Hope appears in sight for the long abandoned Iwo-Osogbo road. The Oluwo and other royal fathers in his Kingdom have the bull by the horn in unusual operation reclaim the road. TUNDE BUSARI reports
Saturday October 15, 2016 has entered history book as the day traditional rulers in Iwo kingdom left the comfort of their respective palaces and hit the road.
They were neither on street show nor on protest against. They were, however, on a mission to reclaim the long abandoned Iwo-Osogbo road constructed by the former Oyo State Military Government as alternative route to Osogbo from Ibadan.
The road is littered with big pot holes that look like a lake. Its walkway is overgrown with wild plants thereby narrowed it to a little better than foot path.
As early as eight in the morning, the Oluwo of Iwo, who is also the paramount ruler of Iwo Kingdom, Oba Abdul Rasheed Akanbi (Telu I) left his palace in the company of his chiefs and the youths of the town.
Spotting a casual tracksuit in a look depicting a football coach, Oba Akanbi hit the road amidst cheers by his subjects who trooped out on sighting his convoy. It was indeed an historic day watching other traditional rulers joining the Oluwo on the road.
“Enough is enough; enough of abandoning this very important road that discourages more important personalities to have a stop over here from the state capital. The economic importance of this road cannot be quantified. So, it needs to be fixed at all cost. That is why I have decided this morning to take the bull by the horns.
“Heaven helps those who help themselves. We must show commitment first before government rises to support us. It is high time we stop leaving everything in the hand of the state government. My concept of traditional ruler is service to the people. This is my cardinal point and this is what I will continue to do,” the Oluwo said.
The Olowu Kuta, Oba Hammed Oyelude, left a lasting impression with the enthusiasm he expressed at what he described as communal service initiative. Also spotting a casual overall jeans, Oba Oyelude was walking closely with the Oluwo, both of whom were openly exchanging ideas on how to restore life to the road and open the kingdom up to Osogbo, the state capital.
Surprisingly, despite the dangerous state of the road, Oba Oyelude revealed it is his regular route to Osogbo because of the advantage of proximity.
Other traditional rulers on the road included the Onigege of Igege, Oba Kazeem Adio, the Onisaan of Feesu, Oba Moshood Oparonke, the Ologuro of Oguro, Oba Asimiyu Agboluaje, the Oloja of Agberire, Oba Olajide, the Olowu of Ilemowu, and Oba Makanjuola.
Oba Oyelude described the Oluwo as a catalyst to happen to the kingdom given his rising profile within eleven months on the throne. The monarch acknowledged the paucity of fund experienced by the states across the country and urged other traditional rulers to borrow a leaf from Iwo Kingdom to improve the life of their people.
“We are not doing this project to spite the government or make any statement. We are doing it as our traditional role requires, bearing in mind that construction of road was supervised by our forefathers in the pre-colonial administration in Yorubaland.
“We are all happy to be here with our people to show them it is our collective responsibility to fix this road within our resources. You don’t need to make all the money of this world to embark on this kind of service. That is the statement we are making,” he said.
The leadership of the National Union of Road and Transport Workers (NURTW) and their Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) counterparts, set aside their perceived rivalry yesterday as they joined the monarchs on the road alongside their respective members, some of whom provided manual clearing of the road before the caterpillar arrived.
Chairman of NURTW, Iwo I Branch, Alhaji Alhaji Akeem Seriki expressed his delight at the development and commended the Oluwo for taking the lead. Seriki lamented the loss his members record following the failure of the road.
Same view was expressed by the Chairman of RTEAN, Mr Michael Adejumobi, who said his member could not wait to return to the road and take its advantage. A consultant to Bowen University, Engineer Abraham Ogunjimi was part of the Oluwo team and promised to offer his professional advice on the project.
In spite of the threatening sun, the Oluwo and the Olowu went further to visit important places along the road especially the Bible College arm of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) Orio-Oke Baba Abiye at Iwoye. The duo met with Pastor Timothy Funsho Akande who promised to visit the Oluwo to discuss further on the rehabilitation project.
Interestingly, 24 hours after, Pastor Akande and his wife, Esther Akande led a team to Oluwo’s palace. The pastor and his members arrived the palace at 4:30 pm and discussed issues with the monarch till past five. He applauded the Oluwo for his uncommon disposition and pledged his support and also prayed for him.
The oluwo said the pastor’s visit is a boost to the project expressing his happiness at Pastor Akande’s response. According to him, what the pastor and his wife have demonstrated is their sincerity of purpose on that course.
“This is a plus because the better the road the less transportation problem to members of his church who travel from far places. Whenever any initiative comes to me, I waste no time to implement it even if I don’t have the money at that point in time. I am not here to amass wealth but to distribute wealth by making life easy for my people. In the next two weeks commercial vehicles are back here,” he assured.