His Royal Majesty, Oba Obasoyin Ayodele Ganiyu, the Okomolese II, the Olukere of Ikere-Ekiti in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State, ascended the throne of his forefathers on July 16, 2014. During the administration of the immediate-past governor of Ekiti State, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Oba Obasoyin studied Business Administration at Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State. In a chat with our Correspondent, DEMOLA ATOBABA, the monarch talks about how he ascended the throne, the Olosunta Cultural Festival and 2015 general election. He also speaks on the supremacy battle between Olukere and Ogoga, his plans for the community and other sundry issues…
The issue of Olukere and Ogoga has always been generating a lot of controversies. Can you share with us what is actually responsible for this supremacy tussle?
Yes, it has been a recurring issue over the years, but if you observe very well at the entrance of Olukere’s Palace it is written there boldly- “The Source,” which means the root, the beginning of Ikere-Ekiti. Every Yoruba man that is vast in the culture and tradition of the Yoruba will know that Olu of any town is either the Oba, the ruler, the leader or the founder of that town. The name makes it clear and depicts that I, the Olukere, is the founder, the originator, the source of Ikereland in Ikere-Ekiti.
Kabiesi, can you share with us a little about Ogoga stool?
To be factual, history brought Ogoga to Ikere, my forefather who was Olukere then was on the throne in Ikere while Ogoga was a hunter. He came on a hunting expedition to Ikere from a village called Agama-Agama, which is located between Ijare and Akure in Ondo State. If you go to this town you will confirm that the Oba there is called Ogoga-Agama. At that period of his hunting in Ikere, Ogoga was brought to Olukere’s palace by the subjects of the town (Ikere), that he shot an elephant, which he (Ogoga) could not locate. By the power given to Olukere as the source, he consulted Ifa Oracle and the elephant was located. The trunk and some parts of that elephant are still inside the palace of Olukere till today as I am speaking with you, while we use some parts of the elephant as trumpet when we are moving out as Olukere. Then, my forefathers saw him as a gentle man; he accommodated him and gave him hospitality. To prove my points, there is a book titled: “Intelligence Report of Ikere Ekiti,” which was written by a white man called WEIR in 1933. This man WEIR was the District Officer of Ikere-Ekiti during pre-independence. In the book, he wrote: “Olukere gives Ogoga the permission to settle.” My forefathers saw him as a honest hardworking man; then he started sending him on errand. But sometimes in 1914, the white men controlling Western States of Nigeria called a meeting of traditional rulers in Ekiti and it was slated for Otun-Ekiti in Moba Local Government. The Olukere then was old; he could not walk to Otun. There was no vehicle at that time, so he sent Ogoga to represent him at the meeting in Otun-Ekiti. At the end of the meeting, a record of attendance was taken; there he (Ogoga) wrote “Ogoga of Ikere” without writing that he was representing Olukere. My forefathers, for the sake of peace, allowed him to continue with the administrative role, while he (Olukere) devoted his time to the spiritual, socio-cultural and general wellbeing of the people of his community. A note was made to Ogoga to always submit his report to Olukere. This always reflects in the way they praise them (Olukere people). For instance, Olukere is praised thus – “Obule f’ogoga soro”, meaning that he gives land to Ogoga to dwell. Ogoga is praised thus – “O’dele olule po jolule lo,” meaning he who comes to somebody’s house and takes over from the owner of the house. There was no reason for conflict, because then, there was nothing like government’s recognition and staffing of Obas.
What are you doing now in respect of government’s recognition cum staff of office?
Well for quite sometimes now, we realised that we are being sidetracked and alienated from the affairs of the town that readily belongs to us. The spiritual aspect and the most important cultural affairs of this town is being carried out by the Olukere. When you got in here you saw market women with different issues; that shows that anything that happens in Ikere market and other related social life of Ikere people must come to Olukere. But the government doesn’t even bother to cater for us. They don’t fund us, so this led us to write to the government to let them realise why we should not build houses and yet be kept at the boys quarters.
