Lessons from Ijebu-Jesa By Abiodun Komolafe

“Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your your attitude when you have everything. Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.” –           Henry Ward Beecher

Ijebu-Jesa  has a new king and his name is Moses  IlufemiloyeAgunsoye! May God’s name be praised!

To start with, I doubt if I  had  the  opportunity  of  meeting  Oba  Agunsoye  before  his appointment  as  Elegboro of Ijebu-Jesa in the State of Osun. However, what influenced his eventual choice as successor to the throne  of Agigiri   Egboroganlada  has been  eloquently  summarized by OyeniyiAjifowobaje: “When you live in Lagos, work in Jos, still worship at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew’s, Ijebu-Jesa every Sunday; when you’re a director in a Federal Government parastatal, still, you relate with the young, old, rich and the peasants of Egboroland; … when the door of your house is wide open to the needy; when your house in Mushin is secretariat and hostel to applicants  of Ijebu-Jesa descent in Lagos”,  then you’re the people’s choice for the throne.”

With the passing of  Oba  Taiwo  Aribisala on March  9, 2017, the Elegboro stool became vacant, which in turn opened the space for the ruling houses in the ancient town to vie for the exalted throne.  Oba  Aribisiala was from the Ajigiteri Ruling House and he was the 23rd Oba of Ijebu-Jesa. He was 88 years!

Before  all  else, let me join other well-meaning  Nigerians in congratulating Governor RaufAregbesola for ensuring a level playing field while the process lasted. In my view, that’s one of the important attributes of a good leader. That the people celebrated  its  outcome was a confirmation of  ObaAgunsoye’s  approval  by our ancestors.

At a time like this, it is pertinent to  thank God for the life of our king. For the avoidance of doubt, ObaAgunsoye has paid his dues. Thank God: providence has now crowned his efforts. A man of unmistaken vision who prefers to lead by example, Agunsoye is tantalizingly rich in humility and unquestionably  plush  in generosity. In his own little ways, Kabiyesi  now belongs  to the class of   the  Nelson  Mandelas, Oscar Romeros, Jamie Cardinal Sins  and OladeleOlashores  of this world who, even at great risks to personal comfort, opted to  side  with the downtrodden.

Nikos Kazantzakis once prescribed belief in one’s capacity as a prerequisite  for  success.  My journey through life has brought  me  face-to-face  with  how  ignorance  could  prevent some people from having a human face. For instance,   it was Oba   Olashore who sponsored my first degree (Ref: ‘Oladele    Olashore  at  70′,  ThisDay,  February 18,  2005); while Akin Fatodu of  ‘Olufemi  Fatodu  Foundation’  lent a helping hand during my postgraduate studies.   Archbishop Olukayode  Akinyemi and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah’s contributions on my way up the ladder oflife  were also immense.

If I may expand my argument, twice I wrote to the late Umar  Ali  Shinkafi  (on  November 7,  1994;  and December  24,  1995)  to seek  financial assistance for my  first  degree  programme. In two separate letters, dated  December  14,  1994  and January 20,  1996;  and signed  by Ngozi  Asoya,  his  Special  Assistant,   Marafan Sokoto merely  sent   “best wishes”  which, of course, I gladly accepted. My  letter toOba  Otudeko, dated January 8, 1991 and  a  follow-up  chat with one Seyi  Oduntan at Honeywell’s Ilupeju, Lagos-office ended at the level of opening a file! Earlier, I had   written a letter to the-then Colonel Abdul Kareem Adisa in his capacity as the Military Governor of the old Oyo State. Adisa was so “concerned”  about  my “plight”  that, in a letter dated April 25, 1991  and signed by one T.A. Oyeleye,  the   governor  directed me to my Local Government for assistance. I did as directed but nobody did anything! For the constraint of space, let  me stop here!

I  decided  to  tell  this story to show how small-but-constant drops of water could help make a hole in a stone. For instance, Oba  Olasore’s total financial support for my pursuit was N19,000.00,  spread over a period of four academic sessions (1992 – 1997); and Fatodu ‘supplied’ N23,500.00 during my postgraduate studies (2000 – 2003). In truth, but for these Good Samaritans’ interventions, I probably would have ended up a dropout in life.

Well,  this  is the kernel of my argument. Olashore  did not fight for Ajagbusi-Ekun stool after the death of his father before his antecedents bequeathed it to him. Even, after  Oladele’s  passing, the stool was reportedly reserved for his eldest son. It was after all entreaties to persuade Abimbola failed that the kingmakers contemplated a replacement. In like manner, our preference for ObaAgunsoye  is a call to greater service to humanity.

Unimpressed by the state of our youth in Ijebu-Jesa, I was once compelled to write a letter to the late Oba  Aribisala. In the letter, I pleaded with   him    to  rally    the rich and the affluent in the town  with  a  charge to  rise to the plight of our youth. On December 31, 1997,  I had the honour of  meeting  the late monarch in his private residence and he assured me that all hands were “on deck” to ennoble  “the  young  and  the  old”.  On  an  auspicious  occasion like this therefore, one can only enjoin ObaAgunsoye to look into the plight of our teeming youth who, though employable, remain terribly unemployed, primarily, due to the  selfishness of the socio-economic and political  leeches  who   latch around the corridors of power  for transient, pecuniary conveniences.

Like Nigeria, our major challenges in Ijebu-Jesa are not unconnected with  poverty,  despair,  helplessness and hopelessness. But how can the Ijesaness in us shun  expression of pains and anguish in a chat-show of fluidity, pettiness and emptiness?  Why should we continue  to  pray with empty stomachs in the wilderness of abandonment and a terrain replete with vanity and debauchery?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant His Royal Majesty, Oba Moses IlufemiloyeAgunsoye II the wisdom to  work for the prosperity of the people of my Native Nazareth!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State ([email protected])