Let me start by congratulating you O king, my king, for your miraculous elevation to the throne of your forefathers as the Oba of Ijebu-Jesha, the Elegboro of Egboro. Long may you reign Oba Moses Oluwafemi Agunsoye II. And long may the crown be on your head and the shoes stay on your royal feet, as our people would say.
Your emergence as the new king of my hometown has confirmed the biblical saying that “the race is not for the swiftest, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
As you know, you were not the richest, nor the strongest among the six or seven contestants that vied for the royal diadem yet God chose you. God, as always, works in mysterious ways. The same God who bypassed the seven gallant sons of Jesse and settled for David, the least expected to be king, has done it again, has proven Himself again. I pray you will be like David, the great king of Israel, the unifier who achieved a lot for his people.
I am happy you yourself admitted in our first ever interview: “It was by God’s miracle that I became king because the selection was a bit technical—let me use that language. For over six months, it’s been dillydallying up and down. The ‘Iwarafas’ (kingmakers) were a bit compromised somehow…There were so many intrigues that came in.”
To cut a long story short, you finally emerged king, even when your competitors took the matter to the court of law, challenging your enthronement. Today, you can triumphantly shout hosanna and boast that your people are solidly behind you. “Nine-ninety-five percent of the people of Ijebu-Jesha know me and are solidly behind me,” you told me. “Right from my youth, I have been close to Ijebu-Jesha. I am a grassroots person. I am always on ground. There is no development programme that goes on in Ijebu-Jesha that I don’t participate. I have a scholarship scheme for the children of Ijebu-Jesha. I am patron to many organizations—both in the church and in the community. So, I am well known. I’m well prepared. The day I was picked, come and see the mammoth crowd rejoicing, shouting hallelujah in the whole town.”
Among the ruling houses, all of them have been on throne more than once, thrice in some cases, but in the case of the Agunsoye dynasty where you emerged, you will be the second Agunsoye to mount the throne. Your great grandfather was a warrior who became king and reigned for five years, from 1893 to 1897. Ever since, the Agunsoye ruling house had been overlooked. Until your ascendancy.
Ah, your late father would be a happy man in his grave. I asked how your father will take the news of your enthronement and you were so euphoric: “Oh, my God! Heaven will shake. My father will be happy that the name of Agunsoye has come up again. There is rejoicing now in heaven on my account. What is happening on earth is a revelation of what is happening in heaven.”
I asked what are your plans and vision for Ijebu-Jesha and you replied: “My vision for Ijebu-Jesha is serious development—social development, physical development, youth empowerment and so many other things. As a retired civil servant and with my experience as an industrial inspector at the Inspectorate department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, I am well prepared for it. So many of our youths are jobless and we need to see to that. And I hope by God’s grace I will deliver. I am not going to sit down in one place. I am going to take my crown with one or two chiefs to go and visit influential Ijebu-Jesha sons and daughters to come and assist. I don’t think we can set up a university here. We don’t even have the land. We need to maximize the little we have by encouraging people to come and set up small-scale industries here.
“I need to be close to the government of the day. You cannot be an Oba and be in opposition. An Oba should be neutral and should know who to talk to.”
You retired from the civil service on January 24 this year at the age of 60. Little did you know that God was preparing you for something greater—a leadership position. I asked you to define leadership and you said: “Leadership is a service to humanity. It shouldn’t be a thing that should go into your head. If you want to perform, if you want to have result, you must respect others, you must respect people’s opinion. You should not be a sadist, you should not be an introvert, and you should not be somebody who doesn’t listen. You must listen very well, take points, add to it and put it to work. I believe in servant leadership.”
I asked you how you will cope as king not being rich and you replied amidst laughter: “That is even why they didn’t want to choose me in the first place. If you are not rich and you have thousands of rich people behind you, you are a billionaire. You wait for my next coronation. You will see the people behind me. The whole town will be at a standstill. With the number of people coming to support me, I am the richest man on earth.”
If God were to appear in your dream, what will you ask God for? “Just like Solomon, I will surely ask for wisdom to rule my people. I need God’s wisdom and maturity to handle the situation I am in right now. God will surely take control.”
You will recall your royal highness that every December we used to play football together. Our team of Ijebu-Jesha sons abroad versus the local football team that always trounced us to win the cup. You always graced the occasion with your comic act, running live commentary in a mixture of English and Ijesha dialect as the match progressed. Wherever you go, you announced your presence humorously, saying: “The Prince is here.” And that became your trade mark: The Prince is here. Today, the prince is now king and “the king is here.” I asked whether as king you will still be joining us on the football pitch and you said “being on the throne shouldn’t take that one away. It is better to continue to play football with the youths. It is a forum for building rapport with the youths. Moreover, an Oba should not just sit down at home. Me too, I need physical exercise.”
But “other things” will have to go. You explained: “As an Oba, you cannot do most of the things you used to do when you were an ordinary person. I am no more an ordinary person, so I have to change some of my attitude, some of my behavior.”
“What particular behavior will you change?” I asked.
“I know where you are going Mike Awoyinfa, the journalist. That one you are thinking about will change. As king, you cannot eat out again, you cannot drink out again. All those things have changed and has changed for good. But that doesn’t mean I won’t mix with my boys. My boys used to call me the Prince is here. Now, the Oba is here.”
“Will you marry more wives?”
“What do I need them for? Gone are the days when as an Oba, they will give you small wives. No, no, no. That one is out of it!”
On a final note, you stretched a hand of friendship and fellowship to all your co-contestants to bury the hatchets and join you in the task of bringing peace, progress and prosperity to Ijebu-Jesha, our beloved hometown.