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Monday, 24 September 2018

I'LL RATHER CARE FOR LESS PRIVILEGED CHILDREN THAN MARRY MORE WIVES - Oba Adedokun Abolarin


Youthful looking traditional ruler of Oke Ila Orangun in the South western state of Osun is what one would regard as, a modern day monarch. Oba Dokun Abolarin Aroyinke 1, started early in life, grooming himself educationally. He built a career in the legal profession and networked his way into the corridors of power in Nigeria. He sought for leadership but little did he know that he was only bidding time, and preparing himself for the leadership of his people as a royal father.

So, he was at the National Assembly in Abuja, when he received the traditional summon as a chosen prince, to return home to Oke-Ila Orangun to sit on his ancestor’s royal stool and lead his people. And that was just the beginning. He spoke to Paul Ukpabio.
Could you recall where you were on the day you were informed that you are the next Oba of Oke-Ila Orangun in Osun State?

I was at Abuja where I was working as a Personal Assistant on political affairs to the Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim when I received the news that I had been chosen to be the next traditional ruler in my home time. The news came to me as a shock because it was the last thing on my mind. As a matter of fact, I never thought that such a thing could happen to me in this lifetime. 

But you knew all along that you are from a royal family

Yes, that's true, but it just didn't come to mind. It is not something that I remembered or carried in mind especially for someone like me who was already positioning and set for leadership at the national level in the country.  

What were the first thoughts that rushed to your mind?

They were hard thoughts! They were difficult thoughts! I didn't know where to start from because there were so many things that came to mind. The call was sudden.

What was the immediate reaction of your immediate family?

For a whole year, the reaction was not so pleasant because, it was unexpected. I became hypertensive. There was un-happiness in my nuclear family and even my extended family. My mom too was not in tune with it until after a long time.

But why was it so?

It was because; we were not prepared for it! I had prepared for leadership and my family knew that, but the leadership was not at the traditional level. But again, what will be, will be. And leadership at any level is sacrifice, tolerance and service.

Did your family later adjust and have a change of mind?

Yes, but that was after a long period of time and I must confess that it led to one or two negative things that happened in my family which I do not readily discuss. Well, it has happened, it is a sacrifice of being on the throne.  

Upon your choice as the new king, did all your immediate family move to Oke-Ila Orangun immediately?


No. I had to move immediately. But it was a different experience entirely for my family. I never liked a dull environment. I had always been an active person in terms of activism and participation in affairs concerning the nation.

I did not go to school to be a King. I even didn't wish it for myself. It was rejected in my heart. But again, the pressure started to mount. My predecessor had joined his ancestors in life after. And it was the turn of our family to present a candidate for the Orangun of Oke Ila. Eventually, I became a King. I was one who was looking up to serve though at a different level, but here was another service that I was called upon to take on. What I realized in life is that, you don't run away from service, despite the fact that I didn't wish it upon myself.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and bred in Ibadan. I had never spent seven days at a stretch in Oke-Ila until I became a King. It was a different kettle of fish entirely when I got here to become a King.

So after a decade as the royal father of Oke Ila, how has the journey in the palace been?

I will actually be 12 years on the throne in December of this year. Like I said earlier, service is service, if you have been ordained by God to actively shape people's destiny, one should be happy. I thank God for the opportunity because I have found myself in a place where I change the attitude of a people, mould and re-direct their future, using the past to build a template for the future. It is a wonderful experience. But again, it is not all a bed of roses in terms of followership. It is difficult for people to change their erstwhile pattern of life. I have realized that it has to be gradual. Development itself is gradual. But all said and done, I am happy doing what I am doing.

While you were working in Abuja, was becoming a full blown politics on your mind? 

Not really, I was not in politics I was working as a professional lawyer. However, I was very close to the political class by virtue of my training as a political scientist, a scholar of International relations and as a lawyer that is interested in the development of the parliament. I was a lobbyist and a legislative attorney. I had the choice to mingle with the political class and the people who were interested in shaping the polity.

With you
r educational clout, didn't some of your friends think that going to Oke Ila to be an Oba would be a waste of your much acquired Western education?

True, a lot of my friends among the political class thought so. The then Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim who was my boss, never liked the idea. The present Minister of National Planning too, did not like the idea. But in fairness, there were some other people who I also consulted in Abuja, who fell in love with it and said that service at any level is service. That it is not only when I stay in Abuja, New York, Toronto or Canada that I can be of service to the people. They said being at Oke-Ila will also be a service to the people. Some of the people who urged me on were Senator Ajimobi the present Governor of Oyo state, the former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University who later became a Senator and other well experienced scholars of the Bible said it is important for people like me, to be at the leadership at the traditional level so that we can gradually re-construct the institution for the good of the people.

So after all these years as a traditional ruler, what do you think of the traditional institution?

I think it is a great institution to develop our people in social, political and economical areas. We are the grassroot. And a whole lot of us, have left our people for too long in terms of provision of leadership. Idagbasoke that is development is a call to service. When I got here, I found out that it is a place where I had to think of development from the bottom and not from the top to the bottom.

But have you been able to do that?

It's tough but that is what we are doing in all shapes of human development. And I have been involving a lot of people in the work too.

For one who has seen the world and had developed a cosmopolitan taste to comfortably resettle in Oke-Ila means that there must be something unique about the place, what is unique about Oke-Ila?

Man itself, the epicentre of development even in his rustic form, is an attraction here. And to change the mentality of the people is tough and challenging. But the Yoruba say that, ibi ti o ba le ni ati n ba omokunrin. It is challenging. It is to the glory of God that we are here.

