Alhaji Agboola Alausa, the Balogun of Ijebuland is 80. As you read this, he is preparing to mark his 80th. Because of Covid-19 pandemic and the issue of social distancing, he won’t be holding any party. He had planned to celebrate it big before Covid-19 came. But still, there will be prayers at his residence in Ijebu-Ode on Monday 15th June, 2020, but no party. Let’s tell you a bit about him. He is a big man in Ijebu-Ode. He is from the very prominent and illustrious Alausa family in the town. He is from one of the horse-riding families. As Balogun, he is their leader and he usually has a vital role to play at each Ojude Oba Day, because he has to ride his horse and lead other riders to pay homage to the Awujale of Ijebu, Oba Sikiru Adetona.
When the Awujale made Alhaji Agboola Alausa, the Balogun of Ijebuland in August 2016, it was a big and colourful event in Ijebu-Ode. The Awujale promoted him from being Otun Balogun to the Balogun status to succeed the late Alhaji Chief Jimoh Adebowale Odunuga.
Since the past 4 years that he has become Balogun, Alhaji Agboola Alausa has added Glamour, Prestige and Colour to the office. What do you expect from a versatile man of great experience, who has been famous since 1976, when as a young man, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey (Commander), the Juju maestro, waxed a record in his honour, eulogising Papa Agboola Alausa. Before he became Balogun 4 years ago, he had seen it all. He had been a successful real estate guru, a businessman, a vibrant politician and a socialite of repute. In those good old days, he used to attend major society parties along with his friends.
City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, met him at the Awujale’s palace not too long ago, and got him to talk about his life as Balogun. He has a rich pedigree. His late father was well known. He was also a big player in Ijebu. Alhaji Agboola Alausa himself is well known in Ijebuland as a staunch Muslim and a mover and shaker of society. He commands the patronage of Ijebu, both old and young.
In those good old days, he was not only a notable politician, he was a king maker with regarded to Ijebu politics. He was a politician with a lot of clout. He has always been an Estate Surveyor, who had engaged himself in philanthropic gestures towards fellow Ijebu and has immensely contributed to the socio-economic and political development of Ijebu-Ode. He has always been a peace maker and bridge builder, among the various groups, both religious and political associations. He has shouldered community responsibilities since he relocated to Ijebu-Ode from Ibadan in the 70’s after working in the defunct Western Region.
Alhaji Agboola Alausa is the first educated Balogun of Ijebu. He is a graduate of Estate Management from the U.K. He worked with the defunct government Western-Region, before he retired. He was President, Rotary Club of Bodija 1990-1991. Paul Harris fellow. Seriki of Ijebu in 1987. He was also the Balogun, Zumratul Hajjaj Zumaratul- Hujaji of Ijebu-Ode. Below are excerpts of his interview.
You are one of the best dressed men in Ijebu. You have been consistent in your dressing. How do you do it?
We thank God. I was formerly based in Ibadan with the Shokas Lace people. So, any new lace fabric that came I would buy it. We have tailors. Once I see the fabric, I will buy it. We had tailors. Immediately I buy the fabric, I would call the tailor to design it. I will tell him what I want. I would tell my tailor to go and bring another fabric to match it and we would combine it and when you see the end product, you would say wow! You would be amazed.
What fabrics do you like?
I used to travel a lot. When I went abroad I buy fabrics. I would buy Jacquard. When I travelled from London to US and back to London. When I was with my children in London, they usually take me to the market and I would choose the best fabrics that is that were in the market. I like Jacquard. It has been in fashion for a very long time.
How about your Abetiaja Cap? How did you come up with it? Why did you choose this kind of cap?
(Laughs) we are copying our father, the Awujale ooo. He wears it. That is the kind of fila he likes to wear. He is always changing his caps. If you see him today, he would spot his cap like this to the left, tomorrow it would be to the right.
He is always changing it. This palace is our home. We come here almost daily to see him. So, we copy him. We do whatever he does. He is our role model. We copy his fashion style.
This is the latest style of Awujale, as a Yoruba Oba. We copy him.
What is the secret of your refreshingly young look? You look fit and healthy at 80. What are the things you do?
