• Tells City People
Oba Saburee Babajide Isola Bakre is the Agura of Gbagura. He is 61. But he does not look it. He looks much younger. Don’t forget he is athletic. He plays Golf. The big news is that he is set to mark his 2 years on the throne of his forbears. Right now, the Gbagura people are all in a happy and joyous mood, because it is 2 years since the former Immigration top shot changed from the Beret to the crown. What gives them joy is because of all the good things he has done, to fundamentally change the situation of things among the Gbagura.
City People visited him last week to talk to him about his forthcoming 2nd coronation which will take about 4 days. How does Kabiyeesi feel as he celebrates? What is his frame of mind? These and many questions were agitating our minds as we drove down to Abeokuta from Lagos to interview this great leader of men. Of course, we asked him and he answered each and every question. “I must say that I feel happy. I feel excited. I feel hugely grateful to God and the good people of Gbagura,” he said.
When City People visited him last week, we met a handsome king who is at peace with himself. We found out the many sterling qualities that have helped him. His training as an officer and a Gentleman have helped him cope. He is highly principled. He is blunt. He does not suffer fools gladly. He is dogged. And the list goes on. He is a practical man. He is solutions-driven. And he is not wasteful. With Kabiyeesi you know where you belong. If you err, he will tell you immediately. If you are on course, he will also let you know.
How does he plan to mark his 2nd coronation? We can tell you. The celebration starts on 18th August 2021 with prayers. The Christians, Muslims & Traditionalists will hold prayers. On the next day, 19th August 2021. All the Chief’s Baales, professionals, market people, artisans and others pay homage to Kabiyeesi at the palace.
On day 3, which is Friday, there will be JUMAT Prayer at the Gbagura Central Mosque and on Saturday is the main event, which is the grand reception of the 2nd coronation party. The music is by Ebenezer Obey. The event will hold at the palace. Recall that the 1st Coronation Anniversary did not hold because of the COVID 19 Lockdown. When City People asked Kabiyeesi how he feels right now that he is celebrating his 2nd coronation anniversary, his reply was apt. “I am feeling good,” he replied. “I am feeling happy that I am helping my people as the Agura of Gbagura, doing good things for them, and things are improving. Gbagura people are happy with me. And I am very happy with them.
I thank God. I am trying to do all my best, with God on our side and with all my high chiefs being with me. I don’t know the tradition. I am quite new to the tradition. I am happy, things are going smoothly. We thank God for everything. The only challenge I have in this place is just that of security, and it is nationwide anyway. I mean insecurity, due to all these bad boys coming around and doing some stupid things.”
“But by the Grace of God and with the help of the Police, and Community monitoring groups, we are tackling it”.
How does he plan to celebrate his 2 years on the throne? “We would have loved to celebrate it in a big way, but with Covid-19 in the whole world now, we will do it in a very small way, just to thank God and do a little form of merriment with my people. All is just to thank God that we survived. That’s all. There will be Prayers on the 18th of August, then on the 19th, there will be homage. On 20th, Jumat service and on Saturday 21st, I will give some of my good people chieftaincy titles, because since I have been on this throat, I have never given anybody, any title. So, that is it. There is not much to be happy about when you look around the country, with kidnapping here, Covid there. Thanks to Almighty God, things are easing out. So, now we would give honour to those honour is due. We have some good people that have been assisting us and being with us.”
“We want to give them chieftaincy titles, so they will want to do more for the community”.
How has he found his transition from Uniform to Agbada? Or like some will say, from Beret to wearing a Crown?
“I will say interesting. Everything is possible.”
“I am not trying to praise ourselves. But let me say Uniform people are always very disciplined, highly disciplined. With that discipline and my natural self, well, I have been able to cope and with some good people around me, I have coped. I mean some high chiefs. I don’t want to mention their names, because many people will be jealous. But I will mention one person, Chief Adio Baiyewumi, Balogun Ojoo, Gbagura. With his support, I have been able to cope. Others can wait for their time. When they are 80+ I will mention their names.
What areas is he looking at in terms of the improvement of Gbagura?
“It is unfortunate that since I settled in it has been one thing or the other. Immediately after my coronation, the pandemic started, so we have been unable to move. I have a lot of friends willing to contribute to Gbagura’s development like giving schools scholarships. For example, I have a friend that started mission 5.5.5 that is a 5 scholarship for senior secondary school and tertiary schools. I have some friends who donated some boreholes. I was also given a hospital that will be handed over to the Federal Medical Centre, it was donated by NNPC. We also have the palace under renovation so despite the pandemic we are still up to something.
Out of the 4 communities in Egbaland, Gbagura has been stated the fourth pillar. What does he feel about that?
“I feel cool with it. It is alright and that is how we met. The 4 of us need cooperation. Like Chief Obasanjo said during my coronation that I have to be the Bridge and I am doing my best to be. I am very close to the Alake of Egbaland, I am very close to Osinle Oke Ona, Baba Olowo is also like my Big Uncle because he grew up in my mother’s family house, the Adegbite’s house so he knows me very well. With God on my side, it will be done. If God says I will be the bridge I will sacrifice anything to be the bridge. Like the other time, someone said he wanted to dethrone the Alake of Egbaland. If all 4 of us were together such people will never rise.”
What does he think is the significance of the Gbagura people?
“Gbagura people are Warriors. That is why we have our people settled at the borders of Abeokuta. In the olden days, the Gbagura people were sited at Lafenwa, Alamala, and Oshiele areas.
“They guide the borders as warriors. One of the famous warriors was Oluwole Agbo. He was popular because he sacrificed his wife. There was a time during the olden days, the Yorubas, Egbas and Gbaguras waited to settle down together. They made consultations and the gods requested a pregnant woman as the sacrifice. Oluwole Agbo donated his pregnant wife then. The Gbagura people are easy-going people and strong but do not offend them. They are loving and generous people”.
What was his growing up years like? Where did he grow up?
“I was born in Ibadan, I later came to Abeokuta at age 10 and attended Egba High School. Then I attended Ogun State Polytechnic before I joined the Customs Service. All along in the service, I had my family in Abeokuta so I came to Abeokuta every two weeks to see my father. During that time, my father was building Crown Royal Hotel. We stayed in Adigbe. We later got a place opposite Crown royal hotel. I will say I grew up in Abeokuta and I know almost everywhere in Abeokuta”.
How did he feel getting crowded as the Agura?
“Well it is my inheritance, so there is nothing I can do about it. My grandfather fought for the throne against Adeoshin in 1931. Then in 1961, my father still fought against the son of Adeoshin and lost again. So after the death of the Agura, I only called my Uncle on July 14th, 2019 and he announced the death of the Agura of Gbagura. He said that we have been robbed of the throne a long time and it is our turn. I turned it down and calls kept coming in. I left the custom to get crowned the Agura of Gbagura. I was reluctant at first but I realised it is destiny. I remember some 15-20 years ago, my family and I went to visit the Agura, he gave me 2 beads and I kept them till now. He never told me the significance of the beads”.
What is his message to the Gbagura people who are abroad?
“It is for them to please come home and develop our land, Abeokuta in general.”