Ago-Are and Ikole-Ekiti are inseparable —Oba Kofoworola
To many, Ikole-Ekiti and Ago-Are in oyo State have no connection. But the Aare of Ago-Are, Oba Abodunrin Oyetunji Kofoworola, who recently brought crème-de-la-crème of the society to his town for his third coronation anniversary, reveals the bond between the two towns, when he opened up to Tunde Busari on his journey so far on the throne of his forefather.
Can you say the past three years on the throne have been eventful or boring being someone who left his cozy environment back to his root?
You can say that again. You can say that the past three years were made with eventful things which one cannot just forget in a haste. The three years offered a window to look back and at same time look forward to appreciate what God has done and will still do in one’s life. The three years were years of blessings in different forms; blessings to oneself for reaching the God’s promised land; blessings to the town for breaking new grounds.
Can you share one of the breakthroughs the town witnessed in the past three years?
The prayer of every traditional ruler is to have his town upgraded, in terms of administrative structure and political composition in its state. I offered this prayer to God, and God answered my prayer. Within three years on the throne, Ago-Are became the headquarters of Atisbo Local Council Development Area. It may sound normal but I know it is a big achievement which any traditional ruler should be proud of. To this end, the government which deemed it fit to do this deserves our commendation. History will not forget that administration.
Naturally, the people of Ago-Are don’t pay benefactor with ingratitude. We thank former Governor Abiola Ajimobi. Governance is continuum. It is government goes government comes but the state remains. It is our wish that Governor Seyi Makinde would also achieve success in his tenure. There are a lot of things involved in public office; things which are not open to the masses. But I have no doubt in my mind that Governor Makinde will make a good impact in the state.
As traditional ruler, what role did you play in the LCDA headquarters?
Let me answer this question from the point of view of somebody coming from public service. In other words, I should not personalise whatever role I played. What I should rather do is to thank God that it came shortly after I ascended to the throne. I am not somebody given to beating my chest and appropriating credit. Whatever I do on the throne is for the generality of my people. Therefore, I may not go into specifics.
I learnt you provided some items for smooth take off of the council. How true or otherwise is this?
Look, let whatever you heard that I did speak for itself. I just told you that whatever I did is not important to me. How to have more infrastructural facilities coming to the town is more important to me.
How do you cope with cases of herdsmen’s occasional clashes with farmers?
I can tell you that what we have here in Ago-Are is different, and I must give glory to God for this.
Aside God, what else can you say helps you?
Look, there is nothing besides God. Whatever man thinks he knows is still under God. I think that is the best way to answer this question. But I ensure a regular town hall meeting with all stakeholders. I am very happy that our Fulani friends appreciate this arrangement. They participate actively and show that they love peace. What we have here is peaceful co-existence, which is what leads to development of any society. It is impossible for a town to grow when security is threatened. I am very happy to tell you that we are going on well, as regards our relationship with Fulani herdsmen. Anytime I read news of clashes, I feel bad and thank God at the same time for the peace we enjoy here.
Why do you feel bad at such news?
Naturally, I must not be happy because of what it takes for farmers to grow crops. Farming is not a lazy man’s job. What we have here is called subsistence farming to feed family. When the farm is destroyed it means the family will suffer. That is why I feel bad. But I think with understanding being reached now by stakeholders, I think there is hope that those areas will have a new lease of life, and such destructions will not be experienced again. We are peace-lovers in Ago-Are. So, we cannot afford to lose that goodwill which we have enjoyed over the years.
Can a town which produced war generalissimo of Yorubaland be peace-loving when we know what warriors do?
We need to get it right. Being a warrior does not mean being a war-like or the aggressor. They are different things. Aare OnaKakanfo would not go to war unless he is instructed to do so. That is the richness of Yoruba political structure. Aare is a peace-lover who goes to war according to superior directive of the Alaafin. And it is on record that our progenitor did not decline the Alaafin’s directive.
So, I mean it by saying an average Ago-Are indigene is a peace-loving person. But I must add for the sake of clarity that the blood in our veins does not make us a timid in face of provocation. We know the limit of our tolerance and acceptance of unpleasant things. When we are pushed to the wall, we know what to do. But we explore all things possible to ensure we are not pushed to the wall because we know what comes next after the wall. War is no longer an option of human relationship. So, we are peaceful with ourselves and with our neighbouring communities. Being peaceful with our neghbouring towns and communities reflected on the number of traditional rulers who graced my coronation anniversary. I thank all of them for the honour.
Do you have a favourite among these traditional rulers?
That question is not important because it is sensitive. Whom would I say is not my favourite now? I want you to spare me of this controversial question because it is controversial, and can make one to slip if one is not careful. I go on well with my fellow traditional rulers even beyond Oke-Ogun here and in Oyo State. We, Yoruba traditional rulers should see ourselves as one big family from one root; one cradle which is Ile-Ife. For instance, Oranmiyan is as important in Ile-Ife as he is important in Oyo. He is equally important in Benin. Can you see what I mean? If you talk of Ago-Are, you also talk of Ikole in Ekiti State. Can you see what I mean?
The Edu ruling house is a direct descendant of Ajibesin, the son of Elekole Akinsile. Till date we still maintain the close ties with Ikole. When my predecessor passed on, a delegation came here to commiserate with us in line with the history of how Ago-Are was founded. Also, you have Erin in Osun and Kwara States. The Yorubas here in Nigeria, Benin Republic and the diaspora, are so interrelated that we need to be brothers’ keepers and do things in unity. And I am happy we are getting there gradually.
There are fora and platforms where we relate and rub minds for a common purpose. Of course, it has not been always easy, but we all know and appreciate the need to come together. It is when we come together that other ethnic groups would respect us. You know the position of Yorubaland in Nigeria cannot be undermined. How many ethnic groups can you find in Lagos on daily basis? Everybody wants to get to Lagos because they know Lagos is the place where their prosperity lies. This is a plus to us as a people. What is best for us is to maximise that natural opportunity by cooperating with one another.
Don’t you think the unity you talked about will be difficult to achieve in face of civilization which tends to weaken the cultural ties that bind ethnic groups?
If I must be honest with you, the influence of western education in particular, on our cultural ties is a challenge. Everybody wants to prove he is superior in his own right because of wealth, academic attainment, political affiliation and other considerations. But we can still retain the substance of our culture which is promotion of Omoluabi at all time.
I am very proud of my ethnic group whenever I realise the morals with which we were brought up. It is now that responsibility of parents to not allow these moral values to die because of the so-called foreign influence. Yoruba is rich in culture and tradition. We traditional rulers should ensure that this is preserved.