The Olusi of Usi-Ekiti, Oba Adedayo George Akande is a pastor whose faith does not conflict with his traditional role. In an interview conducted by TUNDE BUSARI, the monarch speaks on his rise to the throne and the annual Usi-Day among others. Excerpts:
Don’t your role as a traditional ruler, a custodian of custom and pastor of a church conflict?
I am a pastor at Christian Pentecostal Mission, Lagos. To God be the glory. To Him alone belong all we are and all we become. Without Him, we are nothing because He is the creator of the heaven and earth. He has made it possible for me to switch the role in such a way that none conflicts with the other.
Does this mean you worship the gods now and Jesus later or vice versa?
There is no other god I worship aside Jesus Christ. I think I should use this opportunity to ask even you what culture and tradition are all about. What is culture?
Culture is way of life of a particular ethnic group encompassing greetings, dressing, food.
Good. Where is worshipping of gods there?
But traditional festivals are also part of culture.
If you say traditional festival is culture, where then is worshipping of gods come in? Traditional festival is more or less an heritage thing passed down to different generation. People should not mix things up. The point I am making is that I am not compelled to do anything that is against my faith. I still attend my church in Lagos as a supporting pastor to the pastor in charge now. I attend my church functions in Lagos regularly and preach. I just returned from our convention. I can also tell you that I even organise open crusade on the field here. I hold seven day crusade here in January. This is to tell you how acceptable it is to my people. Everything is going on well. Nobody is disturbing others. There is peaceful co-existence.
When and how did you get to the throne given the fact that succession is characterised by disputes?
My coronation held in 2008. It was a memorable day in the history of the town with thousands of people in attendance. The caliber of guests that turned out in large number impressed me and challenged me not to disappoint them. To God be the glory. As regards dispute to the throne, there was nothing of such. There was no problem because my people said they wanted me. I think it was God ordained because I was not interested. But once something is divine, it will be easy. If I was asked to contest, I would not because, as I said, I did not have interest. But when your people say you are the one they want, there is nothing to do to reject it.
Why were you not interested as a prince?
I just was okay with my private life and my modest progress. I did not want anything that would distract me. But the truth is that there was a prophecy that I would become a king when I was a child. It had been said over the years that I would emerge the king later in life.
What is the significance of Usi Day?
Usi Day is a forum through which sons and daughters of Usi from far and near are gathered to celebrate and to review the progress we have made and activities of the previous year. It is a developmental programme. For instance, last year we realised that we needed water in the community and water scheme was instituted. Between then and now, we have dug eight boreholes
Can you recall the first edition of Usi Day?
This one we are celebrating today is the 35th edition. The first edition held in 1981 to the glory of God. Here we are today celebrating the 35th. It is a good gathering for reunion among our sons and daughters.
How can you describe your past eight years on the throne?
The stool is demanding, eventful and interesting. It is fun. But the only thing is that you are not for yourself alone again. You have become property of the town. You think first of the town and the subjects. Everything you do and say is under scrutiny. Any facial appearance is open to interpretations and at times misinterpretations. I don’t have privacy and freedom to do what I wish. I cannot do business as I used to do it. But by and large, it is a call to service. It is a divine call.
Do you then have time to unwind given your busy schedule?
I am a lover of football. I watch football with my family in my home. Unwinding thing has been taken away. I used to travel abroad where I spent three weeks and relaxed and did some sight-seeing and other interesting things.
Power of traditional rulers has been eroded by contemporary government. How do you react to this?
The answer is neither there nor there. Yes, the power of traditional rulers has been eroded. But at the same time their functions have been expanded. Before, traditional rulers used to sit in their domain. But today, we have to move out, meet government and our people. We travel as far as out of the country to meet sons and daughters of communities who have desires to do things for the communities. Unfortunately, there is no budget for this office. We spend a lot of money to run the palace. You undertake a lot of settlement of disputes from 5 am to 10 pm. Whatever we tell people to do, they agree with us. But government can do better by giving us enforcement power to make it more effective. The moment you give political role to traditional ruler, moneybags will hijack it. How can a traditional ruler be a local government chairman? This is the only institution that fights for the masses. We do our judgment without fear or favour. We don’t want to know how rich you are. It is dangerous for Oba to be in politics because we are the last hope of the masses. The ordinary man on the street has hope in us. That is why they always run to the palace. Traditional rulers should not align with any political party. We are expected to be father of all because members of all the parties are our sons and daughters. The door of the palace should be open to all of them. An Oba suspected to be a member of a political party has compromised. When I first came, some people probably misunderstood me. I ensured I did not align with any party.
Aren’t you missing your suit as a pastor?
That is what I am missing really. I am missing my suit. I cannot wear suit again. But as I said earlier there is no sacrifice that is too much in serving one’s town.
Can we quickly go through your profile sir?
I attended St Joseph Primary School, Usi, St John Secondary Modern School, Usi, Government Technical College, Ado-Ekiti, Federal Polytechnic, Bida and the Bayero University Kano, where I studied Electrical Engineering. I worked for companies before I had my own business in Lagos. I combine my business, pastural duties and the palace all together.