After 22 year I reconciled my people with our neighbours — HRM Oba Alayeluwa Masoud Aweda Oyekola Lawal
• Our Relations With Alaafin Is Cordial, Useful
Kishi Kingdom is one of the largest of old Oyo Empire, and the man on the throne is HRM Oba Masoud Aweda Oyekola Lawal, the Arowoduye II of Kishi Kingdom. He is the reigning paramount ruler of Kishi Kingdom, as well as the Chairman, Irepo Local Government Area Council of Traditional Rulers.
The monarch was born at Bawku, Ghana, to the late Prince Lawal Ishola Oladoja from Arowoduye ruling house of Lagbolu Royal Dynasty in Kishi. His mother was Munirat Ayoku, a businesswoman.
The Oba had his primary education at Saint Anthony Primary School, Bakwu, Ghana between 1960 and 1966 before proceeding to Bakwu Middle Boarding School for both his Secondary School Certificate and Higher Certificate courses.
Thereafter, he relocated to Nigeria, where he attended Ibadan Polytechnic for his Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mechanical Engineering from 1977 to 1981.
In 1977, after the passage of the then Iba of Kishi, HRH Alhaji Owoade Yussuf Owoade (Ariwajoye ll), Oba Masoud Aweda Oyekola Lawal ascended his ancestors’ throne as the 13th Iba of Kishi.
He went down memory lane with Palace Watch and spoke about his 22-year reign.
What have been your experiences when you became oba?
First, when I ascended the throne, almost all the chiefs in Kishi Kingdom were greatly divided. There was disunity among them, and I felt that was dangerous, if it was not stopped. And though they were all coming to the palace, most of them were not on talking terms. Everybody was just doing their own thing.
So, I quietly went about finding solutions to these problems. My efforts eventually paid off, and everything was resolved. In the town, there was this intense religious intolerance. The Muslim didn’t want to see the so-called pagan, who also couldn’t stand a Christian. All the religious practitioners were at war with one another. Again, I felt this had to be tackled for there to be safety and unity among my people.
Today, we thank Allah that all these experiences are things of the past. The Christians now celebrate their Easter and Christmas peacefully. The Muslims also attend their Eid for prayers without ugly occurrences, just like the Pagans, who now observe their festivals without molestation. The “Egungun” Masquerades now do their things without stress. Consequently, our town is now very peaceful and secure. This is part of our modest achievements since I ascended the throne. Interestingly, everybody within and outside the town is co-operating with me for the town’s progress.
Again, when I ascended the throne, the whole of this town and its environs were rural. Absolutely nothing was on ground. But since we assumed office, the town and some other villages are now bustling. I honestly have every reason to thank the Almighty Allah for giving me the ability to positively galvanise my people to achieve all these improvements in our towns and villages.
If you want more details about the great progress we have made here and the surrounding towns and villages, I implore you to seek audience with the Alaafin Of Oyo to corroborate all what I have said. Additionally, we are now at total peace with all our neighbours.
Before my ascension, there were boundary disputes with Kwara, Kayama and Kariki, but all of these have now been resolved. After becoming the Oba, I went and met with all their leaders, and currently, we are brothers and sisters, living in harmony. This peaceful co-existence has in no small measure contributed to the growth and progress being recorded in this part of the country.
Another thing that has given me peace of mind is the fact that I still have one wife, unlike most Yoruba Obas that usually have many wives. I am very satisfied with my one wife, which has brought about cohesion in my immediate family.
The Oke-Ogun people were once dominated by the old Oyo Empire. What did you do to liberate your people?
Whatever anybody chooses to say or do, Oke-Ogun people are still part and parcel of old Oyo Empire. As a king, I don’t ever see myself separating from the Alaafin of Oyo, for many reasons. One, we have royal connections with the Alaafin, who remains my father. The name of the first person to come to Kishi land and established Kishi kingdom was Kirishi Yerima. He actually came from the Republic of Benin, formerly known as Dahomey.
Most of the hunters that helped to build this town later came to join him here. This was how this town was established. The name Kirishi was later shortened to Kishi. But our mother, the woman we all came from, was from old Oyo Ile, which is about 14 to 15 kilometres from the palace.
After the then Alaafin of Oyo died, there was an interregnum, by which time the regent was a young beautiful woman, called Ada. She held the position of Alaafin regent until a new Alaafin was appointed.
After completing that assignment, the regent came to the border post between Old Oyo and Kishi Kingdom to settle. It was there she met with Kirishi Yerima. Today, their products occupy the throne as Iba of Kishi Kingdom. This is just one of the interesting relationships between old Oyo Empire and Kishi kingdom. And in view of this, there is no way I can extricate myself from the Alaafin of Oyo.
