- What High Chief JOHNSON FAGBAMIYE Told City People
- Speaks On His 13 Yrs On The Throne
Talk of one stylish High Chief in Ondo State who is also sociable, and High Chief Johnson Fagbamiye, the Chairman Regency Council’s name will be mentioned. He was also a former Director at Oodua Investment. He is the current Lisa of Ile-Oluji and he is from one of the prominent families in Ile-Oluji. His grandfather was late High Chief Samo Fagbamiye. He was loved by his people before he became the Samo of Ile-Oluji Kindgom. He was a warrior, an alien of Ogedengbe and he fought in the Yoruba wars. He was married to Princess Aromolaran of Ilesha.
But Lisa’s father, late Pa Daniel Akinrinmade Fagbamiye was the first indigene of Ile-Oluji to be a driver in the community while his late mum Madam Victoria Adetuwo Fagbamiye’s father was a drummer and from Ijegun royal family. This surveyor turned politician is the second in command to HRM Oba (Dr) Julius Oluwole Adetimehin, CINN, CIIN Jimoko II, the Jegun Olu Ekun of Ile-Oluji kingdom. Last week, City People ADEOLA SHITTU was at the residence of the Lisa of Ile-Oluji kingdom and for 2 hour he opened up on his life and how he became the Lisa 13 years ago. Enjoy.
How did you feel when you were approached to become the Lisa of Ile Oluji kingdom?
In the first place I had no interest in the position of Lisa, I was only interested in politics because I felt I wanted to serve my people and going by the experience I had, it gave me the insight to go into politics. Don’t also forget that in politics, you will have the power which will enable you to initiate and implement community project in the interest of your people and community.
So it was during this period that my community was looking for who to become the Lisa and because I didn’t have interest in the post, I gave the late Kabiyesi five (5) names for him to pick for the position of his second in command. But one of my Uncles approached Kabiyesi that he should be very careful in his selection of who occupies the post because the last Lisa of Ile-Oluji didn’t last on the throne and he then suggested to Kabiyesi that he should pick a younger person for the post, that was how I was invited again by the Kabiyesi and he briefed me on his discussion with my Uncle and I said, Kabiyesi I have given you five names for you to can pick and like I said I was not interested, and he said okay.
After then, there was pressure on me by some people who believed in my ability and after a while, I felt I should give it a trial. Although many people were in the race but once I joined the race, they stepped down. But I contested the race with two other contestants and I won it. Don’t forget that the position of Lisa is not an hereditary position. So that was how I became the Lisa of Ile-Oluji kingdom in 2005. Since then I have been doing my work, practicing my profession and the position has helped me a lot and it has also given me that link and connection. But to sustain this traditional title, you need a lot of money, otherwise you will simply pack up.
This year marks your 13th year as Lisa of Ile Oluji kingdom, how have you been able to use your role as the Lisa?
The Lisa is the Chief, next in rank to the King and he is also the Chairman of Regency Council which is made up of the other High Chiefs. In Ile-Oluji, Idanre, also in Ondo town, it is the Lisa who acts as the Regent. In fact he is the regent. Unlike Akure, where the Deji’s daughter acts as the regent. So that is the position of which the Lisa occupies. He is the first among the equals, there are other Chiefs next to him, which is Jomu, followed by Odofin, then Samo, followed by Odunwo, and Sasere. These 6 High Chiefs are the Kingmakers (Iwaramefa) and they are in charge of the kingdom.
The Sasere is the treasurer and he is in charge of the spiritual aspect of the community development, Odunwo is in charge of Ogun. Everyone one works together, we work hand in hand and each person is just like a father to the other. So together we assist the Kabiyesi in the administration of the community. There are other Chiefs that are under the High Chiefs but Kabiyesi and Lisa are under nobody, they belong to all. We also have the cultural aspect, we preserve the culture of our people. Culture, not only in way of festivals because the society is so structured in a way that makes the administration easy for the King, where we have the Chiefs, Palace Chiefs, Ceremonial Chiefs.
And there are those of them who are in charge of specific duties in the society, so all we have to do is to coordinate them. Again, I will quickly say this, that am happy this is happening during my time. There is a group which is called Ile-Oluji Assembly, it comprises of sons and daughters of Ile-Oluji, they have gathered themselves together and doing a lot of wonderful things for the community. The health group is working on Malaria Eradication, the educational group is working on Renovations of 10-14 public schools, then the mobilization group is working on the re-branding of Ile-Oluji community. It is also like re-branding Nigeria.
Sometime ago, Ile-Oluji had the highest numbers of professors in the university per community. We have so many living professors either practicing in academics or agriculture. It is a very rich community when it comes to cocoa, it is the second largest producer of cocoa after Idanre. We have the cocoa industry here to make use of, and now we have the Federal Polytechnic, which will now be catalyst for development and all this we use in packaging Ile-Oluji for people to see the beauty of God in it.
The position of Lisa in Yoruba land is a stylish one, among other High Chiefs. So how stylish are you?
Yes, you are very correct, there is this popular Yoruba adage which says “irini si ni iso ni lojo”, and you don’t need to wait for a chieftaincy position like mine before you dress stylish. Back to your question, you see, the moment you occupy this position of Lisa, you must display your splendor, I said it earlier that you can’t afford to go lower than the Kabiyesi because you are next in command to the king, so you must have all it takes to be an Oba, that is why am addressed as”Lisa Asho, o t’eru, o r’eru, Oba ode, o g’eshin m’oyan obinje, yai ma, ojo shi bo gben, omo logbakon atoigho bo, owaye nijo loun r’eju”.
