Why I fled Nigeria to avoid becoming a monarch —Oba Oyewole

Oba Abioye Oyewole is the Olubode of Bode Osi which is the headquarters of Ola Oluwa Local Government Area in Osun State. In this interview by TUNDE BUSARI, he speaks on the ascension to the throne, the challenges of ruling among other issues.

 

What do you think really prepared you for the throne?

I did not prepare for the throne because I did not want anything to disturb my work. I was too busy to even think of the throne. As a civil engineer, my business was how to win contracts for the company I worked with, do the job well and win more contracts. To be honest with you, I did not prepare for the throne. But when it finally came, as God had willed it, I had no choice than to accept reality and give it what it takes to succeed. That is the truth of the matter.

 

Does it mean the throne offered no attraction to you?

The throne is the right of every prince. That is if royal blood runs in your vein, you must know that the throne belongs to you. But the reality is that only God can determine who among many princes will make it to the throne. It is not a question of having interest in it or not. It is your entitlement, especially when the rotation comes to the turn of your ruling house. What I said was that I played it down. I did not allow such ambition to disturb the journey in my career as an engineer. And I have every reason to thank God that I had even set up my own company before the matter of the throne came up. This gave me an advantage.

 

 I gathered that your style of administration shows you as an experienced traditional ruler. What is the secret?

Let me first accept that as a compliment. I don’t think there is any secret anywhere than my acceptance of the reality that I have to make the difference in the administration of my town. I can say that what you referred to as the secret is, in the true sense of it, not a secret. It is not a secret that I was once the chairman of Ola Oluwa Local Government with headquarters here in my town.  I think this particular reason raised the expectation of my people when I ascended the throne and also challenged me to ensure that I don’t fail their expectations. The people believed that I had what it takes to be a better traditional ruler having seen the little I did during my tenure as council chairman.

 

Didn’t the expectation put you under pressure?

It did not put me under pressure. Rather it inspired me to use my past experience to serve the town better in this capacity as royal father of the whole town, a position one occupies till his last day on earth.

 

It is uncommon to have your kind of profile as a former council chairman retiring into the palace. Can you shed more light on how you made it to the council?

I was running Monab Construction Company located on Plot 336, near Radio Nigeria in Abuja, when the ban was lifted on party politics by the General Abdulsalam Abubakar regime and parties were registered. That was after the death of the late General Sani Abacha. Before I had my own construction company, I had worked for Dantata and Sawo Construction Company in Abuja. When the military showed a sign that it truly wanted to hand over, I felt within me that I had a role to play in the new democracy being put in place. Hence I joined the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). It was the platform of the party I used to contest and I won. That was between 1999 and 2002. After I had served out my term, the issue of the throne came up after the demise of my predecessor. Then I emerged.

 

How did you emerge among other contestants?

My emergence was more or less the manifestation of destiny because as I said I was not keen on getting to the throne.  In fact, at a stage, I had to travel out of the country without disclosing my destination to anyone. I travelled to Sweden where I spent two weeks. But in whatever we do, we must not overlook the role of destiny. God has destined that I would one day become the traditional ruler of this town and it has been sealed. This is because it never crossed my mind. I had a different plan for myself, which was getting educated, getting a good degree and getting a good job, all of which I got. Whenever I recall the experience about the throne, I give glory to God for making it easy for me. It is grace to have your people looking for you in that circumstance. Six of us contested for the throne. It is indeed the grace of God because there is nothing we do and we will do without the knowledge of God. For instance, I ascended the throne while my father was still alive.

 

Can you recall the day you received the staff of office?

It is a day to remember. It was April 21, 2004 and to God be the glory. The town witnessed heavy traffic flow. Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola was the governor then. He personally handed to me the staff of office. What happened on the day further confirmed the royal blood in the vein of Prince Oyinlola.

 

Can you share it with us?

It is worth sharing because it was an unusual occurrence. When the day broke on the day, the cloud was dark; it was threatening to rain. It did rain heavily. I had heard much about Prince Oyinlola’s humility before the day but he shocked me beyond explanation when he said the rain should not be allowed to disrupt the coronation. He said rain does not kill and would not kill. He then entered the rain and was drenched. This showed the leadership quality in him and a true prince that he is. Everybody just followed him to the venue. We held the coronation and we were all happy. When your guest, a state governor for that matter enters the rain, what are you waiting for? It was an interesting day.

 

Have you a particular memory of your tenure as council chairman?

I recall that the then governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande was favourably disposed to me. Despite the fact that I belonged to the opposition party in the state, he was fond of me and I respected him a lot. I then ensured that I continued to perform well in office because I knew he would not have shown that interest in me for nothing.

 

Did you perform well?

This question will best be answered by the people of Ola Oluwa Local Government Area. In fact, Chief Akande always told me that I was a progressive at heart. He did not discriminate in his relationship with us. All he was concerned about was work. He was a workaholic himself. He came to this town to commission projects during my tenure. In short from the speaker to other members of the government, we were all friends relating as if we belonged to the same party.

 

What are the challenges associated with being a monarch?

The throne goes with different challenges, many of which the people don’t understand. For instance, the throne does not enjoy adequate financial backing to meet the expectations of the people. Gone are the days when subjects would go to the palace with all kinds of items. We spend so much money now. See what the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdul Rasheed Akanbi is doing since he came to the throne. See the projects he is undertaking. That is the true picture of traditional rulers of today. You must have the means to take care of your people when the need arises. They will always come to you and ask for assistance. Will you turn them down? You should not do that. The little you have, you give.