Oba Adewale Abdul is a traditional ruler in Lagos State. He is the Olofin Ajaye Orugbo Iddo Kingdom. He is also the Giwa of Egbe Jagunmolu Okunrin (Fehintade), one of the popular age-grade groups in Ijebuland. Members are made up of those born in 1965-1967.
A few days back, he spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE about his new life as a king and how he runs his age-grade group. Below are excerpts.
How has it been leading your age-grade group?
I was the one that took the Egbe to Awujale of Ijebu’s palace, single-handedly in 1991 to be precise. Come 2021. We would be celebrating our 20th anniversary. So far, so good, the Egbe has been lucky. We have been through our test period to get to where we are. There are 3 groups that came out of the original Egbe Jagunmolu Okunrin. I was the one that took the whole Egbe for registration. The other 2 came out of the original Egbe. Today, we are just about 43 members. Most of our members are professionals, at home and in Diaspora. We have had a very good time coming together, taking the Egbe forward in our own little way.
What has the Egbe done collectively?
So far so good we have had so many empowerments we have done. In our own group, we believe so much in CSR. (Corporate Social Responsibility).
At the time you decided to form the Egbe along with other group members what were the things that went through your mind?
I will consider myself to be lucky because certain set of people formed the Egbe before me. I was invited to come and be their head. So, it was an honour. I was born on the 26th of June 1964. So, I fall into Egbe Gbobaniyi Okunrin. This Gbobaniyi group is the age group before Egbe Jagunmolu.
That is the order. But I was being honoured to be their head. So in Jagunmolu, I am the eldest, the oldest of them all. I saw that as an opportunity and a honour, and I tried to see what I can do to bring them together with my wealth of experience, wisdom, exposure and the little I can do coupled with other people who understand me as well. That was how we were able to run the Egbe. It is not something that is too tedious. I don’t see it as a big deal. I see it as payback to the society, to Ijebu society. I am an Ijebu man.
How do you Regberegbes prepare for Ojude-Oba, each year? Tell us how you do it.
Preparations for the next Ojude-Oba starts once we finish each one. So, the preparation for the 2020 Ojude Oba has started. So after the 2019 Ojude Oba, preparation for next one starts immediately. It’s a year-round programme. We usually start by reviewing the just concluded Ojude-Oba, we start by discussing what and what are our challenges. We would review them. Once we are able to review that we would start the preparation. We would now look at the whole planning. Okay, this is where we fell short, this we will need to take out. This we need to add. We have had our 1st review meeting since the 2019 Ojude-Oba in my house. It is an immediate preparation because it takes so much.
You have to book for a venue for the reception for the post Pavillion party. Come January we have to pay our annual due to the palace for the maintenance of the Pavillion.
After that, each Egbe will have to go back and talk about what and what happened during the Ileya. After that, you will start receiving people willing to come in as new members. After that, we would talk about the dress we wore this year, what is it going to be next year? How come we didn’t win the competition? So, it’s a continuous preparation towards Ileya. Do we still want to use the live band we used or do we want to use the DJ? How about our outfit?
Do we still want to use the tailor we used? Do we want to use the cap maker? Are we going to wear the same shoe next year? It’s a long time to get answers to all these.
What are the advantages members enjoy by being a member of an Egbe or age-grade group?
A lot. In my own group, we are professionals. So, any business we have to do that needs the skills or services any of our members can provide will be given to them. Usually, our 1st point of contacts is our members of the Egbe.
That is what we do. We make sure we don’t outsource our things. Like the food we eat, our major caterer is BOLADEL.
He is a member of our age group. We always make sure we give him that job. He takes the job. If any of our members is doing an event or the other, we compel them to give him the job because that is how he gets his money to pay back his own annual dues for the Egbe.
We do give loans as well to our members that own businesses all around. One of us has a factory that makes bottled water. We make sure we patronise him. For every member that wants to do anything, we buy water from him. We have doctors among us. We have an Accountant, an Auditor. We kind of keep all our businesses to our site and create an avenue for you to make your money back.
How affordable or expensive is it to be a member of any of the Egbe?
It is not expensive. It is not something that will hurt your purse. It is not something your family will not be happy about. What we try to do is to work within our means. We have annual dues. I am the highest payer of our annual dues. I am the Giwa of the Egbe, followed by the Otun. It’s not expensive. It’s the packaging that makes it look like its expensive. It is not that expensive to buy our clothes.
It has its own advantages. When our sons and daughters are getting married we all act as one. We go there to support the member.