OBI CHIKE EDOZIEN – 94yrs old Obi Chike Edozien is probably the first Nigerian Professor to sit on the throne of his fore-fathers in the capital town of Asaba, Delta State. HRM Obi Prof. Joseph Chike Edozien, CFR, JP, born on July 28, 1925 ascended the throne in 1991.
His father was Nathaniel Okafor Edozien a direct descendant of Nnebisi the founder of Asaba, and one of the most senior indigenous officials of the Nigerian Coal Corporation in Enugu. His mother, Nwakuso Edozien née Odogwu, was the daughter of a prominent Asaba chief, and a notable trader.
His father sent him at an early age to live with an uncle who was a school master in Warri, Delta State then Bendel State, Nigeria. He attended the Catholic School in Warri from 1933 to 1937. He attended Christ the Kings College, Onitsha for his secondary education from 1938 to 1942. In 1942 he attended the Higher College Yaba and then proceeded to Achimota School, Accra, Ghana.
His university education began with an admission to the University College Dublin, Ireland in 1944. He completed his BSc with honours in Physiology from the National University of Ireland in 1948, MSc in Physiology in 1950, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Chemotherapy (MBBCh) in 1954. He won several academic awards in the process.
His academic career began with an appointment as a Lecturer in Clinical Biochemistry in Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London in 1951. In 1952 he was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Chemical Pathology at the University College, Ibadan. He returned to Ibadan after further studies in Ireland.
In 1955 he married Modupe Smith a radiographer at the University of Ibadan teaching hospital. Her father was one of the first indigenous managers if the United Africa Company and her maternal grandfather was Herbert Macaulay, Nigeria’s first surveyor and one of the principal actors in Nigeria’s independence movement.
The late colonial and early independence period were exciting times in Nigeria. Educated Nigerians rapidly occupied positions of responsibility in politics, commerce and academia. Everyone’s hopes were high that in a short time the country would bridge the gap with the more developed countries of Europe and North America. The euphoric mood permeated the University of Ibadan, and Edozien’s groundbreaking research in nutrition helped win it a reputation as a rising academic centre. He was appointed a professor in 1961 and became the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in 1962
Edozien’s career at Ibadan ended in 1967, a casualty of the political crisis that ended the euphoria of the late 50′s and early 60′s and resulted in the coups of 1966 and eventually led to the Nigerian Civil War. In 1967 he was instrumental in the efforts to establish the University of Benin in the newly created Midwestern Region of Nigeria. He was also implicated in the plots that resulted in the Biafran invasion of the Midwestern Region at the beginning of the civil war and was forced to flee the country.
After a period as a refugee in France, he was appointed as a professor of Nutrition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. In 1971 he became a professor and head of Department of Nutrition, of the School of Public Health of the University of North Carolina.
In 1990 Edozien was appointed the Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research. Shortly thereafter he was selected to become the 13th Asagba of Asaba. He retired as a Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina and returned to Nigeria in 1991.
Edozien’s tenure as the Asagba of Asaba has coincided with dramatic changes in the character of the town. When the government of President Ibrahim Babangida created Delta State out of the old Bendel State, Asaba was chosen as the capital. Its new status as the seat of the state government has brought much of the chaotic development associated with contemporary Nigerian urbanization. The population of the town has grown and the influx of non-Asaba indigenes has strained the traditional institutions of the town.
A central theme of Edozien’s tenure as the Asagba has been the challenge balancing rapid development, modernization of traditional norms and institutions with preservation of the positive aspects and moderating influence of traditional values. Several on-going initiatives such as the Asaba permanent palace and civic centre and the documentation of the town’s traditional laws and customs have sought to balance these concerns.
Edozien remains an important figure in modern day Nigerian affairs. President Olusegun Obasanjo conferred the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic on him in 2003. He is also the Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.
