Prince Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III was born 53 years ago to the family of Late Oba Adekola Ogunoye II in Owo Local government area of Ondo state. On Friday 12th July, 2019 marked 91 days that the late monarch, Oba David Victor Folagbade Olateru-olagbagi III, the Olowo of Owo kingdom and the paramount ruler of Owo kingdom joined his ancestors though he had since been buried and the new Olowo emerged. Until his selection as the Oba-elect, he was the Director of Finance and Administration of the Government House in the Ondo State Civil Service.
He is indeed a man of destiny. He is the first Olowo of Owo kingdom who rose to the position of the Permanent Secretary and he retire as the Permanent Secretary Government House Protocol. He became Permanent Secretary 7 days after he became Olowo Elect. He is the Third Ogunoye to ascend the throne of Olowo. His father Oba Adekola Ogunoye II was installed when the late Oba Olateru Olagbegi II was disposed in 1966. His father rule for 24 years.
Prince Ajibade Olowo elect is the first Olowo to rise to the position of Permanent Secretary in the history of Owo and the second lawyer to ascend the throne. He was 3 years old when his late father became the 30th Olowo of Owo kingdom and he reign for 24 years before he joined his forefathers and 26 years after the young Ajibade Gbadegesin was selected as the 33rd Olowo’s of Owo kingdom and the third Ogunoye. He is a man of purity whose favorite colour is white.
He is a very charming and down to earth person. Come 23rd of August 2019, the traditional rites for the new Olowo will begin and come September 10th the coronation will take place at the Olowo’s palace. On Tuesday, City People’s Princess Adeola Shittu was at Prince Ajibade Ogunoye III Olowo Elect’s office at the governments and he opened up on his career and plans for Owo community. Enjoy!
Let me start by congratulating you on your selection as the new Olowo of Owo kingdom and also on your elevation as the Permanent Secretary. Can you briefly tell us about yourself Kabiyesi?
Thanks so much, I’m Prince Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye, the Olowo Elect of Owo kingdom. I was born on the 6th, July 1966 to the Royal family of late Oba Adekola Ogunoye II, the Olowo of Owo kingdom. I attended Owo government primary school and Owo High School both in Owo town. I had my A-Levels at Oyemekun grammer school and came out in flying colours.
I proceed to the then Ondo State University, Ado Ekiti now Ekiti State University where I bagged my First degree and later my Masters in Law and I attended the Law School. I am a Solicitor and Barrister of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. I joined the Ondo state civil service as an Administrative Officer in 2001 but before then I was a secondary school teacher.
Since 2001, I have been able to transverse various ministries, department and agencies of government. Before now I have worked in 4 ministries that included the Ministry of Justices, Ministry of finance, Ministry of Natural Resources and Ministry of Transport. I also worked at the Civil Service Commission where I served twice, at a time I was at the Office of Establishment and Ondo State Pension Transitional Department before I was posted to the department of government house and protocol as the Director of Finances and admin.
I was retained as the Secretary of the department when the then Permanent Secretary was appointed the Ondo state Head of Services and through the help of God and Mr. governor, I was appointed the Permanent Secretary of the Government House and Protocol few days after I emerged as the Olowo of Owo kingdom. It will interest you to know that am the first Permanent secretary to ascend the throne of the Olowo and second lawyer in the history of Olowo of Owo kingdom to ascend the throne.
Kabiyesi, can, you share with us, your growing up days, was it fun or challenging?
Hmmm, to my best of knowledge I will say my growing up days was full of fun, it will interest you to know that I was barely 2 years old when my father, late Oba Adekola Ogunoye II ascend the throne of his forefathers in 1968 and he was on the throne for good 25 years before he joined his ascenators in 1992. So I will say within that period of 25 years, I was treated as a prince, I was living with him in the palace and when am not with my father then, I was in school and after which I returned to him. I was very close to my father and this made him to pamper me. Though I have siblings. I will say I enjoyed my growing up days as a child and as an adult.
On July 12th, 2019 you emerged the 33rd Olowo of Owo kingdom and few days after you were promoted to the position of the permanent secretary, you will agree with me that the month of July was a blessing for you, how does this make you feel?
