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Home / HEADLINE /  My 10 Years Of Building Unity And Progress  On Throne; Glory Be To God – Oba (Dr.) Kehinde Olugbenle 
Oba (Dr.) Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle MFR, Asade Agunloye IV, the Olu of Ilaro & Paramount Ruler of Yewaland

 My 10 Years Of Building Unity And Progress  On Throne; Glory Be To God – Oba (Dr.) Kehinde Olugbenle 

Oba (Dr.) Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle MFR, Asade Agunloye IV, the Olu of Ilaro & Paramount Ruler of Yewaland

ILARO-YEWA – As a Prince who was very close to the happenings at home, Oba (Dr.) Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle, MFR Asade Agunloye IV, the Olu Of Ilaro & Paramount Ruler Of Yewaland have been concerned about how lack of unity among Yewa people have robbed the region of the much needed development and progress in Yewaland. This worrisome situation was addressed in Kabiyesi acceptance speech during his coronation on Saturday, April 14, 2012. 

So, immediately on ascending the throne of his forefathers, Kabiyesi’s main objective was how to improve on the region’s very disturbing state of unity. Kabiyesi’s first main assignment was to build unity among the royal fathers in Yewaland and the Chiefs in Olu Ilaro-in-Council.

This is because Kabiyesi knew that the existence of unity and understanding among the Chiefs in Olu Ilaro-in-Council would give him room and space to attend to Yewa matters as the Paramount Ruler.

In this no-hold-bared interview with AbuSatar Hamed of StarTrend Int’l and other media outfits, the first-class monarch opens up on his journey to the exalted position. Excerpt!

What can you tell us about fortifying the Ilaro structures for unity and development vis-à-vis reforms in the Olu-Ilaro-in-Council?

Among the Olu Ilaro-in-Council, I ensured that all the Chiefs are united towards the common goals and objectives of promoting the development of Ilaro and its environs, irrespective of who voted for me or not during the selection process. The administrative structure of the Olu Ilaro-in-Council was rejigged with new committees, namely; Dispute and Reconciliation, Chieftaincy Matters and Welfare Committees.

The Dispute and Reconciliation Committee remains one of the most active and very crucial committees of the palace. It is the palace court where disputes arising in the town brought to the palace are amicably resolved.

As of the end of 2021, over 147 cases had been handled by the committee with 138 cases effectively resolved. Other cases were either withdrawn by the complainants or referred to the police to handle. The committees are refrained from attending to matters before the court, except where the two parties agree to withdraw the matter from the court for the committee to resolve for them.

All criminal matters are left for the various law enforcement agencies to handle.

The welfare committee was set up in 2017 mainly to take care of the welfare of the Chiefs, especially the aged ones and to coordinate the social activities involving the Chiefs.

The Chieftaincy Matters Committee has since its inception in 2014 been headed by Chief Adetunji Fadayiro SAN. The committee is saddled with the task of looking into the various vacant traditional minor chieftaincy titles, mainly

Kingmakers (Afobaje), Warriors (Ologun) and Community Heads (Baale). The sensitivity of the assignment requires that people of impeccable character and deep knowledge of the history of Ilaro and the settlers are considered for this committee and they have proved worthy of their nomination since the commencement of their assignment.

Activities of the committee has led to the conferment of many chieftaincy titles in 2016 and 2022.

What can you say about the activities of  Ilaro Development Council?

Another very important committee that was revived on my ascension to the throne in 2012 was the Olu-in-Council Committee on Ilaro Development Council (IDC). The IDC has successfully embarked on some developmental projects within the town, one of which was the Oronna Shopping Mall completed a year after my ascension to the throne by the Otunba Wasiu Taiwo led Oronna Day Planning Committee.

The IDC has also taken over the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) campus proposed in one of the abandoned former political party buildings in Ilaro for repairs and renovation immediately it was released by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to the town for use. The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Ilaro-Yewa Centre was visited by NOUN/NUC visitation team on February 25, 2022 for their final approval for final take off of the study centre for academic programme in 2022.

Also, fencing of the Asade Agunloye Pavilion at Empire Field was done by the Oronna Ilaro Festival Committee in collaboration with the Ilaro Development Council to enhance security at the centre. The IDC also built a 3-bedroom office gate house which was later given to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to use as their zonal office, while an armoury was built for their Ilaro Command office.

What about The Oronna Ilaro Festival Committee?

