Oba Bamgbade, Gov Abiodun and Awori nation
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 shall forever be cherished and remembered by the people of Isheri-Olofin Mole in particular and the Awori nation in general with the installation of a young, ebullient and highly versatile and resourceful Prince Sulaiman Bamgbade as the Adimula of Awori land and the 20th successor to the throne vacated through demise by Olofin Ogunfunminire, the progenitor of the Awori nation. Olofin Ogunfunminmire who was also known and addressed as Olofin Awogunjoye or Olofin Agbodere is the son of Okanbi, one of the children of Oduduwa. History had it that he left Ile-Ife after consultation with Ifa with specific divination to follow a floating Awo with his young family of two wives, namely Akesan and Ajayi and children. He was to settle down at any location where the Awo sinks (i.eri), hence, the name Awori. After a long expedition and confusion that would have made him settle in a couple of places, the Awo finally sank in Isheri Mole (the present Isheri-Olofin Mole). History had it that Ajayi, the second wife was childless and on consultation with the Ifa, Olofin was enjoined to leave Akesan with her children in Isheri Mole and move with Ajayi to a place facingan Erekusu (Island). Olofin moved temporarily with Ajayi and they settled in a place known today as Oto (IdoOlofin) in the Lagos Mainland where Ajayi became a mother. Hence, Olofin throughout his life was noted to have kept two homes. Hence, the AworiOke and Awori Odo dichotomy.
Olofin Ogunfunminireis acknowledged by history to be the founder and owner of the geographical space known as Lagos State (probably excluding Epe and Ibeju-Lekki). His domain stretches from the boundary of Okun-Ibeju through Eti-Osa and Lekki Peninsular, Victoria Island, Lagos Island to Badagry, Ikorodu (OkoOdu) and a fractional part of Ogun State including, Ota Igbesa and so on. This is the unique advantage that makes Prince Sulaiman Bamgbade the “Arole Olofin”, the Adimula and consequently the apex and principal paramount ruler of Aworiland.
The Installation ceremony of September 15, 2021 was expectedly preceded by the ratification of Prince Sulaiman Bamgbade as the Olofin of Isheri by the Executive Council of Ogun State led by the Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun who is himself a blue blooded son of Ogun State. The Ogun State government by its prompt and decisive action on the selection of Prince Bamgbade has demonstrated its commitment and seriousness to the importance of Isheri-Mole as the cradle of the Awori nation. However, beyond rhetoric lies the socio-economic and political advantages that Ogun State and the Awori nation within it stand to gain if a little more attention is given to this very important but sleepy community in the state. There is no doubt that the community is strategically located and its proximity to Lagos State makes it an immediate candidate for economic and social development. Therefore, Isheri-Olofin Mole should be a pivot of industrial growth along that axis that so far has been neglected by successive administration in the state.
As it stands at the moment, a visitor to the community cannot but come to the conclusion that the place is like a “derelict babe of strife and wanton penury”. To describe the entrance to the community as ugly would amount to sheer generosity despite the presence of large communities of Nigerians transacting business within its corridor. Except the OPIC Event Centre that stood like the statue of liberty in its skyline, there are neither any visible government presence nor meaningful infrastructure in the community. There are no good schools, no health facilities, no recreational facilities and no good roads. This is despite the thirst of the members of the community for these facilities and their willingness to join and cooperate with the government to make their modest contributions to this social infrastructures. The prayer of the community is that the 2022 budget will consider giving to it a good secondary school and health centre as a starting point for gingering and encouraging the youths to a productive future.
On the side of Oba Sulaiman Bamgbade of the Ayodele Edun-Alaka Branch of the Royal Tree, the attainment of this exalted office is the beginning of a long but achievable intra communal relationship with the Awori siblings in Lagos State and the opening of inter communal harmony with the other communities in Ogun State. Except for the idiosyncrasies of Nigerians that propel them to see division in everything, there is no reason for any group in Ogun State to regard one another with suspicion and discrimination. The Awori, Egba, Yewa, Remo, Ijebu are all like the five fingers of the same hand and should therefore work towards using the God given endowment to achieve the optimum for the people.
Oba Bamgbade by his enviable credentials as a graduate of Computer Science, an ex-Soldier and a former Civil Servant in the Lagos State Civil Service cannot and should not be found wanting in the optimal management of material and human resources directed at giving the best to his people. As the foremost Oba in Aworiland, Oba Bamgbade should rise firmly to the occasion and provide the required leadership to the Aworiland in Nigeria and in diaspora. He should push for and lead the crusade for the Council of Awori traditional Rulers in Ogun State. It is time to work beyond the rhetoric, for the Awori as a people deserve a better deal.
Professor Ojikutu is of the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos.