When I called the Oonirisa, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi that I was coming to see him last week, all I had in mind was that our Alawiye image of a King resplendent on his throne with Olori by the side cooling off in all majestic rest. It didn’t turn out that way.
As I drove through the palace gates, I saw scores of young desperate looking and weary young men hanging around. You could tell from their faces that these were forlorn youngsters in search of help. I shook my head at the worrying sight.
As I made it into the palace, I met a filled hall with a team from the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Lagos, making presentation to Kabiysei. The leader of the team was so passionate and made very lucid presentation on the activities of the research body. It ended with presentation of the products of the body to the monarch as gifts.
As they departed after photographs, Kabiyesi started to receive delegation after delegation. He was sending messenger to me intermittently to ask that I bear with him. He invited me to the throne at a point to tell me himself. He didn’t know that it was a sociological experience for me which I wouldn’t have prayed to miss.
He was patiently attending to each group as they came and handing them over to whom they should follow up with where necessary. He would give a career talk to this group and tutor that one on skill acquisition and giving links to centers where they could hone theirs. He would paint a rosy picture of the good life that awaits those who could explore planting this or that.
As each group left him, you could see smiles on their faces as against the gloom that trailed their arrival. I realised on the spot that a leadership that inspires hope can mobilise these people and unleash their capacity for development and reawakening.
I was impressed with the patience of Kabiyesi in dealing with the crowd that throngs his palace and the way he offered them hope. These people cannot see their councillors or council chairmen. No assembly men, representative or Senator is ready to open doors for them and their state governments no longer pay salaries.
The only time Kabyesi raised his voice in over 2 hours that I witnessed all these was when he asked one of the palace staff to distribute the gifts presented by FIIRO to him to the people. The guy was already having his own idea on these items and told Kabiysei “mo fe seto e”(I want to sort). Kabiyesi thundered at him “mo ni ko pin kan fawon eyan o lo fe seto” (I asked you to distribute things to people you said want to sort). He quickly carried out Adimula instruction.
At this point, Kabiyesi asked that I should be taken inside his residence for dinner. He took another while before he closed for the day. When he came home, he told me he receives average of 3,000 people daily who come from different towns across the state and outside it. My jaw dropped when he told me how much he spends daily on such people who visit him. Those who take security votes can’t boast of spending such monthly. This is a clear departure from the days when the subjects visit Oba to drop gifts. Now there is an Oba they visit to take from.
Our discussions revealed a man well prepared for this assignment and a mind focussed on development with a heart that cares for the people. But I worried at how long he can carry out with the onerous task of giving succor to our dispossessed people if things continue this way. And how many people are ready to do what he is doing across the country? That raises the specter of a looming spring.
As I left Ile-Ife, the following morning, I got to the spot where Akara industry is popular in the outskirts of the town and saw women cutting breads to re-bag. I stopped and asked what was going on and one of the women told me that the cheapest bread is N250 which people cannot afford. They had to cut into smaller sizes of N50!
And you are still wondering why such people are thronging the palace of a king ready to listen to their cry?
The Daily Times