One of the princes vying for the throne of Olowo of Owo, Ondo State, Olanrewaju Ogunoye, tells HAKEEM GBADAMOSI about the expectations from the next traditional ruler of Owo kingdom.
Why did you reject the position of the Ogunoye ruling house on the presentation of a consensus candidate?
You cannot choose for Owo, there has never been a time in the history of Owo that a single candidate was presented to the Senior Omolowo. In the last dispensation, five Ogunoyes were sent to the Senior Omolowo Ajike sent two people and Olagbegi sent theirs. Eleven people contested for the throne. It was a lie that we have a consensus candidate from the Ogunoye family, we don’t have any agreement as to a consensus candidate among us. We are all vying for the stool of Olowo.
But the family say they will present a single candidate to the Senior Omolowo, what is your view about this?
There is one authority that has power over the selection of Olowo and it is the Senior Omolowo. There is no other authority that is allowed to do that. From the family side, we thought we could have an agreement in order to present a formidable candidate, but all the laid down rules and regulation from the family were not properly followed.
Why are you interested in the throne of the Olowo?
My eligibility to the throne of the Olowo in the ancient city flows from being a direct descendant of Ogwa Elewuokun family tree from which my lineage Ogunoye emanated. My interest in the Olowo stool will be to promote the legitimate expectations, goodness and welfare of the vast majority of the good people of Owo kingdom, both within and in the diaspora. In addition, the sustenance of the legacies of the Ogunoye family lineage in the critical area of development, the spirit of harnessing the full potential and cooperation of Owo citizens is imperative.
What differentiates you from other princes of the Elewuokun ruling house?
I will admit with all sense of responsibility and humility as well as my pedigree that I am well qualified and equipped for the task and the challenges ahead. I am different from others due to my innate ability to see the larger picture, tenacity of purpose, the strive for excellence, respect for others, astounding simplicity, consciousness of the overwhelming desire to cooperate with people and discharging my duties within the context of our custom and traditional values at all times and circumstances.
What are your plans for the Owo if you are selected as its next traditional ruler?
I intend to promote peace and tranquillity in Owo kingdom. I will pursue reconciliation among factions, build confidence and trust between and among perceived and real conflicting interests. The annual celebration of Igogo festival as the cultural festival and heritage of Owo will be elevated from its current local status to higher recognition of national and international significance. It will be redefined to accommodate wider participation by all our chiefs and invited prominent traditional rulers in Yoruba land for unity, understanding, and cooperation in socioeconomic and cultural value.
How do you hope to achieve these?
I will be working with the support of the kingmakers, a register for documentation of all prominent citizens of Owo in Nigeria and the diaspora will be opened for the purpose of identifying the legitimate aspirations and projects for development. The need for building a befitting new royal palace in Owo within the present location is imperative and extremely important. It shall be a monument and legacy with the input of the state government and our people. A think-tank shall be anchored for the purpose to work out the modalities. The full cooperation and support of the state and local governments will be sought at all times, while the support and the understanding of our people shall be guaranteed in mutual reciprocity. With these, the aspirations will be met.
How do you intend to bring other traditional rulers in the Owo suburbs into the mainstream?
This will be done through meetings with them quarterly in which the participation of Owo kingmakers shall be involved in structure and function. The aim is to bring us very close to the promotion of cooperation and understanding.
What’s your advice to the Omolowo and the kingmakers on the selection process?
Kabiyesi Ojomoluda has spoken on this one and I am standing on the protocol of justice and fairness he has eloquently spoken about in a well published and documented press conference a while ago.
Are you ready to support any other prince if he eventually emerges as the new Olowo?
I would like to put on record that my full support for the candidate that may eventually emerge in the final decision is hereby guaranteed. However, this is with a view that the process is devoid of ambiguity, political shenanigans and impunity, characteristic of human tendencies and aberrations. My personal trust and confidence remain incontrovertible in the person and institution of Omolowo in this critical moment of our historical trajectory.