The Owa Obokun Adimula of Ìjèsà land, Oba (Dr.) Adekunle Aromolaran, had been under pressure. A tremendously taxing one at that. Darts of disrespect were being discharged towards him by some politicians who were no longer able to count on his quiet and subtle support. A war of attrition was being waged against the Ijesa Kingdom and its people on account of the discomfort with the Owa Obokun Adimula of Ijesa land. In addition, the peace of and in Ìjèsà land was being vitiated. Everyone was tensive and there was tension everywhere. Everyone was on edge. Ìjèsà people felt like being under siege.
People of all political persuasions were perplexed on what to do. There was bitterness across the board. The anger was more than palpable. There was apprehension. There was exasperation. The indignation was permeating. The irritation across Ìjèsà land seemed to ricochet from the corridors of cavities. Politics was contaminating the atmosphere. Inter party conflagration was agog. Intra party displeasure within one of the parties, was at its height.
She decided to grab the bull by the horn. She could no longer bear the pain of what was unfolding. She could no longer tolerate the kind, nature and degree of disrespect to which Owa Obokun Adimula, and by extension, all Ijesa were being subjected. Yes, she was a politician. But she was and still is Ìjèsà first and foremost. Her political party was in power in Osun State. She was number two citizen in the State. But she was ready to risk all. Her people, and by extension, the symbol of their oneness as emblematic in Owa Obokun Adimula of Ìjèsà land could not and would not continue to be humiliated and disrespected.
So, what did she do?
She summoned the faithful of Ijesa origin within her party. She provided leadership that was needed at a crucial time. Her objective was to pull Ijesa land away from the precipice of destructive political conflagration. She made her feelings known about what was going on. She pointed the direction to which she expected them to go. Luckily, the majority of those who hearken to her clarion call were in agreement with her. They had to call the political leadership in the state to order. It was decided there and then that if the hostile acts of disrespect to Ijesa and their symbol of unity was not stopped, if politics would not be played within the parameters of decency and tolerance, then all the Ijesa in the party would quit the party en masse.
But it did not have to get to that point. The party leadership at the state level hearkened to their complaints. A much-needed restraint was observed. A modicum of peace was brought back to Ijesaland. While politics continued, it was imbued with some decency, decorum and etiquette from all sides. We could still belong to different political parties. But we could do so without destroying ourselves. We could do so without destroying the symbol of our oneness, of our unity as Ijesa. We could do so without undue bitterness. We could do so by remembering that we are all Ijesa, first and foremost, before any political pigmentation. We could do so by reminding ourselves that we are all children of the same parents.
She could easily have remained cowed. She could easily have been petrified, She could easily have remained anonymous to protect herself and preserve her position as the Deputy Governor of the State. She could easily have turned the other eye and pretended not to see. She could have allowed the insults to continue to be hauled at the Owa Obokun and the Ijesa by implication. She could easily have hidden away behind the appurtenances of power guaranteed by her position.
But she chose not to be a coward. Erelu Olusola Idowu, Omo a sukun jeun j’oro Ibodi i dun, found it difficult to forget the child of whom she was and still is. She decided to put everything on the line. Her office, her name, her political career, her comfort. Everything could go up in flames if she did not succeed. But she cared more about her people than all those things. She showed the courage of Yeyelagagba (1588-1590) the first woman Owa Obokun Adimula of Ijesa land. She showed the bravery of Yeyegunrogbo (1590 -1600) who succeeded Yeyelagagba in the same position. Olusola, Omo Eki ko i k’Obinrin rogbodo mo nu; k’Obinrin rogbodo baa nu, Obinrin pelenge apoira chose to be the Moremi of Ijesa Land, ready to make herself a sacrificial lamb for the protection of the dignity of Ijesa land.