It is the Grace of God. We thank God. I have 4 children who are Doctors. They tell me what to do and what not to do. They are from the same mother. They call very early in the morning to ask after my health. They will say Baba, how do you feel this morning?
I will tell them, I slept well. They will send me text messages. They will give me instructions. Baba, buy this. Baba don’t take this. Baba eat more of this. Take less of that. They will say drink more water. Reduce you intake of this and God is granting their prayers and wishes. It’s only God that can allow it.
You cannot determine how it will be. God is a merciful God. I believe I will be 80. After 80 Baba God has the right to say come back home. I wouldn’t mind because I have done all that are necessary to do. I have driven the best Car. I have built a big house. I have done everything that is humanly possible.
So whenever God wants me to come back, I will be smiling home. I don’t worry about going back. I am preparing daily. I have trained all my children. All of them are graduates. Apart from those who are doctors, there are Engineers, Lawyers. One is a politician. He was in the Ogun State House of Assembly. One is Englang now doing Masters in Nursing and the last one just finished in Babcock.
I always tell people that the secret to good living is think of what makes you happy don’t think of what wouldn’t make you happy, because you cannot change your life. I have good doctors who I see. I had Hypertension many years ago, but it is controlled now since about 10years ago. I live a good life.
How do you cope as the Balogun of a big town like Ijebu Ode?
Its God who leads me. I was Seriki of Ijebuland. Many people put pressure on me then to take up the Balogun title. I told them then that I didn’t want Balogun, because I could not afford the expenses, I cannot do the Wahala. But when the late Sote now came to be Balogun, he invited me. I thank God has granted it for me. It’s the work of God. I have done 3 years now. But I have been Seriki since 2001. I took Seriki title then.
I was not interested in the Balogun line, years back. But I started with Otun Balogun, and when Alhaji Sote died as the Balogun then, I was made the new Balogun. It’s God. He knows what to do for people. Just has faith in God and don’t think negative. Always think positively and pray always. No man can change what God has ordained. I am going to be 80 soon. I am looking forward to it. Insah Allah!
How has life been as the Balogun of Ijebuland?
It has been exciting to be Balogun of Ijebuland. I just started about 3 years ago. Balogun Odunuga died a while ago, about 3 years ago and Kabiyeesi was so interested in my person and said I should be promoted to become the Balogun. In this community, we have a system where you get promoted. Ijebu community is divided into 3-there is Okewade, Orogun, and there is Itumetala. I am Porogun now. He is Itumetala. There is a vacancy now because of the death of the immediate past Balogun. So Okejasi now will come up to be Osi Balogun, automatically if the Kabiyeesi is in tune with your personality and he is happy with you, he will promote you to the next rank. I pray I will be Balogun for years, then this young man, Otun Balogun Shote will be Balogun after me. That is the pattern. It is not that when the Balogun dies they will start to look for another person. It is within the system that you get promoted. That is why I said its very exciting.
It is really exciting to be Balogun. In history, it is the Balogun and the Awujale who have been controlling the community here, before, in the history of Ijebu. By that, I mean Kabiyeesi Tuwase and Balogun Kuku. In the colonial days, they even wanted to make the Balogun, Kabiyeesi Awujale, but the Kuku family rejected it. They said they would stone them because for one thing or the other, they had been banished before. And if you now want to make a Balogun Awujale it could cause trouble. But all that has changed. There are so many chiefs, so many Otunbas. That notwithstanding, the Balogun’s position is still unique, very, very unique.
Tell us about your birth. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I am a young man of 78 years old. Born on June 14, 1940. I started schooling as a small child at Ansarudeen Primary School, very close to this corner, around here. They now called it Ansarudeen Primary School (1) That was where I first got to know who Kabiyeesi, the present Awujale is, because he came to that place, as a student. I left that place in 1954. In 1955, I went to Molusi College, Ijebu Igbo. That was under the late Dr. Tai Solarin, before the community in Ijebu Igbo drove him off to Ikenne because he was not preaching religion. He was trying to bastardise religion. So many people came as Principal of that school like Olanrewaju, Oredugba & co. I left there in 1959. In 1959, I went to Lagos and I started work in the Printing department of Ministry of Information and I was transferred from there to P and T. department, that is Post and Telegraph of those days. In 1962, I went to England to study Estate Management. I was in England, then I brushed up my Preliminary subjects to make sure they met up with the standard of where I was going. I went to University Tutorial College in Central London to do A level. From there, I was able to add one or 2 A level to my school Cert subjects and then I was to go to Liverpool College of Building. It is now University of Technology in Liverpool.