2. AMANYANABO OF KALABARI KINGDOM, HRM THEOPHILUS J.T. PRINCEWILL, J.P AMACHREE XI – In the year, 2002, the history of the Kalabari Kingdom, the largest ethnic group in the Ijaw speaking Nation with 33 communities covering three Local Government Areas of Rivers State (Degema, Asari-Toru and Akoku Toru) changed, when for the first time in its history decided to convey and coronate a Professor of Microbiology as its King, His Majesty King Professor Theophilus Jacob Tom Princewill. King Prof Princewill is the eleventh Amakaree from the Amachree lineage which started with “Amakiri I” (Amachree I) in 1770, although the kingship itself dates back at least to the 1600s. The Kingdom has not been the same, since Professor Theophilus Jacob Tom Princewill’s coronation on March 23, 2002.
Prof. Princewill’s born in 1930 climbs to the peak commenced in 1935, at Buguma’s famous Baptist School. He was just five—the youngest ever to enrol.
Wielding a Ph. D. in Microbiology, from Leeds University, England (1975), Princewill won acclaim in his field, publishing over 30 articles in scientific Journals, between 1965 and 1988! He is the father of popular Prince Tonye Princewill, a politician and two times governorship aspirant in River State.
A socially committed King, the Amanyanabo is striving to alleviate poverty and restiveness through his Amachree XI Scholarship Scheme, now in its third edition.
During his 10th year coronation ceremony at Buguma, The King handed over N5, 100,000 in support of a project, as financial support for 94 students from Rivers State’s 23 L.G.A.s.
The Amachree XI Scheme uniquely applies to all L.G.A.s, irrespective of ethnicity and targets the highly strategic disciplines of Law, Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine, Environmental Science and Computer Science.
Amachree XI, despite his age, eagerly answers the call of duty. He is once the Chairman of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and has sat on the state’s Advisory Council (1999-2007) as well as its seminal Peace and Reconciliation Committee (2006 to 2007).
This civic mindedness has earned him many accolades and awards, including the Grass Roots Royal Father Of The Year–presented during an epochal ceremony at Buguma City in 2007 by Silver Doors Concept Initiatives. President Goodluck Jonathan conferred on him, the title of the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR)—a title meant only for Nigeria’s best.
King Princewill has, therefore, reached the pinnacle in both his personal and professional life: Superbly confirming his postulated status as a great leader par excellence.
3. OBAPERO OF ABIRI TOWN ILE-IFE, HRH OBA PROF. JOHN OMONIYI ABIRI. Born into the family of Pa Abraham ‘Muyiwa Abiri (d.1964) at 28, Oke Ayetoro street, Ile-Ife, South Western Nigeria on June 9, 1937 Abiri attended St Phillips School, Ile-Ife and Odudwa College Ile-Ife where he obtained the West African School Certificate in the first division in 1955. After a brief spell in the Federal civil service in Lagos and as a teacher at Ife Grammar School Ile-Ife, he gained admission to the University College, Ibadan in 1957 and graduated in 1961.
Abiri holds the B.A degree of the University of London (1961), Master of Education (M.Ed) degree (1965) of the University of Birmingham, U.K as well as the PGCE (1963) and the Ph.D. (1969) degrees, both of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is a winner of both the Irving Bonnar Graduate Prize and the George Cadbury Prize in Education.
After obtaining his first degree (B.A) he served as a graduate teacher at Ife Grammar School, Ile-Ife in 1961-1962. He later moved to the University of Ibadan, starting as a Research Fellow and then as Assistant Lecturer, he rose steadily through the academic ranks until he became a Reader (Associate Professor). He was a visiting Senior Fellow in the Institute of Education of the University of London in 1973-74. He later served in acting capacity as the First Head of Department and Dean of the Faculty of Education at the then Jos Campus of the University of Ibadan in 1974-76. He subsequently secured appointment in 1976 at the then University College, Ilorin, later University of Ilorin, where he served as the first Head of Department and dean of the Faculty of Education with responsibility of providing leadership in the formulation and initiation of the degree programmes of that faculty. He was the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Federal Electoral Commission successively in four states of Nigeria between 1987 and 1993.
