By Victor Omoregie
“When the righteous is enthroned, the city rejoices”
As a career Foreign Service diplomat, Oba Ajibade served in various Nigerian missions abroad. He rose to the rank of Deputy Director in his diplomatic career, spanning a period of twenty-five years. He was serving in South Africa until his ascension to the throne. He spoke to Saturday Vanguard, just before he was coronated and given the Staff of Office by the Executive Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
What is your impression of the tumultuous support given to you by the entire community of Ilawe.
The support has been quite over-whelming and it is a challenge that I must live up to in expectation and I pray that by the grace of God, I will definitely live up to the trust and support they have reposed in me.
What should your people look up to tomorrow as you formally assume the mantle of your ancestors.
With the presentation of the Instrument of Appointment, this would mark the dawn of the beginning of a new development in the history of the town (Ilawe). It would mark a new direction of development that would be characterized by transformation and total development of the town. Straightaway, I would just swing into action and ensure that every facet of the town is looked into and development activities would be re-engineered to ensure we make progress.
Do you subscribe to the school of thought that postulates that traditional rulers should be given constitutional roles in the present democratic dispensation.
Yes, I am quite in support of it because it will enhance the democratic system. Traditional rulers are the fountains of tradition in the country. They are closer to the people than the third tier of government. In fact, the third tier government and the proposed roles for traditional rulers should be complementary. This is possible because most of the present crop of traditional rulers have acquired western education and have travelled out of the country, thus having a world view at solving problems. In fact their leadership qualities is measurable with their contemporaries in the western world. A cue should be taken from the Queen of England, who performs a constitutional role in England. Thus I believe that our reverred traditional rulers can contribute to the development of our nascent democracy.
Every Traditional Ruler wants rapid development in his domain. If given the choice to select three projects you would want sited in your domain, which would these be.
Well the three main projects I am interested in are the construction of roads that would give access to my people to travel regularly to other parts of the state and country and also to assist in the improvement commercial activities. I would also be interested in youth empowerment; to ensure that our youths that are roaming the streets are gainfully employed, so that they can be useful to the society. And finally, I will equally look forward to a situation where everybody will be happy.
In other words there should be bread on the table for everybody to eat. That means that there should be an average measure of likelihood for everybody, thus bring a general feeling of all round happiness, not only with the traditional rulers or with their community, but with the government. I thank God the government of Governor Fayemi is doing quite well but as ‘Oliver Twist’, we keep on asking for more.
As a former Foreign Service Diplomat, what was your fondest memories in service.
The one that I would readily recall was when a Nigerian (Chief Emeka Anyaokwu) became Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, after a lot of struggles, politicking and horse-trading. It was quite rewarding and went on to improve and enhance the image of Nigeria. We (diplomats) were all gladdened by this singular act. I was serving in Cameroon at that time.
Having served in the Cameroon, would you say that it was right for Nigeria to give up the Bakassi region to Cameroon.
I think for that question, I reserve my comment.
Let us go back to the past and let us see Ilawe through the eyes of a young child as you were growing up. What were the memories of the place that you still cherish.
I grew up in a royal house, like every young child, I played all the games of young children – swimming, rampaging for fruits, doing my own chores at the house and being respectful to elders. Although I was born and bred in a royal household, I abhor everything royalty until my ascension to the throne. This attitude arose from what I perceived as the constant rivalry and acrimony that always characterized the royal environment among princes with aspirations to the throne. So I have always been out of the palace. I tried as much as possible not to be involved. In fact when I wanted to build a house in Ilawe 18 years ago, I went to the outskirts of the town, along Ilawe-Igede road, despite having a priviledge to build on the royal land at Agbaje. Despite this seeming innocent gesture, some persons felt that I was building my future palace. Yet the worst happened to the property on the 28th of April 1995 and the house was completely burnt to the ground, along with the properties that I brought. Well life is like that, ups and downs. Yoruba people would say ‘Oba lo la to jiya le ni – a future Oba suffers today for what he will get tomorrow’. My life was under serious threat around that time and I could not return to my beloved town for many years. For a while, I lived like an exile. It was like the biblical case of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom they were hiding from King Herod and could not surface until the death of Herod. My fate was just like that. But whatever God has destined can never be changed hence my forthcoming coronation.
Upon arrival to your palace, one is forced to notice a considerable number of women. What role do you have for women in your scheme of things.
Women have been playing very prominent roles within our system in Ilawe. There is what we call ‘Obirin Ile’ These women are like enforcers in the community. They enforce discipline amongst women in the community. In fact, they are quite powerful and I have spoken to them that I want them to continue to be effective and more active during my dispensation. They would be empowered to perform.