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What my appointment by Ooni means to me —Olota

Do you think the princes and princesses who came from Ile-Ife to found Ota saw what the town has become today?

 

How would I read what was on their mind? But when you are talking of settlement generally, development usually follows gathering of human beings. All big towns world over did not start big, their current sizes and populations follow natural progression. Given this theory, one can have an idea of how Ota rose to become what it is today. In the past 398 years, I am happy that the town has passed through stages of life, and we are all happy with what it is to the people, to Ogun State and to Nigeria as a whole.

 

How can you assess the state of the town in the past years?

Despite the fact that we witnessed political stagnation and, if you like, economic exploitations, we have also witnessed productive and peaceful years, for all settlers and free-born. I am excited and must, on behalf of all of us, appreciate the Executive Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, for finding worthy your daughters; Mrs Noimot Olurotimi Salako-Oyedele and Amope Ajibola Chokor (nee Bankole) as the Deputy Governor and the Head of Service respectively, in this dispensation. You would agree with me that these are positions which we had very well-deserved and desired but had always eluded us. I congratulate all of us, on behalf of the Founder of this town and Awori race, for whom I stand proxy. What the governor and the Ogun State government have done is called corrective mission to restore Ota to its rightful position as direct children from Ile-Ife, the cradle of our race.

 

Iganmode cultural festival that recently held looks like a suggestion of a bright future for the annual event. Do you see it same way?

Why won’t I? What is good has no other name than good. Let me confess that today is one of my happiest day on this throne. Today is not only historic because of what we have been able to achieve, it is also because of what we stand to achieve if we continue to work, hard, love more, network harder and demonstrate abilities in our individual spheres of influence. History beacons, especially on our young men and women, to make the critical difference. I enjoin you not to walk or stand like others. I congratulate the chairman and members of the Central Planning Committee; other members of sub-committees; our revered elder statesmen and women; brothers, sisters, sons and daughters of Awori land who toil day and night to restore the dignity of our land and people, and those who continue to work assiduously that Ota’s pre-eminent role is not lost in history and to modern political gerrymanders. Also, I join others to extend my warm felicitations to our distinguished daughters – Her Excellency, the Deputy Governor and Mrs Chokor, daughter of the late Miayegun of this kingdom (Chief Murtala Bankole a.k.a CKC) for demystifying the odds that limited their predecessors from breasting the tape in their careers. What you have seen is just a tip of the iceberg, I insist that Ota is destined for greatness, and we shall definitely reach that level. I am not on the throne to be wearing agbada about social gathering. I am right here on a mission to take Ota beyond what I met. There is no justification, with all we have, to remain stagnant. Mark my word; I am here for a serious business of transformation, an assignment which I must deliver. God willing, we shall all live to see it.

 

Before elections, political parties are known for making humongous promises to win votes, but turn round to fleece the voters. What is your experience with the current administration since May?

While I would like to say that six months cannot be enough to assess an administration, I must, however, say I am happy that so far the promises made during electioneering process and at the inauguration on May 29th are being courageously followed through and sincerely do not amount to meaningless gibberish or political rhetoric. It is particularly soul-stirring that the vicissitudes of more talk and less action is fast becominghistory.

 

Education is the bedrock of development. How has the administration fared in this sector?

The administration has promised to deliver on its commitment to education as a pillar of its administration and enabler for the successful implementation of its“Building our Future Together” Agenda. The onus is on all of us to prove that we stand out and should therefore stand to be counted.

 

What specifically does the festival symbolise?

The festival is about our history. And as the Arole Iganmode, it is my obligation to ensure the festival is observed because it is about the memories of our arrival in Ota, the land of free-born Oduduwa children. The evidence is there that we are sovereigns and not under any bond of other sub-ethnic nationality. The first of my predecessors was crowned herein 398 years ago. Traditional folklore tells of the setting up of Ota by Olofin’s children, especially Osolo and Eleidi Atalabi, after migrating from Ile Ife, via Oke Ata, Isheri and Iddo. Documented history by P.C. Lloyd in his Yoruba Land Law (pg 225) published in 1962 asserts that Ota is the capital of the Awori people. This was further reinforced by Robert Smith in the seminal work Kingdom of the Yoruba (pg 166) published in1969.

 

What does the cognomen,Iganmode Afeleja stand for?

The cognomen is associated with all free-born of Ota. The most popular tale was that Iganmode was the title or appellation of a veteran who happened to have led the people in their early war effort and whose chivalry helped in settling the Awori migrants from Ile-Ife to Ota. For instance, his mystic powers made winning wars so effortless for him that he used simple tools like cutlass (ele) and ear-pins or buds (ikoti) to conquer great wars like those against the armies of Egba and Dahomey in the days of yore. That was the compliment that gave rise to another panegyric of the Ota-Awori people as Afikotiyoju Egba, Afiponpndo yoju ketu, afiibon ilasa segun Dahomey. Then the other story is that Iganmode was a collective or band or bunch (Igan) of hunters (Omoode) that formed the army of Ota- Awori people that won the many internecine wars! Both sounded plausible but curious.

But the undisputable historical fact is that that Olofin Ogunfunminire was the heir apparent to the throne of Oduduwa. He actually became a Regent, but the palace intrigues and vicissitudes of life wrought a reversal of fortunes when all his children died and even the newly conceived wives had still births. As customary with Ile Ife people, Ifa was consulted. The Olofin was reassured that the Olofin will have children that would bury him. Not just that he will be a father of a large nation, but he would have to relinquish the throne and move west-wards and close to the lagoon to the left and Atlantic Ocean to the right.

 

You were in Ile-Ife for the second Olofin Day. What impression did you return home with from that event?

It was a return to our home by the descendants of Olofin, and the Oonirisa was overwhelmed with our number. One of the results of that visit was that the Oonirisa has appointed me as the coordinator of the Olofin Ogunfunminire Descendants Rebirth.

 

What does this appointment mean to you?

It speaks volume of the historical link between Ile-Ife and Ota on one hand, and my traditional status in Awori land on the other hand. I appreciate the Oonirisa for deeming me appropriate for this assignment. It is an assignment towards establishment of the Olofin Nations Assembly (ONA), which is going to be a large gathering of the descendants of Olofin Ogunfunminire to create an enduring bond among us. This assignment is also an honour which I appreciate for showing that what one is doing towards Yoruba unity is being acknowledged and appreciated. But while pursuing Yoruba unity, one would not allow history to be raped. The ethos of Omoluabi which Yoruba culture promotes, is that we should always set the record straight for the sake of posterity.

 

When did you receive the letter from Ile-Ife?

The letter was dated December 10, 2019 and personally signed by Baba Oonirisa himself. Again, I consider my choice as the coordinator as an assignment and honour, and I will do all within my capacity to meet the expectations. I know much is being expected of me to deliver.

What my appointment by Ooni means to me —Olota
Tribune Online



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