Laughs…first of all I will say I feel good and happy. The month of July has been exceptionally good for me, It’s my month of birth, it was the same month I was selected to be the Olowo of Owo kingdom, a first class traditional institute in Nigeria and in the same month, I rose to the peak of my career as a civil servant, I was made the permanent secretary. The beauty of it is that everything happened in a space of few days.
My birthday was on the 6th of July, I became the Olowo of Owo Kingdom on the 12th of July 2019 and my appointment as the permanent secretary came on the 17th July 2019, so it was a 3 in 1 blessing for me and I will attribute it to be the grace of the Lord upon my life, so I am very grateful and happy and I will use this medium to appreciate everyone who stood by me and supported me during the Obaship race, I am so grateful.
Was there any prediction that you will become the Olowo while growing up?
That’s one big question that I will have loved to answer directly but I will reserve my answer till after my coronation and I will say let everything be fulfilled first.
How ready are you for this journey because as a Kabiyesi you are restricted to some things due to your position as the Olowo of Owo?
I will say I am well prepared and ready to ascend the throne of my forefathers and bring unity among my people. On the social aspect, though I go to parties but am not a party person and I always restrict myself on whatever that I do because I knew a day like this will come, I attend parts but not all parties, if you understand what I mean, though I know there are a lot of sacrifices to make for me to be the Olowo but I will say I am well prepared and ready to ascend the throne of my forefathers and bring unity among my people.
What exactly was going through your mind when your people approached you to join the Olowo race?
Hmmm, I am a Prince and I will say I lived almost 24 years of my life in the palace, I know the norms and expectations that go with the office of Olowo and the accompanying tradition and many people around knows am a Prince of Owo, so when I was approached to join the race, I felt it was an opportunity to serve my people at the Obaship position and again I felt before they came to me, they had seen the potentials and they believe in me, this was why they rallied round me to become the Olowo.
Though it’s not an easy task because the Olowo throne is very competitive and considering the recent experiences, it had not been so easy to become the Olowo but my emergence is exceptionally different because it was violent free and it was a decision taken by the whole kingdom. They all came together without divisions, without acrimony, so I thank God and the good people of Owo kingdom who stood by me during the selection process.
What are your plans as the Olowo?
Thanks so much, like I said earlier, I was born and bred in Owo and each Olowo will forever be remembered for their great contribution to the community. Before I joined the race, I have drawn a template which I will call my vision for the growth and development of Owo kingdom. The first thing I am going to be doing, which is my first priority is to unite the kingdom.
You will agree with me that for any development to take place, there must be peace in the community, so my focus is to work towards the peace and unity of our people. With unity we can move mountains. Secondly we will be engaging our youths because the future lies with them for any development to take place in any community, society, kingdom, a nation or what have you.
The youths are the critical factor and in any substantial development, progress is better championed by the youth because they have the ability and they are challenged.
So I will challenge them to contribute to the development of the kingdom and in whatever way we can be of help to them, we will surely do in terms of employment, encouragement in terms of provision of conducive environment so that they could excel, we will surely do that. The third one is our values, our values have been enrolled, respect for elders, obedient to our rules and regulations and our custom, we must bring them back and equally of importance is our culture and tradition.
My desire is not only to preserve our tradition and culture but to promote them. In Owo we have festivals that can be well developed towards global acceptance, for instance Owo is known for Igogo festival, we shall repackage it and sell it to the world, so they can see culture at his best, tradition at its best. In the area of culture and tourism then it will be of benefit to our people financially and economically and it could be our next source of revenue, that is just the focus.
In addition we will have the hall of fame to honour those who have impacted the kingdom positively, so as to encourage sons and daughters of Owo kingdom and even foreigners that make positive impact on the, community we will celebrate and honour them and make sure that their names are preserved for prosperity. This and many more are the plans I have. Other human and capital development ideas will be unfolden as time goes.
Come August 23rd 2019 you will be installed the Olowo of Owo kingdom 26 years after your late father Oba Adekola Ogunoye left the throne and the third Ogunoye lineage to attend the throne, will you say, you were destined for this?
