The array of dignitaries, who thronged the ancient town of Erinmo in Oriade Local Government of Osun State, was attestation to the personage of the Elerinmo, Oba Michael Ajayi (Arowotawaya II) as a social force to reckon with.
The crème-de-la-crème of the society travelled down from different places at home and in the diaspora and demonstrated their support and love to Oba Ajayi on the occasion of his Fifth Coronation Anniversary.
Considering the publicity lavished on the occasion on the social media, in particular, the anniversary figuratively transformed the face of the agrarian town for a whole week of a variety of colourful events, all of which engaged the attention of the old and young indigenes of Erinmo.
Being the town which hosts the famous Oke Erinmo (Mount Erinmo) where Christian faithful periodically converge to offer prayers to God, Oba Ajayi flagged off his anniversary with a vigil and prayer session. The wife of the Ooni of Ife, Olori Naomi Ogunwusi, a pastor, joined other clergymen who, in unison, committed the anniversary and its success to God.
“Wasn’t the prayer answered with the modest success which we recorded at the grand finale of the event last Saturday?
Deliberately I rounded the whole thing off in the church as a mark of appreciation to God for giving us the days. What has this prayer taught us? It emphasizes that there is nothing we commit to God that would not be successful.
That was my upbringing and that was what brought me to the throne and that is what is guiding me as the Elerinmo till date. There is nothing that can stand between me and my God. I must always show gratitude to Him for all he has done for me from childhood through adulthood to the palace,” he said thankfully.
Also preceding the grand finale held on Saturday, August 10, 2019, was the installation of a select group of individuals as Erinmo chieftaincy title holders. The recipients included three foreign nationals, all of whom were resplendent in traditional Ofi fabrics, which brought out true Africa appearance. The recipients expressed their appreciation to the Elerinmo for the honour he bestowed on them, assuring the traditional ruler of their support not only for him but also the entire town and its people.
During the grand finale, Oba Ajayi could not shield his joy from the guests as he took to the floor, picked the microphone and turned to a gospel singer. Enjoying full compliment of the Adegbodu Twins Band, the traditional ruler, gifted with the commanding frame, sang different Christian tracks to the applause of the entire hall. At a point, he dictated his choice pace to the backup percussionists, telling them that he was hale and hearty to match the fast rhythm to express his gratitude to God. He did not stop at his songs of praise, the Elerinmo also painted the floor with royal dance steps, which captivated the audience.
“Dancing in that manner on that occasion was my expression of appreciation to God for sparing my life to witness the journey which started five years ago. The choice of the band was deliberate to praise God with beautiful and spiritual songs. We can afford to bring a secular musician who is much more known but I specifically settled for Adegbodu Twins, and they did not disappoint me and my guests. It goes to say that they added entertainment I desired to the event,” he explained, adding “I needed a piece of solemn music to lift the spirit of my guests up. And that was exactly what we saw in the band, which came from Ibadan.”
Though the exterior of the event hall, which hosted the reception, revealed a building under construction, that condition took nothing away from the exquisite sight of the interior dressed with state-of-the-art decoration. Not a few guests, therefore, declared that the Elerinmo had an upmarket taste as each table was distinctly tagged with names of expected guests as well as served with glittering cutleries and assorted glass which made refreshment easy.
That feature was in addition to the heavy presence of security apparatus drawn from Nigeria Army to Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and private security outfit, which made available the well-built men in control of the entrance against an invasion of the venue by intruders. Significantly, the Commissioner of Police of Osun State Command, Mrs Abiodun Ige was in attendance and ably supported by other senior ranks from the command.
Apparently, because the Elerinmo is a sociable traditional ruler, who has always been a regular face at functions of other royal fathers within Osun State and beyond, about 30 Yoruba Obas from Osun, Ekiti and Ondo States commensurably graced his occasion. The Current Chairman of Ijesa North Council of Traditional Rulers, the Elegboro of Ijebu-jesa, Oba Moses Agunsoye led his members to the occasion and participated actively, saying Oba Ajayi has brought noticeable changes to the image of the town since he ascended to the throne.
A performing group, known as Ijesa Jesters, which derived its name from its Ilesa base, relived the old days of the famous Jacob, Papalolo and Aderupoko of the 70s. The brief entertainment, which the group put together in their amusing songs, earned it ovation and some Naira notes, especially from the Elerinmo.
In his capacity as representative of the Osun State Governor Gboyega Oyetola, the Secretary to Osun State Government, Mr Wole Oyebamiji, arrived the venue long before the official kick-off of the event by the ace broadcaster, Taylor. Sitting calmly in his agbada with a matching cap, Oyebamiji blended well with the occasion and also congratulated the Elerinmo, wishing him more peaceful reign.
The SSG, among other things he said, called on the subjects of the Elerinmo to always be conscious of the security of their town and its environs, also urging them to keep eagle eyes on strange movements and unfamiliar faces in their midst. He noted that the era of leaving the security of the town to the state was over, charging them to rise and complement the efforts of the law enforcement agents, whom, according to him, was statutorily responsible for peace and security of the society. Oyebamiji also cautioned the people to not allow alarmists to destabilize them, again, charging them to be vigilant as a precaution to ward off potential criminals.
Oba Ajayi used the occasion to officially launch his Foundation set up to empower and offer a scholarship to brilliant pupils from indigent homes. It was an emotional moment when he announced the scholarship for a seven-year-old boy who had demonstrated extreme brilliance with accelerated promotion from primary two to primary four.
“Can you imagine what would happen to that boy if the opportunity was not extended to him? The foundation has made all he needs to concentrate in the classroom with no more financial stress on the struggling parents.
The same provision has been made for other beneficiaries. These kids are the future of this town; they are the ones we should look forward to in the next 25 years. Giving them this token to help their journey is not too much, and the foundation would continue to do this,” he promised.
Another important segment of the occasion was a presentation of certificates to the new chiefs who stepped forward one after the other and received their certificates before the battery of anxious photojournalists whose camera lens were capturing the proceedings.
Shortly before then, different social groups, appearing in different attires, had paid homage to the Elerinmo, who acknowledged their gestures with his white horsetail in his hand. Delegations of the Command Secondary School, Lagos and the University of Ilorin Alumni also came to identify with the Elerinmo who graduated from the Unilorin at age 20 in 1987.
When the compere of the programme announced their presence and specifically invited them to pay homage to their former colleague, now their royal fathers, almost all eyes turned to their direction, watching their steps to the front seat of Oba Ajayi where they choreographically kissed the floor with their flowing agbada in the traditional manner a Yoruba king is greeted.
One of the Unilorin alumni but who could not make it to the event, Mr Femi Adebanjo expressed regret for his absence but acknowledged that the delegates made a good representation in Erinmo. He said Oba Ajayi, despite his new status, carried no airs in his conversation with his former colleagues in their online platform.
“We are proud that one of us is now our royal father. He was a year ahead of me in the school but the way he carried himself in the campus gave a clue of his bright future only that no one thought he would emerge a traditional ruler because I cannot remember if he was known on campus a prince. We wish him many more peaceful years on the throne.
And we thank God that all our representatives returned to their destinations safely. To God be the glory,” he said.