He was once an Assistant Editor of the West African Journal of Education (WAJE) at the University of Ibadan and Editor of the Nigerian Journal of Educational Psychology. He is the author of Moremi: An Epic of feminine Heroismand its Yoruba version Moremi: Itan Akoni Obinrin.He is also the Editor and Co-author of Perspectives on History of Education in Nigeria. He has many scholarly articles published in learned Journals. He supervised many students for M.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Ibadan and Ilorin lots of whom have themselves become full Professor. He retired from the academia in 2001 after many years of meritorious service including 25 years as a full professor.
He was awarded the title of Baapitan of Ife (Chief Historian of Ife) by the Ooni of Ife in 1981, and later crowned as the paramount ruler and king of Abiri town, with the title of Obapero of Abiri in 2010.
4. ALAPA OF OKIN-APA TOWN OYO STATE, HRH OBA JOHN AKINOLA AKINTOLA.
A Professor at the Ladoke Akintola University Ogbomoso, was installed as a paramount ruler on March 10, 2016. Kabiyesi started his education at Are Ago District School. From there, he attended Ogbomoso Baptist Modern School and later Anglican Grammar School. Thereafter, he was at the Ogbomoso Grammar School for HSC (Higher School Certificate). He became the senior boy at OGS between 1985 and 1987 and later gained admission into the University of Ilorin where he bagged a BSc in Botany. He returned to the school for his Masters in Crop Production, specialising in Entomology. Still in Unilorin, he had his PhD in Zoology. He has since become a Professor in LAUTECH, Ogbomoso, where he still teaches till date.
Oba Prof. Akintola coronation and presentation of staff of office was held on August 4, 2017 and in an occasion that drew the crème-de-la-crème of the society to Okin-Apa. There were traditional rulers from different towns also in attendance. The LAUTECH community was led by the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sulaiman Gbadegesin. Members of academic and non-academic staff came in large numbers to celebrate with him.
Revealing what he has been able to do for his communities so far, Oba Akintola said this in an interview, ‘God has been faithful since I became the Alapa, and I am very positive that He will not forsake me in turning my dream to reality. The truth is that I did not meet the town in good shape, in terms of development. My father was on the throne for 15 years but he could not do much because he spent 10 out of the 15 years on sick bed. This is a challenge to me to ensure that the lost grounds are recovered. I guess you saw a mast outside to facilate reception. I have also built our secondary school. Already we have eight standard classrooms and one hall which is under construction. There are a principal, teachers and non-teaching staff in the school. Our primary school, opposite the palace, has also just been rehabilitated by the effort of Honourable Segun Odebunmi. We also have N10 million ultra modern Central Mosque built by an illustrious son, Alhaji Isiaka Hamzat. I have also built 20 lock up shops to boost commercial activities. Apart from that, I have instituted an interest-free credit facility to our women. This is an empowerment of sorts to ensure that their welfare improves. The women have formed a cooperative through which they access the loan. I can only advise them to make good use of the loan. In the area of security, I have also built a police station, which is going to be inaugurated when the Oyo State Police Command is ready.
HRM Oba (Prof.) Adekunle Adeogun-Okunoye, Oyedeji II was born on 29th April, 1968 to Prince Joseph Adeboye Okunoye of Oyedeji-Alamu Ruling House, a retired teacher, private school proprietor and former chairman of Ifelodun Local Government Area and Late Mrs. Francisca Adeogun Okunoye of Ojomu’s compound, Iba, a retired elementary school principal and community leader. Adekunle is a great grandson of Oba Oyedeji Alamu of Alamu Ruling House, Iba, Ifelodun local government area of the Ifelodun/Boripe/Odo-Otin Federal constituency in State of Osun.