Like Queen Hangbe of Dahomey (1716-1718) who created one of the fiercest women infantry soldiers in history, known as the Mino or Minon which means “our mothers” or ahosi meaning “king’s wives” in Fon Language, Erelu Olusola Obada has always been an amazing Lady. Yes, a Lady, not a woman. There is a gulf between being a woman and a Lady. Unto every female, it is given to be a woman. But not unto every woman is it given to become a Lady. Unto very many is given such an invaluable opportunity to become a Lady, but only very few has the ability, yes the ability akin to that of the phoenix in the Greek mythology, to rise from the ashes to scale the arduous hurdle to purloin ladyship.
As a Lady, Erelu Obada is an exemplar of sophistication, education, intelligence and urbaneness. She personifies a combination of shrewdness, calmness and clairvoyance. She epitomizes beauty, boldness and brilliance. She is an apotheosis of gut, gallantry and geniality. Her fortitude fosters her familial nature. Accommodating. Tolerating. Patient. Persevering. She is tenaciously tough, relentlessly fierce and firm but very friendly and understanding. Usually very regal and motherly, to many of her admirers, she is very nurturing, tending, caring and considerate.
A Lady of honour, Erelu Obada’s word is her bound. She is not flippant in anyway. Frivolity is an anathema. She despises superficiality. Her depth and seriousness are permeated with a vivacity that vitalizes. Very organized and methodical. She is a believer in destiny, who never leaves anything to chance. Her zealotry in the concept of destiny is that if and when you are on the right track, you got to keep moving, moving with determination and purposeful focus that is inebriated with briskness and swiftness.
She is reliable and dependable. This explains her huge following within and outside her political party despite being a disciplinarian. A disciplined leader herself, she is a pragmatic connoisseur of dogmas. Many people have counted on her without any iota of regret. Many have put their faith in her without being disappointed. Her promises are like cashier cheques. They never bounce. This is an attribute which many politicians wished they had, but it is a second nature to her. To her followers, Erelu Obada is like Imo Rock of Ilesa – solid, sturdy, staunch and stout.
Born in Ibodi, as Olusola Idowu Agbeja into the Agbejanlabofa Family, Agbejanlabofa, Obi Ijoka, kee ba nii sire oja fifun, Omo Otapete, Omo Otagogoro, o ko Ajimoko l’ori Otapete, o ko Owa l’ori Otagogoro, lari sun-un sele leyin a re; she completed her primary education at UMC Demonstration School, Ibadan and attended Queen’s School, Ede, Osun State for her secondary education. She attended Watford College of Technology, Watford, United Kingdom and the University of Buckingham, Buckingham, also in the United Kingdom where he studied Law before she was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1986.
Her carrier started with the Nigeria Airways as an Advertising Officer from where she proceeded to work as the Managing Partner in the law firm of Olusola Agbeja & Co. In 1990, she established Iron Gate Finance and Trust Company Limited, a privately owned finance and investment company where she served as the Managing Director. In 1996, she became the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of Materials Management Services Limited and later rose to become the company’s Managing Director.
She was the Deputy Governor of Osun State from 2003 to 2010, Director of Protocol to President Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organization in 2011 and later that year became the Minister of State for Defence and eventually ended up as de facto Minister till 2013. She was appointed as an Elder Statesman to the 2014 National Conference, and in September of that year President Jonathan conferred on her the Commander of the Order of the Niger (GON) national award. After serving as a Director in the Presidential Re-Election Campaign Organisation of President Goodluck Jonathan, she was appointed as a pioneer Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the Federal University, Dustin-Ma in Kastina State. Earlier she had received Honoris Causa Degree from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology.
Erelu Olusola Obada is a patriot of Ijesa land. She is very proud of being Ijesa. It means a great deal to her. She would do anything to protect anything Ijesa. She would do anything to promote anything Ijesa. The Emma Harte of Ijesa land, the indefatigable character in Barbara Taylor Bradford’s “A Woman of Substance” – adventurous, determined, daring, audacious, valiant and gallant – yes, she could never be deterred by danger or pain. As she celebrates her 70th year on mother earth, we should all rejoice with her and toast this gift to Ijesa land.
We wish her a very happy birthday and many happy returns of the day.
©️ Remi Oyeyemi