I will say it was a prophecy fulfilled in Owo Kingdom. We have one ruling house as at today called Elewuokun ruling house, the Elewuokun is the originator and our father. According to history Elewuokun had 5 of his children and they became Olowo but out of this 5 children, 3 became exported we couldn’t trace them till now, so he is now left with 2 children which are Ataneye and Ogunoye lineage surviving out of the 5 Olowo children of Elewuokun.
So after Ataneye the 1st, the Ogunoye the 1st ascended the throne, after which the Olateru-Olagbegi the 1st who is the direct son of Ataneye the 1st ascend the throne, following the demise of Olater-Olagbegi we had Ajike Ataneye, then we had the Olater-Olagbegi the 2nd followed by Ogunoye 2nd and Olater-Olagbegi the 3rd and by the grace of God am Ogunoye the third, the direct son of Oba Adekola Ogunoye II.
So I feel happy coming to the throne after my father, the number of years does not matter, but the fact is that a direct son of Oba Adekola Ogunoye 2nd is ascending the throne, like I said am so happy and I feel honoured for the uncommon grace.
Kabiyesi, how do you intend to manage your religion and culture together that none affects each other?
This is a fundamental question, my religion hmmmm, but let me ask you do you know which of the religions I belong to? I can say am a Christian but don’t forget that am an African and I can say today that am a traditionalist because of my new calling as the Olowo of Owo.
You see Kabiyesi belongs to all religions and I will give whatever belongs to my Christian brothers to them, likewise my Muslim brothers will be treated equally and as for the traditionalist I will surely promote them. Do you know that culture and tradition is a universal thing which spreads across the globe?.
There is no society that can claim not to have their own culture and tradition, even our people in the south-south and south east region, the north are not left out have their tradition and culture which they have preserved to eternity.
So to me, I will say institutions are interwoven each other, there is nothing wrong with our tradition and culture. Our culture dwell on our family, our society, our relationship, our marriage, on our social well being, our food, our security, our studied and you know that they are beauty to behold and it should be well represented. So I believe with the grace of God I will manage the two well to the advantage of my community and our norms and values.
Traditionally, many believe that Kabiyesi has more than one wife, is there plans to take new wife as the Olowo of Owo?
(Laughs) This is a one million naira question begging for answer but you know what, it’s too early to talk about this but I believe that when we get to the bridge we shall cross it.
The news making the round says that your emergence as the Olowo of Owo elect was influence by the state government, Arakunrin Akeredolu, how true is this?
That’s not true and one thing I want to put straight is that am not a politician rather I am a bureaucrat and an administrator. As I earlier said, I have traversed virtually all the NDA’s in government before coming to government house and protocol department. I was posted here by providence and not by Mr. Governor rather by the former Head of Service. I was posted to this department before Mr. Governor resumed office, while I was here I still have my permanent secretary between us. Civil service work is all about hierarchy.
Yes, the Governor is a major stakeholder there but he knows the rules and regulation that follows the selection of the Olowo and if you are not one of the senior Omoolowo’s who play major roles in the selection, you can’t influence the process, so what the Governor wanted was a peaceful process towards the selection of the new Olowo. He was very neutral and he didn’t dictate to any of this kingmakers. What he was ed about is a peaceful process and this maybe one of the reasons he didn’t influence it, he shows his leadership skills despite being a stakeholder in Owo.
I’m happy to say that this was the first that Olowo was selected without violence and it was very peaceful without any disagreement. My emergent as Olowo was a collective decision of the people, who spoke in one voice that they want me on the throne, though the battle was tough due to those who I contested with, if not I would have gone to sleep and let my people do the voting. So my selection had no government backing rather it was the wish of the people that made me win the Obaship race.
How cordial was your relationship with the late Oba Folagbade Olateru-Olagbegi II that prepared you for this task?
Yes, I had a very cordial relationship with him and like I said earlier that whoever amongst us becomes the Olowo , others who aspired for the throne are from the same source. During his lifetime he was my father and now that he had gone to join our ancestors he is still our father and I pray that God grants him rest.
How do you unwind?
I relax when I have my friends around me, am a jolly good fellow, I like people being around me. Aside that, am more relaxed when I listen to news and my days are not complete if I don’t read my newspapers.