I played Oba to entertain, now I do it for real —Ranodu of Imota

Oba Mudasiru Ajibade Agoro, Olufoworesete II, is the Ranodu of Imota, Lagos State. In this interview, the monarch bares his mind on his ascension to the throne, his religious beliefs and other matters. Excerpts:

 My ascension to the throne
 All things work together for good to them that believe. Everything worked perfectly together for good for me in this regard. Because of my active participation in the socio-political set up in Imota and its environs, I was elected councilor in the old Ikorodu Local Government Area.

 This call to service exposed me to all the developmental projects initiated by the people of Imota. The people started watching my activities as a philanthropist and lover of the grassroots.
 During the reign of Oba Lawrence Adebola Oredein, I was made a chief so that I could bring in some of my peers to contribute to the running of the affairs of the town. That was it. The installation was even against my wish as a person but I did not know that it was the beginning of the journey to the throne.

 We have four main quarters in Imota and I happen to belong to all the four by virtue of my maternal and paternal backgrounds. My paternal grandfather was from Atere Quarters while my maternal grandfather came from Tonobu Quarters. My maternal grandmother hailed from Opopo Quarters while my paternal grandmother was a native of Itun-Moja Quarters. Hence, all the chieftancy titles in Imota here are stools I can aspire to by virtue of my lineage. So, following the demise of Oba Oredoyin, it came to the turn of the Adesewoligan Ruling House to which I belong from both parents and it was from there I was nominated for the throne.

 But prior to that time, when I was about 11 years old, I was in primary five. There was this Ifa divination that one day I would become the Oba of this place (Imota). This (divination) frightened my mother to some extent. So, when I was 15 years old, I was taken out of Imota to Lagos where I schooled and graduated and was commissioned as an accountant. Later, I became the Oba as divined.
 What I know, however, was that in my primary school days, precisely in primaries five and six, during the end of year drama presentations, I played the role of Oba in two different performances and was commended for playing it well. Even during my secondary school days, I was forced to play the same role, especially because of my surname which has ‘Ade’ (meaning crown) in it. As a young innocent boy, I had been acting as Oba without knowing that I would be one some day.

 The whole episode was destined from God Almighty. Upon the demise of my predecessor, members of my ruling house nominated me and the king makers readily accepted me because they had known me in the palace. That was how the divination became a reality. It was not through my efforts but because it was destined. If not for the first chieftaincy, it probably would not have come.
 I was 34 years old when the chieftaincy came. The chiefs virtually ran after me and brought me to the palace then to be installed as Aro, even against my wish. When I look back I know that it was because God wanted me to see things clearly and be close to the palace so that my selection as oba would be easier that He ordered my steps the way He did.

 Return to the old system
 I do support that we should return to the old system of communing with the Ifa oracle. That is what makes it traditional in the first place. It is because of the idol worshipping and sacrificial aspects that are associated with Ifa divination that Christians and Muslims avoid going to consult Ifa, otherwise, it is the best system for the institution. It is a guide to good governance. By the account of the Holy Quran, the priest of Ifa then, known as Shetiu, was given the power by Almighty God to see the past, present and future but he used the power against Prophet Muhammed, who was being pursued by his enemies. I believe that if divination is properly done, it will certainly come true. The only admonition I have here is that if anyone dies without desisting from divination practices, he may not get to eternity. From what I believe about God, once He decrees something, He will not go back on it whether it is seen through divination or not.

 Religious harmony
 From the point of being a Muslim, I have many reasons why I must allow traditionalists to practise their religion. That does not mean that I want to practice it in their ways. But then, my role as the custodian of the tradition in Imota and its environs dictates that I am the one who can tell the government how the religion was practised in my area. Before the advent of the Europeans, that did not run contrary to government regulations and at the same time, tell my people that you cannot do this or that now because it is against the dictates of the modern day government. But what I do is presently to strike a balance between the two.

 If you go through the accounts of the Holy Bible and Holy Quran, the two sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael, were the harbingers of Christianity and Islam respectively. The religion (Islam) was then strange to the people and so Abraham was persecuted. Then one day, he prepared his mind to destroy their shrines but God sent Angel Gabriel to him by night to warn him that He (God) did not send him to destroy anyone. Instead, he should know that God Himself made everything to be the way they are through His power. If He had wanted to destroy the pagans He would have done so Himself.

 It is this admonition that influences my relationship with the traditionalists. They had been here before Islam and Christianity came to our own part of the country. If they are doing their thing the way they saw it then and still see it now, it is not me who will now condemn it. The assignment of any Christian or Muslim is only to introduce his religion to someone of a different religion but it is only God who can perfect the work of salvation in any man’s life. This is the philosophy that has been helping me in my relationship with them.

 Motivating factor
 It is God Almighty that is behind it all. I know I am a very gifted person, but if I may put it in the language of the Christians: “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” If you are brilliant, rich or wise, it is God’s endowment. If you have anything that places you above your peers, it is God that is at work in you. My success on the throne in the last 18 years is all God’s work. I know lots of things have happened that transformed Imota into a modern community.

 Before I became Ranodu, we had only a postal agency but upon my request and pressure, we got a full-fledged post office in Imota. That was 1997/1998. As at that time too, we had only Imota maternity center. I complained to the Ministry of Health with Dr. Leke Pitan as commissioner, an annex of the Ikorodu General Hospital was brought here. As for Imota LCDA, the clamour for a local government started in 1936 in the days of the native authority. That was during the reign of Oba Sabiu Awotungase, the 13th Ranodu.

 We did not get through until 2003, 10years into my reign.
 We equally have an arm of the water corporation here. Of importance again is the police post upgraded to a divisional headquarters. All these achievements came through my peeping into the government to ask questions about what they are doing for Imota and this has greatly paid off.

 The population of Imota too has increased by a hundred fold because of the commercial activities going on in the town. We have the Obada Market which is the largest market for kolanuts in the South Western. That trade brought people into the town. We also have the evening market which equally attracts great crowds from within and outside the town. One night, following a quarrel at the market, I discovered that the market had become too small for traders. I met the local government and we decreed that by the 5:00pm daily the four major roads leading to the town’s central roundabout would be blocked to create room for traders in the evenings. Within three days, the whole area, measuring about 500 meters square had become market. It has brought many people to the town to the extent that our population is now more than 20 times the one I met. All these things are God’s endowment.

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