The new monarch is well accepted and loved by the majority of the people in Iba town. Despite being accomplished academic, Adekunle is a great socialite and philanthropist. Through the activities of Francisca Adeogun Foundation (foundation in memory of his late mother), Adekunle is sponsoring merit based scholarship for Iba indigenes at primary school level. He is a generous donor at several Iba day programs and he has always responded to development fund drive in the community. His development effort transcends his immediate community to the state level. In 2008, Adekunle donated books worth tens of thousands dollar to Osun state University.
His experiences as a younger man and the close knowledge of the struggles of his people in the face of inadequate governance birthed an all-consuming desire to contribute positively to the realization of a better life for Iba, its environs and Nigeria in general. Born into nobility and raised by respected leaders in his community, Adekunle grew up gaining invaluable insight into the role of selfless service as a catalyst to the actualization of a better community.
Living in several western countries and visiting as many as 24 countries only serves to stoke Adekunle’s yearning for the speedy development of his homeland and the alleviation of the struggles of his people. His professional activities are always geared towards this end. Adekunle sees the results of adequate governance on a daily basis in his privileged position in the USA but cannot rest easy until he has brought his skills and knowledge to work for his people in particular and Nigeria in general. He believes that the benefits of his wealth of experience, international connections, academic excellence and distinguished career will not be fully utilized until it leads his people. These amongst many other reasons drive him to take on the challenge to help make his town a better place by leading his people
After his primary school education at CAC primary School in Ibadan, he returned home to attend Akinorun Grammar School, Ikirun under the guardianship of his great uncle and aunt, Alhaji and Alhaja Olarinde. After his secondary education, he proceeded to Oyo State College of Education, Ila-Orangun where he graduated with distinction in Mathematics at the age of 19. Upon graduation, Adekunle accepted a teaching position as a Mathematics teacher in Akinorun Grammar School, Ikirun, Osun State, Nigeria. After a brief period, he enrolled at Nigeria’s oldest university – the University of Ibadan, where he completed his first degree in Computer Science with Second Class Honors (Upper Division). He holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria with second class honor, Upper division) in 1991, an M.Sc. in Computer Science (Group Technology) from University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla, Finland with Eximia Cum Laude Approabatur in 2001, an M.Ed in Educational Administration from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio USA with 3.80/4.00 GPA in 2007 and Ph.D in Computer Science/Information Systems from University of Turku, Turku, Finland in 2003.
Adekunle began his career at Bytech Consulting, an Information Technology Consulting, and later moved to the banking sector as an IT supervisor at now defunct Credite Bank. After several years of working in the Nigeria banking sector, Adekunle relocated to the Gambia where he worked as a Project Manager with Quantum Associates, one of the then best IT consulting firms in West Africa. At Quantum, Adekunle led the development and implementation of one of the few indigenous Islamic Banking package. He later moved to work as a data manager at the UK Medical Research Council laboratories (MRC) in Fajara Gambia. At MRC, Adekunle participated in many clinical trials and research work that were published in top medical journals.
His insatiable thirst for self-development led him to enroll in graduate school in Finland where he obtained a Masters (M.Sc) in Computer Science at University of Jyvaskyla in Central Finland. Upon Completion, Adekunle was offered and accepted the prestigious Turku Center for Computer Science (TUCS) academic scholarship to pursue a doctoral degree (PhD) in Computer Science and Information Systems at University of Turku, Turku, Finland. Adekunle directed his doctoral research to issues plaguing information technology in developing countries with the intentions of eventually bringing this knowledge and his newly acquired skills to bear on the sub-Sahara Africa scenario in general and the Nigerian context in particular. Traces of Adekunle’s passion for rural and national development are evident in his dissertation and early publications. His PhD dissertation focuses on Knowledge Management and Global Diversity. Adekunle has added a Masters in Educational Administration (M.Ed) from Xavier University to his bag of laurels in order for him to pursue his secondary interests that include educational financing, education reforms and networked learning environment in developing countries;
Upon completion of his PhD at TUCS, Adekunle received job offers from universities and financial institutions around the globe and eventually, he accepted an Assistant Professor position at the prestigious graduate school of the Williams College of Business, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio. Adekunle is a prolific publisher whose research continues to enjoy broad international acclaim. He is the proud winner of various international awards in ICT and currently holds the very competitive Fulbright Scholar Fellowship and O’Connor Fellowship for his work on ICT and Global Climate Change. He is regularly invited to speak at international conferences and is an avid promoter of ICT conferences and think tanks on the African continent. By dint of hard work, honesty and integrity, Adekunle was promoted and became a tenured Associate professor at Xavier University in February 2009. Xavier University is always ranked among the top five universities in Mid-West USA.