Don’t forget that the position itself is attractive, so the occupant must also look attractive. We must be presentable to our community/society and even to the government. They should see you as a respected person and to crown it all you must be intelligent. Aside me, I must say all the High Chiefs of Ile-Oluji are people of success, either in public or private service, they have made a name for themselves. Even within the community itself, they are people to be reckoned with, they are responsible people.
Sir, can you tell us who High Chief Johnson Akinyele Fagbamiye is?
High Chief Johnson Akinyele Fagbamiye is the Lisa of Ile-Oluji kingdom By virtue of my position I am the second in command to the Jagun of Ile-Oluji kingdom. I was born on the 15th of April 1943, to the family of Pa Daniel Akinrinmade Fagbamiye and Madam Victoria Adetuwo Fagbamiye (nee Akindilemi). Both of blessed memories. My late father left Ile-Oluji to Oshogbo, where he learnt how to drive a car. It will interest you to know that my father was the first indigene of Ile-Oluji to be a driver in this community.
He was an Ogunworshipper, before he met late Apostle Ayodele Babalola who converted him to a Christian then and he was also employed as his driver. He was Apostle Babalola’s driver for many years, before he left Ilesha due to the advice of his elder brother and he moved to Jos where he settled down.
So, I and my siblings all grew up in Jos. I attended St Luke’s primary school, Jos and I moved to Gboluji Grammar School for my secondary education, in fact I did not take entrance examination to the school, my admission was negotiated because I gained admission into St. Paul’s College in Zaria but my mother felt I should come home, that if I stayed back in the North, I may not want to come back home again.
Again, my grandfather was one of four people who gave land to Ile-Oluji community for the establishment of Gboluji Grammar School, so I will say I got the admission on a platter of gold. So between 1957-1961 I attended Gboluji Grammar School before I proceeded to Ijebu Muslim College in Ogun State where I had my A-Levels. After my high school course I was employed to teach at Gboluji Grammar School, before I gained admission to the University of Ibadan in 1963 and I graduated first degree in geography. I am happily married with wonderful children and grand children.
Share with us, your working experiences
Well, I worked briefly at Gboluji Grammar School again before I took the decision to work with the government because some of my friends were already doing great. So I enrolled for my masters degree in Philosophy. I was in that course when, late Surveyor Olujongbe, the surveyor general in the Western State then, was looking for indigenes of Ondo province to be recruited into the civil service as surveyors and at the same time Prof. Adedeji was the director of public institution, institute of program administration didn’t want me to leave them. With all modesty I was very brilliant, though I didn’t make a first class but I was very good. Olujongbe gave me a good offer that came with opportunity for me to go to Britain and I felt that was a great opportunity going by my poor background, so that was how I got recruited into the public service of the western state as a cooperate surveyor on the 16th of January 1969.
And then I was posted to surveying school Oyo on a pre-diploma course, then we had a military government in the Western State, and I had to leave for Britain and I went for the school of military survey course. On my arrival, Mr. Famoroti gave me a letter to proceed to Okitipupa. So I was in okitipupa, Ondo and Ife for 3 years 1971-1973, before I was sent to Survey School Oye, to teach. Then I was also sent to Oshogbo which is now Osun State, as a Circle Officer in charge of Ilesha, Oshogbo and Ife office.
I also had a short time at Ibadan as the circle officer but I didn’t have the opportunity to work in the sectorial headquarters, so I was posted to Okitipupa on a special assignment to investigate the allegation and petition written by Ilaje people on provision and oil spillage in the riverine area. So there was a team assigned by the committee and they made me to investigate the allegation. We worked along the coastline area of Okitipupa under Ondo province. So we did that course and I was asked to stay and I was appointed the State Assistant Census Officer in 1973 census of Okitipupa division. After that assignment, I was posted in Oshogbo.
What was the experience like?
It was a wonderful experience working as a Suvyeror, I passed through all the ranks before I was retired as the Surveyor General in 1993. You see, when I was posted to Osogbo as a Senior Surveyor Grade 1, I discovered that apart from the Surveyor General then, there was no other Ondo indigene in ranking. So I held the post of Deputy Surveyor General and I became surveyor general substantially in 1983 after so many years of gathering experience.
In 1983-1993, I was fully engaged as a Surveyor General not only in the Ministry of Survey Department or division as I was also involved in the mapping of Ondo State. The only large scale map of Ondo State is scale of 1,250,000, the only map of the state which we use up till today was produced by me in 1993.
The reason is that, we are able to see more details of Ondo State on this large map than the one we have in 1,500,000 because when I took over as a Surveyor General, I discovered that the major problem that Ondo State had is the dispute over boundaries between Ondo and neighboring states but the volatile ones are the one between Oyo, now Osun State and the one between Ondo and Delta State.
But the one between Ondo and Delta State is very significant because of the oil and I am happy that in the high point of my career, my achievement as a Surveyor General is the definition, affirmation of Ondo State as an Oil Producing State and it took me 10 years to achieve this struggle. And the irony of it is that, the very day I received the letter from General Alo, the then Surveyor General of the federation, that Ondo State is an Oil Producing State, was also the very day I was given a letter of retirement by the government of former Governor of old Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua.