Thursday, 4 August 2016

Since I became king, I can’t kiss my girlfriend in public again – Ayangburen of Ikorodu

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The New Ayangburen of Ikorodu...'My ambition is to turn Ikorodu into a modern town'

Oba Kabiru Adewale is a man of many parts; a scholar, businessman, academician and Engineer; these prolific credentials have not in any way beclouded his sense of traditional responsibility as he answered the call to occupy the throne of his forebears, first functioning as the Odofin of Ikorodu, and then becoming the all important Oba of the popular Lagos Town. In this no holds barred first exclusive interview granted to a media, the monarch revealed everything that makes him thick including a look at his days before royalty. Enjoy the excerpts.

Congratulations on your installation as the new Ayangburen of Ikorodu land
Thank you very much
How would you describe the experience?
It is lovely. It’s my birthright, and I feel good about it.
You were once the Odofin of Ikorodu, and now you have been crowned Ayangburen, how do you compare the two roles?

They are different things entirely; being a chief is different from being a king. A chief is just a Community Leader while a king is a paramount ruler. The difference is very clear. As a king, you are to look after your subjects including the chief, who is very submissive to the king. He reports every situation to the king and follows a laid down procedure in his activities. The king is the custodian of the tradition, he makes his subjects happy, speak on their behalf, and works in partnership with the government for the growth of the community.
How do you intend to handle this enormous responsibility?
As a former Odofin, I know the town very well though there is more to it now as a king. My primary responsibility is to make sure that there is peace in the community, which will lead to developing it commercially. This is because Ikorodu is noted for commercial activities, and you know that lots of people are now migrating to Ikorodu and it has become the largest industrial area in the whole of Lagos State, even in West Africa. I really want to work on that aspect of our town; to make sure all the logistics and infrastructures are up to date. So we are going to work with the government to achieve all these.

The New Ayangburen of Ikorodu...'I balance my Mulim faith with my traditional orientation'

What are your priority projects and the innovations you intend to bring to Ikorodu?
I have done a lot of research and have penned down my areas of priority. When I joined the race to become king, I had my manifesto ready. I have already started some of those projects that I listed. Firstly, on culture, we have started enhancing the beauty of the town as well as renovating and reconstructing parts of the rural areas within the town. Just imagine the first palace in Ikorodu had no toilet and pipe borne water; I have already settled that for people residing there. Secondly, the road network in Ikorodu. This is one aspect I cannot do without the help of the government. Because there is mass migration into Ikorodu to ease Lagos Island of its population, there should therefore be facilities to serve the population. We are presently working on suitable housing programme for the city.
I remember when I was young; precisely in the 60s, you can hardly count up to 10 vehicles on Ayangburen Road. But now, it is a competition between human and vehicular traffic. So, we are going to work with the government on this project. Electricity, as you know, is a Federal Government project, but we have to back it up with transformer for the rural dwellers to have basic amenities that I mentioned earlier. We need hospitals also, and are working to upgrade the General Hospital we have. I am not saying government is not working, they have just built a clinic, and the structure is right there. But it’s not even enough. I went there last December, because every December or January we need to go and visit the first baby of the year, along with the former king. Some of the women who were expecting babies there didn’t even have beds to be delivered on; they were putting to bed on the floor; the fact that it is a modern maternity home notwithstanding. So, we need to assist by providing more land for them to upgrade to a teaching hospital, because the Ayinke House in Ikeja is chocked, so if we create more hospitals it will reduce the burden of Ayinke and Island Maternity. We also have a polytechnic that can be upgraded to a university. We have lands that can accommodate both. I am also begging our Baales not to sell the lands meant for schools, markets and hospitals. This is because if you want government to build a school or hospital, you have to provide the land for them. So, we want more schools; we want to upgrade our polytechnic to university; we want our hospital to be upgraded to teaching hospital and also the housing estate must be improved upon. Though the government is trying, but we want more.
How do you plan to achieve all these even with the help of the government?
Within the short time I have been in office, I have been able to construct a modern toilet and pipe borne water for the first Olaja Palace that was built over 400 years ago. There is no bank in Nigeria that is not in Ikorodu. Those are not from the government, they are from private individuals, and they are really investing in Ikorodu. But we still need the road networks, because we need to create an enabling environment for investors to come in. And the king cannot do it alone, so our mandate is to give the government the blueprint that will guide them to put the road network in place. The investors are ready to pay their tax, and we know how to sanction them to encourage them to do the needful. We will continue to talk to the government so that some of the seminars that are held in Lagos can be held in Ikorodu. We are doing a lot to put structures in place to attract business people here.

“People who come to pay homage to me make a lot of requests, for example, the Methodist Church were here this morning, and they blessed me, but they didn’t leave until they have made one or two demands of me. They want me to outlaw the “ORO” festival from taking place in the day time; they want it during the night”.

