Obapero of Abiri, Oba Prof John Omoniyi Abiri, Passes Away at 87

Obapero of Abiri, Oba Prof John Omoniyi Abiri, Passes Away at 87

The revered monarch, Obapero of Abiri, Oba Prof John Omoniyi Abiri, breathed his last on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of academic excellence and royal leadership. Born in 1937 into the distinguished family of Late Pa Abraham ‘Muyiwa Abiri at 28, Oke Ayetoro Street, Ile-Ife, South-Western Nigeria, Obapero of Abiri’s life journey was marked by notable achievements and contributions to education, research, and traditional governance.

Abiri’s educational odyssey commenced at St. Phillips School, Ile-Ife, and later at Odudwa College, Ile-Ife, where he excelled and obtained the West African School Certificate with first division honors in 1955. Subsequently, he ventured into the realm of higher education, enrolling at the University College, Ibadan, in 1957, and graduating in 1961 with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of London.

Undeterred by the pursuit of knowledge, Abiri pursued further academic heights, earning a Master of Education degree from the University of Birmingham, UK, in 1965, followed by a Postgraduate Certificate in Education and a Ph.D. from the University of Ibadan in 1963 and 1969, respectively. His academic prowess garnered prestigious accolades, including the Irving Bonnar Graduate Prize and the George Cadbury Prize in Education.

After completing his initial degree, Abiri embarked on a career in academia, starting as a graduate teacher at Ife Grammar School, Ile-Ife, in 1961-1962. He transitioned to the University of Ibadan, where he ascended through the ranks from Research Fellow to Reader (Associate Professor), leaving an indelible mark in the field of education. His academic journey also saw him serve as a visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of Education, University of London, and assume leadership roles as the Head of Department and Dean of the Faculty of Education at various institutions.

Beyond academia, Abiri’s dedication to public service was evident in his role as the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Federal Electoral Commission, where he served in four states of Nigeria from 1987 to 1993. His commitment to scholarly pursuits extended to editorial responsibilities, including Assistant Editor of the West African Journal of Education and Editor of the Nigerian Journal of Educational Psychology. He authored notable works, including “Moremi: An Epic of Feminine Heroism” and its Yoruba version “Moremi: Itan Akoni Obinrin,” showcasing his deep cultural understanding and literary prowess.

In recognition of his contributions to history and education, Abiri was honored with the title of Baapitan of Ife (Chief Historian of Ife) by the Ooni of Ife in 1981. His illustrious journey culminated in his coronation as the paramount ruler and king of Abiri town in 2010, assuming the revered title of Obapero of Abiri.

Obapero of Abiri’s demise marks the end of an era, leaving behind a void in academia, traditional governance, and the cultural landscape of Nigeria. His legacy as a scholar, leader, and custodian of tradition will continue to inspire generations to come, ensuring that his contributions remain etched in the annals of history.