The Oronna Day Planning Committee that I met on ground in 2012 was dissolved, having spent ample time in office, to give way to new hands and fresh ideas. It was on this promise of giving the event a broader scope to showcase more of our culture and tradition, and blend this with modern programmes in a week-long activity, that Chief Kayode Odunaro was appointed as the first chairman of the new committee which has since been rebranded as Oronna Ilaro Festival Committee (OIFC). 

To accommodate the expected increase in the number of very important guests that will now be attending the festival, I had to immediately mop up some funds from my investment in Abuja to build a pavilion at the Empire Field, with a large space cleared to accommodate the expected increase in the crowd of people, from home and abroad, that would be attending the event. The pavilion was named Oba Asade Agunloye Pavilion and it has become a veritable event centre of choice to many people, clubs and associations in Ilaro.

Presently, the pavilion is marked to be redesigned to fit into the amphi-theatre being constructed at the Empire Field through the support of Aremo of Yewaland, Chief (Senator) Solomon Olamilekan Adeola.

I have also ensured that the maximum tenure of any chairman that serves in the various committees is not more than 4 years.

Accordingly, the IDC presently has the third chairman since my ascension to the throne, namely: Chief Nojeem Adeniji (Seriki Ona Ola of Ilaro-Yewa), Otunba Lekan Asuni (Otunba Baasegun of Ilaro-Yewa) and currently, Chief Muftau Olabimtan (Asoju Oba of Ilaro-Yewa).

The chairmen of the Oronna Ilaro Festival Committee, under my tenure, so far, include: Chief Kayode Odunaro (Majeobaje of Ilaro-Yewa and Baaroyin of Imala-Yewa, 2012 – 2016), Chief Rafiu Akinola (Otun Bobajiro of Ilaro-Yewa, 2016-2021) and Otunba Lekan Asuni (Otunba Baasegun of Ilaro-Yewa, 2021 till date). 

In the Olu Ilaro-in-Council, the leadership of the various palace committees were rejigged as occasion demands.

How has the consolidation of Yewa heritage and development like?

As the Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, I was aware of the great responsibility bestowed on me and the expectations of all and sundry for me to be an example of good leadership qualities and foster peace and unity, not only among the royal fathers, but also among all Yewa people, at home and in the diaspora.

What about promotion of unity among Yewa Obas?

I was convinced that I needed to establish mutual love and understanding among all Yewa Obas, bearing in mind their strategic roles as the traditional and administrative heads of their various domains. I knew I needed to get them to share in my vision for building unity and promoting development across Yewaland.

In this regard, I consciously ensured that the unity among our Royal Fathers was consolidated, although not without some challenges over the limits and jurisdiction of authority of some of the Royal Fathers. Most of the cases were, however, managed and resolved. An attempt by some of the Royal Fathers to form a faction around my office immediately I ascended the throne was politely disallowed, as I made them realize that all of us in the council are equal. I assured them that I love them all and that my door is open to them all.

Is there any festival that brings the people of Yewa together?

A major attempt to build on our common heritage and unity was the setting up of a Yewa Festival Committee led by Otunba Akeem Adigun (Socopao), the Apagunpote Of Yewaland in 2013. The first Yewa Festival held in 2013/2014 was highly successful, although holding some of the activities marking the festival across our local government areas, as planned, was faced with funding challenges.    The Yewa Festival Committee will in future be made to work with other relevant Yewa groups, especially the Yewa People Development Council (YPDC) to organize subsequent Yewa Festival. 

What is your effort towards mobilizing Yewa people in the Diaspora towards the development of their roots?

In order to ensure that our children in the Diaspora do not lose their cultural and traditional background to Western culture, the need to form associations and celebrate YEWA DAY among them was considered and the idea was encouraged. We experimented with the formation of an association called: Yewa Descendants Union (YDU) by my office in the UK and USA as pilot groups.

We also realized that the contributions and participations of the YDUs would be needed towards making the Yewa Festival an event that all Yewa people, at home and abroad, would be very proud of. Accordingly, I embarked on overseas trips to further mobilize our children and strengthen the Yewa Descendants Union (YDU, North America Chapter) and Yewa Descendants Union (YDU, UK & Ireland Chapters). 

The YDU Abuja chapter was also established on my return from the foreign mobilization trips. The YDUs were encouraged to hold bi-annual Yewa Day, and they have been doing this successfully, apparently to bring more of our sons and daughters in the Diaspora together. Not only have they sustained the YEWA DAY programmes, the membership of the associations has also grown as more Yewa people in the Diaspora continue to identify with them.

