•Oba FRANCIS ALAO Tells City People
His Imperial Majesty, Oba Francis Olushola Alao, is the Olugbon of Orile Igbon. Orile Igbon is one of the popular communities in Oyo State. The ancient town is located next to Ogbomosho, in the Surulere Local Government area of the State. The Olugbon is a 1st Class Oba in Oyo State. More than a year ago, the present king was installed and since then he has been in the news. In this interview with BUNMI MUSTAPHA, Oba Alao opens up on how he plans to develop Orile Igbon and what stands Olugbon out among many Obas in Oyo State.
What really stands Olugbon out, among other Kings in Oyo State?
Well, let me first of all go back to history. Olugbon had been an outstanding king historically, not just in the present day Oyo State, even old Oyo, and in the defunct, Western Region. Not to talk of the old days of Oyo empire.
Then, Olugbon used to play great roles during Oyo empire, Alaafin Oranyan left Ile Ife between 1710, and thereafter Olugbon followed, Aresa followed, then Onikoyi, and the three of them worked with Alaafin of Oyo to form Oyo empire. The empire spread all over West Africa, covering western zone to Dahomy republic, now Republic of Benin. In those days, that was people usually say Laiye Olugbon Laiye Aresa things were well.
God equipped my forefathers, with wisdom, courage and warfare skills. They were able to work together with Alaafin and they expanded Yorubaland frontiers. They were the first generations of Obas in Yorubaland. They were crown Princes from Ile Ife. They were direct descendants of Oodua, and that makes us outstanding.
This is unlike today that demography has given some Obas status in the South West. In those days, we had Alafin Oranyan, we had Olugbon, Aresa, Onikoyi, Orangunla, Alara, Ajero, Olufon. We also had Opokuloko of Benin. We were many like that who were direct descendants of Oodua. Although, Oodua had other children, but the first set of the notable ones were the 16 princes, while Alaafin used to be in charge of the whole land then, that was why we called him Baba Aaafin.
He was our father, so there is no way no Olugbon or Aresa or Onikoyi would ever separate themselves from Alafin. We are together and we have always been together, and that makes us outstanding today.
It’s an old time relationship, which is still extant. Some of the present Obas in Oyo State came into the picture during the time of Jembewon in 1976 to 1978. Some of them were crowned then, but we are crown prince from Ile Ife, so that makes us outstanding.
What efforts are you making personally to ensure the good deeds of the past Olugbon still in existence today?
I am making a lot of research to get the right archives, because there is no way you want to do anything, without checking history. You must know where you were coming from, for you to know where you are today, for you to determine where you are going. I have got a lovely vision for Olugbonland, so that the memory and what Olugbon used to do in those days regains preeminence and Almighty God will help us. In those days, during Olugbon festival, in fact, the whole of Yoruba land used to come together to celebrate it, the way they do Ojude Oba in Ijebu Ode today. In those days, you would find out that was why they say: Laiye Olugbon, Moda Iborun Meje, Laiye Aresa, Moda Iborun Mefa, so it was joyful then.
They were the raining kings in those days and as a result of war, the Fulani jihadists war and stuffs like that, there were a lot of issues that shattered a lot of things, but we thank God, my predecessor, Oba Osunbade, did very well prior to my coming on the throne.
He had done well and I pray his soul rest in peace, we are still making effort to improve things. In the next coming Olugbon day, I want to make it a glorious one , and I will make sure that most notable kings come to the ancient town of Igbon. Igbon is from where you get to Lautech, Ogbomoso to Kwara boarder. We have expense of land, Orile Igbon is ten times bigger than Ogbomosoland. When you look at it geographically, Igbon is big in size, that is our position and Almighty God would help me to develop my domain,
Can you mention some of your achievements since you became the Olugbon?
First of all, what I started doing is just, letting people be aware of who Olugbon. Where Olugbon domain is located? The awareness is yeilding fruit and may God help me, I am going to build a formidable structure, an edifice as a palace.
We have a lot of challenges, but God is helping us to resolve them. By the time we spend 2-years on throne, I would be able to come up with something great, because it’s one step after the other, awareness first, then inter relationship with the state government, local government, federal government, then building a fantastic palace that people can access.
The next thing is how I want to develop the resources within the community, because we have the best cashew in Nigeria, in west Africa and almost in the whole world. The best quality cashew is in Igbon, and we are trying to exchange correspondences with investors and harness the God-given resource.
What has changed about you since you were crowned?
Honestly, becoming has its own challenges, but to crown it all, it is a very noble calling, very exclusive, and very honoring, there is no way you would have an appointment or you want to serve your people and you will not have challenges, but God is helping us to overcome those challenges