It has become a tradition for the past 10 years for FCMB Founder, Otunba Subomi Balogun, the Asiwaju Onigbagbo of Ijebu, Olori Omooba of Ijebuland and the Olori Ebi Funsengbuwa ruling house in Ijebu, to play host to an annual thanksgiving service in his Ijebu home. The celebration, according to him, is an avenue to thank God for what. He has done for him and his people and at the same time to ask for more blessings in the years to come.
This year was not an exception. Tuesday, 3rd January, was another day to praise the Lord. The function was attended by very many kings of Ijebuland and dignitaries including a former Ogun Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
During an interview with Otunba Subomi, he explained his decision to hold annual, thanksgiving service.
It has become a culture for you to usher in the New Year annually with a thanksgiving service with a lot of Ijebu people in attendance. What is the motive behind the practice.
It’s in appreciation of what the good Lord has done for me, for my family , my place of work and institution, FCMB. There is an adage of Yoruba that says, ‘if you are grateful for what the good Lord has done for you, you are surely going to get more and better’, it is out of a sense of big appreciation of what God has done for me, I am a fellow human being, so are all of you, but when I look back and see how favoured I have been by the good Lord, I have reasons to open a New Year with a service thanking God as well as asking for more favours, and as I always say, through the Lord our Saviour, all will be well.
What has been the impact of this yearly prayer on the people of Ijebu?
In my own way of thanking God and as the Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians and individually as a favoured son of God, I could see the grace of the Almighty God working wonders for not just individuals, but for the Ijebu nation. This is a time when families get together to thank God for what He has done for them in the outgoing year and asking for blessings in the incoming year. I believe the Ijebu people have reasons to thank God. We have not been victims of the violence we hear about, or militantancy or any of these negative activities, such as kidnapping, and generally we have been able to enjoy good health, and when you have good health, other things will be added on for you. It’s the grace of God which the Ijebu people and Nigerians as a whole are enjoying . There are many things that are wrong, particularly the economy, but as I usually say, through the grace of the good Lord, all will be well, i am a fervent believer of the grace of Almighty God and His love.
What are your expectations for Ijebuland in this New Year?
I am not a politician, but I am a patriot, and for that reason, I would want the government and the leaders to assist my people overcome their challenges and inadequacies . The Ijebus are very enterprising people, they are innovators, but they can’t do any of these things unless they have a conducive, atmosphere to operate.
I am saying it not as a politician which I am not, one of the things that is worrying the Ijebu people right now, is the poor condition of the roads within towns, if you have a good vehicle you will be scared to bring it to Ijebu. If there is an emergency and someone has to be taken by an ambulance to a hospital, the first thing that he will be afraid of are the craters and pot holes, I am only asking the leaders to help us to provide a conducive environment for people to be able to transact their different businesses.
The roads are just bad, and we are appealing to anyone concerned, the roads are not motorable, when we drive from Lagos, the moment one reaches Ijebu roads, they are scarry. People are scared, that there might be pot holes here or a ditch there, into which vehicles will run. The providers of health services will agree with me that bad road causes discomfort, pains and sickness It’s a major problem, but I am not a politician and I don’t want to get involved in it as I am not partisan, I am just appealing for the sake of all Ijebus. Let the leaders assist us with good intra and inter-cities roads and I hope they are not beyond repairs.
When you were making remarks at the thanksgiving ground, you made mention of the development at the health centers. What feedbacks are you getting from the authorities that manage the centres.
They are all privately owned, and in the case of the International Pediatric Centre, incidentally it is one of the biggest in Africa. It is a purposely built children hospital, for the care of children and welfare of their mothers, either nursing or expectant mothers, I built it with a handsome money, I don’t need to disclose the amount, but it is of international standards. For efficiency and effective running, I handed it over to the University of Ibadan, and I have not left them alone.
From time to time, I have been involved in further improvement of the centre, as regards the facilities available and the standard, of health care there, I have appealed to the University of Ibadan to make it an all-purpose hospital, even though their specialization area should still remain. In addition, I did it for what my good Lord has done for me, I am trying to improve on what I have done, because God has continued to improve on whatever He has done for me. It is my service to my community, my fellow human beings and to my God, for which I am profoundly grateful.
About the feedback, I think people are satisfied, but in addition I do listen to their complains, when we first completed that place, we provided a bus to be carrying patients from town to the centre. When someone mentioned that the service was no longer available, I immediately instructed my people that, at the next opportunity they should provide the service with another bus for ferrying patients from town to the place.
I will always be doing that, I will not just say I have built the place, for instance, the other hospital named after my mother, nobody told me anything. Someone just went there and said “this is very much unlike the standard of Olori Omooba,” so I drove there and I saw it. Immediately, I put contractors there, and said within the next three weeks the whole place must be better. It is something I am doing for my God and I particularly had good reasons to always be thanking God because I enjoy His grace much.