By ALADE AROMASHODU
Oba Josiah Olanrewaju Ilemobade Aina, JPs (Jerusalem Pilgrim/Justice of Peace), is the Oloto of Oto-Awori and the Kuyamiku 1. In this interview, he speaks on the position of Lagos State obas as fathers of politicians, life as a politician, and as ‘son’ of the paramount ruler of Lagos State, Oba Rilwan Akiolu.
As the Oloto of Oto-Awori, can you tell your challenges as the traditional ruler?
As a traditional ruler, you must face challenges, but I give God the glory. He’s always with me. There is no challenge that He cannot resolve for me. Challenges abound: community challenges, personal challenges, family challenges, and so on. This position attracts challenges particularly from the lineage.
They believe that once your brother or relation becomes oba, they don’t need to do any work again, rather, they would face the kabiyesi, as if there is a special money on the throne. They hope that without working they would get money, which is wrong. Even your own kids, you face their challenges too, you need to force them to get education. They will say, ‘my father is the king, what else do I need?, I don’t need to work, as a prince or princess, everything is available’, which is wrong. And for you, as king, to have rest of mind in future, you need to force your children to have education, which will sustain them.
In the community, everybody wants to associate with the kabiyesi. Their association with kabiyesi could be positive or negative. Furthermore, in the royal stool, challenges also come from your chiefs who see themselves as part of the family. As Aworians, our people specialise on land issues. A land they had sold before you became the oba, after they have pocketed the money, they would resell and ask you as the oba to settle the confusion generated therefrom.
How are you coping with the challenges?
It is my God that resolves the challenges for me. The Almighty just tells me, ‘go and do this’, or ‘go and do that!’ In this democratic dispensation, everybody speaks his or her mind. It is the government of the people, for the people, by the people, and we are the people. I have to thank God for the government we are running in Lagos State today because we have benefitted a lot from the state and local governments, so, I don’t have much problems with the regime.
As a royal father in a multi-religious community, do you have problems of forging peace among Christians, Muslims and traditionalists?
Before Christianity or Islam came to Nigeria, we believed in our forefathers religion and, in this traditional community, there is no family that has no pagans. We still have those who believe in the beliefs of our forefathers. So, generally Aworians are bound together, no clash. If you have problems with Christians, you’re clashing with your brother; the same with Muslims or pagans. So, why should we clash? There is no compound in Awori that does not have the three religions and we all work together.
We understand that some traditional rulers are involved in politics. Is it right?
We are the fathers of all politicians; any political party, we are their fathers. I was a councilor, so, I’m still a politician, I’m a full member of APC, but, no matter what, there is no party that will come to my palace without my giving them audience; I’m a father, we’re to advise. Whoever we feel can do it, that can lead our people better, is the one that would be supported. That is the reason we have to give full support, we can’t just let somebody come and mislead our people.
Can we know your relationship with the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu?
Oba Akiolu is my father, very close father. He’s my father to the core without any doubt. Akiolu is the paramount ruler of all Lagos State obas. There are five divisions in this state. In the Badagry Division, Oba Akran of Badagry is the vice chairman; Oba Ayangbure of Ikorodu is the vice chairman of the Ikorodu Division, etc. We, Aworians, during the time of oro, don’t allow women to come out, even men that do not belong, cannot come out. If you don’t want to fall victim, you leave town during the period and return after the event.
You seem to operate an open door policy here. Are your people satisfied with it?
We are up to it. There was nothing like central palace in Oto-Awori before I became the Oba. It was during my time that this community established a central palace. Even the issue of community hall, we used government power to rebuild the hall. But I must mention that without the cooperation of my people, we would have achieved nothing. Again, we are getting support from companies operating within our domain. Anytime that I have something to do, they come to our aid; if we need their assistance, we write them, and their response has always been positive.