Otunba Subomi Balogun, the Founder of First City Monument Bank, is also the Oloori Omooba of Ijebuland, as well as Asiwaju Onigbagbo of Christians in Ijebu. He is a seasoned businessman and a grassroot person. A few days back, after the annual family meeting with his larger family in Ijebu, held at the Funsegbuwa Family Museum in Ijebu Ode, he took journalists to his country home, where he spoke extensively on the rumors going on that he and his children are interested in becoming the next Awujale of Ijebuland. BUNMI MUSTAPHA brings you the interview that was held at Otunba Subomi’s Ijebu.mansion.
Can you tell us what the meeting at the family museum that was held today was about?
Its the annual get together and gathering which as Olori Ebi, I usually organize at the end of the year. And as far as I am concerned its season of goodwill to everybody and that’s what I am exchanging. I have for-warned that I live in Lagos, spend most of my time in Lagos, I will not be able to keep up with what the family is doing every now and then but once a year we have an annual get together and that’s simply what I did.
We heard rumours that you’re attempting to make your children the next Awujale, some stories even say that you are personally interested in the throne. Can you shed more light on this?
Whoever started that rumor needs his head to be checked properly whether he is normal or abnormal or Subnormal. Firstly it is ungodly and unheard of in Ijebu history for anybody to be speculating on succeeding the Awujale who is still very much alive. Let me repeat myself, it is ungodly, unheard of and wicked for anybody to be speculating about succeeding a still very much alive Oba. It has never happened In Ijebuland and I think I am old enough to know a lot about Ijebu history as well as its custom. But talking generally we have never heard it in Ijebu for anybody to be speculating about succession when an incumbent is still there. It’s an unusual situation and I had warned everybody not to get me involved.
Secondly whoever is suggesting that I have intention or ambition for any of my 4 boys to succeed must have his head checked Such persons probably are just ignorant about me. My needs are very few. God has been so kind to me and I don’t think it’s going to be the throne of Awujale that I will have anything about. I am old enough to know quite a lot about the tradition of the Ijebu’s more that the speculators I am very much in the middle 80’s. In fact I would be 86 soon. It has never happened in the Ijebu. It is a taboo. I have also heard it that it is a sacrilege, unheard of. It is an unpardonable sin for anybody to be speculating about a future event. It is only the Almighty God that can make a king. And any of this people speculating or showing interest may even die before the incumbent. I’ve always said don’t get me involved and I have very sound reasons, its common knowledge that I’m one of the closest people to the Awujale. He made me the Olori Omo Oba and he received me when I became the Olori Ebi of what we now call the Arojojoye Ruling House. Initially we were named Fusegbuwa but quite a lot of us found that the Fusegbuwa is one of the youngest of the Obas and he is a child of Jadiara, how could you have the name of son being used as a ruling house that has his father there and also his grandfather and great grandfather. It’s unheard of. You know people are speculating but there are a lot of mischievous elements within our society. I am to blessed to be involved in such things. There are not many of my contemporaries that are as close as I am to the Awujale. Even forget the personality of the Awujale, for you to be thinking of succession when the man is still alive. Its ungodly and pernicious wicked so I would tell you not to be bothered about it. The speculators who mentioned my name do not know me. I am a contented person. What else do I want in life. I said this some years back. I said it’s like my being in the plane and piloting it, trying to blown the horn, what will I want to do. Am I going to go to my God. I am a contented person. I am also very close to the Awujale. I am Godly, I will not encourage anybody. As I’ve said it’s an unpardonable sin as the Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians. So I don’t want to listen to all this speculations and it’s unheard of in Ijebu history, it has never happened. I guess it’s a mischievous speculation.
Do you know any of the speculators?
I don’t on’t know. In fact I am not close to such people. We have a lot of speculators around.
There are other rumors that there are lot of crisis rocking your the family, can you shed more light?