In 2015, Adekunle was awarded a highly competitive Fulbright fellowship by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of US Department of State to further his research on ICT and climate change in developing countries. Adekunle is the pioneer executive secretary of the African Society for Information and Communication Technology (ASICT) and the executive director, training and international scholar program at the International Center for Information Technology and Development (ICITD), Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, USA. Adekunle is a visiting professor of Computer Science at Kwararafa University, Wukari, Taraba State, Extraordinary Professor of ICT at Tshwane University, Pretoria, South Africa and a Reader at Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti.
Adekunle is the founder of Interquilon Solutions, an Information Technology (IT) and Education consulting firm in Cincinnati, Ohio USA and an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) consultant with various governmental and private agencies. His extensive work experience spans over 25 years in IT consulting and practice and in higher education, medical research and banking. Adekunle serves on the board of Iba Microfinance Bank, Iba. Osun State Nigeria.
Adekunle is a chartered information technology practitioner (CITP) and member of the British Computer Society. He is also a member of Association for Information Systems (AIS), International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Working Group 9.4 and the Information Resources Management Association (IRMA). Adekunle serves on the editorial board of The African Journal of Information Systems (AJIS) and Journal of Information and Communication Technology & Human Development (JICTHD). Adekunle is a frequent speaker to regional, national and international conferences and a major promoter of ICT conference in Africa. As an active member of International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), he served as a co-chair at the 3rd World IT Forum in Gaborone, Botswana. Adekunle chairs the annual International Conference for ICT in Africa.
His research focuses on ICT and climate change, knowledge management, new information and communication technologies, organizational implementation of IT and the resultant changes in organization, and IT & globalization. With about 50 academic publications, Dr. Okunoye has authored one book and his research on Impact of Information and Communication Technology on Organizations and in developing countries has appeared (or are forthcoming) in several peer reviewed journals, book chapters and in many national and international conference publications. Adekunle gave a keynote address to the 53rd Annual Delegates Meeting & Scientific Conference (ADM/SC) of the Nigerian Medical Association in 2013 and he has presented to the annual e-Nigeria conference of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
Adekunle briefly ventured into partisan politics to address what he perceived as poor and under representation of his people at the Federal House of Representatives. He lost at the primaries but his involvement changed the outlook of the perception of people in his constituency in politics. Unlike many of his predecessors in similar situation, he remains in constant touch with his people, especially in his community. He lost in the primaries in January 2011 and he was selected to ascend the throne in August 2011. He has since then stopped all partisan politics and supports the policies and programs of the local and state government.
Adekunle lives with his family in Pleasant Run Farm, Cinicnnati Ohio. Adekunle is happily married to Princess Abidemi Tadese Okunoye, the last daughter of late Oba Ashiru Olatubosun Tadese, the immediate past Oluwo of Iwo Kingdom.
Adekunle has internationally traveled to / lived in: Australia, Benin Republic, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Ecuador, England, Finland, The Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Kuwait, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda, United States, and Zimbabwe.
