Ondo government has abandoned my kingdom— Eleritie of Eriti
Akoko North West in Ondo State is made up of 15 towns: Ese, Okeagbe, Ikariam, Arigidi, Erusu, Ibaram, Iyani, Ase, Irun, Ogbagi, Afin, Oyin, Eriti and Igasi.
Eriti is a rusty agrarian town that shares boundary with Kogi and Ekiti States, and is known for producing maize, yam, cassava, plantain, mango and banana, among others. But lately, Eriti is in the news for its monthly Christian crusade, organised by the town’s traditional ruler, His Royal Majesty, Ogunleye Amos Sunday.
Interestingly, the monthly Christian crusade, which is well over 10 years, usually draws a large crowd, which includes members of other religious faiths in and around the town.Palace Watch recently reached out to Oba Ogunleye Amos Sunday, to find out how he combines the administration of the town with his monthly crusades.
As a father of all, how convenient is it for you to hold monthly Christian crusade, instead of facing issues that will bring development to your town?
Who is an ordinary mortal king like me, where the Almighty God is? He remains the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Who can compare or compete with him? None, as far as I know. Before I became the Oba of this town, my people knew me to be a very passionate and a practising Christian, as I made no pretence about my religion or faith. Therefore, immediately after my ascension to the throne, and to serve Him with all that I have, I decided to be organising the crusade. If my monthly crusade is one of the ways I can serve and worship Him better, why not?
I don’t care if, according to some people out there, my crusade is not yielding required fruits. If it is not yielding now, with time, it will produce bountiful results that everyone will see. God’s ways are quite different from man’s ways.
What is more important is that, during my monthly crusade, I bring in many preachers and evangelists, who make out time to pray for the town and its people. These prayers are yielding results, hence the relative peace we are enjoying in this place. If there were no peace here, the European Union (EU) would not have come to build for us a civic centre. Also, Professor Ajayi Broto would not have found the peace of mind to help us construct solar energy facilities that are supplying us with light now.
As we speak, the Federal Government is building a brand new primary school here. While we anxiously await Ondo State Government’s commencement of road constructions to my domain, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has begun construction of a major road into my place, right from Ajowa. And during my reign, we have successfully planned Eriti town. All that is left is the massive opening up of the town for development.
You see; the unique nature of Eriti town is the religious tolerance we enjoy. Although I am a king, I belong to the Pentecostal faith. Not everybody here is a Christian. I have never and would never stop the Muslim or traditional religion worshippers here from practising their faith. No. Whenever traditional matters are brought before me, I make deliberate efforts to address them wisely.
Whatever the mode of worship the traditional religion worshippers decide to adopt here, I allow them, because everyone has the right to worship God the way he/she deems fit.
And whenever the Muslims invite me to come and worship with them during the end of their Ramadan fast or Eid el Fitri (Ileya), I honour them and on such occasions, I end up praying with them. I do all these because I don’t want anyone to accuse me of giving preference to one religion over the other.
Are you saying before you were made an Oba, you did not participate in traditional rituals, which must be performed before any person is crowned king?
It was God’s wisdom and grace that helped me. Before I was crowned the Oba, I allowed them to carry out all the traditional rites, which were all prayers. All were done, I can’t deceive myself or the people by saying those rites were not performed. Our Lord says: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” And that was exactly what was done. The traditional prayers and sacrifices were all done.
After they had concluded their own rites, they asked me to also pray. Before then, I was on a three-day fasting and prayers. They all knew I was a born again Christian, and when I was going with them to the secluded places, where all the rites and sacrifices were done, I decided to embark on fasting and prayers.
So, all the rites were concluded after my prayers. Thereafter, I was crowned. Honestly, they didn’t ask me to anything unusual during that period. I was taken to a mountain where the traditional rites were performed. The place is known as Akpo Ile. It is the ancient place of our ancestors.
What have been your achievements since you became Oba?
When I ascended the throne about 10 years and some months back, this place was truly rural in every sense of the word. I set out to do my utmost best to get people to help me develop it. And within that time, I have been able to attract constant electricity supply to Eriti. We have built a brand new civic centre, and all the well-placed sons and daughters of Eriti across the country, who rarely visited home, now come. They have erected magnificent buildings here as their personal residences. We also have good health centres and hospitals.
However, we are very worried about the manner Ondo State government is ignoring development in my kingdom. This is because Eriti is very far from Akure, the capital city. As we speak, we have no motorable road leading from anywhere in Ondo State to Eriti town, and yet my domain is one of the food baskets in Ondo State.
The road leading to Eriti was tarred in 1984 during the administration of former Governor Adefarati and since then, nothing meaningful has been done to rehabilitate the road, which has now completely failed. So, our farmers find it extremely difficult to evacuate their produce to the nearest markets, where they could make profits from their hard labour.
In the process, lots of perishable farm produce, such as plantain, banana and mango get spoilt, as we do not have Silos around here. What farmers in my place now do is to take their produce to Omu in Ekiti State, instead of going to Ajowa in Ondo State. It is just six kilometres from Eriti to Omu; while from Eriti to Ajowa is 12 kilometres. Our farmers are, therefore, more comfortable going to Omu than moving to the next neighbouring town, just because the roads are not there.
Are there things that are making you unhappy?
There are so many things I am happy with and so many others, I am not too happy with, since I ascended the throne. What gives me lots of joy is the peace we enjoy, which had eluded us long before my ascension to the throne. Unlike in the past, my people are now willing and ready to work together to help bring about development in Eriti town. Before I became the Oba, there was this intense tussle for the Obaship of Eriti. But when I became the Oba, God gave me not only the wisdom, but also helped me to put an end to this acrimonious struggle.
The tussle between Ikota and Ayaba, the two ruling houses was very fierce. I belong to Ikota ruling house. The immediate past Oba was from Ayaba ruling house, which has six clans, while Ikota has five ruling clans.
To gain the confidence of both ruling houses, immediately I became the Oba, I decided to introduce what could be regarded as an open administration into Palace affairs. Not only that, I deliberately worked very hard to bring all the people in both ruling houses together up to the point that they now begin to see themselves as one big family and not rivals. They all saw that I always remain factual and objective in all the matters brought before me, as well as in all my dealings with all the people within and outside the town.
To further weld them together, I decided to select and give chieftaincy titles to all the notable sons and daughters from both ruling houses. I introduced a general meeting, which we hold every 17th day of the month. At this meeting, there is no holding back anything affecting the town, as everything is tabled and discussed in details. Once there is an issue requiring my attention and that of other prominent sons and daughters of the town, it is at this meeting such an issue is resolved.
Presently, we are focused on how to develop Eriti. People are already approaching us to acquire land for modern agricultural farming. We have already given land to some, while we are still looking into others. And much as we like what they are doing, we are particularly interested in ensuring they provide meaningful employment for our people and help to develop our town.
No comments yet