The New Ayangburen of Ikorodu...'I love my  wife dearly because she supports me in raising my family in my absense'

In how many years do you intend to achieve all these?
If it is possible within a year; I know the Governor is a listening Governor, and his men have visited Ikorodu. It is from the Ikorodu Senatorial District that we appointed the Governor. Definitely, he is going to listen to us and support our ambitious plans.
What had changed about you since you became a king?
Change has been part of my life; transformation to a boy, to a student, to a graduate, an adult, and socialist and now, a traditionalist. Series of changes have taken place. I have been to a kind of a ‘university’ only those who are ready to be kings attend. When you are there you will be transformed. There are lots of things that I was doing before that I cannot do now. I can’t kiss my girlfriend in the public any more. I can’t hug my girlfriend in the public. I can’t eat in public. There are limitations to what I can do in the public. As a king, you are supposed to be a role model, who should not be found wanting in behavior as well as be a good listener. It has actually changed and transformed me. People who come to pay homage to me make a lot of requests, for example, the Methodist Church were here this morning, and they blessed me, but they didn’t leave until they have made one or two demands of me. They want me to outlaw the “ORO” festival from taking place in the day time; they want it during the night. So if, the Oro people want to appease the gods, and they ban the church from playing music, and you know they can’t function without playing music, how will they feel? I have to listen to both parties and balance my judgment. So I try to examine issues careful and try to find out how I can accommodate everyone. If I have issues, I call all my subjects, my lieutenants, and we look at them together, and decide how to go about them. So, it is a decision that is not only my idea and the praise goes to all and not the kabiyesi alone; that has been my practice.
Can you tell us your background, where you grow up and more?
I am a native of Ikorodu; a proper son of the soil. I was born here in Ikorodu Maternity Home then. I went to Methodist Primary School which is about half a kilometer from my house. There was nothing like cars then, and we enjoyed trekking. I later went to United Commercial School, but didn’t finish before I was taken to Lagos, and I got admitted to Methodist High School, my dad as an Alhaji was not happy so I had to change to Zumratu Islamiyya Grammar School. Soon after, I worked briefly with a tourist company, Tourist Hotel Industry at Victoria Island, and while I was there, I was doing part time studies at the Federal School of Arts and Science. From there, I got another admission to the University of Lagos, which was followed with a Lagos State scholarship. In due course, I got admission to study overseas, so I left Nigeria and I studied at Nongradona Agriculture and Steel University in the United States of America. But before I left, my family got me married to my very beautiful and charming wife, and we had children. So, I refused to have another wife abroad. After school, I was posted to West African Portland Cement for my National Youth Service. At the end of the scheme in 1998, I was given automatic employment. I rose from Trainee Engineer to Deputy Chief Electrical Engineer before I retired in 2004. I was attracted to West African Portland Cement because I had the intention of going back to USA since they promised me an official home, scholarship for my children and all it takes to have a standard living; I had five children, but lost one at the age of nineteen when he was about to enter the university. Of the remaining children, one is a lawyer, another is working with the Lagos State Tax Office, yet another, a sociology graduate is still searching for employment while the last one is studying Engineering at OSUTH. I became the Odofin, and served for a period of five years. Subsequently, the family took it up further; stood by me and here I am today. I really appreciate what they have done, especially Ikorodu people; they really worked hard to get me into this office, and I promise that I will not disappoint them, God willing, and with my great team, we will get there.

The New Ayangburen of Ikorodu...'My new position has taught me more about tolerance'

How did you meet your wife?
When I was in the secondary school, I was like a play boy. I had many girlfriends. I met my wife in Lagos; in Lafiaji where I lived at the time.  She got attracted to me. For her, I disowned others.
What are the things that kept the relationship going?
She is a very domestic woman, a good home maker because I hardly had time for the children. I didn’t see my children growing because I was always in and out of the country. She has been very supportive, and I love her.
Before you became the king, what were the challenges you faced?
During our own time, once you know how to manage your boss, you won’t have any problem. I was very obedience and humble and I knew how to serve my superiors, and that was why many of them were all interested in attending my coronation because I was an exemplary worker. These experiences gave me the background to face any challenge even as a king now. One of my major challenge borders on the division among Ikorodu people; it is one of the things we will seriously work on because united we stand.
As a Muslim and a king you are supposed to perform some traditional rites, are there any conflicts with your faith in doing that?
No, there is no Pastor or Imam that will crown a king. It is still a traditional rite. I am Kabiru, I am a Muslim and I have been to hajj twice, so that will not take my belief away from me; culture is quite different from religion; there is nobody that doesn’t have cultural heritage. It just has to be balanced.

The New Ayangburen of Ikorodu...'Since i became King I have learn how not to do many things i used to do before now'

What is your typical day like?
It’s always busy
How will you describe Governor Ambode’s administration?
It is too soon to comment. He is good because he has worked at the local government. I am sure he will do well.
What is your best food?
Dodo and beans. When I was working, my wife will always welcome me with two bottles of star, but now things have changed.
Who is your favorite artiste?
 King Sunny Ade
Do you have a favorite book?
Engineering books as at that time, but now, I do more of newspapers.
What will you like to be remembered for as a king?
I pray to surpass my predecessors, and Insha Allah, I want to turn Ikorodu around, in a way you can’t imagine. I want to turn Ikorodu into a model city.

Culled from Ovation International Magazine

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