By NIYI OLASINDE
The road to the throne of a king in Yorubaland is not that which is straight. It is often thronged with crookedness, thorns, entanglements and encumbrances. Aside the fact that the oba-elect has, to be blue-blooded, by virtue of birth and ancestry, there are other issues and preconditions attached to the stool and emergence of its rightful occupant, which border on tight and tensed contest among eligible candidates / nominees and highly keen and competitive selection process by kingmakers, the Ifa oracle and the appropriate organs and agencies of government within which purview such selection and appointment lie.
The road trodden by Oba Jimoh Abidemi Oyetunji Olaonipekun, Larooye II to the throne of his forefathers, Ataoja of Osogbo, was dotted with all these manners of strict and stringent processes. Succeeding the immediate past Ataoja, Oba Arazim Iyiola Oyewale Matanmi II in 2010, to become the 18th royal father of Osogboland did not come on a platter of gold. The conditions highlighted above were fully met and his ascension can be rightly described as that which had been predestined by God and which had the nod of approval of the forebears of the land.
Direct descendant of Larooye, the progenitor and first ruler to sit on the regal throne of the city, his title, Larooye II implies that he is the first to sit on the revered throne after Oba Larooye Gbadewolu, who reigned between 1670 and 1760 AD.
Osogbo, the haven of culture and tourism, is a city which has the long privileged tradition and advantage of centrality in location. This privilege made it to assume, since time immemorial, the status of a district headquarters and that of hub of trade, commerce and artistic splendor. Prior to its becoming a state capital in 1991, Osogbo had earned ageless fame for its rich cultural celebration, an archetype of the establishment of the town itself, which has transformed in modern times into an international festival: the Osun Osogbo Annual Festival.
Prior to his ascension to the throne in 2010, precisely in 2005, Osogbo had hit the global tourism map with a thud of prominence, when the Osun Osogbo Festival became quoted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an international festival, while its famous Osun Groove, became a World Tourist Centre. On top of this hallmark achievement was the siting of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) in the city.
Following his ascension to the throne of his forefathers, Oba Oyertunji Olaonipekun Larooye II’s reign has advanced and fast-tracked monumental growth and development for Osogbo, the capital of the State of Osun and the state as a whole.
It is on record that the peace and tranquility with which the town had been long known have grown in leaps and bounds. Today, it is a testament of plain truth that there is hardly any state or state capital where peace and security of lives and property are a creed as we have here in Osogbo and the State of the Virtuous.
Barely two months into his reign, precisely on November 26 / 27, 2010, the baton of political leadership and governance of the state changed in a drastic drift. Thus, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola became the helmsman of the state. The coming on board of the Aregbesola administration changed the face of Oba Larooye’s rulership; thus becoming a monarch who the gods had set to accomplish great developmental tasks in the manner of the prophet-kings of old. We cannot rightly and correctly assess the huge successes recorded by the Aregbesola progress train without a mention and appreciation of the goodly candour and positive disposition of Oba Larooye.
Before late 2010, it was a topic in contention whether Osogbo had actually moved up, infrastructure-wise to the genuine status and gait of a state capital. The state of Osun itself was viewed with mixed feelings, concerning whether it could compete with its contemporaries in pace and rate of development in virtually all ramifications.
The last 10 years, covering eight years of the Aregbesola Era and two years of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola have witnessed Osogbo and the state of Osun being transformed in to massive site of infrastructures of various sizes and magnitude. Narrowing down the spectrum of our searchlight on Osogbo alone, the city has, within the last decade, witnessed development in diverse aspects, including but not limited to the following:
Massive network of roads, with wide lanes, well-defined divides, walkways and drainages; emergence of high-carriage bridges and flyovers for the first time ever; well developed city centre in tandem with modern renewal ideals;
Development of Osun Osogbo Groove, in terms of its decent and befitting nature, its crowd retention and quality of reception; springing up of state-of-the-art public schools in the cadres and categories of elementary, middle and high schools; development of solid industrial base for Osogbo as a state capital; private educational institutions have multiplied within the last decade, even up to the tertiary level. Government offices have multiplied, both in the categories of state and federal; more than ever before, Osogbo is witnessing rapid expansion. More and more people of diverse callings: clerical, artisan, trade, industry, banking, insurance and so forth, are getting attracted into the state capital;
The strengths and potentials of the city in commerce and trade are coming out clearer and more prominently as new business outlets, malls and departmental stores are opening up. The democratic structures of the town and the state are getting more mature by the day, with the creation of more wards in consonance with population explosion.
In furtherance to democratic structures getting more consolidated, more local council development authorities, more administrative offices and more area offices have been created, while other amenities like posts, utilities like telecommunications, banks, filling stations, gas depots, eateries, clubs, hotels, recreation centres and others are on the increase.
Investors and industrialists get more attracted into the city owing to infrastructural surge and peace and tranquility, reduction in crime rate and criminality; communal peace and progress.
All these are a tip of the iceberg. We write on a monarch, whose domain has suddenly transformed and is still rapidly transforming into a rallying point and a place of convergence for all that matters in development in all ramifications. We speak of a kingdom and domain that has been witnessing steady and accelerated development, shooting it to higher relevance and reckoning among comity of state capitals in Nigeria and yonder. We write of a monarch, the ambience and friendliness of whose domain wield rich potentials for attracting endless phases of development now and in the future.
What else shall we say than to wish the monarch many more prosperous years? May his domains find peace and may the reign of our king continue to be synonymous with positive transformations.