I was doing Bsc (external degree) of London University. I joined the provisional courses and I passed before I ended that one, so I left the place in 1969. I came back, early January 1970. And that is me in Nigeria. When I came back, I first of all worked as a Pupil Surveyor in the Ministry of Lands and Housing, in Ibadan. I left that place. I then transferred to Western Region Housing Corporation then. But within the time, I was already practising with Dapo Mokunaye, as an Estate Surveyor and Valuer. So, we had established and things were positive. It was something that was developing. In any developing country, if you can pull your weight, you could be part of that development. So Dapo Mokunaye went on his own, I went on mine, until I retired in the last 5 years that I have retired, and I came to Ijebu. When they were in the process of holding Balogun ship I was not very keen. I said haa! Balogun Sote, the daddy of the Otun Balogun now and Balogun Odunuga, the immediate past Balogun were very close friends. They were in the same society. They were so close to the Awujale. And they wanted to put me in their middle and say I should come and join. I said lailai. I won’t be. So, I took from Kabiyeesi, the title of Seriki of Ijebu. That was what he appointed me as. But unfortunately, when Shote died in an accident, he was Otun Balogun then. They now, called on me and said, so what’s stopping you now from taking up the title? What are you still waiting for? It is better you come quickly so that somebody else would not come to become Otun and you would still be looking, wanting to be Balogun. That is how I joined as Otun Balogun from 2001. Within that period, Sote had joined us as Osi Balogun. So we were already 3. So, when Balogun Odunuga died it was now the turn of the 2 of us to get promoted. I became Balogun and he became Otun Balogun. That is where we are. They have never appointed Osi Balogun till now because of some certain issues.
Kabiyeesi is a thorough man. He doesn’t like to rush to take such decisions. He is always looking for the best.
You’ve been popular for several years. In 1976, Ebenezer Obey praise-sang you in an album. He eulogised you, along with the late Alhaji Arisekola Alao. How did it make you feel when the album came out?
Ebenezer Obey sang about me way back in 1976. As a young man, I was a party goer. I was a socialite. In those days, it was not the man doing the ceremony that would invite us, it was the Band Manager who would invite us. He would call us to say Egbon, I have a show in Ijebu-Ode, please come ooo. And we would go and attend. We thank God. I use this opportunity to commend the life of the late Arisekola Alao. He was my friend and brother. We were together night and day for more than 20 years. But when the end came it was unexpected. He just went to England and the thing happened. He died. Before that, he had accepted Islam more than any other thing. So, we were dropping the frivolous side of life, of spraying money at parties. He was now throwing money towards the construction of mosques and the support of many mosques. And I was coming to Ijebu to play my own little role within the community here. That was how I qualified to be Balogun. Before I became the Balogun of Ijebu, I was first of all the Balogun Sumurat Mogaji of Yorubaland. That was shortly after I came back from Ibadan. They gave me that title to represent Ijebu in the Muslim communities of Western region. And they gave me Balogun Supratu Hijab Mujjad. They gave me a certificate. I now discovered that I was getting much, much older than that and the Kabiyeesi side was pulling me and I joined the Kabiyeesi side, to play down on the Balogun Mujjab’s title. That was when I became Otun Balogun. I thank God as Balogun. God has been very good to me. My advice to young men is that they must not only work hard, they must pray hard to be able to achieve a lot in life. I worked very hard. I prayed very hard. I enjoyed business. In business, apart from Estate Management, I had a concession firm that was giving me a lot of naira. I called it Fountain Contract Ltd. That one got some jobs from the Army, State governments, federal governments. Right now, I am aloof. I thank God I am not getting anything any longer from anywhere. I am just eating from my past. That is what I am.
How do you see the position of Balogun of Ijebu?