6. OLOTA OF OTA, OGUN STATE – OBA PROF ABDUL-KABIR ADEYEMI OBALANLEGE – Oba (Prof) Adeyemi Obalanlege was born in Mushin, Lagos State on 28 of August, 1966. His parents were Prince Hassan Taiwo Obalanlege of Ijemo Compound and Mrs Mutiat Afolake Obalanlege (Nee Anjorin) of Isoloshi Compound, Ota. Prof Adeyemi attended Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School, Isolo, Lagos State for his first school leaving certificate and Iganmode Grammar School, Ota for his secondary school education. He proceeded to the Ogun State Polytechnic (now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic) from where he obtained his National and Higher National Diplomas in Mass Communication respectively. During his spell at the Polytechnic, he was an active member of the Students Union Government and served in the capacity of the Public Relations Officer.
At the successful completion of his studies at the Ogun State Polytechnic, he was called up for his National Youth Service in 1992.After his service year, Prof Yemi joined Lagos State Polytechnic as Public Relations Officer, and later moved to Thisday newspapers as Travel Editor. Prof. Obalanlege decided to further his studies abroad thus jetting out to the United Kingdom. While in the UK, Prof AbduKabir attended University of Leicester where he bagged the degree of Master of Art (M.A) in Mass Communications in October, 2002. Prof. Adeyemi also attended the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom where he cornered a Post Graduate Diploma in Food Safety and Quality Management in 2005. Having met the professional requirements and standards laid down by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, London. Prince Obalanlege was admitted to membership of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, London (CIPR). In May, 2004. A member of National Union of Journalist, United Kingdom, Prof Adeyemi is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK, a status he attained in 2010.
Prof .Yemi Obalanlege joined University of East London, England in October, 2008 as Lecturer in Journalism and moved on to University of Lincoln, England in the same capacity in January 2009 till August, 2012, when he decided to focus more on his PhD programme. In order to further excel academically, Prof AbduKabir enrolled at the University of Antwerp for a Doctor of Social Sciences in Communications Studies (PhD) in February, 2010. Finally, Prof. Obalanlege successfully defended his thesis and was awarded a PhD in Communications Studies in May, 2014, after which he packed bags and baggage and returned to Nigeria. He was employed by (Crescent University Abeokuta) where he serves as a Senior Lecturer then later Prof in charge of Post Graduate Studies at the Department of Mass Communication. A widely travelled and distinguished communication professional, Prof AbduKabir Adeyemi Obalanlege has visited virtually all continents of the world. After meeting the stipulated criteria, Prof Obalanlege was registered into the membership of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria in September, 1995.
7. TOR TIV, BENUE STATE HRH PROF JAMES ORTESE AYATSE
His Royal Majesty, Begha u Tiv, Orcivirigh Professor James Ortese Iorzua Ayatse, Tor Tiv V (born 12 May 1956) from Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State in central Nigeria is a Nigerian Academic who is the Paramount Ruler of Tiv Nation and President, Tiv Area Traditional Council and Chairman, Benue State council of Chiefs. He previously served as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi and the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Dutsin-Ma respectively before succeeding His Royal Highness, Orchivirigh Late Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, Tor Tiv IV who ruled between 1991 and 2015 until his demise on 22 November 2015.
Ayatse was elected on Tuesday, 20 December 2016 and crowned on 4 March 2017 by the Kingmakers of his subjects after a meeting of the Tiv Supreme Council known as Ijir Tamen, held at the chambers of the Tiv Traditional Council at Gboko – a town recognized as the Traditional Headquarters of the Tiv people who are believed to be the 4th largest ethnic group in Nigeria. Prior to becoming Tor Tiv V, Ayatse, a famed academic became a professor of Biochemistry in his late thirties and would later serve as the Vice Chancellor in two separate Federal universities between 2001 – 2006 and 2011 – 2016 respectively, making him only the first Tiv man to do so. As Tor Tiv V, Ayatse is also the first Tiv man to ever rule his subjects as a Professor.
In contrast with his predecessors who took Oath of Office for the Tor Tiv Throne swearing by the ancestral “Swem”, Ayatse swore by the Christian Bible, becoming the first Tor Tiv to take Oath of Office using the Bible. President Mohammadu Buhari congratulated the Monarch, stating that Prof. Ayatse’s emergence as the paramount ruler of the Tiv people, is an affirmation of his strength of character, integrity, and moral authority, garnered over the years as a lecturer, erudite scholar and administrator.