You have always been a man of style, how has life in the palace influenced your sense of style?

I have been a lawyer. But even before becoming a lawyer, I do not joke with style and sense of looking good. I’ve kept my style. I enjoy looking good and as a Yoruba monarch, I have a sense of responsibility to look good and project the advancement of the Yoruba culture and tradition in terms of style.

What vanities of life can you not help being without even when you are in Oke Ila?

(Laughs) There are two important things that I do not joke with. I don't joke with my sunglasses it’s a Rayban and my Aramis cologne not only in Oke Ila but every other place that I am. There are two things that I got used to early in life.

What do you value most?
That is my relationship with God, and my relationship with people. I value that a lot.

What part of the arts appeal to you?

I listen to all sorts of good music, I like R & B. I love the kind of music that my children are producing these days; they all make sense to me. I don't joke with my son Davido's music. There is beauty in our culture and there's greatness in our language. The rustic nature of our Oke-Ila is beautiful; it is the most beautiful place in the world. There is waterfall, lush greenery; the environment is beautiful and lovely to be tapped into as a lucrative tourist destination. It is very good for rural tourism; a lot of our children do not even know what cocoa pod is. 

We are in the internet age, how is that influencing the youths in your domain?

It’s a global village today, and as a monarch, I do not want them to lose out. Though I do not have the needed resources to put in place all the necessary tools required to meet all developments, my thought and intention is to have a situation whereby whatever opportunities the youths in Port Harcourt, Abuja Kano, Lagos or other urban areas are open to, my children here in Oke Ila should also be able to access such opportunities.

You are soundly educated, how is this rubbing off on the people of Oke-Ila?

I don't joke with my people's education and there is hardly any university in the South West where I am not known especially for the admission of my children, in terms of placing our children's education as priority, so they can tap into a better future.

Monarchy is not usually associated with stress, so what prompted you to set up a school in Oke-Ila?

I have a school. And that was prompted by my love for the people. My bible tells me 'do not rob the poor because he is poor, I the Lord will plunder the souls of those who plunder them.' For God's sake, it is important for us to fix things in our society. We complain about too many things in Nigeria especially the educated elite. We shouldn't expect the government to fix everything. All hands must be on deck. The government alone cannot do it. And again, leadership is in short supply here. I am interested in the future that I may not be part of. And if that future is glorious, then we would have achieved something for that is the reason that we are here.

We also hear that you personally pay school fees for the students in your school

None of the students in my school pay a dime. The school is totally free. I beg people, friends to assist in one way or another to send the children to school. As at the last count, we had 94 rural indigent students. And to the Glory of God, in the coming school year when we will be having children in SS2, we are going to have 114 in the school, it is a boarding school. I seek deprivation among our people especially the elites who are not using our resources well to make things work well in Nigeria. What we are doing at Abolarin College, is our humble contribution to the society. I actually teach in the school, I teach them Government and history because I am conscious of the fact that we want to raise great leaders among the poor.

As a royal faster do you go on holiday?

Yes I do, because I need it, I work hard here. People may wonder what I do here, but the truth is that, I work 24/7. I need to rest. So I go on vacation. I do that once in a while. 

Culture
in terms of our culture, I have a festival known as esiri, people think that

In Oke Ila, I am the King, but the ultimate power lies with God. When you talk about sovereignty our forbears had established that long time ago and today, it is well embedded in our culture. 

Is it true that an African royal is entitled to as many wives as the custom allows, and how have you been able to handle women who have tried to be your Olori?

The choice is mine as a King or royal. It is a fundamental right of each soul to practice and do what he wants to do. I am okay with my Olori. With the 114 projected students that I will be looking after, there is no way I will be able to consider having multiple Oloris. I cannot afford it. Culture is not static, culture is dynamic. I am thinking of the future. I want a glorious future for these children around me. I want Nigeria through these children to be the best place in the world. It is do-able. All hands should be on deck. The fear of children school fees has not made me seek for more Oloris 


Tell us a few things you remember about your parents

My parents brought us up to fear God. We were trained in selfless. My father was a community leader. He was a teacher and a businessman. He worked for our future, not just the future of his children but the future of people around him. Like father like son, that is how my situation seems to be. It isn't like my childhood was privileged but I can say that it was average.

Did you grow up feeling like a prince?

No, I didn’t. While growing up, most of my friends did not know I had a royal background. It was a rude shock to many people when they heard that I was on the throne. I was more of a plebeian because I had this activism in me whereby I was, I supported the poor and the less privileged. I had always been interested in championing the cause of the downtrodden. 

What other roles will you like to see traditional rulers perform?

There are too many important roles to play by any soul. For instance, nobody is telling me to do what I am doing. So anyone who wants to be used for humanity, already has much role to play. There is much to be done already. For instance again, here in Oke Ila Orangun, I am the Chief Justice, I am the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, the Chief recruitment Officer and the Chief Admissions Officer. Oba l'o ri ohun gbogbo, I am in charge of everything and that already is huge, it is large! There are too many functions to be performed taking care of the future of the people. So, it all depends on how we that are on the throne understand it.   

Are you fulfilled?

I thank the Lord Almighty; I am fulfilled especially with the establishment of the school. We are trying to change things, trying to resolve conflicts among my subjects, conflicts that has been and could hinder developments. I thank God to be here, everything is not money. It’s true, I may not be making as much money that I ought to be making, but again building a future of a people and serving humanity for me, is the best thing to do.   

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