‘I Was Working Towards Getting Federal Appointment, I Didn’t Know God Has Reserved Permanent Appointment For Me as Oba’
Kuta, near Iwo in Osun State, is no doubt an ancient town. It is one of the descendants of Owu scattered across Yorubaland and around the world. Kuta-Owu is the second Owu settlement that has been in existence ever before the war that disintegrated all Owu people from their headquarters of Owu at Orile-Owu. Kuta has been in existence before the war broke Owu Kingdom. His Royal Majesty Oba Hammed Adekunle Oyelude Makama, Tegbosun 111, is the Olowu of Kuta and Chairman Supreme Council of All Owu Obas in Nigeria and in the Diaspora. At present spending his second year on the throne, Oba Makama spoke about his town and his relationship with former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida… Interviewed by BIODUN AKANDE
Did you ever dream of becoming a king?
Being a blue-blood, it is the birthright of every prince to aspire to become a king and I am grateful to God who has ordained me to be one.
Family background/growing up…
I’m from the most senior royal family in Owu, Kuta. My forefathers were the first kings in this land. My granddad also reigned for about 27 years. Then my dad died as a prince but providence thrust the leadership of Kuta upon me and this is my second year on the throne. My mum hails from Ile–Ogbo, a neighboring community here. I am the first child in a family of four children. Growing up was a little bit turbulent and this is normally associated with life in most ruling houses. I did not have the benefit of the golden spoon; it was struggling right from the early days; it was a case of struggling, working hard and what destiny has ordained.
Within the short time you ascended the throne of your forefathers, we notice you have brought some development to Kuta. Tell us about your vision for the town.
Some developmental projects are already on the ground and I’m not resting on my oars because on my ascending the throne I said to the people that a new Kuta was around the corner. For the fact that we younger generation lack patience and there is a disconnection between the elders and us, they don’t want to thrust leadership on us. They believe we are two much in a haste and that we don’t know what it takes to rule. I now want to use myself as a catalyst for development rather than being a catalyst for distraction. Inasmuch as I pray that I don’t want to digress from my set goals and I pray that we would reach there, I have a lot of plans for our town. We are rallying round sons, daughters of Kuta, monarchs and friends of Kuta to make Kuta a small London in no distant future.
Your relationship with the former president, General Ibrahim Babangida, is well known to many people. You are said to be so close to the former president. Can you tell us how the relationship began?
The relationship between General Babangida and I is something I cannot define its genesis. All I can say is that it is a relationship between a father and a son. He has been playing a fatherly role right from time and up to the time of ascending the throne. At a time I was looking up to him to get a federal appointment for me I didn’t know God has reserved this permanent appointment for me. Up till today he is the only one Nigerian apart from Almighty Allah that I look up to in everything. If I find anything difficult, inasmuch as I set my eyes on him, the solution would come. I use to call him Baba Kabiyesi and I’m very sure Kuta will still benefit immensely from his milk of kindness.
What are the unique things about Kuta as a town in Osun State?
Owu as a town is quite distinct because we have many Kuta. We have Kuta in Mali, we have in Indonesia, there is another one in Switzerland and we also have one in Niger but Owu-Kuta, which is my domain, is a very unique town in many respects. First, Kuta is the second Owu settlement that has been in existence ever before the war that disintegrated all Owu from the headquarters of Owu at Orile-owu. Kuta has been in existence before the war broke Owu Kingdom and up till today we don’t have it on record that a war has ever been waged against Kuta so that is very unique. The second one is that Kuta was never thwarted by all the inter-tribal wars during the pre and post-colonial era. Also, we have a very unique and special historical monument and I have been working with some consultants in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Culture to turn it into a tourist spot and money spinning spot for this community and the government. It has a spot where our forefathers descended to the ground and it is called Alugba Shrine. All sons, daughters and friends of Kuta converge on the spot for the celebration, which is held annually. The history had it that one of our forefathers had overstayed and he didn’t die, he now went to that spot followed by his children and descended into the ground. The horse that took him there also climbed the tree and you can see the traces of the horse hooves on the tree but for lack of preservation they allowed the tree to fall off. More importantly, there is a chain that came out from the exact spot where the man went down and anytime we are troubled, we would go there, call him and he would answer us. In addition, we don’t sell groundnut in Kuta and nobody dares pound yam and sell without seeing the consequences. It is totally forbidden here, and I cannot fold my arms and watch people do it; there are laws to be enforced because it has been like that since time immemorial irrespective of individuals’ religious background. We eat groundnut, we also eat pounded yam but we don’t sell it in commercial quantity. I don’t even allow it to be planted on our land.
Politically and economically, has Kuta attained the height expected of an ancient town like it and if not how can this be brought about given your wide contacts?
No, politically we have been at a disadvantage and economically we are not doing well but I can assure you that we are praying hard and believe that God in his infinite mercies will look in our way this time round. One of the major obstacles hindering the economic development of Kuta and Ede is lack of linkage. There is this bridge that my forefathers started. They started it on a communal effort in 1961 and they are still on it. They have contributed so much on their own but it has not yielded any good result and it is just about 12 minutes from Kuta to Ede. Had it been the bridge had been completed and when one gets to Ede you are almost in Osogbo, the state capital. Let me add this, you see a monarch does not have political power and it is through political power that you can bring development to your domain. But a monarch has the influence and capability to bring people from diverse background and to come and site developmental projects in his community, which I have been doing. Also, those entitled and not entitled to the throne rose up but it did not take me time to pacify the aggrieved parties because God has a hand in it. And on ascending the throne, the first thing I did was to bring everybody together regardless of their ruling houses including the sworn enemies then and thank God we are now best of friends. We have four ruling houses here, formerly if one ruling house is on the throne you will not see other ruling houses mingle with the one that is ruling but I make sure the four ruling houses are doing things together now.
What is your vision for Kuta?
Like I said earlier, my vision is to see Kuta becoming a small London. With sons, daughters, friends of Kuta and coupled with my own effort, we hope to see Kuta becoming a tourist hub, with the people living in peace and harmony devoid of any acrimony or rancor. This would bring about the springing up of industries and institutions of higher learning. And on a note of finality, we want government as a matter of policy to quickly look at a way of integrating the traditional institution and allow them to key into the security situation of this nation as it used to be then. If the monarchs had been carried along I’m sure we won’t find ourselves in this nasty situation we are now. It has gone worse to the extent that Emirs that used to be highly revered in the North have become subjects of attack either overtly or covertly. As this country is going adrift we would continue to pray that the nation remains as one.