The popular Omole community in Ikeja Local Government Council of Lagos State came into being following the migration of a set of people from Gbonka compound in Ile-Ife, the royal head of the bustling district, Chief Nasiru Bakare is a musician regularly sweating it out in the studio with his back-up singers. TUNDE BUSARI writes.
Lovers of good music may not find it easy to place a particular song regularly played on a Lagos radio station as the genre it belongs is clearly undetermined. Is it juju, fuji, apala or gospel music is the question that would readily come to mind.
However, what the sound lacks in identity is savoured in its public enlightenment value; preaching safe driving and vigilance to both driver and passengers. The music is so effective that the Lagos State Vehicle Inspection Office did not only accept it but also searched for the voice behind it. When the musician is revealed as a traditional ruler in Lagos State, the music instantly becomes news.
This is the story of Baale Omole, Chief Nasiru Bakare, the traditional head of Omole, a highbrow community in Ikeja Local Government Council which is known as the home of a large size of upper class citizens.
Remarkably, Baale Omole’s mien is a contrast to that worn by known regular musicians, thereby provoking a poser on his journey into the music world. Quite surprisingly, the Baale would declare that he cannot really explain how he found himself in music.
But in a voice filled with certainty, he recalls how a certain strange voice spoke and directed him to pick his pen and paper and compose some songs to save lives on the roads where auto-crash is a common sight.
“The voice said the music was going to be my special contribution to remind drivers and passengers to thread softly on the road because their families are waiting for them at home. I followed the directive and composed the song, recorded and released it in 2013,” he recalled.
Although the release is not a commercial success as marketers did not see it breaking into the class of reigning music in town, Baale Omole is fulfilled as evident in the follow up album that he released just last year in which he again reminded road users of the need to comply with traffic rules and strictly maintain their vehicles to avoid disappointment on journeys.
As a traditional ruler, he argued, his duties go beyond his palace; it includes engaging in public education on how to live as good citizens and avoid a clash with the law, hence his growing love for his brand of music, which has made him a regular guest at radio stations, especially when the topic for discussion borders on traffic issues.
“I was touched when the head of VIO officially told me that they were impressed with my music for addressing the same problem they are checking on the road. Between me and you, the VIO rewarded me and I was very happy that the effort was not in vain.
“I must say that I am not going to mount the stage at any party and sing for people. No! My music is driven with a specific message which I have faithfully delivered. All things being equal, I will drop my third album when I am ready,” he said.
Another odd side of the Baale is that he also runs a football academy and indeed owns a football club known as Baale Omole FC. He has organised football tournaments, the last edition of which had the former Super Eagles Coach, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde as special guest.
The outspoken royal father believes that a traditional ruler should not be comfortable in his palace while the youths constitute public nuisance owing to the state of the nation. He also says that the head of a community must lead by example, explaining that doing so is a better way to build confidence and trust in his rich subjects to voluntarily make meaningful contributions to the community.
A situation whereby a leader is known for asking for favour from his subjects, he stresses, is not only demeaning, it is also an insult to the stool. For him, community service is an important duty for every traditional ruler.
“I remember coach Yemi Tella while he was our instructor at the NIS (Nigeria Institute of Sports) would always tell us to use the course we studied at NIS to add value to the society. Apart from Football, I was also into Boxing. Bash Alli was my coach until I lost some fights at the national stadium and was advised to hang my gloves.
“Calling me jack of all trades is not an exaggeration because I love to show interest in different things that can improve humanity. I retired as an Arabic teacher at Federal School of Science and Technical at Ijebu Ogun State,” he revealed.
The 57-year-old was also trained as a journalist at the Nigeria Institute of Journalism (NIJ) aside a first and master’s degrees from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye and the University of Lagos. His hunger for knowledge according to him is inspired by his childhood days which saw him jumping from one vocation to the other.
He, at a stage, ran away from home to become a motor park boy until his mother went after him and took him to his father, a driver at Ifo where he was enrolled at a primary school and ended in the class of a female Christian teacher who incidentally struck the right chord in him and opened his heart to meaningful living.
“Because I hate corporal punishment as a kid, I did not find sitting down in a classroom interesting at all. Teachers would cane me at school in the morning; Alfa would also cane me at local Arabic school in the evening. This really, really scared me. In fact, I deliberately went to Teachers Training College when I was told they did not cane students there. But it was at this school that the spirit of enjoying reading entered my life and to God be the glory.
“Whenever I look back at those days, I thank God for the transformation he has done in my life to read up to master’s level and also have many other certificates. Only God can do it for the kind of boy I was in my childhood. I will always thank my mother for her insistence that I must be serious,” he recalled.
His seriousness to work as assistant secretary of the community paved the way for him in 1999 to emerge the Baale Omole, the position reserved for the community elders. Bakare’s family members saw in him one who had the mental capacity and physical composition to lead and represent the town well even when he was just a journalism student.
The day he was presented with the staff of office and certificate is evergreen in his memory because of the caliber of guests that witnessed the occasion presided over by the then Chairman of Ikeja Local Government, Toyin Hamzat.
His lecturers and fellow students at NIJ added colour to the event that became a turning point in his life as an intermediary between his subjects and government. How does his experience on the throne look like?
“I am thankful to God because without him, I would not have been here today. The past 17 years have been eventful, especially with my direct involvement in activities which are having positive impact on our youths. I don’t encourage laziness.
“That is why I had a long issue with some youths who wanted to live on disturbing others. I stood my ground. Thank God it is all over now. I am happy with Lagos State Government policy against the so-called omo onile who exploit property owners and cause trouble. I am satisfied with the little God has done for me,” he said.
He is a recipient of many awards of merit from state and local government including social organisations for his service to the public. A church, Christ Living Spring Apostolic Ministry, presented him with a jeep at the church’s 10th year anniversary for promoting peace in his community.