Hypocrisy is the bane of this country —Oba Alao, Olugbon of Orile-Igbon

Some traditional rulers seem to have realised that their continued silence on public affairs could be counter-productive, hence their latest outspokenness. The Olugbon of Orile-Igbon in Surulere Local Government of Oyo State, Oba Francis Alao, in this interview by TUNDE BUSARI, says as fathers of politicians, traditional rulers need to play their fatherly role well. Excerpts:

Next  month you will clock three years on the throne. How has it been?

Let me say to God be the glory. Those three years a lot of water have passed under the bridge but again I say to God be the glory. The stability achieved so far is by the grace of God who is in charge of my destiny to be on the throne today. I am a strong believer in God, and I am always looking up to Him for direction with regards to my future on the throne.


Your title as the Olugbon confers on you the Vice-chairmanship of the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs. What is happening in the council now?

The council is being run as expected under the leadership of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi. I am very proud to be in the council because it is a gathering of experience, bearing in mind that Oba Adeyemi has spent 48 years on the throne.


How do you relate with other traditional rulers, in terms of cohesion despite your different backgrounds?

There is no limit to interaction among Yoruba traditional rulers. The social media is being used as a platform of unity. You see us in whatsapp groups interacting and sharing ideas on cultural promotion of Yorubaland. I have personal friends among them too. I mean those with whom we do things together at personal level. You must have seen me in the entourage of the Ooni of ife during his trip to Brazil. I have also made other foreign trips where I realised how appreciative other nationals are of Yoruba culture.


What does this appreciation by other nationals mean to you?

It is more of inspiration in the sense that I am very proud to go to any airport in my full regalia. And you see Nigerians, especially the Yorubas also trying to show off their identity by coming close to take photographs with us. I am having a renewed hope in the future of our culture going by what I see in other nationals. The Brazilians have, at official level, adopted Yoruba as official Language, which goes to say that Yoruba culture has come to stay. I am delighted at the news which came shortly after our visit to the country.


You seem to be seen with a particular crown. Can you clarify this?

I don’t understand what you mean by a particular crown. Are you saying there are no other crowns?


I cannot jump to that conclusion unless you confirm it?

Have you seen a traditional ruler who has only one crown? The truth is that your observation might be a product of coincidence.


I also wanted to ask about your public appearance in all-white attire but the picture of your birthday has nullified my observation. Or do you have any special interest in white colour?

I am happy that you have answered that question. But it is not a secret that I like white colour for its uniqueness. I don’t play with white colour because of that reason. In addition to that it is a colour which inspires me to do something unique. Apart from that, there is no other attachment to the colour.


The Federal Government through President Muhammadu Buhari has formally declared June 12 as Democracy Day and marked it in a grand way. How do you feel about this new trend?

You recall we spoke that day and what I told you. I am not a pretender. It does not suit me. And anyone who does can’t be my friend in whatever form. What am I saying? You already know my position on that event. And I don’t want to repeat myself on it. My position remains what I told you that hypocrisy is the bane of this country. Was that the democracy which the late MKO Abiola lived and died for? MKO Abiola cuts across all ethnic and religious groups. He was a Nigerian who believed in Nigeria and spent his money to bring Nigeria together. That was what reflected in his victory at the June 12 elections. It is unfortunate that the opportunity which that election offered Nigeria as a nation to stand stronger was wasted.


Some would not believe you could be this critical of the system in which you are doing well as an investor before you ascended to the throne. Don’t you think so?

I don’t think so. What I do think of is not about me and my family alone. It is about the general welfare of Nigerians. It is true I have done some works and done well. But you cannot compare personal success to the growth of the country. What it means is that I could have done better under a better socio-political atmosphere.


Nigeria is passing through some challenges, especially insecurity. How do you think government can tackle this problem?

There is no other way to tackle it than government showing sincerity and more commitment that it wants to tackle it. Nigeria is a complex country where some things that won’t happen in other civilized countries of the world happen. But it remains our country, our home which we should all salvage together. I mean this security challenge should not be left in the hands of government alone. We must all be security conscious and continue to be our brothers and sisters keepers. Kidnappings have made Nigeria unsafe, and this is not a good image for us. Government should consider this very important factor because we have not gotten enough investors to complement us.


You are a pastor, do you think Muslims and Christians have problem in their relationship as alleged in some quarters?

There is nothing like that. Those who claim that are only using religion for different purposes. My Bible does not teach me to make an enemy of Muslims. What I am saying in essence is that Nigerians should sustain peaceful co-existence for the nation to achieve progress and development which it requires to join the league of upward mobile nations of the world. To the best of my knowledge, what both Islam and Christianity preach is peace among their faithful. Even irrespective of political affiliation, we should embrace one another and bequeath a better future for the young generation. During the last Eid-el Fitri, I sent a strong message to all Muslims and called them to remain pious and work for a better Nigeria. I said 29 days of abstinence from indulgences are not ordinary. The period means body and souls have passed through some spiritual cleansing. Muslims should not revert to those acts they had dropped during the holy month of Ramadan. If this is done, the work of God is being entrenched. May Allah accept our prayers. Apart from that I commended the Islamic cleric, Muhammadu Abubakar who saved the lives of about 300 Christians being chased by some gangs of bandits in Plateau State. That cleric is a godly man whose act should be emulated by all Nigerians for the fact that he did not say because they were Christians that he must shut his door against them. He even opened his mosque for their safety.  That is the example of who every Nigerian should be. Let us think of what binds us together first before any other consideration.


Can I take this remark as your passion for this country despite reservation earlier expressed?

I don’t have another country to be called my father’s land apart from Nigeria. And being a royal father makes it mandatory for me to ensure Nigeria is peaceful. I must always work for whatever can make it peaceful. But the leadership should lead with fear of God. How they would lead with fear of God is to create jobs and make our youths less vulnerable. The rising crime is a result of high rate of unemployment among our youths. Once employment problem is reduced, I am positive that the nation would grow.


You must have been fulfilled by your birthday party held in Ibadan during the week? Why the choice of Ibadan?

To be honest with you, the attendance which included the former Governor Abiola Ajimobi, representative of the new Governor Engineer Seyi Makinde, the Olubadan and other important personalities took me by surprise. But I thank them all for the lover showered on me.

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