“As a king and a representative of God on earth, you should be able to manage everything that is under your control.”
Oba Gabriel Ayodele Adejuwon, Onisan of Isan Kingdom is the newly crowned king of Isan-Ekiti. In just one year and 11 months as a monarch, the Redeemed Christian Church of God pastor cum civil servant is already pulling his weight and making things right. As king of the town where Governor Kayode Fayemi hails from, he said he would not mind going to battle with the state chief executive if certain things are not done right.
Did you have any premonition that you will one day be king?
In my youthful days, I had a lot of prophecies that I will be king but what I was looking at was that the former king was just few days older than I and if he was to live to his rightful age, I might not be able to become king because I would have been old too but as God would have it I still became king.
Was there any struggle for the stool?
There was a lot of struggle; such position cannot come to you without struggle. In my ruling house, which is Ilomi ruling house, 16 able men were shortlisted, later five of us made it to the last stage, the period was a tug of war. There was a day that they said they wanted to make selection and that prompted the opposition to attack my house with guns and stones. They destroyed my vehicle. Surprisingly, I didn’t see the kingship as a serious thing since I have my job. It was my people who called me that I should join the race and that the entire community supported me and even people outside believed that I was to be king. Thank God out of all, the threat, struggle and attack, I succeeded which didn’t come without cost, I lost two precious persons in my life.
Were you in the house when the siege was laid to your home?
Yes, I was. It was in the daytime that they started to throw stones but in the night, they came with guns. They were shooting until one of them went ahead to report the case to the police. This was after they had pulled down part of the fence and injured a security man guarding the house. The man didn’t die due to his natural prowess and prayers rendered to heavens. They carried him to the police and the police came with them to quell the siege. Afterward, I was advised by some members of the community to arrest them but I didn’t because at the end, we are all brothers and they just want what they think they are entitled to but has to go to one person. I didn’t arrest them because I didn’t want to soil my reign with it. We are still brothers and above all family.
After ascending the throne, what have you done to reconcile all?
I have made a lot of efforts after the rites; I have been to the meetings of the elderly to reconcile them. The elders brought the same issue up and I told them that I have visited them all, yet there were some who did not welcome me, and there were some whom I visited more than once before they accepted me. There was one, who was my greatest contender, who was and has been supported by his parents because I am an orphan, I have tried all I could to reconcile with him but it has proven abortive. Nevertheless, I have the legitimacy of the people and I will continue the process until they all accept.
What was going through your mind the day they laid siege to your house?
The fence is very far away to the main building, so there was no cause for alarm. It was a big compound because I built the house for ceremonious purposes to contain both family members and visitors, not that I wanted to become a king. Ironically, it was on the very day that I spent the night in the house that we received a call that the king had died. It was a sign for me, yet it took the courage and observation of my friends to point it out for me. And when I decided to join the race, I prayed and prayed before I received the mandate to go ahead.
Was there a time you felt like quitting the race?
There were a lot of times I felt like quitting the race, but all thanks to my wife for not allowing me. There was a day she told me that if I didn’t want the throne of my fathers that she would start to be grooming my son for the post. I was in Benin when the race started, it was hard to adapt but I gave it all.
How do you combine the job of a king with your civil service work?
We give glory to Almighty God. Immediately I became king, I wrote the management of my office and help came, things were smoothened and I was transferred. I was transferred to Ado-Ekiti. At my place of work, if you don’t complete your service and resign, there is no retirement package for you. You must be at least 50 years and have served up to 25 years.
How do you relate to your comrades and how do you dress to work?
I thank God that I am a senior officer at the office here in Ado-Ekiti. I don’t have to bow or break protocol for someone in the office. The only boss I see most times is the zonal coordinator whom I believe understands that he should always respect a king in Yoruba land. If I am going to the office I don’t wear my full regalia. I put on another cap with my bangles. My Agbada stays in the car all the time. Moreover, I am well known in Ekiti and the office knows that they must address me as Kabiyesi.
What particularly changes men when they become king?
The wisdom they have comes from the thoughts of the wise men around them. Immediately they open their mouth to talk, God puts words there and it comes with wisdom. People bring cases to the palace as if they were going to war front coupled with the mind of destruction if it does not favour them.
What are those things you were doing before that you wish you can still do now?