My position as Balogun is an achievement for me to reach. Like I said, I was first installed Seriki of Ijebu in 1978 and since that time, I had positioned myself to assist my community in various strata. After the death of Balogun Shote, Odunuga automatically became Balogun of Ijebu, then I was invited in year 2001 to ascend the throne of Otun Balogun, without any competition, it was purely on invitation. So, I was Otun Balogun for the past 14 years preceding my becoming Balogun and contributing greatly towards the promotion of Ileya/Ojude Oba festival.
How was your 14 years as Otun Balogun?
Very interesting and remarkable. I have been playing significant roles with the support of my able second in command Osi Balogun Shote, who is energetic and always ready and available to support me in moving ahead.
When you became Balogun of Ijebu, what were your plans?
My plan was to modernise the Balogun title with new trends that is applicable, to add glamour to the Ojude-Oba festival, which has been already recognized by the whole world. I will also put many things in position and change the events for better.
Can you tell us a brief history of Balogun title in Ijebu?
Balogun title is not a hereditary title and history has it that Balogun Otubu was the first and recognised Balogun of Ijebualnd.
Balogun Otubu reigned during the time of Ogedegbe and fought several wars.
Then Balogun Kuku emerged when he defeated Balogun Ogunsakin. He was popular. Balogun Odejayi succeeded Balogun Kuku then Balogun Gbademosi then Balogun Somori followed. Other Baloguns are Odunuga, Adesoye, Alatishe. Balogun can be classified into 2, the War lords and the prominent Horse riders. The warlords were those who fought wars, while the prominent Horse riders are those who came to Horse riding through their wealth and influence.
As the Balogun of Ijebu what is your relationship with the Awujale of Ijebu?
I happen to be the first indigenous Porogun to become Balogun of Ijebu-Ode. My relationship with Kabiyesi has always been cordial. Kabiyesi loves younger people, and we relate very well before I finally relocated to Ijebu-Ode. He first gave me the title of Seriki in 1978 and since that time, I have been part of Awujale’s associates and I will use this advantage to make an impact and help in the development of Ijebu and also promote the Ojude-Oba festival.
Tell us where you were born and your growing up?
Ok. Alhaji Biamiudeen Agboola Alausa was born on 14th of June, 1940 to the family of Pa Alausa in Ijebu-Ode. He is a devout Muslim, professional surveyor, Ijebu Traditional Chief, Senior Muslim Chief and a businessman. Owing to my keen interest in various Muslim groups and prayers, I was conferred with the chieftaincy title of Balogun Sumurat Mogaji of Yorubaland.
I started my education by attending
Ansar-Ud-deen Primary School in Ijebu-Ode from 1946-1954. I was admitted to Molusi College in Ijebu-Igbo where I had my secondary education between 1955-1959 and proceeded to University Tutorial College, Great Russell St. London WC2 for my ‘A’ level course.
I am a member of Egbe Bobayo (Okunrin) Akile Ijebu (1963-1965). I went further to the University of Technology, Liverpool (formerly Liverpool Polytechnic/College of Building) where I studied Estate Management from 1965-1968. I was a former Director of Wemabod Estate Ltd (1991-1994), Nigerian General Insurance Company (1980-1984). I also served as the President of Rotary Club of Ibadan from 1990-1991. I was a member of Ijebu-Ode Central Mosque Management Committee and a member/coordinator of United Muslim Council of Nigeria.
I also worked with the Federal Ministry of Information (Government Press) 1961-1962, Liverpool City Council (Attachment) 1968-1970, Western Nigerian Ministry of Lands & Housing 1970-1971, Western Nigerian Housing Corporation 1971-1975, Cornerstone Chartered Surveyors 1975-1980 and Omokanwaiye Alausa & Partners 1980-
1986. I am an Associate Member of Nigerian Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) the United Kingdom and also a registered member of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria.
I have since 1986 been the Principal Partner of Agbo Alausa & Company (a firm of surveyors and valuers). I have participated in various valuation projects such as the Federal Government privatisation of public Agencies and the Nigerian Army Assets valuation. I have also served as the coordinator of University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan Asset Valuation; Originator and Coordinator of Ibadan Polytechnic Housing Scheme and the project coordinator of the winding-up of Aroom Nigeria Limited (a multinational million naira construction Firm).