Owaloko of Iloko-Ijesa and his own style of leadership
Iloko-Ijesa is a town with class, pride and dignity. As relatively small as the town is, it has a history of class and collective growth.
It is interesting to note that each time people of Iloko-Ijesa have had cause to elect traditional rulers, they never settled for the less. They’ve persistently allowed men of character, untainted dignity and class to control the affairs of the town and these men did not only act as traditional rulers but also act as social actors of change and development.
Few days before the coronation of the new Owaloko of Iloko-Ijesa and official handling over of staff of office, I visited the large and magnificient residence of the new king to pay homage and probably requested for an interview. I came in and saw multitude, several indigenous associations. They were taking their turns, discussing issues in batches.
I sat down at the extreme end of the hall, observing peoples action and the new leader’s reaction. The joy on their faces is immeasurable. For 6 years, the people were denied such moment of quality interaction with their leader.
I have met and discussed with a wide range of prominent people driven by humility and simplicity but the new Owaloko seems to be a bit ahead. He is calm, coolheaded, jovial and extremely humble. He tolerated visible excesses of some guests who were mostly commoners and gave everybody equal access regardless of religion or status. His level of tolerance is matchless.
45 minutes later, I approached his table and told him about the interview. Kabiyesi respectfully declined the interview and told me that it is too early.
“I have not done so much for my people especially women and youth. I have so many developmental plans I have not executed. I do not only discuss problems. When a problem is identified, it should be tackled. Let me resume office and starts working. Our activities and positive impacts will make the noise not us. Iloko-Ijesa people need us more now”.
Oba Olusayo Akeem Ogunbangbe is not your usual Yoruba traditional monarch. This is a king whose coronation was delayed for 6 years and suffered extreme neglection from past administration before he was given staff of office by this present administration. He nearly lost his chance to rule despite being loved and widely accepted by people and kingmakers. As a new king, he surely must have done little for now and he does not want to talk about issues he faced before he was crowned as Owaloko.
He declined interviews and said to me that he can not rule alone and he is more interested in unifying the town, resolving differences across all divides because only a society in peace can experience growth. This was the statement uttered by a king whose coronation was delayed for 6 years.
You can not seperate Iloko-Ijesa kings and class. They are not slaves in kings’ garment. If Oba Olusayo decides to ride horse to the houses of his percieved foes to shame them, nobody would have queried a man who is in total control of his town. If he goes on radios and TVs to abuse or curse his percieved enemies, nobody would have queried him but the class in him would not allow such. Iloko-Ijesa kings know what they want. They know what to do and they know how to achieve it. Oba Olusayo wants communal growth and development. He knows these two can only be achieved when there is peace.
Great men in their respective turns have sat on the throne of Owaloko; Ajagbusi-Ekun and all these men were active participants of communal development. These men in their greatness and class have carried the throne with class and grace. Late Oba Oladele Olashore was a great king of class and royalty who took Iloko-Ijesa to the world map and strived so hard for it to be known and recognised. He never abused the throne or publicly degraded it. Till his last breath, he was clearly on a political pursue that would have greatly advanced the great town if he had succeeded. As great as these men were, they had limitations. But Oba Olusayo Ogungbangbe is accessible to the common people and he had removed the status barrier to allow accessibility for all.
Iloko-Ijesa is a town of high standard and taste when it comes to traditions and relevance. Despite the 6 years temporal pause in running of its affairs, I strongly believe that Oba Olusayo will continue with the standard he met on ground. For 6 years, the town had witnessed declining in infrastructural growth and there is rise in poverty and unemployment just like in every community in Nigeria. This is no doubt a great task for the new king and I believe that he will perform beyond expectations because he is a chosen one not a ‘forced’ one.
To the people of Iloko-Ijesa, Oba Ogungbangbe is not just a king but the overall spiritual leader of the town and the “driver of prosperity”. Whoever emerges as Owaloko of Iloko-Ijesa must posses sterling qualities and great character to be able to withstand the test of time and carefully move the town to prosperity. I have no doubts in the capacity of the new Owaloko to take Iloko-Ijesa to greater heights and I also want to appeal to the people especially elites of the great town to work along the new monarch because Iloko-Ijesa belongs to all.
After discomfort, there is comfort.
Now that late Oladele Olashore has successfully reunited with his forefathers and taken his rightful position in the league of past traditional rulers of the ancient town, it is time to move on.
Lawal Sodiq Adewale writes from Osogbo, the capital of Osun state and can be contacted via 08164411922