If I tell you this you won’t believe it. As a youth, I had no zeal to do anything. I don’t allow anything to move me and don’t involve in many things. My lifestyles seem to suit for this kingship. I didn’t have any sport that I was doing so I don’t think I am going to start now. Television or social things do not matter me, not to talk about learning the habit now. Before I became king, I was an ordained pastor in the Redeemed Church. Presently, I still attend churches and I do preach the word of God.
As a king, don’t you think there are things that will conflict your faith as a pastor?
When God created heaven and earth, He created everybody and different faiths and He is managing everyone of us. As a king and a representative of God on earth, you should be able to manage everything that is under your control. Before I was ordained king, the kingmakers knew that I am a pastor and yet they supported me. I don’t get in their ways because we all want the same thing for the community. We want peace and growth in the community. I contribute my quota for the Muslim, Christians, and traditionalists. The traditionalists give me heads up on their activities but I don’t go with them and it does not mean I don’t pray and support them. If we say we want to focus on Christianity alone, our prayers might not be answered. These people have ways of blocking your prayers, it is written in the bible.
Do you partake in the rituals as part of your office?
I don’t partake. They are the custodians of the rites and they have been doing it before I ascended that throne. Where I can say I am involved is when they want to dance, they visit the palace. I will have to leave the door wide open and give them my blessings.
Did you skip the initiation rituals?
No! I didn’t skip them. My father did it which means I have to do it. I did it to have the legitimacy of the people.
What did you mostly do during initiation?
We didn’t do wrong things. There was no day that it involved the killing of animal or man. People just attribute what is not to it. I saw that period as a training period, it was like men when you want to get employed, and you learn the process. As a king, my duty is to sit down and I learned how to sit for a long time. I sat for good seven days teaching me that a king can sit till eternity. I learned that I can’t go on errands even for my wife, and I can’t eat outside. You are redefined. There was no time I ate any concoction.
As a king, what are your taboos now?
I can’t fight again. There are situations that might arise, you might decide to go physical with the person, I can’t again.
What do you want to do to make Isan-Ekiti the cynosure of all eyes?
Our youths are the main targets. We are doing all in our power to position our youths for all they deserve. There are pressures now than before that the governor of the state is from our community. As Fayemi’s king, everybody wants you to speak to him for favour. Even in the community, people have submitted a lot of CVs and as subjects, I can’t say no to them. But things are working well for us because we are all working and praying together. That was why I told you that there is no way to leave one faith and face another in my reign.
Do you have plans to bring satellite campus of Ekiti State University to Isan?
That we lost on bringing the school to our side was not a good thing but it has happened but we have gained by having School of Agric that will be producing OND students but we are still appealing to be turned to a polytechnic. He visited recently that we have to trek a long while before getting there. I know it was part of the unfinished projects that brought him back and we still have Federal Government Girls School. The school had already resumed before the former government sent the students and staff away. When he visited he said he was going to continue with all Ayodele Fayose projects because the money belongs to Ekiti, not Fayose.
What will Gov Fayemi do or doesn’t do that will make you be at loggerheads?
I can say I am contented. Situations that have turned out like that is when the interest of a king is higher than the interest of the community. What can make me think of being at loggerheads with him is that if Fayemi fails on the abandoned projects which also mean he does not have the love of the community he came from and I have the love of the community, meaning that we are going to be two parallel lines but I pray such will never happen. I know that he has realized his past faults and I know that he is going to do well with us.
At what age did you become an orphan?
I became an orphan in 2003 but I lost my father when I was five. I could not identify my father when he died. I struggled after his death working as a labourer on different farms. Losing my father made me afraid of picking fights with people because I knew there was nobody that would defend me. My mother’s death was more painful but I took solace in the fact that I could build a house for her and she lived there for one year.
What role did your wife play in your ascendance to the throne?
She was the rock. At a time, we had to send the last child to the boarding school to take her away from harm’s way. There was a time we were in the house for four days without seeing the gate. They still see her as the enemy, saying that she was the one that didn’t allow them to succeed.
Would you marry another wife if tradition requires?
When family wanted to start the race, they knew it would be difficult to tell me so they passed through my wife. She gave them a condition that if she agrees that I would not have an additional wife and they gave her their word and she approached me after she had gone for prayers. I was told not to reject the kingship and that as long as I was alive nobody would become king in the community.