His Royal Majesty, Oba Olushola Alao is the Olugbon of Orileigbon in Ogbomoso, Oyo State. He came into the throne of his forefathers barely a year ago. The monarch who was the chairman at the book launch “Queen Moremi Ajasoro” at Obafemi Awolowo University OAU, Ile-Ife, Osun state spoke to Daily Times correspondent among many issues: Christianity and traditional belief, Nigerian politics and women’s role plus Queen Moremi’s legacy.
I am the Olugbon of Orileigbon in Ogbomoso, an ancient town in Oyo. Olugbon was the second in command during Oyo Empire. Olugbon dynasty has been from 11th century.
We came from Ile-ife as a prince and history reveals us as Olugbon Orisa Arugbon, as part of the people that migrated from Oyo Empire. We are the fourth generation set of Obas in Yoruba land.
What was your upbringing like?
My upbringing was such a funny one. My father was a pastor in a Christ Apostolic Church for 50 years. His name is Pastor Amos Olakunle Alao. I was a chorister in the church for almost 18 during my growing up years.
I lived and studied in the northern part of Nigeria before I relocated to Lagos to run my chain of businesses. When I was called upon by my family members to take up the throne as a king, that our family is eligible, I was kind of suprise and said, ‘okay, I can, if God permits.’
Before that, I told my wife who happens to be a pastor in Redeemed Church. I asked her opinion of what she thinks about the throne with all the traditional paraphernalia involved.
How did she take it?
She was initially hesitant. As a Christian, she said she will pray over it, which she did and approved of it through a divine encounter and revelations.
I also consulted my pastors who sought the will of God to intervene on my behalf. For me I vehemently believed in Gods accord as the final say in my life.
We are all children of God and I believe that we cannot leave the business of traditional leadership to pagans thinking that it is only meant for idol worshippers and people in the darkness. No! Being a traditional king does not mean you are in the darkness.
They only thing is that there are certain rites they perform in preserving the culture of the tradition which has became a way of life. It is culturally based and not fetish.
If you look at Moremi’s deeds that merited her position as a legend, there was nothing fetish in it. Coming to become a king, I prayed and called upon God to decide for me. I see it as a calling to serve my people.
Obaship is a calling and people should look at it from that angle. They way pastors have a calling, so do traditional rulers as a calling to exercise leadership right upon people.
The calling of a king is a life time thing to make sure that you bring your people closer to government. It is saddled with programmes in synergy with state and local government to develop the community.
So that’s the kind of calling I see Obaship as. For me, that’s what I believe in and God has been helping me since I came on the throne.
But you know when you get to the throne, you will begin to have some issues and challenges. I do see those things as inevitable you get on the throne. I believe that what I am today or doing, takes the grace of God who sustains it.
You have been on the throne for more than a year now, how has it been?
15th of July 2018 marks it a year on the throne. At this time last year, I was endorsed as the Olugbon of Orileigbo in Ogbomosho, Oyo State and for me; well I have been a very good businessman prior to my kingship positions.
As I mount the throne, first of all, I tried to build a befitting palace for the Olugbon status. Also I have been trying to work with all my community heads for us to woo investors into our domain.
In Ogbomosho area, we pride to be the best cashew producing zone in the whole of western Nigeria. We boast of the best in the world. But unfortunately, there’s no facility for processing this cash crop.
You know these are one of the things that can turn a community or entire country into economic hub. Oyo State government is currently talking with us and we are taking steps to actualize such project. We are also in discussion with the local government.
I have close to 50 community heads in my domain and about 300 villages under my control.
What I have to do is to be close to local and state government to come up with things that will be laudable in terms of economic development, social infrastructure that people can benefit from because there’s no way an Oba can perform credibly well without synergy with both local government, community and State in other to bring meaningful development to the people.
What legacy would you leave behind?
Previously I was a contractor with the military and I have been in the telecommunications business. I also own a dredging firm and property managemnent outfit still operational. My Christian life is still intact.
Talking about legacy as a king, I will be there for life, mind you. My prayers is for God to sustain me with long life, peace of mind.
The legacies I want to leave behind is to preserve our culture and tradition. To also make sure that I guide my people to see Obaship as a special calling and not something that involves fetish practice.
The world is evolving and things like tradition and way of life moves with it. They most important thing is to bring development to the people, peacefully coexistence with neighbours and make people feel the impact of traditional governance.
You are the chairman at the book, “Queen Moremi Ajasoro” dedicated to Her Excellency, Nrs Olufunso Amuson by the Ooni of Ife. What’s your cultural attachment to tha legacy and how do you define what she stood for?
We all know the history of Moremi and what she actually stood for is what we are propagating in this celebration through book launch in her name.
That’s what we want people to replicate and reflect both in governance, families, organizations and in our corporate lives.