I am also happy to note that they have been using the YDU platforms to carry out various developmental projects in some of our towns and villages. However, this did not come without the challenges of strife sometimes within the associations, but we have managed to ensure the sustainability of the associations.

What led to the establishment of the Yewa People Development Council (YPDC)

One of my pre-occupations on ascension was to bring all our sons and daughters together under carefully co-ordinated global Yewa groups and associations, while not jettisoning the various groupings and associations at the local level. Accordingly, with the support of our Royal Fathers, we have established the Yewa People Development Council (YPDC), an umbrella body to co-ordinate most of our developmental initiatives, draw development plans and blueprints for Yewaland on both long and short term basis and take over the organization of the Yewa Festival and Awards.

The Council is expected to organize programmes that would bring all Yewa sons and daughters together to chart a course for our socio-economic development and political emancipation. This initiative was on a drawing board for almost four years as all the clubs and associations with global Yewa membership had to be carried along and drawn together to form the Yewa People Development Council. We also had to process and obtain the approval of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with six of our royal fathers serving as members of the Board of Trustees of the Council. The YPDC was successfully inaugurated on December 30, 2021 with Prof. Rahmon Bello, a former Commissioner for Special Duties in Ogun State and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, serving as the pioneer chairman of the council.

What can Kabiyesi say about institutionalizing Yewa Chieftaincy titles?

In 2016, as part of efforts to strengthen the somewhat fragile strands of our unity in Yewaland, our Royal Fathers in the Yewa Traditional Council (YTC) encouraged me to confer Yewa titles on some of our notable sons and daughters. This exercise, if carried out, would include those that have hitherto been nominated, but have not been officially installed before my predecessor joined his ancestors.

These include the former Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Her Excellency, Alhaja Salimot Badru as Beere of Yewaland and Chief Adewale Adesina (Mr. Wale Saranda) as Babaloja of Yewaland.

However, I strategically kept the exercise in abeyance due to the unfriendly political situation in the state and noticeable cracks and controversy generated in the ways and manners former holders were conferred with Yewa chieftaincy titles by the Traditional Council members in Ayetoro-Yewa without the consent of the incumbent Paramount Ruler of that time. Indeed, the issue of the powers of the Paramount Ruler vis-à-vis that of the Traditional Council in such matters informed my decision to seek legal advice on the roles of the Traditional Council and the Paramount Ruler in the conferment of global Yewa title on any deserving person.

The findings revealed that the roles of the Traditional Council are well spelt out under the Local Government Law and now the new Obas Law of 2022 as more of advisory. Only Royal Fathers with global titles, in this case Paramount Rulers reserve the powers to confer such global titles. However, I am convinced that it is not out of place, especially in the interest of the unity and progress of Yewaland, to carry members of the Traditional Council along in the nomination of suitable persons for such titles, and this is the approach we have adopted.

By October, 2021, I was sufficiently convinced that the time was right to release the list of the first set of our worthy sons and daughters due for Yewa titles. Accordingly, a public announcement was made to this effect with nine prominent sons and daughters of Yewaland were approved for global Yewa chieftaincy titles.

They are Chief (Mrs.) Adenike Ebun Oyagbola as Iyalode of Yewaland, Professor Biyi Afonja as Balogun of Yewaland; Otunba Akeem Adigun (Socopao) as Apagunpote of Yewaland; Alhaja Salimot Makanjuola Badru as Beere of Yewaland; Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola as Aremo of Yewaland; Chief Adewale Adesina (Mr. Wale Saranda) as Babaloja of Yewaland; Alhaji Ibrahim Dende Egungbohun (IBD) as Oluomo of Yewaland; Chief Dele Oderinde as Tayese of Yewaland and Chief Isiah Akinsowon as Majeobaje of Yewaland. 

Sir, can you tell us your relationship with other Paramount Rulers in Ogun State?

My relationships with the other 3 Paramount Rulers in Ogun State have been very cordial and the mutual respect we have for one another is top-notch and unprecedented. At the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN), I have been privileged to meet with virtually other Paramount Rulers across the country at our National Summits, both as the representative of Yewaland and as the Chairman of Ogun State Council of Obas.

What’s the motive behind the establishment of Oba Kehinde Olugbenle Foundation?

As a development consultant and a professional in the building industry, I have been passionate about supporting community development initiatives in Ilaro-Yewa and anywhere I found myself, even before I ascended the throne.

