|Yemi Oke||Monday, February 7, 2005|
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ALAKE OF EGBALAND DIES, WHO'S NEXT?
(ALAKE W'AJA, TANI OBA KAN?)
ere it possible to live forever, all Egbas would unanimously have voted for eternal ruler-ship or rein-ship of the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Mofolunsho, Oyebabe Lipede, who few days ago ascended unto his ancestors. Alake is not dead, traditionally speaking; he has only transposed his position (Oba P'apo Da). Alake lived a fulfilled live. I'm not fit to tell the story of the reign of Kabiyesi who stepped into his fathers' shoes as the 9th Alake of Egbaland in August 1972. Everything points to a life well and peacefully spent.
It might interest some Egbas and non-Egbas alike to note that the late monarch was a born again Christian in all sense of it connotations. It is reported that
"Only last Wednesday, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye who preached at the thanksgiving service organised as part of activities to mark the Alake's 90th birthday, had reminded Christians about life after death, and therefore, the need to for any wise person to live a godly life on earth he or she the person could spend eternity with God hereafter….He (Pastor Adeboye) said he was glad that Oba Lipede had led a godly life that would entitle him to spend eternity with God."
History has it that the father of Egbaland, Lishabi Agbongbo-Akala, who fought and delivered the Egbas from the oppression of the Oyos; declared, when he felt a sense of betrayal (so we were told), that Egbaland would not witness any development until the rein of the 9th Alake. The late Kabiyesi ushered in obvious development to Abeokuta and broke the curse. To students of history, the state capital of Ogun was to be located in Shagamu. …Don't ask me what happened. You can imagine when Obasanjo was then the head of State of Nigeria. What do you think? Do you assume a prominent Egba son like him would ignore "royal wisdom"? In short, Abeokuta is the state capital till today.
No Egba man has governed Ogun State until Chief Segun Osoba. The late Kabiyesi's regime indeed brought obvious development to Egbaland. His son Obasanjo (as all Egba male are called by Kabiyesi), and by providence is presently Nigeria's number one but as civilian President in a democracy. Another son of Kabiyesi was to be the President; the late Bashorun Moshood Kasimaawo Abiola whose mandate was aborted by forces beyond his control was "number one citizen of Nigeria that never be".
Coming to socio-economic development, Alake was a father. In fact, he made it impossible to be an Egba Chief unless, at the minimum, one has a house in Abeokuta. It was also reported in the Guardian of Saturday 5 February 2005: "Oba Oyebade in his last interview with The Guardian on the eve of his 90th birthday had expressed satisfaction that most of all he wished to happen to him in life and in his reign as Alake of Egbaland had been accomplished…For instance, prior to my installation as Alake, an Egba man would come home from outside where most of them were residing with his car and his clothes in the booth and as soon as he finishes, he goes back. But when I came to the throne, I started persuading them to come home and build houses and embark on other projects that would enhance economic and social importance of the area and the response has been massive."
My personal experience in 2000 left me with astonishing impression of the departing father, as a member of the group to lobby politicians, royal fathers and prominent Ogun State indigenes to prevail on the then Governor Segun Osoba, upon his not-too-keen disposition, to award special bursary to Ogun State indigenes at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja. The late Kabiyesi confessed to us:
"My children, you know my daughter was in Bwari last year (Princess Ade Lipede) and I drove for twenty five minutes in the bush, seeing nothing until I entered the Law School gate… We can well imagine what you are going through…" At the end of his consolation, Kabiyesi brought out his pen and gave us a small note to Governor Segun Osoba.
I was privileged to see the memo written by the then Governor to a Commissioner, as a result of our undying resolve to squeeze money out of the Governor at a time when Governors of Ekiti, Imo, etc came personally to the Law School to pay good bursary to their indigenes. We almost collapsed when a Governor from a Northern state issued cheque of three million Naira (N3M) to his indigenes, just six of them. Osoba wrote: "...Now, see the pressures these guys are putting on me (on seeing our note from Kabiyesi), please advise." Reluctantly, we got ten thousand Naira, each of 133 of us. There were two sets that year at the Law School (May and October streams). If not for "Solomonic wisdom" and pressures of our note from Kabiyesi and others, our fate would have been like that of others, as Governor Osoba did not give the May set a single Kobo. Political marks were scored as a result of what later in the news and official documents of Ogun State government became known as "Special Bursary for Law School Students". That was, to the best of my knowledge, the first and last special bursary for Ogun Indigenes at the Law School, however, I must add that I'm not presently home to confirm or deny if Governor Daniel has revived the scheme.
Alake brought immeasurable social, economic, political, institutional and other modes of developmental innovations to the entire Abeokuta and Egbaland. His celebration of 90 years six days before his "transposition" was to celebrate his good life and peaceful reign of about 33 years. A kind of self-organized funeral you may say, to thank God for a life well spent in charity and benevolence unto humanity. Alake went to bed the night before joining his ancestors with no signs of stress, illness or strains. He later died peacefully in his sleep at ripped age of 90 years, at his Palace in Abeokuta. You and I know what all these symbolize.
Eulogies would continually pour on the highly revered monarch. Really, the Egbas have been lucky with such a wonderful royal father. One might need to also read the Guardian Editorial of last Saturday as corroboration or to agree that his' was a most peaceful reign and life well spent. He came to the throne with honour and dignity and passed away with his enviable character, dignity, and honour un-rubbished at a time when some royal fathers were reported to be turning into video-viewers, contractors, consultants and others especially in the ignoble days of military dictatorship of the late General Abacha.
It is unlikely that there will be squabbles over the next Alake. The Egbas are known to be able to put their house in order. But the question remains who, and what legacies will the new Kabiyesi be willing to lay for continuous development of Egbaland. This is the minimum "debt" towards ensuring the good values of the late Kabiyesi are internalized and his memories kept aglow.
To the deceased Kabiyesi:
Oba Mofolorunsho, Oyebade omo Lipede,
Oba Ogadagudu oloro,
Omo Erin j'ogun ola, Suun re O.