Home politics INTERVIEW: The Secret Of My Longevity — Alaafin

INTERVIEW: The Secret Of My Longevity — Alaafin

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In this interview by Bode Durojaiye, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who recently celebrated his 81st birthday, talks about his life and other sundry issues.

How Do You Feel At 81?

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I feel totally fulfilled and give gratitude to God for His grace. My thanks and appreciation also go to the people of Oyo across board, and indeed the Yoruba at home and n the Diaspora for their support and reverence to my person and the institution of the Alaafin in Yorubaland.

What Are Your Major Achievements As A Monarch?

I think by this question you are straight-jacketing me in a narrow confined of Oyo environment. Be that as it may, continued peace among Oyo people irrespective of partisan political differences is vital to any development, be it social, political and economic. This is what political scientists called socialisation. The entire Oyo people see the Palace as a symbol of their oneness. In terms of infrastructural developments from both the Federal, State and Local Government levels, there had been tremendous achievements in Oyo Federal Constituency [AFIJIO, Atiba, Oyo-East and Oyo-West Local Governments] respectively.

I thank God and my people for what Oyo is today. At the Federal level, we have such institutions like the Federal College of Education [Special], the only one of its kind not only in Nigeria but in the West African sub-region, the Federal School of Surveying, the only one of its kind in Nigeria. At the State level, the Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, while at the private level we have the Ajayi Crowther University [by the Anglican Mission], and the recently approved Atiba University. On the whole, Oyo has four tertiary institutions, including two private universities. All these are possible because of the peace options and the socialization techniques which we have adopted for Oyo.

For instance, Oyo had been divided into large Quarters manned by Principal traditional Chiefs namely the Oyo Mesi. Each of these Quarters were sub-divided into smaller units and manned by other category of high Chiefs. The ladder known as Compound are manned by the Baales. While the third cadres were groups of Compounds [Agbo-Ile]. The responsibilities are fixed from the lowest to the highest ranks. These chains of administrative units enable the Alaafin to move along with the people in crystallizing developmental efforts of His domain.

That is why you ever heard of any major religious crisis both inter and intra. The Alaafin’s ears are always on the ground as far as security and security are concerned. As far as I am concerned, respect to legally constituted authorities at all levels is a prerequisite of the Alaafin administration right from history.

What Is The Secret Of Your Youthful Look?

I would like to thank God for the gift of sheer contentment, discipline, and my philosophy of life. I always try to make of best ever out of seemingly bad situation. I never allow anything to bother me unnecessarily. I exercise my brain and body every day, since I believe that a sound brain must be included in the sound body. I strive always to be a thinker of formidable range, so that when I am confronted with a problem, instead of allowing myself to be weighed down, I try to find alternative solution to the problems confronting me. Sometimes, I adopt the strategy of some world leaders like the Greek Military Strategist of old, Marximus Fobius Cunctatus who said you must not go to battle with your opponent on his own terms, but strike at the right.

Are Traditional Rulers Relevant As They Were Before?

Suffice to the dynamics of time, I think they are still relevant under the laws of the land. There are Chiefs Laws regulating the appointments, and duties of the Obas, and Chiefs both to their immediate communities and the State.

Would You  Support Constitutional Roles For Traditional Rulers In The Current Democracy?

I believe there is confusion in this question under the present constitution we are operating in the country. You haven three important water-tight compactment as regards the roles of the Federal vis a vis the State Governments. That is the Exclusive, Concurrent and the Residual Lists as enshrined in the constitution. Under the Exclusive List, only the Federal Government has control over the Armed Forces, Police, Customs, Immigration, Foreign Affairs, Currency, Citizenship, and Internal Affairs among others. On the Concurrent List are education, culture, agriculture among others in which both the Federal and State Governments have control respectively. While, the Residual List solely belongs to the State Government, such as traditional institution. Are you now saying that the Residual List should be abolished and put under the Federal Government? Under which category will you put traditional rulers, House of Senate, House of Representatives or the States’ Houses of Assembly? Since 1994, I had been opposing the centralization of traditional institutions through the convocation of National Council of Traditional Rulers. It is a misnomer, and this was corroborated by the Print media who had consistently condemned such contrivances by the Federal Government as illegal.

My advice had always been that traditional rulers should contend themselves with the peaceful co-existence, and development by complementing governments’ efforts on internal security.

Since the citizens who are the major determiners of the success or otherwise of democratic and development programmes are under the traditional influence of Obas, then the position of Obas as potent mobilisers, advisers, mediators, facilitators, adjudicators and nominators should be greatly be harnessed. The traditional institutions which are the only remnants of our pre-colonial political system must be preserved, promoted and strengthened through official constitutional recognitions and acknowledgements. If the British who colonized Nigeria and introduced liberal democracy still preserve their traditional institutions by making the Queen of England the Ceremonial Head of State with powers over the British armed forces, then we have no reason in Nigeria to throw our Obas to the dustbin of modern politics and administration.

In spite of the relegation of the traditional institutions in the modern governance and politics, they have shown an uncommon resilience which enable them to remain relevant and importance over the years. For democracy and development to be sustained and consolidated, Yoruba Obas must be recognized and accorded an important place. This is because traditions and history have placed them in an uncommon position that modernity cannot erase. Therefore, the potentials of Obas towards sustaining and consolidating democracy and development must be explored rather than jettisoned.

A people without a cultural identity of their own would be lost in the forward march of world history, and their contributions to human civilisation forgotten very easily.

Is The Present Oyo Kingdom As Powerful And Influential As The Old Oyo Empire?

To me this question is superfluous. You can as well ask if the 15th Century British Monarchy is still as powerful today as before then. Dynamics of change is a global phenomenon.

You Made Gani Adams As The Aare Ona Kakanfo Of Yorubaland. What Informed Your Choice?

Given the general acceptance of him across all strata in Yorubaland, and not only in Nigeria but worldwide where the black race are domicile, I am happy to have made a good choice that is acceptable to the people.

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