His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, the Alaafin of Oyo, is indisputably a traditional ruler with distinction.
Forty seven years after he ascended the throne of his forefathers, Alaafin has brought elegance into the traditional institution, not only in Oyo but also in Yorubaland.
Obviously, the story of Yoruba is not complete if you leave out the Iku Baba Yeye, Alase Orisa as he is popularly called.
Not only does he impress the knowledgeable audience with his mastery of colonial history, his captivating speeches usually attract rounds of standing ovations that leave the audience wondering if he is indeed
a monarch or a visiting professor of African History.
A story teller and incorrigible performer, Alaafin remained the first African monarch to hold the John F. Kennedy Airport in the United States (US) spell-bound with a large consignment of traditional drummers who thrilled every passenger with delightful tunes.
It was when the paramount ruler was invited by captains of industry of the American Chambers of Commerce and Industry held at Dallas some years ago.
Among the Obas in Yorubaland, he distinguishes himself as a custodian of Yoruba’s cultural heritage.
This is not only in social values of veracity, egalitarianism, justice and democracy, but in dress, utterances and comportment, even the mere
necessary trivialities that mark Nigeria and the locality as a distinctive entity.
When Alaafin speaks in Yoruba and English Languages, you marvel at his depth of knowledge.
You just don’t want him to stop. He is a repertoire of history and knowledge. Despite the fact that he is 82, when he begins to talk about historical events both local and international, with statistics and date, then you wonder how he remembers all these things.
He is a beauty to behold when he dances rhythmically to traditional
music, as his dance steps go in tandem with tunes of the music.
The contributions of Oba Adeyemi to the preservation and promotion of
Yoruba culture, his efforts toward the unity and progress of the
Yoruba as well as promotion of the traditional institution were unquantifiable.
He is an epitome of intelligence, repository of knowledge culture and symbol of intellectualism in royalty.
In this exclusive interview with our correspondent, BODE DUROJAIYE, the octogenarian-monarch spoke on wide range of contemporary issues.
ON TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS
Obas must be educated, literate, enlightened, civilized, dynamic,
current, lively and not only open to new ideas and suggestions, but
must not be too rigid, conservative, myopic and parochial if he must
be a successful Oba of the 21st Century. While Obas must be above
board in personal conducts, they must be a respectable dung hill.
Settlement of inter-personal, inter-ethic and communal disputes or
conflicts is another critical area where the Oba could be very central
in democratic consolidation and sustainability. This is due to the
fact that conflict is part and parcel of human coexistence but
peaceful resolution of conflict is one of the hallmarks of democracy
If we adopt the traditional methods of conflict resolution as
alternative to the modern judiciary, it would go a long way in
improving our current justice system which has not only been
over-stretched but also grossly abused. The position here is that the
Oba at the centre of traditional justice system could achieve rapid
peaceful resolution of inter-personal and communal disputes which have
become clog on the wheel of our progress and development.
The Obas have been doing this at the local level but this need to be
backed and strengthened by formal governmental authority and
recognitions. Apart from the advisory role given to the traditional
institutions in the current democratic dispensation, Obas should be
seen as the coordinator of general community development as he has
natural capability to successfully act as adjudicator, mediator,
intercessor and facilitator of community projects and programmes.
In other words, traditional rulers have been grossly under-utilized
given the enormous potentials inherent in their offices, positions and
influence. Therefore, they should be accorded a pride of place in our
development strategies so that we can fully tap their enormous natural
potentials and powers. Obas must be seen as the symbols of the
people’s past, custodian of their history and past, upholder and
preserver of their culture, customs, an epitome of cultural norms and
values of the society such as truth, discipline, courage and
Obas must show a sympathetic understanding for the traditions, customs
and religion of the people. Without sounding fetish or anti-Christ,
the Oba must not only be knowledgeable in the history and customs of
his people but he must also be sympathetic to the traditional
religions, festivals and rites of his kingdom. This is to ensure that
he continues to enjoy the respect, obedience and reverence from his
people because his authority and power actually come from the
traditions of the people.
Unfortunately, over the years, some traditional rulers have shown
total disregard to traditions and customs of their people by engaging
in a host of other heinous acts. How do we fathom an Oba who drinks
alcohol publicly, an Oba cursing his citizens; an Oba who abuses
wearing of crown, and Oba who desecrates culture and traditions?.
