Oba Festus Kayode Awogboro is the Baabokun of Ibokun Jesa. In this interview by Oluwole Ige, he speaks about the developmental challenges of the community, historical facts on Ibokun, among other sundry issues. Excerpts.
For how long have you been on the throne of your forefathers?
I have been on the throne for over five years now.
Since you have been on the throne, what has been the socioeconomic developments that have come to your community?
We have really got a lot of things to show that social and economic developments have been visible in Ibokun. When I became the king of my community, there was not anything really as concrete development. But now, there are a lot of developments, especially with the present administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola. With the calibre of people working with him, like Hon Bosun Oyintiloye, who is representing our constituency in the Osun State House of Assembly, developmental projects have been attracted to our community. We have achieved tremendously in terms of education, roads and health. For instance in education, they are giving our children free food in elementary schools. When I sit down and think about that alone, I can say that the government has really tried. When you talk of road network, Ilahun-Ibokun is a good example of how physical development and infrastructure have come to our community, including Ijebu-Jesa road. On education, the construction of mega school in Ibokun is a thing of joy to us. This shows that we have modern people at the helm at the time we really need them. We have modern governor and lawmaker in the person of Governor Rauf Aregbesola and Hon Bosun Oyintiloye respectively.
But regardless of these achievements, what are the challenges that you face here as a community?
We are contending with a lot of challenges, especially when you think of this community’s name, Ibokun, the originator of Ijesa or what I may describe as the cradle of Ijesaland. If you ask anybody, Ijesa started from Ibokun. When you go into the history of Ajibogun, from which this town was named Ibokun, you will see that this is the cradle of Ijesaland. One of the major challenges we face here is the need to locate an institution of higher learning in Ibokun. If we have a higher institution here, it would change a lot of things from economic perspective and social growth. Another challenge we have here is agriculture. Though, with the support of the government, things are fairly getting better in that regard, but we still need more assistance to our farmers.
In what particular area do you want the state government to assist your community, regarding agriculture?
What we really need is to change from this manual agricultural system to mechanised farming. This would make farming much easier and increase the produce from the farms.
Historically you said Ibokun is the cradle of Ijesaland. Are you not worried that despite that advantage, other communities in Ijesaland, particularly, Ilesa, is far more developed than Ibokun?
If you look at the history of Ibokun, Ajibogun himself brought his brother Baaloro, sent to him from his mother’s side in Ifon, to come and consult the oracle for him before he had a son. After he bore a son, because he was a warrior who fought with many people and won and out of the fear that if the boy dies, he had no other descendant, he decided to take his son to Ilesa. Ibokun had been in existence for at least about 250 years before Ilesa. If you look at Ilesa very well, the boundary between Ibokun and Ilesa was Isokun. But presently, there is nothing like that again because of civilisation. Ajibogun, who was a warrior took his son to Ilesa due to fear that he might be killed. Following this development, people focused their attention on Ilesa. If his son had stayed in Ibokun, there is no way Ilesa would have been more developed than Ibokun.
As the traditional ruler of this community, what are the taboos that are forbidden in Ibokun?
I don’t think there are taboos again. But, in the past, people from Ibokun could not marry from Ilare. If you married from Ilare, you would have only one child. If you have 10 children, nine of them would die. In Ibokun, we have some things that you can’t just do, but I cannot disclose them to you.
Do you have tourist attraction centres in Ibokun?
We have. That was why I told you that we have got some challenges. We have tourist attraction centres or events in Ibokun, but yet to be recognised by the state government. I am referring to Obokun Festival, Igbaomo Festival and Egungun Festival. Obokun Festival is so important that all Ijesa people should come together and celebrate it because this is where all Ijesa people originated from. If Obokun Festival is recognised and supported by the government, it would go a long way to help Ibokun economically.
What efforts are you making personally to prevail on prominent sons and daughters of Ibokun to contribute to the growth of the community?
It’s just that you were a bit late. When I arrived at the palace in the morning, this was the issue we were discussing before you came. We have reached out to prominent indigenes of Ibokun and held meeting with them. They promised to contribute their own quota to the development of the community. We have got the Ibokun Federal Union and its president, Mr Jide Fadeyibi, who has been collaborating with the palace to contact all eminent indigenes of Ibokun. If you go to Ibokun Town Hall, of which its construction started long time ago, they have started fixing the windows and other facilities, an indication that our prominent sons and daughters have intervened. Gradually, I believe we would witness more development in the next four or five years.
What role is your lawmaker representing this community playing in ensuring that physical development comes to Ibokun?
The lawmaker representing us in the House of Assembly is Hon Bosun Oyintiloye and I thank God that he became a legislator in my own time. He has been trying relentlessly to assist our community. In December last year, armed robbers attacked Wema Bank branch, situated in Ibokun. The bank left and we wanted them to come back, but they insisted that they need security before they can reopen the branch here. Oyintiloye struggled to assist the community through the state government to get Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) stationed in front of the bank to guarantee security. I was amazed. In terms of development, he renovated Ibokun Central Mosque and Ibokun market. Apart from that, he sunk many boreholes that produce drinkable water for the people of our community. Oyintiloye has been the man of the people, not only in Ibokun alone, but in the entire Obokun Local Government area. Although, some people may still not be satisfied, as far as I am concerned, he was not a wrong choice when he was elected as a legislator. He has been performing excellently well as far as I am concerned. I would still want to see him above this position in the nearest future. People don’t say the truth here when it comes to politics, but if he decides to seek a second term as a lawmaker, I, as Festus Kayode Awogboro, the Kabiyesi of Ibokun would back him million times. It would interest you to know that this man has been paying the school fees of a lot of students in Ibokun here. Look at his secretariat, where there are facilities, which have helped to take away many youths, who would have been involved in one crime or the other to be be engaged in some thing meaningful.