We are not in a hurry. These things require consultations and I have already started consulting and it is not a selfish request. What happened is that Fusegbuwa is one of the youngest of the Obas that have reigned in the group is their late father, the Jadiara is a member, It is an abnormally to name a house after one of the youngest member of the family. It is like someone trying to name my affairs after my youngest son. It’s abnormal but I somehow can guess how it all happened. The numbers of Obas within that group are so many. And it was just immediately after the colonial era. And I happen to be a civil servant to the ministry of justice in Ibadan. When some people from the same area, where the palace of Olukokun and also the museum is. When the British came and they were signing treaty with the Ijebu’s it was Obatuwase who was there. So they normally name the place Tuwase ruling house then who claim to be from Fusegbuwa’s went round and said their own father was older or may he being the father of Tuwase, it is not true that we could not name the house Tuwase, it should be Fusegbuwa. Not forgetting mischievously hiding the fact that Fusegbuwa’s father the Jadiara is in the group. His grandfather who established the Idanwa is there and a number of distinguish Obas about twenty one of them all the family in his considered opinion felt it is not right. There are a lot of mistakes made in those days so I think about three years ago at a similar annual meeting someone raised it and as soon as he said it everybody agreed with it and he said what could it be that it should be the Oriki, the other Obas come from the Awujales house, the Anikilaya, the other one with the Oriki of the family so we all considered that what is the Oriki everybody started dancing Arojojoye you know the Ijebu Obas in those days instead of wearing Agbada they just didn’t, So I think it was misnomer since you have to go stage by stage. It’s over three years now and I’m aware that consultations are going and in fact people in Abeokuta are not unaware of it but we are waiting for the right time. And there is no hurry in getting the record straight. Let us establish our self properly but definitely you cannot name my family after my youngest son there would be Olori Ebi. I come from many big families in Ijebu. I come from the Balogun Odunuga family, the Balogun Odunuga was a son of Olorogun. The Kukus are either our cousins or siblings together in addition to that, there are many of us well established we can’t say that the family should be named after Subomi Balogun. I’m one of the youngest and if the person close to 86 is saying that he is one of the youngest.
How has your relationship with the Awujale been, following this succession rumor?
Ask any Ijebu, they will tell you, Awujale made me the Olori Omo Oba and that was about 25 to 30 years ago. Awujale and I are very close. We belong to the same age group. And it has been that from the moment we met and got introduced somewhere in London. People are being mischievous. The only person I visit in Ijebu apart from my family house is Awujale. If I arrive in Ijebu today, before anybody I would drive to Awujale’s palace and I think without being presumptuous I can count myself as one of the closest friends that Awujale has and it’s still remain so. Speculators may say whatever they like. I mean I will tell you, if I arrive in Ijebu Ode before anybody knows, someone would have told the Awujale that Olori Omo Oba is here and I would have phoned Awujale that I’m on my way to Ijebu and I’m coming straight to you. People are being mischievous and want to be wicked.
As it is now, since the name of Fusegbuwa has been changed do we still have Fusegbuwa in Ijebu?
There are some people who come from Fusegbowa for the meeting. It’s a unit of Arojojoye. Instead of a name embracing the family there are 24 or 21 Obas in the collective name so what we are doing is that we should resolve the abnormality because you can’t name the house after the youngest. It’s like in my father’s house, if you go to Olode street you will see Olode mansion. We use to joke about it Awon Omoigadile. My grandfather use to have a place as a cow shield So when the house he named it something from the cow for someone to say he belongs to me or for any of my siblings, I would not allow anybody to name anything after me. I still have elder sisters and one older brother who is a few month older than me but you saw today that one or two people came out to talk for them.
What has been done about the speculations?
Let me tell you first of all that it is sacrilegious against Ijebu tradition and also ungodly that when there is still an Oba for someone to be parading himself. It has never happened. By the time the last Awujale left at least I was already a lawyer 59. 60 years ago, nobody dared to come out. It is an abuse of whatever privileged, its ungodly because the person aspiring to be, does he know whether his God will not call him first before the incumbent so that’s why I disassociate myself with anything. You will find out today that I deliberately set up a committee below myself I don’t to be dragged into so many things. At nearly 86 I would not be wronged to say that I am retired for the younger ones to do it and I’m a seasoned person. I am 100 percent an Ijebu there are people who engage in mischievous caricaturing. For instance one fellow came on this your media something wanting to give me the name that I never had it has never been a secret. If you read my book i was a Muslim until 14. It was when I was in the Igbobi College. And today I’m Asiwaju of the Ijebu Christians while my mother was the head of the women in Ijebu, Iya Sunna of the whole of Ijebu Muslims, and in every family in Ijebu you have some of the top Bishops in Ijebu their parents were Muslims, Bishop Odutola was Sule, Bishop Jadesimi had a Muslims father, in Ijebu Ode we do not know the difference the Ojude Oba thing everybody come there and enjoy so I do not have any apology about that mischievous, I ignore them so when I feel that its un heard of. Children, women are not given priority. You must be a male descendant. I am from a female line my own great grandmother was daughter of Oba Tuwase and her elder brother was Oba Adekoya Olukokun. And I come from a noble father there is nobility all around me while my father side named me Olasubomi the people from Tunwase named me Adesubomi and I’m not looking for anything beyond what the almighty God has done for me. I am contented and I am grateful for what the almighty God has done for me. Those speculations are unheard of and it’s an anathema, sacrilegious, Devi livery inspired by the devil. In fact you should be praying for those aspiring that they should not die before the position becomes vacant and it is only God who can choose a king. You may want it, if God doesn’t crown you, you won’t get it. What is happening now is an anathema against what is happening in Ijebu, nobody knew anybody going round to say I’m the one who will be the next Awujale such persons are evil and have committed a sin and should be sent somewhere for people to pray for them that God should forgive them.