If constitutionally empowered, traditional rulers can help develop society — Oba Jimoko Of Ile-Oluji
HRM Oba (Dr.) Julius Oluwole Olufaderin Adetimehin is calm and unassuming.In his Insurance profession, he distinguished himself before ascending the ancient throne of Ile-Oluji in Ondo State. He rose as a middle level management officer to become an acclaimed insurance and risk management expert. At some point in his career, he was President of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN). He is currently the Jimoko II, the 31st Jegun Olu-Ekun and Paramount Ruler of Ile-Oluji Kingdom In Ondo State. Palace Watch visited him in his Palace in Ondo State.
Kabiyesi, you have been three years on the throne. How has the journey been?
For the past three years, we have had cause to rejoice in the Lord. This is because within this short period, God has been faithful. There are landmarks all over my kingdom. Everywhere is peaceful, and above all, we are recording progress in the kingdom. Ile-Oluji has a new look by the special grace of God. People can now see a total approach to the community’s development, by all Ile-Oluji children, home and abroad. This has resulted in the mass following of my kingship by Ile-Oluji people.
Ile-Oluji is agrarian. What are you doing to ensure your people key into Federal Government’s agricultural policies?
Without rolling out drums to sing our praises, we believe very strongly here that one of the things we need to do is to reinvent the old order. Under my administration, we are championing youth empowerment and massive agricultural training for our youths. These trainings are deliberately directed at youths, retirees and unemployed.
We have the singular grace of having Ile-Oluji Federal Polytechnic that helps us in the execution of these training programmes. We also have a unique way of getting our people together to assist in making Ile-Oluji the agricultural hub of the Southwestern region in no distant future. We have Lerin, our traditional parliamentary assembly, which comes up nine days in a year. It is usually hosted by one of our chiefs and is rotated in accordance with our traditional calendar.
During the assembly, people come up with different concepts that can bring development. The idea of agricultural training for all able-bodied persons was mooted by one of our high chiefs, who hosted one of the Lerin meetings. The whole idea is to promote agriculture.
Ile-Oluji is noted for being one of the leading cocoa producing communities in Nigeria. We are also known for kolanuts among others. But this time around, we are concentrating on farm crops. We are also into such other areas of agriculture as vegetable, fishery, piggery, goatery and poultry, just to mention a few.
Mind you, the agric trainings are free, as we cannot start taking fees from unemployed people and the retired, who have not collected their pension benefits. During the traditional assembly, we try to raise funds for all manner of projects, as our host usually invites his associates, peers, friends and former colleagues, who come to support him.
This is one of the ways of reinventing the old order in agricultural development in our communities. Two years ago, shortly after ascending the throne, I looked at how best to diversify sources of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in Ile-Oluji. Before then, our people had continually suffered scarcity of funds for development from Local Government administrations. So, we have to help ourselves and take our destiny in our hands. At the hosting of the fourth Lerin parliament, I initiated cocoa cultivation and palm oil plantations.
And we went as far as NIFOR in Benin to access seedlings and raised the nursery. It was my childhood friend that used to work in the Ministry of Agriculture in Ondo State, who was at the parliamentary assembly I hosted that volunteered to bring highbred cocoa seedlings. We raised the nursery and today, we have cultivated up to 10 hectares of cocoa seedlings. We are now in the third year of that five-year programme I initiated. At the expiration of the programme, the cocoa would have started yielding and we would have got large hectares of cocoa and palm oil plantations across the land.
With this in place, the communities will be in a position to complement the IGR with whatever they get from these plantations. I came with lots of investment ideas, as someone with financial background. Some of these ideas we are presently trying to implement and they are yielding positive results.
The Federal Government has indicated readiness to make direct allocation to Local Governments. What do you think should be the role of traditional rulers in ensuring that the funds are judiciously used?
When laws are made, there are always good intentions. The idea of autonomy to Local Governments has been well thought out and it’s even enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. But the problem has always been in the implementation. We will continue to pray that God should intervene in the affairs of Local Government Area councils. With His intervention, we expect to see a new approach to the running of council areas. And these area councils will be properly run and developed as expected.
Expectedly, traditional rulers will rise up to their traditional and constitutional roles. There is a particular provision that talked about how such allocation should be used, once it is made directly to Local Government Area Councils. A committee comprising local government chairmen, traditional rulers and few other stakeholders are expected to sit and decide how such funds should be administered.
The local government chairmen are not expected to arbitrarily use such fund without the consent and contributions of all these people. At some point, there was this clause in a particular Constitution, which says traditional rulers or chiefs’ entitlements should be the first charge in such funds, whenever, such an allocation is made. I think it was five per cent of the total revenue accruing to the council. It was a law made during the late General Sani Abacha’s regime.
The intention of that policy was to provide for the welfare of traditional rulers and their chiefs. Such a law was meant to motivate traditional rulers as part of the administration and development of their respective domains under the local government umbrella. There are some states in Nigeria, where this particular clause is still being implemented. However, in the new order, hopes are high that traditional rulers will now begin to have better recognition.
The Local Government is the closest to the people, and the whole essence is to bring development to the people, especially in the rural areas. When traditional rulers sit with local government administrators and other stakeholders, they would be able to monitor and ensure that all allocations and utilisation of resources are to the masses’ benefit.
Other than this particular step, the ultimate move is to ensure that traditional rulers are constitutionally empowered, so that they will be in a position to play the role that will help the society to grow. This was the position of things during the pre-independence era, under the colonial masters and shortly after independence, when traditional rulers’ position and closeness to the grassroots was appreciated.
Most people and even traditional rulers have come to realise the importance of this style of administration, although they are not protesting it formally. They believe that one of the things that could bring about an all round development and solve restiveness and kidnappings across the land and unemployment and other types of crimes, is when grassroots administration is brought closer to the people through the traditional institutions.
Once the traditional rulers are constitutionally empowered to take charge of the affairs at the grassroots, things will greatly improve, especially in the area of security. Traditional rulers’ role is not artificial and by the special grace of God, once one is appointed a traditional ruler by his people, he remains on that throne until death comes. It is unlike political office holders, who have limited period in whatever office or offices they occupy before vacating.
The tendency is that such political office holders, as has become their practice of late, would want to do all within their power to amass all manner of wealth or look after their personal interest before leaving office at the electorates’ expense. If any community or kingdom is doing very well, it is a reflection of the type of leadership there.
What do you think should be done to improve the general situation of things in the country?
First and foremost, traditional institutions in the country should be given due recognition. The due recognition I am talking about is the prompt recognition of their role in the Constitution. We used to have the House of Chiefs. It was then a respected arm of government. It is long overdue for this particular platform to be reintroduced or reinstated. The way things are now, you only see politicians during campaigns, when they need votes, or when they are in trouble. The prompt introduction of this tier of government is the only way out of these problems.
With regard to the general management of the economy, I must say nobody knows it all, and nobody can be an island. Even at the beginning of creation, God meant well, by creating us and getting us to work together. The essence is for us to bring ideas and come together to execute them. In the process, you bring about leadership by example. This is completely different from what we see now, the crop of political leaders we have now are like an Island. They do not want to work with anybody, and out of selfishness, they do things alone.
With the success you recorded in the Insurance business, what attracted you to the throne?
My ascension to the throne was divine. I must confess that initially, I was not interested, but immediately the stool became vacant, virtually all members of the communities rooted to have me as their king. Before then, I was truly fulfilled in my professional calling. I was, therefore, not in any desperate mood to ascend the throne. But my people’s desire to have me as their king was unprecedented. So, I had no other option than to yield to their calling.