From Priscilla Ediareo, Ado-Ekiti
Ilupeju-ekiti in Oye Local Government, Ekiti State, is a latter-day creation. It came into being after the abrogation of two separate administrative settings of Eseta and Egosi in 1970. Official recognition came only in 1974 through the Western State Gazette.
Before this time, the two communities had been doing things in common; culturally, socially, religiously and economically. The strong unifying factor was the Menera Market.
Since then, a lot of water has passed through the bridge. Its monarch, Oba Emmanuel Olaleye Oniyelu II, the Apeju of Ilupeju-Ekiti, testified: “The concept of one town and one Oba was nursed for some 20 years until late 1960s. The idea was formally put before the defunct Western State Government and was gazetted in 1974.
“By the charter of the town, the two previous towns became known, recognised and addressed as Ilupeju-Ekiti. It has single head, Apeju, a non-contestable position. It is normally attained by promoting Obanla, the second in rank, when the post of Apeju becomes vacant.
“Ilupeju-Ekiti is an amalgamation of old Eseta and Egosi and this was done in 1970. The Western State Government waited patiently for five years to see how the amalgamation will work and when they knew it has really worked, it was gazetted in 1974. Throughout that interregnum, there were no kings until I was installed on February 3, 1980, as the first Apeju of Ilupeju-Ekiti.
“We thank God for whatever we must have encountered because no event no history. It may not be possible for me to be reeling out what we have encountered. Whatever we encountered really made us strong to attain what we attained.
“We pray God to take control. The security in the country is very porous. In Ekiti State, it is not so bad even though there are skirmishes here and there the government is on top of it.
“They should encourage community policing. Let them arm them give them weapons to face perpetrators. It is not just giving them cudgels and asking them to be chasing criminals. The criminals are going about with AK-47 and super weapons.
“They should assist us (Obas) by giving us funds. We know every nook and cranny of our domains. I can call as many people as possible to go and guard security wise, if those people are motivated. We have them here, the local hunters that are watching the town but the town is giving them money and I am paying for it. You cannot be sleeping in your room and expect somebody to watch over you without compensation.
“I am highly elated. I thank God for what has happened. This was not the situation in 1980 when I was made the king. My self and Olori were just young boy and girl called to come and occupy the throne. Today, God has crowned our efforts.”
He appealed to government to look into the long years of unwavering unity among the people of his community and consider him for promotion to a First Class position.
Oba Oniyelu spoke when indigenes rolled out the drums on Saturday, August 21, 2021, to celebrate his 41st coronation and the 80th birthday. He ascended the throne in 1980. Governor Kayode Fayemi, who was represented by his deputy, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, said:
“I want to say openly that this Kabiyesi has ruled peacefully for 41 years. There has been no crisis in his domain. He has no problem with his chiefs for this we congratulate you.
“Listening to the history of this town, two communities came together in the 70s and the name they gave to this community at that time was Ilupeju and is still Ilupeju. There has been peace since we want to congratulate the Kabiyesi, the Obanla and all the chiefs.
“The only thing you mentioned in your address was your promotion to First Class, let us pray for it. There is always a procedure. That procedure opens in another one or two years’ time. By the grace of God your aspiration shall come to pass in your life time.”
President, Ilupeju Development Association (IDA), Dr Olufemi Babalola, said: “Ilupeju-Ekiti has been enjoying peace and development since Oba Oniyelu came on the throne. The most important thing that has happened to us is the unity. This event is to re-enact that unity, prepare ourselves for future challenges and make sure we continue in our developmental strides.
“Coincidentally, this town has just been made the capital of Ifeloju Local Council Development Association (LCDA). We are well prepared for that responsibility.” He listed the challenges of the town to include, “no good road network, no pipe-borne water and security threats.
“We appeal to government to promote our Oba to First Class position. We believe that will be a very good appreciation for what the town has done. Other towns are splitting but we have remained as one. We are far bigger than so many other towns that have had that recognition. So, we strongly appeal to government to do this for us.”
The ceremony also featured a book launch titled, “Ilupeju-Ekiti: An Account of Stewardship of Oba Emmanuel Olaleye Oniyelu,” authored by Olori Tolu Morenike Oniyelu, Eyesorun of Ilupeju-Ekiti.
Eighteen individuals were conferred with chieftaincy titles, 29 with honorary awards and eight with posthumous awards. The awards were in gold, silver and bronze categories.
One of the awardees in the silver category, Mr Oska Seyi Aiyeleso, Chairman, Coronation Planning Committee who is also Group Managing Director/CEO, Ekiti Fountain Holdings, said: “The celebration is a remarkable one for Ilupeju indigenes home and abroad. I thank God because today is a day to be reckoned with and to be ever cherished in the land of Ilupeju.
“It is a meritorious award for diligence, commitment, development of Ilupeju-Ekiti. I was giving a silver award for what I have done to Ilupeju-Ekiti in bringing infrastructural, economic development to Ilupeju-Ekiti. I thank God for it. We did not forget our past heroes, those who have gone by giving them posthumous awards.”
Another awardee, also in the silver category, Mr Sola Ogunmiluyi, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Deputy Governor, Ekiti State, said: “I feel elated. If your community has recognised you for your modest contributions towards the peace, progress and development of your community and you are rewarded it means you have been favoured by God.
“It is not usually common for a prophet to be recognised in his own community. I want to thank God for that opportunity and for that recognition. This tells me that I should be more committed, selfless, dedicated patriotic and to do more.”
Other side attractions included the thrilling performances by the Ekiti State Cultural Troupe, prayers by the Egungun (masquerade) for the Kabiyesi cum the community and representatives of Igbo people living in the town, who also entertained all at the venue with their cultural dance.
Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, was represented by Oba Adekunle Adebowale, Agbolu of Agbaje Ife. Other personalities in attendance included Oba Ayorinde Ilori-Faboro, Ajiboyede III, Olojudo of Ido Faboro-Ekiti; Oba Olu Ademolaju, Adugbole ll, Oloye of Oye-Ekiti; Oba Philip Eniayewu Oyediran, Olosin of Osin-Ekiti and Oba David Makanjuola Ajaja, Owatapa of Itapa-Ekiti.
Others were Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Prof Rasaki Ojo Bakare; Dr. Olufemi Babalola; Mr Oska Seyi Aiyeleso; Prince Akintunde Ayeni (YEMKEM); Chief Oladipupo Ajayi; Mr Sola Ogunmiluyi; Sunday Adunmo, (Galaxy); Mr Akinola Aregbesola, Chairman, Western Nigeria Security Network (Amotekun), Ekiti State; Mr Steve Bamisaye; Elder Tokunbo Babalola and Chief Duduyemi Alex.