•What He Told City People
He is one of the most respected Kings in Ogun State. Oba Adesesan Afolorunso Oguntayo is the Ajalorun of Ijebu-Ife, one of the ancient towns in Ijebu land. He is the 42nd Ajalorun. He was appointed on the 16th of May, 1996 and received staff of office on the 22nd June, 1996. In 25 years, this Chartered Accountant turned traditional ruler has done a lot to uplift his community. These include the upgrade of the District Hospital to a General Hospital, which has been fully rehabilitated. He has also resuscitated the traditional institutions and festivities in the town without affecting the religious beliefs of his subjects. Members of Ijebu-Ife Christian Association pray weekly every Friday for the whole community in the palace.
He was able to raise over more than N10 million to complete the Central Mosque of the town during his first year Coronation Anniversary in 1997. The Muslim community members also pray weekly, every Thursday in the palace for the entire community . Security of lives and property is enjoyed through effective vigilance group organization by the community. There is also the creation of Ajalorun Trust Fund for the benefit of less privileged members of the community. ljebu-Ife Rotary Club was inaugurated in 1997 and humanitarian projects were carried out such as supply of potable water, educational materials to schools, eradication of polio, ringworm diseases and supply of a giant generating set to Ijebu-Ife General Hospital, Ijebu-Ife. The community enjoyed free eye tests and operations in November, 1996. There was also prompt action on the rehabilitation of Comprehensive High School, Ijebu-Ife, damaged by storm.
There was also the launching of the New Palace Fund, which took place during the 5th Coronation Anniversary. It has since been completed. These and many more were part of what Kabiyesi had been able to accomplish in the last 25 years.
What has helped Oba Oguntayo achieve all these? We can tell you. His pedigree as a Prince from 3 ruling houses. His educational background and his business acumen hare all worked together for him to achieved his aim.
His appointment, which was confirmed by the Ogun State Government on Friday, 17th May, 1996, was greeted with thunderous applause. He has since been enjoying the support of all and sundry within and outside his domain.
“It has been an interesting. 25 years. It has been challenging too. 25 years is gone. Being on the throne as the Ajalorun for the past 25 years has been quite thrilling. It has been quite impactful with a lot of experiences. Some people ascend the throne through their own making or ambition, but ascended the throne of their forefathers by being called by the family to come and lead the community. This entails a big sacrifice. I am happy that God enabled me to accept it. I accepted it and he has been with me for the past 20 years to manage the affairs of the community, spiritually, socially, traditionally. It has been so. I thank God for this within the last 25 years, we can say Halleluyah! Ebenezeri! This is the extent God has helped us. Becoming an Oba in Yorubaland as far as tradition is concerned is not what anybody can aim to be.
“You must belong to royalty as a Prince or Princess. In the past, most of the children of Obas, I mean Princes and Princess usually run away when they know there was a Vacancy because Obaship institution is the greatest sacrifice that you can make in your life, to serve God, to serve the society and to serve your people. Obaship is Service. You want to leave a legacy when you are gone that you did serve your people. I belong to the 3 ruling houses that can ascend the throne in Ijebu-Ife. On this particular occasion, it was the turn of my father’s maternal paternal section because my great grandmother was the daughter of the 36th Ajalorun who gave birth to my grandfather Olufowobi. Olufowobi gave birth to my father Osibadewa and my father Osibadewa gave birth to me. So, we were already a member of that family. In fact, in 1975, I was unanimously made the head of all the Princes and Princesses in Ijebu-Ife. Since 1975, I have been in that position. That position normally serves as the crown head, the legacy if there is vacancy.”
So, as soon as there was a vacancy and it was the turn of my family, the game started. The family met, about 7 candidates were nominated at the family meeting and the names were sent to the kingmakers and the kingmakers selected me as the Ajalorun.”
Fortunately, or as history would have it, my position then as the Oraderemo (the Head of Omoobas) was also a kingmaker. Oraderemo has very important role to play when it comes to nominating an Ajalorun in Ijebu Ife. In the declaration, he is the one who will summon the meeting of any of the ruling houses.
He will be the one who will send the names of or present them to the kingmakers and Oraderemo is one of the kingmakers. You can see how important my position then was, as far back as 1975. So, when in 1994, late Kabiyesi, Baba Oba Oyenuga, joined his ancestors, I started playing the role as Oraderemo to the point of submitting the name of the candidates, including my name but I deliberately didn’t participate in the election. I absented myself from the kingmaker meeting.”
At that time, there were 7 kingmakers, minus myself, it remained 6 kingmakers who decided. The 6 met and 4 voted for me and 2 voted for another candidate. That was how I was elected by the kingmakers. They submitted the name to the state government. There and then, I was approved to be the Ajalorun in 1996, of course, there were court cases. Some discontented candidates went to court and, in fact the final judgment was obtained in 2005. So, it was confirmed in 2005 at the Supreme Court, that I was the approved Ajalorun. So it has been so tough and some even appealed wanting to challenge the judgment of the court even though we have been to the Supreme Court.
As I told you, I have been so much involved in the affairs of Ijebu-Ife, long before 1975, when I became the Orademo (the head of the princes and princess). I was born here in Ijebu -Ife, bred here, schooled here. I attended Ijebu-Ode Grammar school for my secondary school and since I even qualified as an Accountant and before, I don’t think I spent a week or a month in Nigeria without coming to Ijebu-Ife. From my paternal side, I am from Ijebu -Ife From my maternal side I am from Ijebu-Ife, from one of the prominent chieftaincies in the town. So, you can see how Ijebu-Ife has been part of us So, I know the administration of Ijebu- Ife, I know the in and out of Ijebu-Ife I know what it is to administer a community like Ijebu-Ife. Obaship is a traditional institution. We are products of tradition even though it has been codified by law, to modernise. All our responsibilities are purely based on traditional activities, traditional governance of the people and this we had inherited for ages since Ijebu-Ife was founded and it has been on and we still cherish it. We so value it, that we find it difficult to do without it in administering the town.”
“I am happy that having been part of it, having seen the town since I ascended the throne, things have changed, things have improved. There are so many things that were being done in ignorance, but since I became the leader of the community things have changed. Tradition is very dynamic. Those we can change we are changing it so that in future there would be progress in the town. That palace was built on the same site of the old palace before. As soon as I ascended the throne, I decided to do something about the then small palace built on a vast expanse of land in the centre of the town. As one of my ambition, as one of the legacies I want to leave, I decided that there must be a befitting palace for the town. My philosophy that I believe in is that if you get to a town, to know the sort of persons who are there and the quality of people there, you can check 3 things. You should first see the place of Worship of the people like the Mosque and Churches. Is it magnificent? Is it. Are they places where God can listen to their prayers. Then, the Market. How does their market look like? Is it clean? Is it organised?
Then the next place they notice or look out for is where the king lives. Does the leader, who is the king have a nice place, a befitting one? So knowing that, as soon as I ascended the throne, I started work on it. I made it my objective to achieve those 3 things. I have done them successfully.”