Alhaji (Dr) Ado Ibrahim at 92: a great, poetic life

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By John Mayaki

In an earlier interview from 2020, the year he crossed the symbolic age of 90, the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Alhaji (Dr) Ado Ibrahim, summarized his approach to work and life in general with a classic poem written in 1876 by M.A Stoddart, “One Thing at a Time”.

Said to be equally cherished by America’s 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., ‘One Thing at a Time’ preaches the importance of single-minded focus to success – whether in work, play, or any of life’s many endeavors.

“Work while you work, Play while you play; that is the way to be cheerful and happy. All that you do, Do with your might; Things done by halves are never done right,” it reads in part.

With the benefit of hindsight, the poem, written at a time the now obsolete typewriter was a shiny, bold innovation, could be generously credited with the prediction of the ‘attention crisis’ trailing the invention and wide adoption of the internet and social media where people, mostly in their youth, are caught permanently it seems, in the distracting bubble of endless notifications from dozens of applications.

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“One thing each time, And that done well, Is a very good rule, As many can tell,” it warned, apparently less encouraging of ‘multitasking’ and ruling in favor of eliminating the familiar battle between getting work done and responding to friendly chats on Whatsapp or Twitter which impacts negatively on productivity.

The poem is an ageless one, its meaning a malleable element fit for all time and purpose. Similarly, its choice as a life principle also speaks to Alhaji (Dr) Ado Ibrahim’s ageless nature and wisdom – a fact that propelled him to success and the throne and has helped him serve incomparably as a bridge between the old and new, a repository of wisdom, a man for all season, and a perfect example of leadership.

Since he ascended the throne in 1997, a remarkable event that gained global attention given his clout as a highly-skilled diplomat and celebrated reputation as a consummate professional, Alhaji (Dr) Ado Ibrahim led the people of Ebiraland into an advantageous relationship with the past while also provoking a leap into the future.

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He straddles carefully between visionary, modern reforms and necessary preservation of customs and traditions crucial to the survival of important values that promote the ideal, foster peaceful relations, and inspires people to work in unison toward the greater good.

A son of a famous ‘Atta of Ebiraland’ who spent time in the West as a student of the prestigious London School of Economics and Harvard Business School, one with a prized picture with the legendary boxer Muhammed Ali to serve as a reminder of his youthful love and relative success in the sport, Alhaji (Dr) Ado Ibrahim never lost touch with his roots. He is living proof that people can usher in the new, navigate the world, elevate through science, and engineer individual and societal development without losing their identity. The old can inform the new, and the new can reform the old.

His stable and successful leadership as the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland is an eloquent argument of the important purpose that monarchy serves even in a constitutional democracy. He is the center that holds everything together, the collective memory and conscience of all, and an enduring powerful force that mobilizes people and resources to work for development.


Alhaji (Dr) Ado Ibrahim has tales and experiences that teach morals and shape policies. The richness and depth of his life, from working as a photographer to support his fees as a student in a town in Ondo State to standing side by side with Muhammed Ali for a historic picture in California, USA, has given him a rounded and rare insight to life. Little wonder Ebiraland, under his leadership, has been a reference point for progressive strides and leaders, in Nigeria and beyond, regularly flock to his palace to drink from his ever-flowing fountain of wisdom.

His is a great and poetic life. As he turns 92 today, he has our gratitude and sincere prayers for sound health and lasting happiness.