She stood for peace, justice, liberty, submission, love and selfless services and she was a kind of woman who made a vow at the expense of her life.
Moremi’s legacy is a strong one in the Yoruba cultural heritage, and Ooni, being the custodian of Yoruba heritage, is leaving no stone unturned to sustain it as a legacy.
Good leadership by example, society that is well organized and peaceful coexistence are the qualities and attributes in her.
Does Mrs Amosun posses this attributes to really deserve the honour?
She is a fantastic woman. It’s a well deserved honour and the position given to her merits it. Very loving, humble. She is the type that loves justice and also a kind that does things without looking back.
These are things we need in a person because it is some of the challenges facing our social and economic life today.
She took this book launch as her project. She is also involved in selfless projects that announce her out. It’s a clarion call to women to begin to take the mantle of leadership, governance in the country.
In my speech, I advocated that women should have at least 45% position in governance. Women are more compassionate. If you look at the lifestyle of Mrs. Amosun, you wouldn’t know that she is a First Lady of a State. She so free with everybody, so humble and does so many things on behalf of the government, and for her husband the governor. She believes that only God can give and take power.
As far as I am concerned, men have not done much in terms of governance in this country. Virtually, 95% of leadership positions are controlled by men and at the end of each administration, it turns out a failure.
So why don’t we try women this time. In this regard, Queen Moremi did what many men could not do and Mrs. Amosun stood in for this quality.
Can you throw more light on men’s failure in governance?
I am of the opinion that men have failed in this country. Looking at what is going on today, there is a need to restructure the political class.
We don’t even have political class. Politics in the country is class-less including the economy. What we have is either you are poor or extremely rich.
In this assumed patriarchal society, do you think women will be given the chance to take over leadership?
Why not. It will be a collective effort by those that believe in good governance. By nature, women are very compassionate, and very motherly and i beleive that when they apply this attribute ti governace, we can achieve success.
Moremi Ajasoro had that attribute and her legacy will continue to propagate through the likes of Mrs Amosun. In the country, I have not seen any political party that have supported women to be their presidential candidate. Although, we have had few deputy governors, but that’s not enough.
Going by statistical survey, women are more involved into politics at the grassroot than men. The voting ratio proves it, but when they vote and do the necessary, men takes over the leadership. Its not right. They should also be given a fair share of their political right.
How would you access the upcoming 2019 election outcome?
In my candid opinion, it will be a revolutionary election. It will be a contest between the masses against the elites. I can see it coming. I pray for God to give us spirit to be united and co-exist.
I don’t pray for disintegration. The mind set of people are changing. By this, I mean mental and psychological revolution.
I studied in the northern part of Nigeria I speak Hausa fluently. Without been bias, I can approve my daughter to marry a man from the north if she loves him, so also I can allow my sons to marry from there too or any other part of Nigeria they found love. By my nature, I am detribalized person.
I don’t pray for Nigeria to break up. We should live in peace co-exist. People should avoid all these hate-speech going on in the country. We have abused the use of internet and social media.
What was applicable ten years ago may not work now. Politics in the country will involve more of a person than a Party. This will go across ethnic and religious barriers.
If you are a woman and people knew your integrity, and worth, people will vote for you irrespective of your political party. That’s the kind of politics we should clamour for.
When we decide to see and appreciate things like this, then we can say we are beginning to move into the advance stage in the country.
Sentiment of religion, ethnicity should be put aside. We have to look for somebody credible that will drive us to a promise land. That’s my dream from Nigeria.
But women are always shortchanged when selection in picking who represents is done? Can it change?
What was applicable in our culture about 20 years ago is not what it is today. It’s a gradual process. The world is changing. Geographically scientifically, economically socially and what have you.
So definitively, by the propagation of women’s right into the limelight in governance, things will change. In Scandinavian countries, about 70% of people in governance are women.
There’s always peace in that part of the world. We have tried so many areas to bring good system of governance and have failed. If the men have failed, then we can try women. Let Nigerians support the women.
As it stands, now, all the political parties are looking for men to fill up the positions while the majority of the vote comes from women.
If we should have a lot of women in governance, the corruption will not be as much as we witness, because women usually think twice before they even pinch their own money, not to talk about national fund. Meanwhile women are not perfect, but they still stands out in accountability than men.
As a community leader, how would you sensitise the grassroot about the importance of your views?
In my capacity as a ruler, I do counsel my chiefs to consider giving women opportunity to take up leadership positions.
We should treat them with fairness and embrace gender equality in its right manner to propagate justice, equity, freedom love and peace in Nigeria.
As a first class king in Oyo State, I am the Vice Chairman of Oyo State Council of Obas. For me I believe we should start seeing things in another direction.
We have tried many platforms and want to use another model which is giving our women a chance and opportunity to rule. They are honourable by nature and never actively involved in thuggery and election manipulations.