How hopeful are you on the proposal presented to the government?
In everything we do in this life, we must put three things at the back of our mind, that is fairplay, justice and equity. With those three, there would be love. If those three things are the basis of love, I have one hundred percent confidence that a just government like the one we are having now in our dear state, in person of Dr. Ayodele Fayose, will look into the history of this town and do the just thing and be fair in the decision and come out positively to recognise us and give us the staff of office.
But the present Deputy Governor, Dr. Olusola Eleka, is from Ikere-Ekiti. Many people believe that that position would be an advantage for you on the issue of staff of office and turn things around. What effort has he been making?
It is quite unfortunate that the issue of Ogoga and Olukere has polarised the community. The polarisation has affected the love within Ikere people, which I pray to God to bring back. I am going to work assiduously to make sure Ikere remains one and not divided. Dr. Olusola Eleka, the Deputy Governor of the state, is a good son of Ikere-Ekiti. I believe he would represent Ikere well and make sure that justice is done through the cabinet of Governor Ayodele Fayose. Even for not recognising this throne, the state government is loosing some income because Olosunta Festival in Ikere, which an annual event, is well known everywhere in the world and it is supposed to be an income-earning festival for the state as part of her Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) because our culture is being showcased to the world. The story of Ikere is known throughout Yorubaland. At Ile-Ife in Osun State, it is the symbol of Olukere that represents Ikere-Ekiti in the palace of Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuwade. During my reign, polarisation in Ikere would stop and justice would be done.
In your own view, what are the roles of traditional rulers in nation building?
Unfortunately, royal fathers have been relegated in the scheme of things in the land. This has been the reason why things are not the way they are supposed to be in the country today. An Oba is freely chosen by people with laiddown rules and regulations to head and lead them aright. So because of the freedom they have in chosen their Oba, it is easy for the people to follow the directive of the Oba and its also easy for the Oba to control the people and that is why in the olden days, truth and honesty prevailed because prompt repercussion easily descend on any defaulter of truth. The fear of tradition used to scare everybody, so there was no foul play then as we have nowadays. If Obas nowadays are put in their normal places in the scheme of things in running the affairs of the country and states, the government themselves would be more relaxed; they would have little to do, they would also be able to get direct contact with people.
The presidential election is at the corner, as a royal father, what is your reaction to the political developments in Nigeria?
As a traditional ruler we are doing our best within our limited resources. Spiritually, we are doing our best praying to God to allow peace to reign. I seize this opportunity to appeal to our politicians to eschew violence and do everything with peace and honesty. I also want to appeal to the people not to get intimidated by anybody in the name of politics. They should vote for a better tomorrow
Since your emergence as Olukere of Ikere, what has been your plan for the youth in the community?
Youths are the pillars of tomorrow, I always make sure I encourage them not to joke with their education. Out of my own sweat, without collecting money from government or anybody, I pay school fees of some of them. I do tell them not to be discouraged from education because of school fees and that they should always come to the palace for it. There is a festival called “Olosunta”. The festival is used to bring Ikere indigenes together, indigenes both at home and in the Diaspora. Through this festival, we are looking forward to a positive response from government to our paper to bring Ikere youths together for peaceful development. We have illustrious sons and daughters in Ikere-Ekiti.
Before you became Olukere, was there any premonition that you would one day be an Oba?
Premonition or no premonition, if you come from a royal family you are definitely entitled to be an Oba one day when it’s the turn of your ruling house. I am from a royal family, although a spiritualist called “Awomimo” in Lagos State, once said it in 1992 through the Ifa Oracle, that I will be an Oba but I did not take it serious then. The man (Awomimo) was the first person I called the day I was enthroned as a monarch because the prediction shows the power in African tradition and culture. White people would come to discourage us here in our own land (Nigeria) that our artefacts are primitive and not good, but they would purchase the artefacts and take it to their country for use.