His Royal Highness, James Ayatse was born to Late Iorzua Ayatse and Mrs Adeior Iorzua (Nee Achaa, Mbarumun, Nanev) in Mbakaan, Shangev-Ya, Kwande Local Government Area in the North-East province of Benue State. He received elementary schooling at LGEA School, Orbiam, Ikov, Ushongo Local Government Area and later, LGEA School, Mbagbegba, Shangev-Ya and St Anne’s Primary School Adikpo where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate. He attended and passed out with a West African School Certificate (WASC) – a division one certificate at Government Secondary School, Gboko that qualified him foruniversity education. HRH James Ayatse then proceeded to the University of Ibadan where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biochemistry, distinguishing himself academically as the best graduating student of his department.
He went on to obtain his Masters of Science at the University of Calabar, repeating the same feat of graduating as the best student of the department before moving to the University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom as a commonwealth student for further studies that culminated in a doctorate in Biochemistry. The Tor Tiv then returned to one of his alma-maters – the University of Calabar for his MBA and rose to become a Professor of Biochemistry, making him the first and only Tiv man to achieve this feat, a record that is yet to be matched.
HRH James Ayatse started his career in 1980 as a graduate assistant in the University of Calabar and progressed rapidly and steadily to attain the rank of a Professor of Biochemistry in 1993, aged only 37. His career spans teaching to education management. He has taught at the University of Calabar, University of Uyo, Benue State University, Makurdi, University of Agriculture, Makurdi, University of Abuja and the Federal university, Dutisn-Ma. He has taught Biochemistry, Business Managementand Public Administration to different groups of students and has bred several B.Sc., M.Sc., MBA, MPA and PhD holders in an over 35 year working career. Because of his multidisciplinary teaching career, the Paramount Ruler was dubbed a “controversial Professor” in reference to his versatility, especially during his time at the Benue State University and the University of Agriculture, Makurdi where he worked concurrently. Additionally, Ayatse has served as External Assessor for Professional appointments/Promotions and External Examiner to a large number of Universities; he chaired the National Universities Committees on performance indicators and minimum benchmark for science programmes in Nigerian Universities. He also chaired several panels for the accreditation of science programmes in Nigerian Universities. He served in the capacity of Chairman or member of several communities or governing boards at international, national and state levels. The Paramount Ruler also was involved on three separate occasions in formulation of the vision and blueprint for the development of his own state of Benue.
In the year 2001, Professor James Ayatse was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi succeeding Prof. Erastus Gyang. Reflecting on this in an interview preceding his emergence as Tor Tiv V, Ayatse stated that he inherited a student population of about 2000 and fluctuating cases of violent students’ demonstrations as well as staff union strikes, all of which he helped resolved amicably as the Vice Chancellor of the School. This earned him the reputation as the most peace loving Vice Chancellor of the Institution as there was no student demonstrations arising from internal problems throughout his tenure. He expanded the University by establishing several new departments and colleges that yielded students’ population of about 7000 before the end of his five-year tenure as the Vice Chancellor.
In 2011, Professor James Ayatse was appointed as the Pioneer Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Dutsin-Ma – one of the nine newly established Federal Universities by President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration. Ayatse went on to become the 1st Vice Chancellor out of the nine Federal Universities established at the time to graduate students and Mobilize them for Mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). He also conducted the first ever convocation of the University before completing his 5-year tenure. He laid the foundation for an ICT-driven University with computerized and online services, prompting Webometrics to rate the Federal University, Dutsin-Ma as the 14th Best University in January 2015 and 2016 ahead of many older universities in Nigeria.
