Oba Joseph Oyedele Fasikun, the Olunisa of Inisa, broke the jinx in the history of Inisa in 1978 when he emerged as the first university graduate to ascend the throne. Even though he is tolerant and accommodating, Oba Fasikun does not condone lateness to scheduled appointments. In this interview with TUNDE BUSARI, Oba Fasikun explains what informs his strictness on punctuality among other issues. Excerpts
Kabiyesi you are known to be strict on adhering to time. What is responsible for this?
There is nothing responsible for it other than need to impact right lesson into others. Going by my upbringing, I should not tolerate lateness which is a form of indiscipline. Can you quantify the damage which indiscipline does to human development? The truth of the matter is that one who knows the rule must not violate that rule. I know the significance of being time – conscious, then, I should not be seen condoning lateness to appointments which have been made and approved. The moment I check my schedule and realise I can accommodate your appointment, I plan ahead for it. This is one of the reasons the Oyinbos are always ahead of us. They are so organised that hardly can anything meet then unprepared. Unfortunately, disrespect for time and orderliness has become our culture in this country, and that culture has affected the level of our development.
Don’t your subjects see your policy differently?
I want to tell you that I am blessed with subjects who understand me and show that understanding to me all the time. They know where I was coming from before I ascended the throne and they accept me as they see me. I must add that my people are disciplined too. They love Inisa more than any other thing. That is why you would always come to the palace here and meet them. What am I giving them? I am not giving them anything beyond sharing our time together. A traditional ruler cannot rule alone. In fact, a traditional ruler who is isolated by his people stands the risk of losing the respect of his subjects. I can say that I am fortunate to have the type of subjects God has given me. We work together to achieve same goal of improving Inisa. I have to use this opportunity to thank them, all of them, old and young.
How do you feel being the first university graduate to become the Olunisa of Inisa?
There is nothing I feel other than to use the status for my town. And that is what God has done for me and the town so far. Being the first graduate Olunisa is not a pride thing, after all, I have professors and other professionals in my town. The joy of it is our collective thing because I am here in the palace as a representative of the entire people of Inisa. Yes, I am happy but being happy is not more important than impacting on the town.
Which university did you attend and which course did you study?
I attended the University of Ife, which is now Obafemi Awolowo University. I studied History Education.
How would you describe your student years?
It was a period the country was having a better economy. The state of the economy then reflected well in the standard of education and other sectors then. We had a memorable time in Ile-Ife with a generation of lecturers who were much more devoted to scholarship. With due respect to what we have now, I am very proud of those lecturers through whom we passed.
What do you think distinguishes you from graduates of other courses till date?
I am very good in recalling dates of events. I think that is what your question intended to uncover. Remembering dates comes to me with ease. Well, advanced age might want to slow one down a bit but I still have my retentive memory functioning well. I am not claiming credit for this, mind you. There is nothing we do without the help of God. Therefore, I can say I am enjoying the grace of God at 81 years.
Is there a peculiar attribute with which Inisa people are known?
We are a fearless people who can do anything to defend Inisa course. We don’t need to prepare for a long time before we mobilise one another against a challenge. Recently, some Bororos came to town and began to disturb the peace. It took our hunters no time to dislodge them without making noise about it. Go and check history and read what I am talking about. Even those who were trained in the art of war recognized us during the 19th century war.
You just mentioned some Bororos. Does that mean you are experiencing insecurity?
You can see I did not call those people Fulani. Deliberately I called them Bororos because they are not the Fulanis we know. The Fulani herdsmen here are known by my people. They have been here for a long time, doing their occupation peacefully. Of course, like every other human relation, there must be occasional disagreements and conflicts. But those disagreements were brought here, and we settled them. But those Bororos are not the Fulanis we know. They even stole cows of the Fulani herdsmen. So, we realized they were here on a different mission, then our hunters sent them packing. Although they are not many; they come in threes and fours. However, they could be dangerous. That is why we quickly took preventive action against any danger. Go and do your findings, Inisa people are peace lovers. So, we don’t allow any dangerous elements in our midst. We know ourselves from one compound to another. When strangers come to town, we put them under surveillance to know their motive. An average Inisa person is security conscious against danger, especially this time when the whole country is passing through some challenges.
What is your position on the Amotekun security network?
My position on it is very clear, even though I cannot claim to know much about Amotekun. The little I read has given me an idea of what Amotekun means and what it is created for. I want to commend the government for showing seriousness to security situation in the South-West. What they have done on this Amotekun has somehow brought respect of the people to them because security is key to whatever anybody wants to do. Under insecurity, you cannot move freely. Farmers cannot go to farm; traders cannot go to market. Hunger will come and everybody suffers. But when a danger is perceived and it is quickly nipped in the bud, what could have been a tragedy has been averted. That our governors set aside their political differences and spoke with one voice over Amotekun means there is hope for Yoruba people. You can see the effect of Amotekun in other parts of the country. That shows that they respect Yoruba as an ethnic group which is important in the country. There is no need to ask me whether I support it or not. The answer is clear.
Beyond security, what other things do you think Amotekun has potential of achieving?
The way it is going, especially for uniting all Yoruba-speaking states, the future is bright. Let me tell you, if the Yorubas had done this in the 19th century when we witnessed major battles, those battles would not have erupted. But then, each town wanted to show it was powerful, a situation which led to alliance by other towns, resulting into protracted war. So, Amotekun is here to open the eyes of the Yorubas to other areas where they should collaborate to be a stronger ethnic group within the Federal Republic of Nigeria. For instance, the issue of restructuring is still there. Who says this Amotekun is not a step towards achieving it? If each federating state is allowed constitutional power to develop at its own pace without the encumbrance and obstacle from the central government, Nigeria will be better for it. What three regions achieved before independence in 1960 are still difficult to forget till date. It means the best way to develop Nigeria is to allow what is called true federalism, which is what the promoters of restructuring are clamouring for.
What do you think stands you out among the crowd and earns you the support of your subjects?
I should not assess myself. This question should rather be thrown at those who watch me. But something I know about myself is sincerity of purpose. I make bold to say that I don’t tell lies. I detest liars. Apart from that I love my people, and they know I love them, I can do anything on their behalf because Inisa is our first world before Osun State, Nigeria, Africa and the world in that order. I don’t deceive myself as much as I don’t deceive others. A traditional ruler must be above board, and that is my principle right from the beginning.
What message do you have for your subjects?
I want to appeal to them to comply with government’s directives regarding the Coronavirus which is causing tension across the world. I trust my people as law-abiding citizens, buts I must use this opportunity to remind them why they should adhere to rules guiding this period. It is very important because the virus is not predictable, going by the news we read on a daily basis. May God save the world from this killer disease.
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