ON NATIONAL SECURITY
The police must employ native intelligence services in a bid to
effectively tackle critical security challenges confronting the
country. Security of any country is critical for development, economic
prosperity and democratic principles to thrive adding that the
critical issue is the way a country deploys its strategic security
responses to protect the citizens. Nigeria is not the only country
facing security challenges today. The fundamental thing is how you
deal with these challenges. We can sustain national security
operations or options by using native intelligence gathering as a
response to national security threat.
The Old Oyo Empire lasted 600years because of effective native
internal security. It is important for government to take holistic
view on information gathering as a system for addressing insecurity.
It must take into consideration the need to harmonise the roles of law
enforcement and security agencies and the need to deploy technologies
required for identification of criminal suspect. Three quarter of the
universe is in a state of unrest due to lack of effective internal
Unless and until development challenges are seriously addressed via
genuinely people-oriented development ethos and strategy, enduring
optimum security is likely to continue to be elusive inthe country.
Though the country is abundantly resourced and has progressively
witnessed phenomenal growth over the years. lt is incontrovertible
that there has been a patent increase in the manifestation of the
absence of real development, in terms of the quality of social
existence and of social relations of majority of the populace or the
so called ‘’average’’ citizen,
Crime and insecurity continues to be on the increase, both in terms of
volume and seriousness. The amount and quality of protection the
Police offers the citizens as a whole and the degree of confidence and
cooperation it enjoys from the average citizen continue to be far less
than optimum.Courts still delay and, therefore, deny justice in the
majority of cases, as the Police are usually ‘’still investigating’
and the poorly-paid prosecuting state counsels or police officers are
usually asking for adjournments, and the court sentences for convicts
appear to have no corrective effect in most cases, as the prisons
regularly receive back about one-third of those they had allegedly
‘’corrected’ and released.
As a result, prisons are over-crowded by not less than a hundred per
cent with those ”on remand awaiting trial’’, while elite and
economy\polity-damaging offenders roam the corridors of power, allowed
by legal ‘’technicalities.
According to him, ‘’how many thefts\burglaries does the average
citizen care to report to the police nowadays? How many of the
reported assassinations\kidnappings have been satisfactorily solved by
the police\security agencies?
However, I must commend the Inspector General of Police, State
Commissioners, especially Oyo State and his men for their
un-relentless commitment in combating crimes and criminal activities.
All criminal activities in Oyo town and its environs such as stealing,
burglary and kidnapping have drastically reduced due to concerted
efforts of the officers and men. My people have not been reporting
about any untoward acts by the police. The officers and men are indeed
responsible and diligent to their duties.
The youths are often called the potential leaders of the nation hence
their role in building a sustainable economic development is essential
by integrating them into the national policies and decision making.
They need an active involvement in participating with the current
political and economic leaders to foster inter-generational dialogue
hereby enhancing adequate transitional shift. They should equally be
actively involved in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda.
This is because they constitute the major resource base for any
country that want to embark on any meaningful development project.
Young people must be trained and as quickly as possible, to provide
leadership in Agriculture, Industry, Government and Economic
Development Projects. They must be developed intellectually, morally,
socially and with relevant skills to face a rapidly advancing
Nigeria has a youthful population of close to 70 to 80 million, which
is about 55 to 60 per cent of her population. Of this youthful
population, more than 80 per cent are unemployed while about ten per
cent are under-employed. The estimated 10 per cent in employment are
burdened and depressed with near total dependence of relative and
family members. Given the right combination of motivation, knowledge,
ideas and opportunities, Corps members are more than able to establish
productive and creative businesses. Engaging in entrepreneurship will
lift you from being “job seekers” to “job creators,” and also from
social dependence to self sufficiency. With self-employment, you can
also contribute to the upkeep of your families. Entrepreneurship in
Nigeria is a major avenue to increasing the rate of economic growth,
create job opportunities, reduce import of manufactured goods and
decrease the trade deficits that result from such imports. The influx
and encouragement of youths into ventures will definitely help salvage
our wasting economy.
There is therefore need for both the Federal and State Governments to
place values on education and skills acquisition as the only way out
of present economic doldrums. Youths need to develop an acute appetite
for learning and knowledge without which civillisation crumbles.
Nigerian youths need to hunger for relevant facts and skills, thereby
seeking solutions to the challenges facing us through enhanced mental
capacity. This is the foundation to any true renaissance.