After successful tenure of office as the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Dutsin-Ma, Prof. James Ayatse was elected on Tuesday, 20 December 2016 in a keen contest with three other contenders. He polled 39 votes out of the possible 46 to defeat fellow contestants – Prof. Daniel Saror, a former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University,Zaria who scored three votes, Prof. Benedict Shinku, who also got three votes and Andrew Wombo, a reputed lawyer who scored one vote. After his emergence as the Tor Tiv V, there were wider jubilations among his subjects who hailed the decision as credible. His Royal Highness, Professor James Ayatse was crowned as Tor Tiv V on 4 March 2017. His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State presented him with Staff of Office.
8. KALASUWE OF APOILAND IN ESE-ODO ONDO STATE, PROF. SUNDAY ADEJIMOLA AMUSEGHAN.
Oba Prof. Sunday Adejimola Amuseghan has over twenty two years experience of teaching, conducting research and contributing to community development at university level in Nigeria. Sunday holds a Ph.D degree in English from Adekunle Ajasin University, M.A. degree in English from University of Lagos, B.Ed (Hons.) and PG-Diploma (Financial Management) degrees from Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti.
His research interests focus on the applications of English Linguistics to curriculum planning, implementation and evaluation, Science and Technology and Entrepreneurship. He has extensive administrative experience as Director of General Studies and Entrepreneurship centre, Head of Department, Dean of Faculty of Education, and member of the University Council. He is highly skilled in soliciting research grants, university administration, students’ recruitment for admission, and English Linguistics.
9. EMIR OF ILESHA BARUBA, KWARA STATE – EMERITUS PROF. HALIDU ABUBAKAR SABI DEKUREKU IV
Prof. Abubakar born January 14th 1948 in Ilesha Baruba of baruteen local government of Kwara state is an Emeritus professor of public finance at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, is the Board Chairman of Kwara Harmony Holdings Ltd. He became the 28th Emir after the demise of the late Emir Bio Uthman Abubakar in 2015. Prof. Halidu is also a member of the Governing Council, Kwara State University (KWASU), Molete.
10. EZE OGBA-UKWU, PROF. ANELE UZONDU NWOKOMA EZE EGI III
A reigning King of the Oil & Gas rich Egiland (Eze Egi III of Ogbaland) and a Professor of Computer Science at AUN. Nwokoma joined American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, Adamawa State, in January, 2007 from USA. He has over 24 years’ experience in Information Systems. Prior to joining AUN, he was Assistant Professor of Computer and Information Technology at Delgado College, New Orleans, USA (2005 – 2007). He was also an Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems at Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco (2001 – 2003). From 2003 to 2005, he was a Corporate Information Technology Trainer at High-Tech, Irving, USA.
Prof. Nwokoma holds a BSC Management, from University of Louisiana, Lafayette, USA; MBA Computer Information Systems, Grambling State University, Grambling, USA; and completed Ph.D. course work in Information Systems & Policy Analysis, Mississippi State University, USA
His dissertation work is on “The Effects of Computer and Biometric Devices on Law Enforcement Agencies’ Crime Rate.” Nwokoma has multiple/interdisciplinary skills including Strategic Information Systems Applications, Policy/Program/Project Evaluation, Technology Policy Analysis and Development, Information Systems/Technology Curriculum Development, Distance Education, E-Commerce, Data Base Design and Development, Database Security and Auditing, Information System/Technology Project Management, Systems Analysis and Design, Object Oriented Analysis and Programming, Web Database Design and Context Analysis, and Computer Forensic Investigation.
Also worth mentioning are also two eminent Professor-Kings – the Alayede of Ayede-Ogbese Ondo state, Late Oba Prof. Peter Oluyede who joined his ancestors in 2015 and Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo (father of former finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala). Okonjo was the traditional ruler of Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State and author of over 100 articles and books including “University Tertiary Education for All”, a 2017 publication by Safari Books. He passed on Sept 13th, 2019 at 91.
If you have any other account of a Professor sitting on a traditional throne and not listed above, kindly give us the name and details, we will surely update the list after verification.