The passion prompted me to immediately start the construction of a pavilion at the Empire Field on my ascension to the throne to host the first Oronna Ilaro Festival in 2012 to create a more conducive and befitting arena for holding our social functions with the Oronna Ilaro Festival at the center of the initiative.

The need to have the foundation was prompted by some of my friends who came to celebrate my first coronation anniversary with me in 2013 and they declared their support for any development I plan to carry out in Ilaro and Yewaland. In fact, the motivation to build the private palace (Oba Bi Olorun Kosi Villa) came from some of my friends who undertook the architecture/engineering drawings and supervision free of charge.

I, therefore in 2016 after my 50th birthday, decided to have a foundation to promote the project I will be carrying out as a token of my contribution towards development of Yewaland. This is to ensure the tracking and sustaining of the projects into the future and it involves my children to enable them carry on and embrace the principle of giving back to the community. It was later on that my siblings and few friends were coopted into the foundation as partners. The partnership will be increased after my 10th coronation anniversary to accommodate all positive and like-minded people who share in my vision to be part of the foundation projects as partners.

Sir, can you tell us about the project(s) embarked upon by the foundation so far?

To God be the glory, since its establishment, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle Foundation has embarked on various projects within and outside Yewaland. Some of these projects include:

  1. Construction of Oba Asade Agunloye Pavilion stand at Empire Field
  2. Donation of computers, mattresses, bed sheets, power generators etc., at ICT Polytechnic Igbessa and selected health centres across Yewaland to mark my first year on the throne.
  3. Financial support to the elderly and the widow to mark my 50th birthday
  4. Completion and donation of three standard lecture rooms with capacity for 100 students each with lecturers’ offices and toilet facilities at Federal Polytechnic Ilaro-Yewa.
  5. Construction and donation of 20-room female hostel accommodation with porter’s room, waiting area, laundry, kitchen and toilets facilities at School of Nursing, Ilaro-Yewa (status-nearing completion).
  6. Construction and donation of 10-room male hostel accommodation with porter’s room, waiting area, laundry, kitchen and toilets facilities at School of Nursing Ilaro (status – ongoing)
  7. Repair and renovation of 5 classrooms with new roofing, ceiling, windows, doors and painting at Technical and Science College, Ayetoro-Yewa (Status – completed)
  8. Construction of three standard lecture rooms with lecturers’ offices and toilet facilities at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Agric Campus, Ayetoro-Yewa (Status – Foundation level)
  9. Yearly Financial loan support to vulnerable petty traders to encourage them stabilize and expand their petty trading.

How would you described the relationship between the host community of Ilaro-Yewaland the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro-Yewa community?

Without being immodest, I want to put it on record that the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro-Yewa and the host community of Ilaro-Yewa have a very cordial relationship that enhance the peaceful environment, both on campus and the town.

However, the major challenge I met was from the non-existence/scarcity of Yewa indigene in the administrative corridor of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro-Yewa in their over 40 years of existence. This was primarily due to non-acceptance of appointments by our children to work at the institution and discouragement of their children by some of our people from coming home to take up appointments at the polytechnic.

After my constructive engagement with the Management and Board of the Polytechnic and the encouragement to our children working in the Polytechnic, quite a few of them are now well placed at senior levels to qualify to take up appointment into key positions in the Polytechnic with the office of the Rector being our ultimate target. The first appointment of any Yewa indigene into the three key positions in the Polytechnic was the appointment of Mr. Olabode Ajibode as the Bursar of the Polytechnic in 2017, almost 40 years after the establishment of the Polytechnic.

Another challenge was lack of support of our people towards the infrastructural development of the institution. However, appreciation must be shown to Hon. Isiaq Akinlade and Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola for facilitating development in the institution. Also, Otunba Wasiu Taiwo, in 2021, collaborated with the Polytechnic to establish the first modern tailoring institute as part of the institution’s initiative in entrepreneurship development of our youths.

In fact, I decided to make the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro the first beneficiary of my foundation building projects to take the lead in encouraging other Yewa sons and daughters to partner with Federal Polytechnic Ilaro to make it one of the best ranking polytechnics in the country. Yewa indigenes must brace up and take ownership of the institution by actively supporting its development in all domains as government cannot do it alone.

There is no doubt that sooner than expected, a Yewa man will occupy the position of the Rector of the institution by God’s grace.

What about Olabisi Onabanjo University (Ayetoro-Yewa Campus)?