Unless political parties brace up and refocus their operational modes,
there may not be end to brazen impunity, monumental corruption,
alarming poverty as well as unemployment rates characterized by
irresponsible leadership in the country.For political parties to live
up to their responsibilities and be reckoned with as responsible,
certain rules must be enforced to aid pragmatic governance. Political
parties should be able to organize debates for both the incumbents and
new aspirants, in order to ensure that credible and dedicated
candidates who are really determined to serve the people are given the
mandate. With such steps, if adhered to by political parties will
prevent most aspirants who have no clear-cut and result oriented
programme of actions for the people, but only with the ulterior
intention of treasury looting and amass of ill-gotten wealth to the
detriment of the teeming impoverished populace. In the 21st century,
the country needs personalities with high cerebral to phantom the much
desired development for the well being of all and sundry.
Common indices of the well-being of the society should include peace,
the existence of rule of law, socio-economic progress and the safety
and comfort of the citizenry. Unfortunately these ideals have not been
achieved in the country because of the tendency of those in positions
of authority seeking their personal well-being first and sometimes try
to do this at the expense of the down-trodden people. They place
themselves in advantageous positions by subverting the commonly
accepted rules of conduct and goal attainment.
There is great imminent danger in producing generation of young
citizens in educational institutions, who possess little or no
appreciation of the past, as a people, and as a nation. Society,
through leadership in public service, must begin to de-emphasize
rewards for corruption and ill- gotten wealth, but rather put emphasis
on hard work, innovation, Productivity and humanitarians. These are
features of the values of which are part of the culture of America and
Japan, leaders of the west and East. They are basic waits which brings
out the beauty of the human spirit to solve complex social, political
and economic problems. A right thinking person should be worried about
the prevailing corrosive moral turpitude that has become the daily
diet in the nation’s political life, in consistencies in policy
formulation and implementation in the education sector, and palpable,
unambiguous hunger for education among the terming youth population.
The wave of poverty and unemployment has made nonsense of young
peoples’ determination to honestly pursue excellence.
The Country must have a culture that is pro- life, in which a change
in orientation and social values from materialism and acquisition of
stupendous wealth, for the purpose of oppressing the less- privileged,
to a more human social order, where every human life is valued as
sacred and inviolable, must take place. The value placed on human
life will inform policy makers in government to realize that there is
a higher purpose to their calling as public officials. We must realize
the formulating and implementing policies which will serve to benefit
only the children of the wealthy, stifle intellectual curiosity in
academic institutions, frustrate teaching professionals and parents
and make our best brain find greater comfort in overseas schools (or
local cult groups) will not serve the interest of our country.
Government must consciously bring education to the reach of all its
citizens, through increased subsidized funding of indigent groups, and
viable public- private partnerships in research and development
ventures. The employment of private financing options in critical
areas of innovation and infrastructural development, which
polytechnics and other vocational centres can very well contribute.
There is need for encouragement of private enterprises to make
endowments to particular field in colleges and universities especially
in agriculture, financial and petroleum fields. This will further
ensure that these fields continue to attract, train and retrain
expertise within the educational system rather than losing bright
stars emphasis, to the industrial sector. The continued liberalization
of the tertiary education sector, if not controlled, will only result
in a faster rate of producing “university graduates” with low quality,
due massive strain on teachers and teaching facilities. In this
regard, the historian submitted that the curriculum at the secondary
level and vocational schools need to be more industry- focused, with
greater emphases on practical skills. This will ensure, over time that
we gradually progress towards the build- up of a critical mass of
highly skilled technical manpower for use by the industrial and
manufacturing sectors. The creeping denial of a good measure of
university autonomy is unacceptable. The policy of uniformity by any
method enforced can only breed mediocrity.
ON WOMEN AND POVERTY
Widespread and persistent hunger and poverty are fundamental
contradictions in today’s world. On the basis of the “one-dollar-a-day
threshold”, findings revealed that there are 1.2 billion poor people
in developing countries. Of these, 780 million suffer from chronic
hunger, which means that their daily intake of calories is
insufficient for them to live active and healthy lives. Nigeria as a
nation is a country of 140 million citizens. Also, statistics from
the Food and Agricultural Organisation [FAO] showed that with the
existence of over 780 million chronically hungry people in the
developing world today, there is something fundamentally wrong in the
distribution of food and the resources with which to access it.
