Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Prince Yisa Olusola Adeniyi Olaniyan is the Oba-elect of Ipokia, Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State. He about the journey to the throne and plans for the town.
How do you the Onipokia-elect?
I feel very happy and fulfilled. For me, this is a dream come true. I had dreamt that a day would come when my people would beckon on me to lead them. Yes, I am a prince, but you know that it is not all the princes that would eventually mount the throne.
Since I was a child, I had nursed the ambition to become the monarch of my town. So, choosing me now to succeed Oba Raufu Adeole who joined his ancestors in 2016, is simply a dream come true.
You were voted for by all the five kingmakers, what do think was responsible for this?
I knew I would emerge as the Oba-elect, because the feelers from the people before the selection indicated that I was preferred over other seven contestants. The youth, particularly, wanted somebody who is young, educated, exposed and connected.
Though I knew I would come out tops during the selection, but I never imagined and expected that all the five kingmakers would cast their votes for me. I am very humbled by the outcome of the selection. It clearly showed that the people of Ipokia land knew who they wanted to be their monarch and I sincerely appreciate their trust and confidence in my ability and capacity to lead them.
But there was this allegation that money exchanged hands to influence the decision, what is your take on this?
The allegation is untrue. When you jostle for a position and you lose, and you decide to jettison spirit of sportsmanship, you are bound to attribute your failure to so many factors, including such allegation you mentioned. My nomination for the stool began from the ruling house I belong to – Iwayedodo- where I was put forward.
I believe that the kingmakers must have been convinced that I was the best for the stool of Onipokia among the contestants. I can say it with all the emphasis at my disposal that I did not give a dime to anybody because I wanted to be chosen as a monarch. I only showed interest in what is my right and the decision makers chose me.
The selection process was done in the public and supervised by the Secretary to the Ipokia LG. Why was this so?
The process was just to ensure transparency and let every contestant know and see that the process is free of manipulation. To me, such process is the best to eliminate any rancour that might have emanated from the selection process. I would even like to recommend such to other towns, so that obaship tussle will be drastically reduced.
What are your plans for Ipokia?
Ipokia is an historical and ancient town. Its position and place in history of Yoruba land cannot be overemphasised. But if you look around, the physical and socio-economic development you see is not commensurate with its historical significance. Not until when a polytechnic was established in the town recently, the town lacked social amenities. So, I want to be remembered as a monarch who would change Ipokia from an agrarian town to an economic prosperous one.
I plan to work in collaboration with the state government to bring about the desired development and growth of the town. I will ensure that I bring my exposure and international connections to bear by facilitating business opportunities to Ipokia. Also, I will see what I can do to help in expediting the take off of Ipokia Polytechnic, so that our youth will have access tertiary education.
If you notice and observe, you will realise that amenities such as power, roads and other infrastructure are missing here. I will always appeal and engage the state government on the need to address the infrastructural deficit of my town.
What do you intend to do to ensure youths are gainfully engaged?
Our youth because of our proximity to the border usually engage in smuggling to eke out a living. I don’t blame them because they need to survive. But my ascension to the throne will give a new direction to the youth; they will not see smuggling as a legitimate means of survival and livelihood.
Government has tried its best in ensuring this axis has an institution, at least, that will attract more people to Ipokia. Beyond that, as a monarch who has lived abroad for over two decades, I will use all the connections at my disposal and make sure businesses thrive here.
I will facilitate foreign investments, particularly in agro-allied businesses into Ipokia. Also, my foundation will ensure that scholarships are awarded regularly to brilliant but indigent pupils and students of my town. With proper programmes for the youth, I believe Ipokia is in for a better time.
What is your message to your co-contestants and the people of Ipokia in general?
To my brothers who contested the stool with me, I want to humbly appeal to them to join me in taking our town to greater heights. Just a person will be crowned king, but that person needs all the help he can get to ensure a successful reign. So, they should team up with me to move Ipokia forward.
And for the Ipokia people, they should continue to support my obaship just as they threw their weight behind me during the selection process. With their cooperation and support, I believe, our town will witness accelerated development.