It will be recalled that when I ascended the throne in 2012, OOU Agric Campus was sharing premises with Ayetoro Comprehensive High School at Ayetoro-Yewa.

I was later confronted with the crises of movement of Ayetoro Comprehensive High school to another site, an attempt which was resisted by the Old Students Association of COMPROYewa Think Tank, one of the most active and progressive groups I met on assuming office under the leadership of Prof. Ayo Alabi wanted COMPRO to move to a new site and leave their current school to OOU, Agric Campus.

I had to step in to mediate on the matter which was the first major crises I resolved on my ascension in 2012/2013.

Fortunately, the new Vice Chancellor, Prof. Saburi who has a maternal link to Yewa was also ready to support the Agric campus, but not until all conflicts were resolved. I had to visit Ayetoro-Yewa for on-the-spot inspection and assessment of the sites.

I discovered that the contentions of both parties were valid. Yewa Think Tank meant well for the development of Yewaland. As a development consultant, I concluded that it would not be in our interest to shut down a development to bring up another. I believe development is a gradual process as COMPRO site itself was not built in a day.

I met with the representative of Yewa Think Tank and pleaded that we should leave Ayetoro Comprehensive High School at their present site and move Olabisi Onabanjo University, Agric Campus to the new site earmarked for COMPRO. To the Glory of God, the Vice Chancellor accepted my decision and promised to do everything to facilitate infrastructural development of the campus. That gave birth to the first main lecture theatre building funded with TETFUND approved by the Governor Ibikunle Amosun during the tenure of Prof. Saburi.

The Yewa Think Tank in order to express their support for the V.C, Prof. Saburi promised that the electrification of the campus would be undertaken by them with the support of the Paramount Ruler. They have come to meet me earlier for my blessing on this commitment to the OOU Agric Campus management. To the glory of God, the campus electrification project was commissioned by me and members of Yewa Think Tank with other leaders in Yewaland on November 11, 2021 at the permanent site of OOU Ayetoro Yewa. I thank God for those individuals, groups and associations that supported the project.

Major donors to the project are: my good self, Yewa Think Tank, Yewa Descendants Union (UK & Ireland), Yewa Descendant Union (North America), Alhaji Ibrahim Egungbohun (IBD), Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, Rt. Hon. Suraj Adekunbi and other individuals. The project as of the time of completion must have gulped over N30 million naira apart from the cost of transformer donated by Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola.

At a point, the contractor, Engr. Akintomide aka Baba Tommy had issues on the approval for his use of certain materials which prompted me to go with him to the head office of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company at Ibadan to sort out the matter.

To the glory of God, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ayetoro-Yewa campus have come to stay and has grown in terms of number of courses run on the campus and student’s population. It is my hope and prayers with the continued support of Yewa indigenes that the campus will become a full-fledged specialized State University of Agriculture in future, considering the expanse of land around the campus that stretches up to Imeko.

Also, I had the privilege of visiting the Gateway ICT Polytechnic, Igbessa-Yewa

in 2013 as part of activities marking my one year to donate computers to the institution. The situation I met was not impressive, as the institution had the outlook of a secondary school.

Fortunately, the coming on board of one of our daughters, Dr. (Engr.) Mrs. Olufunke Akinkurolere as the Rector marked the turning point in the fortune and ranking of the institution in the last eight years of her leadership. She put in all her energy and managerial skills to ensure a change of status for the institution, with new lecture halls constructed and many courses introduced to increase the student’s populace and staff strength, creating job opportunities in the process for some of our children.

The institution has won awards which have put Igbessa-Yewa, Awori and Ogun State on the map of host community of institutions of academic excellence.

The kind of passion and zeal the Rector put into the administration of the institution during her tenure is worthy of emulation by all sons and daughters of Yewaland whenever given the opportunity to serve in such capacity. She is a pride to all of us in Yewaland.

Kabiyesi, what can yo say about the activities of the Nigeria Customs Services in Yewaland?

Yewaland of Ogun West Senatorial District is the only area in Ogun State that shares international border with the Republic of Benin which makes the presence of the Nigerian Customs Services a necessity. In the last ten years, I have enjoyed good, cordial and working relationships with all the Comptrollers that have served the Custom Services in the state.

