This weekend, the Olokine of Ojowo, Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State will be celebrating his first coronation anniversary. In this interview with BAYO ALADE, he shares his views on his journey so far and his vision for his community.
As a traditional ruler, you have quite an impressive background…
Yes by the grace of God I am Oba Abdulrasheed Abayomi Olusesan Banjo, Orilonise 1, Olokine of Ojowo, Ijebu Igbo. I am 50years old and I attended Ijebu Ode Grammar School and Abusi Odumare Academy for my secondary school education. I have BSc and Masters in Economics and Business Administration respectively, and currently undertaking my PhD in Economics at Babcock University.
I was a Regional Head with FCMB; a consultant and practitioner in Agriculture and real estate..
How was the journey to the throne?
It was not my doing. It was by divine providence. Only God can make impossibility possible at His own time. I was told about it (prophecy) roughly 35years ago and again 17 years ago from two different men of God. I didn’t take it seriously until our late kabiyesi joined his ancestors and it was the turn of our ruling house to produce the next oba.
I was the 29th candidate and I only signified my interest after God spoke to me through a vision. I know God can’t lie. I was one of the seven candidates shortlisted and I eventually got selected by all surviving kingmakers in Ojowo Kingdom.
Apart from being chosen by kingmakers, we learnt that the consent of the Awujale is also very important?
I’m confident that Orisa Ijebu (Awujale) will do it anytime from now because he is a phenomenal personality as far as the progress and development of Ijebu land is concerned. Given what God is doing through us which is in line with Awujale’s vision for development coupled with the fact that he is a just, firm, equitable and God-fearing man – qualities you can hardly find anywhere, and for which every Ijebu man and woman is proud – it will be done in no distant time.
There are all sorts of rumour doing the round by confusionists and mischief makers. The Awujale is such a noble man should be given his rightful honour by all sons and daughters of Ijebu land. He is my father and that fact remains.
You have been the Olokine for the past one year, what have been your achievements?
Thank you. We have decentralised the advisory council with concentrated powers on health, education, business, agriculture, welfare etc. We have trained about 350 youths and women on various vocations and spearheaded processes to secure micro-credits for them. We have taken good advantage of Ogun State Anchor Borrowers Programme on Agriculture with the release of 300 hectares of land to provide 300 direct jobs and 700 indirect jobs for our women and youths.
Our application to have a National Open University Study Centre in Ojowo is receiving attention. We have also been able to assemble no fewer than 150 best brains of Ojowo extraction who are committed to the peace, growth and development of their town under the umbrella of Abere Owako Descendants.
We learnt your installation was done in flagrant disobedience to Ijebu Igbo Traditional Council allegedly by the immediate past government in Ogun State.
This is not true. Even if the state wanted to do that, being a responsible Ijebu man, I would not give my consent. The Awujale’s office was written the very day I was selected in line with the law and the letter was duly acknowledged. I reported to ITC office for guidance and instructions on my installation which were given and there was no instruction from ITC that we flouted any order before and after installation.
We learnt the Ojowo Elders Council was not happy with your emergence, claiming that proper rotation was not followed.
It is normal for disagreements to emerge before and after every contest but we have decided to win peace after the war. The elders are our fathers and in Yoruba land, regardless of one’s lofty excuses one cannot override the opinions of the elders; hence the need to continue to plead with them until they say yes, for purpose of growth and development in our community which is in dire need of our togetherness as one family.
Some of our elder statesmen in the council who have achieved greatness through merit, will have no choice but to accept our apology, because they are symbols of unity and peace in our community. Most of the rumours flying around are being spread by those who will stop at nothing to cause confusion, but no one can separate us as fathers and son, regardless of our different views.
What is your relationship with Ijebu Igbo Traditional Council?
Very cordial. Ijebu Igbo is well structured in which the leadership of Sopenlukale is not in doubt, in the absence of a substantive Orimolusi; and believe this, Sopenlukale is working round the clock like us to ensure our community moves back to her rightful position among the comity of ancient communities in Ijebuland.
Your kinsmen have blamed some personalities for accelerating your installation. What is your take on this?
Well, I’m not holding briefs for them but what they have done was not different from what others did for their own communities too. They hold their homeland so dearly and at all times give 100 per cent to it support, for the progress of the town. Their interest is not in any individual but the development of Ijebu Igbo while not undermining the unity and peace of the community.
As kabiyesi are you considering having a second wife?
Yes, but on one condition that the Olori who has been my wife for 30 years receives the applications of would-be wives and give an approval for them to be taken as wife/wives (laughs). Talking seriously, the truth of the matter is that weightier issues of development take precedence over the issue of having more wives.
What are your plans for your first anniversary as kabiyesi?
Our initial plans have been stalled by the restriction of movement occasioned by COVID 19 pandemic but be that as it may, we are organising virtual prayers sessions for the oba and the kingdom; scholarships from meaningful Ojowo indigenes will be announced for indigent students; five new chieftaincy titles will be announced for five notable Ojowo indigenes, including Dr Akinwunmi Adesina who is the President of Africa Development Bank as Asiwaju of Ojowo. The actual conferment will be done later.
Any goodwill message to the Awujale on his recent celebrations of 86th birthday and 60th coronation ceremonies?
We are one at Olubadejo lineage of Oke Jaga, Oke Sopen, Ijebu Igbo. I wish the longest reigning first class oba and paramount traditional ruler in Nigeria a happy birthday and many happy returns on the throne in good health and grace.
Any word for your subjects and people of Ijebu Igbo
I wish to let my people realise that disagreements before and after any contest are not out of place but the interest of our kingdom and larger community called Ijebu Igbo should supersede our individual interests and should consequently form the basis of our concerted efforts in our renewed determination to write the name of our kingdom in gold and make it conspicuous on the world map.
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