Going by the historical accounts in the outline history of Ibadan by late Oba Isaac Akinyele, Ibadan was founded in the 16th century at a time when there was no title of Aare Ona Kakanfo. Lagelu, the Jagun (commander-in-chief) of Ife and Yoruba’s generalissimo, left Ile Ife with a handful of people from Ife, Oyo and Ijebu to found a new city, Eba Odan, which literally means ‘between the forest and plains.’ According to HRH Sir Isaac Babalola Akinyele, the late Olubadan (king) of Ibadan, (Olu Ibadan means Lord of Ibadan), in his authoritative book on the history of Ibadan, Iwe Itan Ibadan, printed in 1911. This timing coincided with the period when some eminent adventurers migrated out of Ile-Ife to found their own settlements according to the respected Ife historian, the late Chief (DR,) M.A. Fabunmi, the Odole Atabase of Ife.
Ibadan by then was surrounded by Egba villages like Ido, Ojoo, Ika and Owu town of Erunmu. This location gave the impression that Ibadan was one of the Egba Gbagura settlements. The first Ibadan was destroyed by the Oyo Army as a result of the unfortunate incident during Egungun festival when the secret of the masquerades was exposed. In Yorubaland, it was an abomination for women to look an Egungun in the eye because the Egunguns were considered to be the dead forefathers who returned to the earth each year to bless their progeny. When the news reached the then Alaafin of Oyo, he commanded that Eba-Odan be destroyed for committing such abominable act.
Lagelu was by now an old, frail man; he could not stop the destruction of his city, but he and some of his people survived the attack and fled to a nearby hill for sanctuary. On the hill they survived by eating oro fruit and snails; later, they cultivated the land and made corn and millets into pap meals known asoori or eko, which they ate with roasted snails. They improvised a bit by using the snail shells to drink the liquefied eko. Ultimately, Lagelu and his people came down from the hill and founded another city called Eba’dan. Before the death of Lagelu, he and his children left Oke-Badan Hill near Awotan Market and migrated to “Ori-lyangi” which was later renamed Labosinde market. During the reign of Basorun Oluyole, the name was changed to Iba-Market and had remained so till today. The second settlement witnessed the influx of Yoruba tribes from different parts of Yoruba land such as Isheri, Owu, Ijebu, old Oyo and Ife.
The influx of people changed the character of the town. One of the most important migrants was the Owu group led by Olowu Akinjobi after the destruction of Owu town by the allied army made up of Ijebus and the Ifes as a result of slave trade conflict at Apomu. The reigning Olubadan gave her only daughter (NKAN OMO OLUBADAN) out in marriage to Olowu to strengthen the friendship between the Owus and Ibadans but Olowu Akinjobi sacrificed Olubadan’s daughter to appease the goddess of River Osun. Consequently, the Olubadan invited the Allied Army from their camp at Iperu led by Maye Okunade, an Ife General, and Lakanle, an Oyo Leader, to avenge the death of Olubadan’s daughter. The Olowu committed suicide to escape being captured by the Ibadan army. The battle shattered the great Owu kingdom into pieces till today. Some of it remains in the mother town which is the present Orile-Owu in Osun State, while others are in Ogun State, known as Owu Abeokuta, etc.
Thus marked the end of the second Ibadan. Thus, Ibadan was again re-peopled around 1820 not by the original founders of the town but by the allied Army consisting of Egbas, Ijebus, Ifes and the Oyos. Maye Okunade from Ife became the Baale assisted by Labosinde as Baba-Isale and Lakanle as leader of the Oyo group. The Oyos and Ifes settled at Oja-Oba, the Ijebus around Isale-Ijebu and the Egbas at Yeosa. The Egbas resorted to Ibadan which proved to be the rallying point of the Yorubas and later the bulwark of their defence against the Fulanis. However, as a result of interclass among the settlers, the Egbas withdrew in a body from Ibadan to Abeokuta led by Sodeke, in 1830. Between 1830 and 1833, the political supremacy of the Ifes was shattered after “Gbanamu” war between the Ifes and the Oyos around 1833. The Ife Army was defeated by the strong Military power of the Oyos in Ibadan.
This was followed with the destruction of Erunmu, Ikija, Ojoo and other Egba and Owu villages. Olowu was captured and killed in Erunmu and was buried at the confluence of Odo-Oba and River Osun. This incidence forced the Owu settlers to Abeokuta to join the Egbas on December 25, 1834. After the fall of Erunmu, an Owu vassal town, the Oyo War chiefs returned to Ibadan with the rest of the people who joined the war as volunteers. “At a public meeting held to consider their future course, the war Chiefs resolved that as they now intend to make Ibadan their home, they should arrange for settled government and take titles”.The above historical events became necessary to correct the impression created by many writers that Ibadan was founded in 1829.