Sadly, the increasing activities of smugglers from across the country, who see smuggling at the border as a veritable business has been a major problem in Yewaland. The increasing rate of youth unemployment, ban on importation of rice a staple food and other commodities coupled with the downturn in the economy and the increasing survival stint by youth and jobless adults have made the smuggling activities to be on the rise as the smugglers are becoming daring. Today it is regrettable that smuggling activities now take place in broad daylight and daring smugglers are seen plying our roads with bags of rice on mounted motorbike.

Oba (Dr.) Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle MFR, Asade Agunloye IV, the Olu of Ilaro & Paramount Ruler of Yewaland

This has resulted in casualty as innocent citizens get killed from stray bullets when Custom officers engage the smugglers in combats. The Custom officers have equally lost some of their officers in the battle to curtail the activities of the smugglers. This is greatly regrettable.

The closure of the border to the Republic of Benin since 2018/2019 has paralysed economic activities in the border communities, as other legal activities that some of them would have engaged in could not be carried out as a result of the border closure.

The Custom Service could only curtail the smuggling by opening the border for other legal activities to be carried out to engage our youth productively which will boost the local economy of the border communities and Nigeria as whole. They should step up their intelligence gathering on the activities of the smugglers and their collaborators including searchlight on the receivers of the smuggled goods.

The adage that you cannot throw the baby away in the bath tray because the water is not good is very apt here by the sweeping closure of the border to economic activities all in the name of banning importation of rice which is presumably the major reason for the border closure.

The activities of the Customs Service in the border areas need to be reviewed, while the government policy on importation of rice needs to be re-examined and fine-tuned to encourage subsidized mass local production of rice in the country. The government must equally improve and invest on our very porous borderline across the country to meet international standards, if the activities of smuggling must be curtailed.

Until Nigerian farmers, through conscious government policy and support are able to meet the daily consumption demand of rice, a stable food in Nigeria, the activities of rice smugglers will be difficult to stop. This is a simple economic interplay of forces of supply and demand.

What about the Nigerian Immigration Services?

The activities of the Nigerian Immigration Services are not too pronounced in Yewaland like Custom Service. However, there is a need for the Immigration Service to curb the influx of illegal immigrants into the country through the border as well as the surge in the movement of herders and their cows from foreign countries, especially during dry season.

Kabiyesi, Dangote Cement plant is within your domain as the Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, what can you say about the activities of the company since its establishment on Yewa land?

Dangote Cement Plant Ibese-Yewa was commissioned about a year before my ascension as the Olu of Ilaro & Paramount Ruler of Yewaland in April, 2012.

Consequently, upon my ascension, I met a series of discords between the host communities and Dangote Cement Plant Ibese-Yewa many of which resulted in the burning down of their Dangote trucks and sometimes blockage of the roads against the trucks. The drivers’ recklessness on the road resulting in accident within the host communities and the environs are usually met with stiff protest and destruction of the company trucks.

There was a particular incidence in 2013 resulting in the burning of over ten Dangote Cement trucks at Ibese town as a result of accidents. The plant operation was paralyzed for almost a week and the government had to call for my immediate intervention to resolve the lingering crises with the host communities.

Series of meeting held with the host communities and management of Dangote Cement Plant Ibese revealed the gap in the relationship of the company with the host communities, especially as regards the fulfillment of their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) to the host communities on projects promised to be carried out. The company is either slow in the execution of these projects or they do not meet the expectation of the host communities.

My enquiries and findings on my request for the CSR agreement from the company with the host communities revealed that none was executed with the host communities before the commencement of their operation in 2011. This left a huge gap and the legal basis to hold the company accountable and responsible in fulfilling their obligation to our people. I had to embark on sensitization and education of the host communities’ Obas, Chiefs, leaders and youths on the observed gap in the CSR and the need to see the plant as a source of blessing to them and to Yewaland.

At a meeting with the top management of the company and Obas of the host communities, it was agreed that the CSR agreement would be immediately drawn and all the demands of the various communities would be met with a pledge and a commitment of yearly budget for the CSR projects. The company has since been deploring resources to carry out CSR projects in the various communities which are usually submitted through their Obas.

However, the perceived problem observed is the late commencement of the projects which are usually carried over into another year budget and non-award of the contract to some of the host communities’ indigenous contractors.

In all, the operation of the Dangote Cement Plant at Ibese-Yewa has resulted in the transformation and socio-economic development of the adjoining communities and towns.

My major request to the management of Dangote Cement Plant at Ibese-Yewa was for immediate consideration and aggressive employment of our children into the company which was obliged with some who were even employed on the proposed fertilizer and petrol refinery at Lekki in Lagos.