The concept of development stands not only on the quantitative value
of growth but also on the qualitative factors of livelihood, which is
the fulfillment of basic human necessities i.e. provision of basic
infrastructure, shelter, food, health, education and safe water. These
are big challenges for the governments of developing countries. In
developing countries, national development requires a major
re-ordering of human society. The economy of any nation is as
important as the lives of individuals within the nation. To ensure
this quality therefore, there is urgent need to keep the economy
buoyant at all times. This to say the least is responsibility of all
citizens – male and female, young and old. Poverty alleviation is a
microcosmic strand out of the many divergent means of achieving
national development. According to former Secretary-General of the
United Nations, Boutrous Ghalli, for maximum use of human capital, all
human resources should be fully utilized for maximum output. He said
development has to do with “improvement of human well – being, removal
of hunger, disease and ignorance, and productive employment for all.
Its goal must be to end poverty and satisfy the priority needs of all
people in a way that can be productively sustained over future
The World Bank also stated that poverty reduction is a challenge that
no country, developed or developing, has overcome. However, the
Nigerian economy is a developing economy that is not yet stable.
Inflation is a steady and perpetual phenomenon. The rate of population
growth, coupled with resource constraints, corruption, among other
things, has resulted to poverty in Nigeria at a very, inhuman and
disastrous scale. The country also has a low level of education.
Generally, the economy produces a base line that has the majority of
people below it.
Recent studies of poverty in Nigeria show that poverty is widespread.
Poverty is on the increase, as over 30 percent of the populace live in
poverty. These reports, by the United Nations Development Programme
[UNDP] identify women and children as groups that are most vulnerable.
Most of the poor in Nigeria are women who as a result of poor
educational opportunity and the responsibilities of matrimonial homes
have to fight to survive. Many of such women engage in inferior
economic enterprises that are sole entrepreneurial activities with a
very low financial base. This situation is what the World Development
Report defined as poverty “the inability to attain a minimum standard
of living. The National Population Commission (NPC) puts the
population of women in Nigeria at 68.3 million and the female
population are contributing 70 percent of labour force in agriculture.
It was no surprise therefore that the present administration under
President Muhammadu Buhari, and the ruling party, All Progressives
Congress [APC] identified alleviation as a major prerequisite to
The need to address poverty, equity and gender arises from the fact
that both men and women are both integral parts of national and
economic development policies and programs. It is realized that
improvement in the quality of life of the people as productive agents
must be the central objective of development policies for economic
development. Improvements in human development directly affect an
economy positively. The development of a nation is based on both the
human capital as well as physical capital of that nation.
Focus on human resources development is one of the fastest and most
effective means of alleviating poverty and achieving national rebirth
in the country. This would be better done through an emancipation and
empowerment of the female gender. Both Federal and State Governments
must focus on human resources development as one of the fastest and
most effective means of alleviating poverty and achieving national
rebirth in the country. Hunger and poverty will remain at unacceptable
levels unless purposeful action is taken to give them higher policy
priority, mobilise resources to fight them directly, as well as
towards agriculture and rural development. Placing the Millienium
Development Goals [MDGs] at the centre of financing for Development is
a step in the right direction.
ON CULTURE AND TRADITION
I am disturbed at the gradual extinction of Yoruba Customs and
traditions, and how modernisation has been allowed to bombard Yoruba
traditions. As things move at the present time, it will be disastrous
if we fold our arms allowing our traditions to dwindle into oblivion
in the face of permissiveness.
How many Yoruba sons and daughters can brilliantly articulate their
local language? It is frightening that our own language is dangling on
the pit of extinction while preference is accorded foreign language,
which is English. Languages often hold the only record of a people’s
history, including their songs, stories, praise poetry and ancient
traditions. In particular, many indigenous cultures contain a wealth
of information about the local environment and its floral and faunal
resources, based upon thousands of years of close interaction,
experience, and problem-solving. With the extinction of a language,
therefore, mankind also loses access to local understanding of plants,
animals, and ecosystems, some of which have important medicinal value,
and many of which remain undocumented by science.
Thus, the survival of threatened languages, and the indigenous
knowledge contained within, is an important aspect of maintaining
biological diversity. Languages are now becoming extinct faster than
birds, mammals, fish or plants. Of the estimated 7,000 unique
languages spoken in the world today, nearly half are likely to
disappear this century, with an average of one lost every two weeks.
It is most likely that in less than 50 years from now, even some major
Nigerian languages, if not encouraged, can become extinct, and
lecturers in our Universities would have cause to excite their
students with great lectures in a course on, say, ‘ancient’ Igbo or
“ancient” Yoruba languages, and of which they would speak thus, with
nostalgia, ‘They once flourished in the distant past but have now
become extinct’. This is a disheartening possibility for anyone who
cares about our indigenous languages, the history and unrecorded
knowledge they carry within them.