We still owe a lot of allegiance to the Alaafin. One, he is not only our father, but also the Chairman of Oyo Council of Traditional Rulers.
Two, we have this blood relationship with him, especially people from Oke-Ogun town. There is no town or person here that will not trace his or her history to the Alaafin of Oyo.
And though I’m the chairman of Oke-Ogun Obas Consultative Forum. Nevertheless, we still owe a lot of allegiance to Alaafin of Oyo. The principal aim of Oke-Ogun Obas Consultative Forum is to fight for the progress and development of our place and people. But whatsoever we do, we still channel it through the Alaafin to the government of the day. So, we ensure that he is aware of all what we are doing. And to be honest, he has always given us all the backing we require so far. Alaafin has been good to us, and so far, we have never had any cause to regret our relationship with him.
There has been this agitation for the creation of Oke-Ogun State from Oyo State. How far have you gone in this quest for a new state?
There are two groups fighting for the creation of Oke-Ogun State. There is the group craving for the creation of New Oyo State and another calling for the creation of Oke-Ogun State. What we discovered at our forum is that most people want another state created from the present Oyo State. From the way things are now, four states can be created from the present Oyo State, due to its enormous size.
The possible thing, therefore, is for us to at least anticipate that two states can be created from present day Oyo State. That is the Old Oyo State, which will solely be made up of Ibadan and its environs and the rest of us, which will now be known as the New Oyo State. When the agitation for the creation of New Oyo State came up, I was part of it. Indeed, I represented the Alaafin of Oyo in Abuja, when we went to present the document relating to our demands to government.
There were other Obas that came together to emphatically say no, that they didn’t want to have anything to do with Oyo, Ibadan, Ibarapa or Ogbomosho. All they were after was the creation of purely Oke-Ogun State. We, however, supported them, as their agitation is reasonable. All what we are after is to go for what is plausible and visible.
However, the fact we have realised is that, if we want to go after creation of Oke-Ogun State, it might be a bit difficult for us. But if we decide to team up with the Alaafin and Ogbomosho to push for the creation of New Oyo State, that might be a bit easy for us to realise, considering the economic factors of today’s Nigeria. In teaming up with other parts of Oyo State to realise this dream, we do not necessarily have to go into partisan politics, though we need to do some horse-trading to realise the dream.
This is why we are trying to join hands with Oyo and Ogbomosho to realise this dream. The reasons for all these agitations is that, more than 60 per cent of present Oyo State budgetary allocations is domiciled in Ibadan alone. The rest of us in Oyo, Oke-Ogun and Ogbomosho, all dance around the remaining 30 percent, which is absolutely nothing to address the collective needs of these vast areas of present Oyo State.
Since creation of present Oyo State, no son of Oke-Ogun has ever become governor of the state. Another point is that, if we can’t get governorship position, we should at least be allowed to produce the Senator that will represent Oyo North at the National Assembly.
The Oyo North is made up of 10 Local Government Areas from Oke-Ogun areas and three Local Government Areas from Ogbomosho. But even at that, this same seat, as we speak, has gone to Ogbomosho people again. What is even more painful is that we could not even produce a member to represent Oyo North in the House of Representatives.
In view of this, I am making efforts to educate my people at the grassroots. They allow things that are detrimental to happen, due to poverty of the mind and body, as well as hunger. It is, therefore, imperative that we get our people educated. Once this is done, they will be able to make informed choices that will assist the development of our place.
Currently, we are trying to establish a University here. Already, efforts have reached advanced stage to get the Open University operational here. During General Jemibewon’s regime as Governor of old Oyo State, Oke-Ogun people were simply regarded as educationally backward people. Not much has changed up till now. Henceforth, I shall begin to sensitise our elites on the need to join major political parties, so that they will be in a position to contest for electable positions.
There has been a rejuvenation of Kishi people’s culture…
Although I was born in Ghana, when I was young, my parents never ceased telling me about my cultural background. They continually emphasised that Kirishi Yerema was not a Yoruba man. He was from the Ibariki or Ibaruba stock of the old Borugu Empire up to Michi in present day Benin Republic.
While growing up, I started learning about Borugu people’s culture. At that time, my predecessor that handed over the throne to me was relating very well with Borugu people. So, when I ascended the throne, I visited all the Local Government Areas of all the people related to us. For example, I visited Kayama, and emphasised that we are one blood. Thereafter, I also visited all the emirates in Beriki. I then ensured that once any of our festivals was coming up, I got them all involved. And whenever they are having their festivals, we send representation from here.
With time, the whole cultural interaction expanded to full the cultural festivals being witnessed today. I personally ensure that all the emirates participate in all our cultural activities, just as we participate in theirs. In due course, the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism began to take interest in what we are doing. And that is how we managed to make our places one of the tourism destinations in Nigeria.