I also requested the construction of concrete road from Ibese to Ilaro and Ibese to Itori junction to ease the pressure on Papalanto-Ilaro road which was the main road initially used by the company to transport cement to other parts of the country. A police post to enhance security around the plant was also requested to be constructed close to the plant.

Kabiyesi, shortly after your ascension as the Olu of Ilaro & Paramount Ruler of Yewaland in April, 2012, Yewa Frontier Hotel and Resorts sprung up along Ilaro-Ibese road what do you have to say about it?

This mega project Yewa Frontier Hotel and Resorts, consisting of several rooms, a 750 capacity hall and other modern facilities was one major projects facilitated on my ascension by the duo of Chief Mufutau Olabimtan now my Asoju Oba of Ilaro and Prince Bisi Tella who convinced our brother, Engr. Afisu Olabimtan, a US-based successful Engineer and businessman of international repute, to invest at home as a support to my reign as Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland. Mufutau and Bisi were both my school mates at Anglican Grammar School, Ilaro.  The project (Yewa Frontier Hotel and Resorts) was completed in record time for commissioning to mark my 50th Birthday in December 2016.

Today the hotel has been host to many important events in Yewaland including the state government town hall meetings.

The phase two project of the hotel development was recently completed having cinema hall with adjoining medical facilities for the Afisu Olabimtan Foundation. The cinema hall was used for the first time to host the inauguration of Yewa People Development Council in December 2021. The medical centre when fully equipped with modern medical facilities as planned by the Afisu Olabimtan Foundation will give subsidised medical services to the people of Yewaland and environs in very critical areas of medicine. The medical centre is planned for commissioning before end of 2022.

How are security challenges in Yewaland like?

The proximity of Yewaland to the border of Republic of Benin has exposed Yewa to security challenges bothering on smuggling, inter-border robbery and herder-farmer clashes occasioned by the Agrarian nature of Yewaland. This is rampant during the dry season. Recently, cases of kidnapping which has become a national security challenge have been experienced in parts of Yewa North and Imeko/Afon Local Governments.

The state government is doing its best to curtail the menaces, but there is a limit to what various state governments can do until states are allowed to have their own State Police Force. The centralization of the security apparatus of the nation, as presently constituted, cannot address the increasing security challenges across the nation including cybercrime, Internet fraud, ritual killings and kidnapping which has now been added to the list of security challenges confronting the nation.

Kabiyesi, can you share with us the National and Honorary Awards received so far within your 10 years on the throne?

It was a surprise that less than a year after my ascension to the throne, the state government under the leadership of Senator Ibikunle Amosun CON nominated me for a national Award, MEMBER of FEDERAL REPUBLIC award (MFR) by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2012.

Over the last ten years, I have been privileged to be given several awards within and outside the country from various groups, professional associations and higher institutions. But I have also gracefully declined some awards with unsubstantiated background and monetary obligations. I believe strongly that awards should be given on merit, not financial consideration/capacity of the recipient.

Major awards given and taken include:

  1. Honorary Doctorate Degree, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye.
  2. Honorary Doctorate Degree, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode.
  3. Fellowship Award, Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro.
  4. Fellowship Award, Ogun State Institute of Technology.
  5. Fellowship Award, Osun State College of Technology, Esa Oke.
  6. Fellowship Award, Federal School of Survey, Oyo.

What are the State and National assignments you have participated within your 10 years on thee throne? 

I was nominated by the Ogun State Government in 2014 as a state delegate to the National Conference, inaugurated by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

The conference significantly exposed me to the many problems and challenges confronting our nation. There was hardly any aspect of our national life as a nation that was not discussed at the plenary, including the Nigeria constitution. I was a member of the Land Tenure and Boundary committee of the National Conference and was made the Chairman of the Sub-Committee of Land Tenure System, apparently as a professional expert on land, as an Estate Surveyor and Valuer. 

All our Royal Fathers were members of this very important committee because they believe land and boundary are synonymous with matters mostly engaged by Royal Fathers. It was a privilege seating with these very brilliant monarchs across the country and some other distinguished Nigerians in the committee.

The national president of my professional body, Nigeria Institute of Estate Surveyor and Valuer (NIESV), Mr. Emeka Eleh was a member of the committee too and we both put our expertise on land matters to bear on the recommendation adopted on land matters throughout the conference.