African traditional religion clearly plays a distinctive role as the
ultimate source of supernatural power and authority that sanction and
reinforce public morality. It is pressed into full service to maintain
social order, peace and harmony. Traditional Africans believe that
success in life; including the gift of off-spring, wealth and
prosperity, are all blessings from the gods and ancestors. They accrue
to people who work hard, and who strictly adhere to the customs, and
traditional norms of morality of the community, people who strictly
uphold the community ideal of harmonious living. Only such people
could entertain a real hope of achieving the highly esteemed status of
ancestor-hood in the hereafter. The vast majority of norms, taboos and
prohibitions is directed towards protecting the community and
promoting peace and harmony. Communal farmland, economic interests
like the market-place, stream, or shrine are generally surrounded with
taboos, including who may or may not enter, and when and under what
circumstances people are permitted or not to enter such places.
Stealing is abhorred. It is in fact, an abomination to steal things
relating to people’s vital
life-interests and occupation. Religion may be distinct and separate from
morality, as many scholars have rightly argued. For traditional
Africans, however, the line dividing the two is very thin indeed.
African traditional religion plays a crucial role in the ethical
dynamics of the different groups. In the traditional African
background, ‘gods serve as police men’. African traditional
world-views invariably outline a vision of reality that is, at once
ethical in content and orientation. Human beings and their world are
the focal centre of a highly integrated universe. Human conduct is
seen as key in upholding the delicate balance believed to exist
between the visible world and the invisible one.
What is more, as Africa continues to re-write its history and stride
into the Millennium, there is urgent need for leaders in the continent
to begin a systematic documentation of what they have in the name of
cultural property. These should include objects made by our
forefathers, the monuments of the land and things created by us today
that would become of historic importance tomorrow. Africa is opening
up herself to the world in a way that she had never done in the past.
We are no longer ‘’the Dark Continent’’ and Africans are no longer
‘’the primitives’’ the civilizations that ounce flourished in Africa
have become the issue in
the Art world today. The head-count of our cultural property should be
properly and fully documented. in this regard, our museums have the
primary responsibility to ensure that such National Registers are
created. These great cultural materials across Africa put together
today, belong to Africa and to humanity collectively.
While we cannot deny the advantages of rapid expansion in our modern
world, such progress on the other hand imperils the irreplaceable
heritage of nature and culture, essential to the equilibrium and
happiness of mankind. This, in turn, leads to a situation where
cultures vanish with the disappearance of the economic and social
systems which brought them into being. Even human groups, the victims
of thoughtless and too sudden evolution, perish, and for the human
sciences such as history of art, archaeology, and anthropology, loss
ensues, as well as frustration and misery for mankind if all the
objects and places of historic importance are not appropriately
recorded and documented.’’
ON PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
Nigerians should not be unnecessarily apprehensive about the present
administration, as the era of oligarchy and corruption-ridden
governance with contents of the National Anthem and pledge being
turned into mere nominal mouthing has gone for good. Positive
development in good governance and accountability being witnessed
presently in Nigeria is serving as a beacon of hope for the rest of
the citizens of the West African sub-continent in particular and
Africa in general. Until recently, lack of transparency, probity, and
accountability in Nigeria translates into a pandemic. President
Muhammadu Buhari’s victory which was a victory of hope and
transformation will translate into the beginning of a new renaissance
for a new democracy in which wanton corruption, abuse of power, lack
of transparency in governance, deceit of the citizenry, ineptitude,
ethnicity and impunity were orders of the day.
Changing a Government under which the mass of ordinary people were
unnecessarily and needlessly burdened over the years under the yoke of
massive and pervasive corruption, deliberate oligarchic mismanagement
of abundant natural resources, party political and ethnic cronyism and
abject ineptitude peacefully through the ballot box is a feat worthy
of emulation by other citizens of the West African sub-continent in
particular and Africa in general. The track record of the President
and his unassailable commitment to democratic processes since
Constitutional governance in Nigeria in1999 gives hope that under his
leadership, Nigeria will once more instill the values of good and
May God Almighty continues to be with the President, and endows him
with divine wisdom in the arduous task ahead, in order to achieve the
purpose of rebuilding a strong, motivated and united country that will
demonstrate the expected leadership on the African continent.