A part of Ibadan was historically an Egba town. The Egba occupants were forced to leave the town and moved to present-day Abeokuta under the leadership of Sodeke as result of their disloyalty. Ibadan grew into an impressive and sprawling urban center so much that by the end of 1829, Ibadan dominated the Yorùbá region militarily, politically and economically. The military sanctuary expanded even further when refugees began arriving in large numbers from northern Oyo following raids by Fulani warriors. After losing the northern portion of their region to the marauding Fulanis, many Oyo indigenes retreated deeper into the Ibadan environs. The Fulani Caliphate attempted to expand further into the southern region of modern-day Nigeria, but was decisively defeated by the armies of Ibadan in 1840.
The military sanctuary expanded even further when refugees began arriving in large numbers from northern Oyo following raids by Fulani warriors. After losing the northern portion of their region to the marauding Fulanis, many Oyo indigenes retreated deeper into the Ibadan environs. The Fulani Caliphate attempted to expand further into the southern region of modern-day Nigeria, but was decisively defeated by the armies of Ibadan in 1840, which eventually halted their progress. The colonial period reinforced the position of the city in the Yoruba urban network. The present crop of Ibadan rulers did not gain control of Ibadan Administration until after the Gbadamu war with Oluyedun as the first Oyo-Ibadan Baale followed by Oluyole who was later installed Basorun by Aláàfin Atiba in 1839 after Eleduwe war that marked the total collapse of the Old Oyo Empire.
However, the republican system of Obaship was firmly established in 1851, when Oyesile Olugbode succeeded Opeagbe as the Baale of Ibadan and Ibikunle became the Balogun, Sunmola Laamo became the Otun Baale while Ogunmola was installed ‘the Otun Balogun’. The innovation became a regular feature whereby, there evolved two separate Chieftaincy lines namely: Baale line and Balogun Isoriki line. The Baale title gave the holder mainly the civic responsibility while the Balogun line comprised of war Chiefs held purely military titles.
According to Rev. Johnson, “a strong government thus emerged not only because Ibadan continually engaged in warfare but partly because those who flocked to Ibadan completely identified themselves with the new town”. The Traditional Council (Igbimo Ilu), before the advent of the colonial administration was the supreme organ of State while in the exercise of power, the Baale was the Chief Executive. Its membership was made up of High Chiefs from both Baale line and the Balogun line, and council decisions on most issues were final. Among the most important issues deliberated upon were; Diplomacy, War, Custom, Duties, Appointment, Promotions and Discipline of Chiefs, Military and Security. The Council had no staff of its own, rather, it relied on those of the ruled for administrative functions, on the masses for mob actions (e.g. the devastation plundering of compounds of offenders). The Council had no treasury; the wealth of the state was kept in the private purses of political elites.
Lagelu was the first head of Ibadan.
There were other rulers after him not captured by historians. The others are:
- Ba’ale Maye Okunade (1820–1830)
- Ba’ale Oluyedun 1830-1835
- Ba’ale Lakanle 1835-1836
- Basorun Oluyole 1836-1850
- Ba’ale Oderinlo 1850-1851
- Ba’ale Oyesile Olugbode 1851–1864
- Ba’ale Ibikunle 1864 (died before installation)
- Basorun Ogunmola 1865–1867
- Ba’aleAkere I 1867–1870
- Ba’ale Orowusi 1870–1871
- Aare Obadoke Latosa 1871–1885
- Ba’ale Ajayi Osungbekun 1885–1893
- Ba’ale Fijabi I 1893–1895
- Ba’ale Oshuntoki 1895–1897
- Ba’ale Fajinmi 1897–1902
- Ba’ale Mosaderin 1902–1904
- Ba’ale Dada Opadare 1904–1907
- Ba’ale Sunmonu Apampa 1907–1910
- Ba’ale Akintayo Awanibaku Elenpe 1910–1912
- Ba’ale Irefin 1912–1914
- Ba’ale Shittu Latosa (son of Aare Latosa) 1914–1925
- Ba’ale Oyewole Foko 1925–1929
- Olubadan Alesinloye Abass 1930–1946
- Olubadan Akere II 1946
- Olubadan Oyetunde I 1946
- Olubadan Akintunde Bioku 1947–1948
- Olubadan Fijabi II (1948–1952)
- Olubadan Alli Iwo 1952
- Olubadan Igbintade Apete 1952–1955
- Oba Isaac Babalola Akinyele 1955–1964
- Oba Yesufu Kobiowu (July 1964 – December 1964)
- Oba Salawu Akanni Aminu 1965–1971
- Oba Shittu Akintola Oyetunde II (1971–1976)
- Oba Gbadamosi Akanbi Adebimpe 1976–1977
- Oba Daniel Akinbiyi 1977–1982
- Oba Yesufu Oloyede Asanike I (1982–1994)
- Oba Emmanuel Adeyemo I (1994–1999)
- Oba Yunusa Ogundipe Arapasowu I (1999–2007)
- Oba Samuel Odulana Odungade I (2007–2016)
- Oba Saliu Adetunji Ogunguniso 1 (2016-2021)