My major recommendation which was passed was on federal road reconstruction. They are:

  1. Sokoto Badagry road section from Joga Orile-Atan-Agbara-Badagry.
  2. Sagamu interchange-Papalanto Junction-Ilaro-Obelle.
  3. Lagos-Abeokuta expressway jointly moved with some other South West delegates
  4. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, also jointly moved with some other South West delegates

The national conference lasted for about four months which took me flying from Lagos to Abuja weekly. I had to manage my itinerary to be able to attend to matters requesting my attention in the palace and at the state level.

What is your overview on chieftaincy matters in Ogun State?

I had to wait for 4 years to study and learn from the challenges associated with chieftaincy matters in the state, vis-à-vis the provision of the Chieftaincy Law of Ogun State 2006, before I began the processes of filling the various minor chieftaincy stools that were vacant in Ilaro.

One of the major challenges observed was the issue of prescribed authority of various Obas in the state which had pitched some of them against the others with court cases. In some cases, the strife between the contending Obas, where it was not well managed, have led to community crises, and in some cases, loss of lives and properties.

The challenges observed on chieftaincy matters in Ogun State are usually centered around political interference by the politicians in power, undue disregard to the procedure and provision of the chief law, unmerited and unjustified promotion of Obas, indiscriminate upgrading of Baales, that is community heads, to coronet Obas without regard to the chieftaincy law provision and the financial capacity of the various traditional council among other observed infractions in the system.

What’s your take on the issue of upgrading Baales?

The upgrading of Baales in the chieftaincy law, I believe was to reward communities whose development have transcended communal life with notable presence of some socio economic indicators such as schools, health centres, cottage industries, electricity, telecommunication facilities, community halls, sizable increase in population etc.

However, I observed that it has been personalized by some of the occupiers of the stool of Baales for personal aggrandizement and show off rather than commitment to serve and work towards raising the bars of development of the community they head.

Also some of the senior Obas see the upgrading of such Baales to coronet Obas as a way of laying claims for large numbers of Obas under their leadership or control without regards for the custom and tradition of Yorubaland.

What a misnomer and misconception that have led to the bastardization of the very rich Yoruba custom and tradition on Obaship by some state government. Today in Ogun state, the numbers of created beaded crown Obas (Baales promoted to wear crown) have outnumbered the original ancient beaded crown Obas (kings with what Yoruba called Ade isenbaiye, that is, ancient crown). The government and traditional stakeholders need to urgently put an end or control to the abuse and bastardization of the traditional institution.

All Baales, if given the opportunity in Yorubaland today want to wear beaded crown and be addressed as an Oba, which is contrary to their traditional role of representative of the Oba in the community they head. They are like what local government chairmen are to governors or councilors to chairmen of local governments.

It is unfortunate and sad that Baales upgraded to coronet Obas few years back in Ogun State are now first class Obas and at par with their original prescribed authority due to indiscriminate and rapid promotion dole out to them for their political patronage to politicians.

These Obas fall within the class of Obas that wear political parties’ uniform (aso ebi) at campaign grounds and in some very embarrassing situations portray to politicians all for the crumbs and promotion/elevation.

Recently, Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State appointed you as Chairman of the Chieftaincy Committee set up to review the upgrading of Baales to coronet Oba in Ogun State, how does the assignment goes?

It was a surprise when His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun on resuming office as the Executive Governor of Ogun State saddled me with the onerous task of heading the chieftaincy committee to review the upgrading of Baales and appointment of Obas in the state by his predecessor at the twilight of the government in 2019.

Oba (Dr.) Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle MFR, Asade Agunloye IV, the Olu of Ilaro & Paramount Ruler of Yewaland

I accepted the appointment as a call to serve the traditional institution and the state as one of the concerned critical stakeholders who thinks that traditional institution will lose its place of relevance, respect, dignity and our rich custom and tradition if the trends of bastardization observed are not addressed.

The committee had the best senior traditional rulers in the state and renowned civil servants, technocrats and a lawyer in the committee.

The committee was fair in its recommendations which were adopted by the state government. The revelation on ways and manners in which the upgrading of the Baales were carried out was very unfortunate and did not align with the provision of the chieftaincy law of Ogun State.

All the affected Baales were given fair hearing as we invited them to face the committee where all the lapses regarding their upgrading to coronet Obas were pointed out to them. Some of them have never been Baales before the upgrade, while the recommendation of some never went through the various traditional councils for the Paramount Ruler’s final recommendation of such upgrade to the government, as required under the state chief law 2006.

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