After only 18days on the throne, His Royal Majesty, Oba (TPT) Abdulraheem Oladele Adeoti Akolade Agboluaje, the Olomu Efon II Ilufemiloye of Omu-Aran, Kwara State, speaks in this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI on his emergence, plans for the community among other issues. Excerpts:
One can say that sitting on the stool of your forefathers today is like a dream come true to you, how has it been?
I feel elated and very happy about it. In the Yoruba land, ascendance to the throne is a birth right. In the case of Omu-Aran, we have ruling houses just as it maybe obtainable in some other communities. We have five (5) ruling houses which Ijoko is one of them. There are two compounds collapsed into one that makes the ruling house. I emerged from that ruling house as the 27th Olomu of Omu-Aran.
In what way do you think your experience in the public office will help your governance as a monarch?
Any undertaking is never a waste and one borrows experience from whatever one might have been doing before going into another aspect of life. It is a balanced equation for me, no knowledge is waste, even if I had been a farmer before coming to the throne, I must have gained some experiences as a farmer, as a civil servant, I think I’ve gained a lot from my years in service before coming to sit on the throne. Fortunate enough, I can claim to have reached the apex of my career in service before emergence. As the Executive Secretary of the State Town Planning Authority, I think the experience acquired as the head of that body also assisted me. My former job was characterised by attending to members of the public, it may not be too different from the present experience because it is all about having things to do with members of my community. In my former office, I attended to those who can claim to have succeeded in life. It is not just anybody who comes for Planning Permit, you must have been endowed, it is beyond the three square meals. In the case of the community, you have to listen to everybody, poor, rich, able or disabled. But, no experience is a waste. I just started and I cannot be confidence that I have known all integrities of governing the community at this level.
Since you were installed, what in particular will you say poses challenge(s) to you?
A newly installed monarch, it is normal and natural he receives people paying him homage; and there is no time lag for the monarch. Unlike in the civil service where one resumes at 8am and closes by 4pm. In the traditional setting it is not the same, some people may decide to come by 6am while some will come around 10pm, as the father for all, I’ve to listen to everybody.
For many years now, financial institutions have stopped operation in Omu-Aran due to incessant armed robbery attacks, what is your plan?
The major challenge is that of armed robbery attack, it is not peculiar to Omu-Aran, it is everywhere in the country. The recent one that happened in Offa is worse than the one experienced in Omu-Aran. Banking industry has significant role in the development of a community. My predecessor started a very good work in this direction and without an iota of doubt; I’ve to follow the footsteps. I’ve been making some consultations towards ensuring that the banks are reopened, by the grace of God, we are praying that it won’t be long. We need the assistant of the government, though the Offa robbery attack was more heinous but government assisted the community by donating an Armour Tank. It will not be too much for government to do same for us. In hierarchy, Offa is next after Ilorin followed by Omu-Aran. We plead as a community that government should provide us with an Armour Tank, once this is ensured, banks will reopened.
Since you’ve been making concerted efforts and consultations towards getting the banks reopened, when exactly are will looking at?
It is not predictable, because it is a case of armed robbery, nobody can tell of when the banks will start operating. When necessary facilities are in place, then we can now make effort to approach the authorities of the banks. It will be wrong of me to talk of when it will be reopened, it is highly subjective.
What other agenda do you have for the ancient community?
As the paramount ruler of Omu-Aran today, I know the statues of the community in Kwara settings. Without mincing words, Omu-Aran is the third in hierarchy with about population of 100,000. When you provide the town with necessary facilities, living becomes enjoyable and worthwhile. Some basic facilities are lacking, it is the government that determines what to provide for the community. Our population is large enough to support two Universities. There is what’s called, ‘Services of Higher Order’; this is where University and other tertiary establishments belong. For the road network, there is what is called hierarchical distribution of road network, there is no doubt, Omu-Aran is an urban centre. From 1967 that Omu-Aran was made the headquarters of Igbomina that metamorphosed into Irepodun today, it has remained an urban settlement. Our population support range of services. In my inaugural speech during the installation, I noted that some of our roads are due for dualisation. One can access the beauty of the community right from the road network. These are part of the state government works, we will continue to plead to both the state and local governments, the surface of our roads are nothing to write home about. Gully erosion has taken over some of the roads.
How do you address the insinuation by some of your subjects that Omu-Aran is being neglected by the State government in terms of development?
The word negligence maybe too ambiguous for me to use, I used to be part of government, I cannot say I don’t know what is happening, there has been a short fall in the state allocation from the Federal account. The Kwara state made efforts by establishing the Internally Generated Revenue Service, jettisoning the former one, this commission has made successe, and the revenue generation has increased. But our prosperity must be translated to the physical structures; we must be seeing roads, structures and the likes.
Omu-Aran from time immemorial is respected for being a custodian of culture, norms and traditions, this account for the 7days seclusion (Ipebi) that preceded your installation, what characterised the week long isolation?
The 7 days seclusion is where one is taught how to settle down, the exercise is not ritualistic because there was nothing of such that was performed during the period. It is to train the monarch on how to properly settle down and to rest. It is purely training. The time I was pronounced ‘Kabiesi’ the running up and down commenced. But the 7 days seclusion assisted me get my strength back
Sir, the practise of the tradition and its norms seems to be affecting the Islamic and Christianity practice…?
There is nothing that is static, the only constant thing in life is change, the seclusion before used to be 3 months but now, it has been reduced to 7days. Omu-Aran is that community in Nigeria that has almost equal numbers of Muslims and Christians. During the day of my installation, the masquerades were also present, their presence is not because of any other thing but to ensure that the culture doesn’t go into extinction. Those that put up the masquerade costumes are either Muslims or Christians. I can say it confidently that the richness in the culture of the community doesn’t affect its religions. Omu-Aran is a town where you can live and you will be accepted by all. If our culture is barbaric, nobody will stay here. Our culture is friendly. Some people have been here since ages and they cannot relocate again.
What do you want your reign to be known for?
The growth of the community, and human capacity development, though in this wise, we’ve not been lagging behind. In fact, in all facets of life, even in education, commerce, we are known in Lagos.
At first, your nomination brought about a sort of crisis…?
Omu-Aran submitted only one name to government and that was the candidate approved. In Omu-Aran, we don’t fight for the stool. It comes naturally to who deserves it. We want the presentation of staff of office to be graced by all and sundry. I received my letter of appointment on the 6th of September, and since then I’ve been working.
You just lost one of the illustrious sons of the community, Brig David Bamigboye who was the first Governor of the state…?
Without mincing words, he started the development of Kwara State. He brought about the Kwara state secretariat, Kwara Hotel, Polytechnic, Stadium among several others. Bamigboye to us in Omu-Aran is our community leader. He was a father to us; his accomplishments in Omu-Aran cannot be erased. His name in Omu-Aran is already written in gold. For many generations to come, he will continue to be remembered. But, we want to note here that government has not tried enough for him, before his death, he ought to have been immortalised as the first Governor of the state. After his meritorious service, he was a man of God and so his reign in the then Kwara. May his soul rest in peace, he has left us but his legacies are there. But we plead that government should immortalised him and such immortalisation should replicate a local government.