Lessons From Ijebu-Jesa, By Abiodun Komolafe

 

“Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.”     –            Henry Ward Beecher

Ijebu-Jesa has a new king and his name his Oba Moses Ilufemiloye Agunsoye II! May God’s name be praised!

Before his appointment, I doubt if I  had the  opportunity of  meeting the late Oba Taiwo Aribisala before  his appointment as  Elegboro of Ijebu-Jesa in the State of Osun. However, what influenced his eventual choice as successor to the throne  of Agigiri Egboroganlada has been eloquently summarized by Oyeniyi Ajifowobaje: “When you live in Lagos, work in Jos, still worship at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew’s, Ijebu-Jesa every Sunday; when you’re a director in a Federal Government parastatal, still, you relate with the young, old, rich and the peasants of Egboroland; … when the door of your house is wide open to the needy; when your house in Mushin is secretariat and hostel to applicants  of Ijebu-Jesa descent in Lagos”, then you’re the people’s choice for the throne.”

With the passing of Oba Taiwo Aribisala on March 11, 2017, the Elegboro stool became vacant, which in turn opened the space for the ruling houses in the ancient town to vie for the exalted throne. Oba Aribisala was from the Ajigiteri Ruling House and he was the 23rd Oba of Ijebu-Jesa. He was 88 years!

Let me start by congratulating Governor Rauf Aregbesola for ensuring a level playing field while the process lasted. In my view, that’s one of the important attributes of a good leader. That the people celebrated its outcome was a confirmation of Oba Agunsoye’s approval by our ancestors.

At a time like this, it is pertinent to thank God for the life of our king. For the avoidance of doubt, Oba Agunsoye has paid his dues. Thank God: providence has now crowned his efforts. A man of unmistaken vision who prefers to lead by example, Agunsoye is tantalizingly rich in humility and unquestionably plush in generosity. In his own little ways, Kabiyesi now belongs to the class of the Nelson Mandelas, Oscar Romeros, Jamie Cardinal Sins and Oladele Olashores of this world who, even at great risks to personal comfort, opted to side with the downtrodden.

Nikos Kazantzakis once prescribed belief in one’s capacity as a prerequisite for success.  My journey through life has brought me face-to-face with how ignorance could prevent some people from having a human face. For instance, it was Oba Olashore who sponsored my first degree (Ref: ‘Oladele Olashore at 70’, ThisDay, February 18, 2005); while Akin Fatodu of ‘Olufemi Fatodu Foundation’ lent a helping hand during my postgraduate studies. Archbishop Olukayode Akinyemi and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah’s contributions on my way up the ladder were also immense.

If I may expand my argument, twice I wrote to the late Umar  Ali  Shinkafi  (on  November 7,  1994;  and December  24,  1996)  to seek financial assistance for my first degree programme. In two separate letters, dated  December  14,  1994  and January 20,  1996;  and signed by Ngozi  Asoya,  his  Special  Assistant, Marafan Sokoto merely conveyed  “best wishes”. My letter to Oba Otudeko, dated January 8, 1991 and a  follow-up chat with one Seyi Oduntan at Honeywell’s Ilupeju, Lagos office ended at the level of opening a file!

Earlier, I had written to the-then Colonel Abdul Kareem Adisa in his capacity as the Military Governor of the old Oyo State. Adisa was so “concerned” about my “plight” that, in a letter dated April 25, 1991 and signed by one T.A. Oyeleye, he directed me to my Local Government for assistance. I did as directed, but nobody did anything! For the constraint of space, let me stop here!

I decided to tell this story to show how small-but-constant drops of water could help make a hole in a stone. For instance, Oba Olasore’s total financial support for my pursuit was N19,000, spread over a period of four academic sessions (1992 – 1997); and Fatodu ‘supplied’ N23,500 during my postgraduate studies (2000 – 2003). In truth, but for these Good Samaritans’ interventions, I probably would have ended up a dropout in life.

Well, this is the kernel of my argument. Olashore did not fight for Ajagbusi-Ekun stool after the death of his father before his antecedents bequeathed it to him. Even, after Oladele’s passing, the stool was reportedly reserved for his eldest son. It was after all entreaties to persuade Olakunle failed that the kingmakers contemplated a replacement. In like manner, our preference for Oba Agunsoye is a call to higher service to humanity.

Unimpressed by the state of our youth in Ijebu-Jesa, I was once compelled to write a letter to the late Oba Aribisala. In the letter, I pleaded with him to rally the rich and the affluent in the town with a charge to rise to the plight of our youth. On December 31, 1997,  I had the honour of meeting the late monarch in his private residence and he assured me that all hands were “on deck” to ennoble  “the young  and the old”. On an auspicious occasion like this therefore, one can only enjoin Oba Agunsoye to look into the plight of our teeming youth who, though employable, remain terribly unemployed, primarily, due to the selfishness of the socio-economic and political leeches who latch around the corridors of power for transient, pecuniary conveniences.

Like Nigeria, our major challenges in Ijebu-Jesa are not unconnected with poverty, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness. But how can the Ijesaness in us shun the expression of pains and anguish in a chat-show of fluidity, pettiness and emptiness?  Why should we continue to pray with empty stomachs in the wilderness of abandonment and a terrain replete with vanity and debauchery?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant our king the wisdom to pursue the prosperity of the people of my Native Nazareth!

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