The newly crowned paramount ruler of Orile-Igbon community in Oyo State, His Royal Highness, Oba Francis Alao, last week spoke to Global Excellence magazine’s Oyo-Ogun correspondent, AKIN ALADE, on his new assignment, his plans for the development of the community and the Oyo Kingdom in general, and more. Read on…
Congratulations on your enthronement. Could you tell us the significance of your recent visit to Samuel Ladoke Akintola’s graveside?
Thank you very much, there is an adage in Yoruba which says a stream that forgot his source would dry, what I have come to do here is just to pay obeisance to those who have died, who have fought gallantly for the glory of Orile-Igbon, Ogbomoso, Oyo State and Nigeria at large. Akintola was my great grand uncle, so I have come to pay obeisance to him. I ‘ve paid obeisance to almighty God and I have paid obeisance to those who have died, my ancestors, my predecessors, so what I am here for is part of our tradition and culture.
You must have passed through a rigorous journey to the throne, can you share your experience?
I won’t call it rigorous, people may say it is rigorous but in the sight of God, nothing is rigorous, Almighty God destined me to the throne. We passed through due process and I emerged as a winner. I believe my emergence as the winner lies in the hand of God and I give Him all the glory.
As an international businessman with a lot of exposure and connections, how will you use your influence and position to attract development to Orile-Igbon, like your predecessor?
Yes, I have travelled far and wide, I have been to about 30 countries in Africa, I have been to almost 20 countries in Europe, America and South America, my exposure and experience will be used in the development and transformation of Orile-Igbon. I am bringing industries; honestly, I am not happy with what is on ground, we will change it. I want industries for that community, we can turn that community into an industrial community; that is the major point of my prayer so that the community will grow faster and better. I want to empower the youth and preserve our cultural and traditional heritage.
In the area of preservation of cultural heritage, how do you want to go about it and what are your programmes?
First thing to do is to look at what is on ground, I will go round to visit other traditional rulers and ensure harmonious relationship with them especially the Alaafin of Oyo who is the Chairman, Council of Obas in the state, my enthronement as the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon qualified me as the vice chairman. I will work with him; we will synergize together and work on how to further preserve our cultural values and heritage which he has been doing actively. We are also proposing a Yoruba Cultural Museum which will be presented to the Alaafin and we will work it out.
One of the problems militating against Yorubaland is lack of unity among traditional rulers and institutions, how will you work with others who are making efforts to move Yorubaland up?
We are in a modern era, it is high time we stopped primordial sentiment. It is sad that some people are still involved in this disunity thing you talked about, but we will try our best to work it out. We are civilized, we won’t be running traditional institution carelessly. We have to do it properly just like Onirisa is doing in Ile-Ife. He is doing very well, for us to achieve any meaningful development; we have to co-exist peacefully, and peaceful co-existence will bring unity.
You must have contested for this throne with some people, are you reconciling with other contestants who lost out?
Yes, I have given them olive branch for them to let us come together, those who lost in the race should work with me. We are together and we have a lot to benefit. I am ready to reconcile with everybody, I will dialogue with everybody to move Orile-Igbon forward.
Are you relocating permanently to Orile-Igbon or you will be ruling from Lagos?
I can’t be ruling from Lagos, we are in a present world of democracy and the simple analogy of democracy is ‘the government of the people by the people and for the people’, you must be close to the people. If you want to administer medication to somebody who is sick, if you are not close to that person, you won’t know the kind of ailment the person is suffering from. I must be close to my people, once I am close to them, I will be able to address issues. There is no palace at Orile-Igbon, I want to build an ultra-modern palace that will be for the society.
What is your message for the Orile- Igbon people at home and abroad?
I have travelled far and wide, Orile -Igbon people in Europe and America should be aware of the fact that a new king has come to reign and bring development to our environment. They should also be part of the positive advancement of Orile-Igbon.