It’s good that Yewa doesn’t take risks, but it cost us a lot — Olu of Ilaro, Oba Olugbenle

The Olu of Ilaro and Supreme Ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle (Asade Agunloye IV), ascended the throne on April 14, 2012. In this interview with DAUD OLATUNJI, he shares his experiences and challenges during the 10 last years.

You celebrate 10 years on the throne. How did that happen ?

It was by the grace of God. The Bible says, “If God is for you, no one can be against you. I know God has a part to play in this journey and that’s why over the past 10 years he has made it so easy for me, even when people start asking me how I do it. People’s expectations of me haven’t really been that bad, so I think God has been faithful for the past 10 years. I thank God for his grace on my life and for the support of the good people of Yewaland and our royal fathers because without them there will be no supreme ruler.

I would like to thank them for their cooperation, their understanding and for gradually sharing my vision of a united Yewaland. Yes, we are not there yet, but we are building a foundation for the next generation to meet a stable political system, a united part of the state, a senatorial district where things will start to work and people will start to speak with one voice. So the challenges are there, no doubt, but, thank God, we are able to overcome them. It has not been easy over the past 10 years to oversee people from diverse backgrounds – culture, tradition and vision – so it takes God’s grace and wisdom to sit down and oversee these people from different backgrounds. diverse and even of languages. We have Anago here, we have Eegun, Ohori, Awori, core Ketu and we have core Yewas who migrated from Oyo. So those are some of the challenges, but overall I think I’ve come to understand my people really well. I may not understand their language, but I understand their body language. So we thank God for everything.

What do you think is responsible for Ogun West’s failure to produce the state governor for the past 46 years?

Delete Ogun West, Yewaland failed to produce a governor. I want to be able to speak with authority. I never heard people talk about Ogun East Forum or Ogun East Association or Ogun East this, Ogun East that or Ogun Central Committee. I haven’t heard it in the past 10 years. But it’s only in this part of the state that the narrative is prevalent. Here you hear, Ogun West this, Ogun West that and I ask people this is just a legislative platform for our people to come to Abuja and represent us as a senator.

In fact, Ogun State was not built on senatorial constituencies. It was built on four divisions which are: Egba, Yewa (then Egbado), Ijebu and Remo. The state stood on four legs, not three. It was later that this senatorial question came up. When people come to me with Ogun West, sometimes I don’t know how to express their opinions because my jurisdiction does not cover Ogun West. My jurisdiction covers Yewaland and I know where Yewaland begins and where it ends; straight from Igbesa to Ado-Odo, here, Yewa South, Ipokia, Yewa North to Imeko, that’s my jurisdiction. When you talk about Ogun West, I can only speak for four and a half local government areas. So let me speak for Yewaland. I wouldn’t want to go beyond my competence. When you talk about Ogun state and Yewaland place, for me I think it is kind of divine, it pleases God that so far we have not produced a Governor of the state. It is a learning process for our politicians if they want to learn. Yes, we are in an area where people are not politically aggressive. They are not aggressive; in business, they are not aggressive. We have people who are satisfied. Our people seem to be okay with what little they have. They are not risk takers. The Yewa people cannot take risks. I’m not trying to knock them down. It is an attribute. It’s a good attribute, but it cost us so much. It cost us so much. We are not disturbed as such, the aggressiveness in terms of carrying out political functions is not there. When they push and reach a level, they drop it and move on. So, with that gap, how will you be governor? My people are not ready to take the risk of spending money on politics. My people have not reached this level for all these years. Maybe now they are starting to understand that politics is about money in this part of the world. These are the challenges.

Another is our diverse experience. It didn’t really help us. Besides the fact that our people are not really financially endowed and empowered to be able to navigate the political terrain. The main reason we weren’t able to produce the state governor is our inability to unite. This has been our major challenge. And this is where most politicians go wrong. Let me say that if you bring in a candidate for governor of Ipokia today, all of Ipokia will go for that person. If you bring another person from Imeko, the Imeko people will root for their son. If you bring another Ilaro here, all Ilaro will rally around that person. Why, because they are all diverse. They are not of the same ethnic origin. Anago and Eegun control the Ipokia axis. , Imeko is controlled by the Ketu.

Unfortunately, our children lack something which is cohesion and it is very shameful. They are not together and it is because of a lack of political leadership. After (Tunji) Otegbeye, (Afolabi) Olabimtan and Ishola Abioro that gap was left wide and no one could close the gap until today and we as royal fathers are now struggling to see how to bring these children together. Certainly, if we have a leader, it is the leader who will send for these aspiring children and speak to them, there is no such thing. We still have to deal directly with the candidates. Cohesion is not there, the leadership gap is very wide, everyone is a leader unto himself.

Most of them are not autonomous. It’s either that they are being pressured by forces outside Yewaland to run for political office, or someone outside is sponsoring them. I saw this, it happens. In the last dispensation, about eight or ten aspirants all came out to contest under a particular political platform, all from Yewaland. How do you want me to handle this? They are all my children. There is hardly any local government in Yewaland that does not have a candidate and yet we vote for a governor, so how do you do that? It is a political platform. We have yet another Yewa son from another party who wanted to be governor.

The day they all get together and present a candidate, that day they should go to sleep, the election is won. I will not mislead you, even other divisions also want a Yewa person to be governor. All of my other supreme rulers are not greedy. They want us to produce a governor as well. They know it’s late. It’s not a question of maybe they don’t like us here, no. We don’t love each other. Alake wants a Yewa to be governor. If someone tells you that the Egba don’t like us. This is a lie. Awujale, in fact, wishes we had produced a governor a long time ago. They (other supreme leaders) always tell me, please talk to your children. But, unfortunately, these children are not doing the right thing. Some of them don’t even come and tell me they want to run for governor. We are our own problems.

I’m just going to beg them to consider us brothers and sisters. Those at home should hug those who have just arrived. They need to open their hearts and be receptive to as many of us want to go home. If you served people on the other side, go home and come serve your people because that is the only way you can serve your people besides being the traditional ruler. The only platform anyone can use to speak out and serve is politics.

Are there any signs or hope that Yewa might get it in the near future?

Well, definitely, our eyes are open now. Our people are back now, the doors are open. We now have many options, not a situation where someone retrains as if the others don’t exist. We need to open our doors for our children to come home. We all have to go out, learn, get the exposure, the experience and everything, and then you come and bring it back here to serve your people. This is how development happens. You don’t stay in one place and expect development to come. We have a problem within ourselves, those at home believe that those of you who come are eroding them. If you talk about us not being able to produce the governor, what about the polytechnic here (Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro) the polytechnic is over 40 years old and we have never produced rector there. An Ijebu man was rector, an Egba man was rector there. Why can’t my people produce a rector? Aren’t we qualified? Don’t we have professors or PhDs? The problem is that we run away from home. We are afraid of witches and wizards at home. Our parents scared us away. For the governorship, very soon the story will change. ,,

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Martin E. Berry