Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
His ascension to the throne, as usual was not without controversies, as many princes interested in the stool also contested with him. But by dint of luck and hierarchy of consideration, Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo became Deji of Akure, Ondo State. His kingdom is made up of four local government areas.
He recently bore his mind on various issues.
How has it been since you ascended the throne four years ago?
I have to thank God who has kept me till this far. I have to thank the kingmakers for selecting me as the Deji of Akure. I also thank the people of Akure land for their support so far. It has been a wonderful experience. I am enjoying my new life on the throne.
What have your achievements and challenges?
Our major achievement so far is the peace that reigns in Akure land. The land has been very peaceful. Our people are now united and this, as far as I am concerned, is a great achievement. The Lord has made us to overcome the challenges of life.
While growing up, did you ever nurse the ambition of being the traditional ruler of this town?
I never nursed that desire. In fact, initially I did not know that I was related to a royal family. I thought it was only the Adesida family that could become the king until I grew up.
It was after I bagged my master’s degree that I knew that we were part of the Osupa Ruling House. Adesida had been ruling in Akure and fortunately, I belong to that ruling house.
When did interest to become a king develop in you?
When they called me in 1999 to contest, I laughed. I thought they were joking because I never dreamt of it. I later discovered that they were serious about it. I contested but unfortunately, I was not picked. We kept fighting until 2005 when it was opened again for us to contest and I contested again with others.
I was the only one chosen by the kingmakers but as God wanted it, they picked Prince Adepoju Adesina. That is why someone should not be losing hope in anything. I am older than Adesina and I thought Adesina would outlive me. But as God would have it again, he was deposed from the throne and banished from the town.
Thereafter, Prince Adebiyi Adesida, who was almost the same age with me became king. At this point, I had forgotten about kingship but whatever God designs, nobody can change. Here I am today at the Palace as the Deji of Akure kingdom.
Some people believe becoming an Oba is fetish, what is your take on this?
One day in my church, a priest was preaching, saying that all the traditional rulers should be having a special programme where they can talk to them not to do anything against the will of God. I told them that God knows that we have all sinned and He sent His only Son to come and liberate us. If you now say that a Christian should not become an Oba, that we will be involving in idolatry, how are we going to change the system?
I am a Christian. If I want to choose a chief, I will choose the one who believes in God, whether a Christian or a Muslim. Gradually we will be changing the ungodly system. If you say a Christian should not be an Oba and you put an unbeliever to be the king, you won’t contribute to the growth of God’s kingdom.
You can’t be outside and change things. You have to participate in the system to be able to effect the change. Now as I am here, I know what I am doing and I am going to change a lot of things. I know with the help of God, I will change a lot of things before I join my ancestors.
For example, the Erelu or Iyaloja, if they want to have their prayers, they will bring out Bible instead of fetish items. She is trying to change things there because she is a Christian. If I did not put that kind of a woman there, the idolatry will continue.
I once jokingly told one of the priests in my church that I would make him the chief of Awos, so that when he gets there, he will change some things and he was laughing. If he becomes the chief of the Awos, he will preach to them the gospel of God and consequently change their ways to that of God.
Another is the issue of polygamy, that an Oba must have more than one wife, what is your reaction?
There is no issue about that; I am an African. Before I became the Oba, I had three wives and another one has been added. I believe in polygamy before I became the Oba and it is the tradition of my town.
What is you relationship with other traditional rulers in Yoruba land?
We have been relating cordially with one another. The Ooni of Ife, the Olubadan, Osemawe of Ondo kingdom and others relate well with me. We have maintained a very cordial relationship as traditional rulers.
What are you doing to unite your people of Akure land?
When I became the king, I discovered that the people outside Akure South Local Government Area believed our people regarded them as inferior, that they were villages. I have gone to them; we have had meetings so that we can have voice in all the three councils in Akure Division, even including Idanre.
Some Obas alleged that the first class Obas enjoy government attention more than them. How true is this?
It is unfortunate that it is only in the South-West that everybody wants to be upgraded. For instance, the Ooni and I are first class Obas, despite that if I see Ooni, I know he is my senior. But here, the moment you upgrade them, they will be claiming equality.
This is not supposed to be. The Deji has been installing many kings in Akure land but immediately they are upgraded, they will be claiming equality with Deji. I can’t be claiming equality with Ooni despite the fact that we are both first class Obas.
Some Obas in Yoruba land are being accused of partisanship do you think this is proper?
You can’t do without politics, even to select who will be the king; there will still be some elements of politics. The Obas have to be involved in politics underground. You can’t just stay away from politics. Many things we get now are from the government they pay our salaries and do many other things for us. We are even fighting for a situation whereby they involve us in politics.
If I want to travel abroad now, I have to get the permission from the chairman of my local government, which is not right enough. I should be the head of the local government. The LG chairmen should be mere administrators, while the presiding Oba will be the chairman of the LG. It is a pity we are not involved in the administration of local government.
What do you think should be in the constitution in favour of the traditional rulers that are not there?
We want to be given roles in the constitution, especially in the local government areas, that we should be the ceremonial heads of the councils. We should be involved in the running of affairs of the
Will that not threaten the powers of the council chairmen?
They will still have their powers. It will just be like a board of parastatals where we have the managing directors and the chairmen or chancellors and we have the vice chancellors in case of universities. We should be involved in anything done at the local government.
What are your plans for Akure kingdom?
I have many plans for this kingdom. These include ensuring that an Akure man becomes governor of the state. I want peace to reign among my people. There is no industry in this kingdom and this is why we are trying to create some areas for industrial development. We are currently talking with some companies, and this will generate employment for our youths.
Are you pleased with the way you met Akure?
No, but in terms of infrastructure, Akure is good. At least, it is better than what it used to look like before. But the indigenes of Akure are not at the helm of affairs at the federal level and I am not happy with this.
How do you see Akure in the next 10 years?
I see a great city; I see one of the best cities in Africa. As long as I am on this throne and with the support of my people, I shall ensure that we realise this dream.
Most traditional rulers live a restricted life. How do you socialise?
I still socialise because the palace is not a prison. My friends still come here to play with me and we relax together, though I don’t do many things I use to do before. I am too young to live an isolated life.
However, I have missed a lot of things because if I go to most of my friends, they always cage me. I am not able to interact the way I want again. In fact, I have missed a lot of things, but I have no option. I have to abide by the tradition.
How was growing up like for you?
I started my elementary school at Aponmu Primary School. For my secondary education, I went to Oyemekum Grammar School, Akure. Later I travelled to the United States of America where I had my first degree at Florida International University before moving to Baltimore where I had my master’s degree in Architecture at Morgan State University.
I worked in many places before I came back to Nigeria to join politics. I was a Personal Assistant to the late Governor Olusegun Agagu. Today, to the glory of Almighty God, I am the king of this kingdom.