His Royal Highness (HRH) Mojeed Adesegun Rufai Alao, Olowo of Owo speaks with ABAYOMI ASANMO and DAMILOLA AKINBODE in this interview. The monarch talks about the first Ojude Festival after his ascension to the throne. He also highlighted some developments that have taken place in his community over the years. Read below:
As the king of this town, how would you describe the economic status of your domain?
First of all, I am very grateful to God. I was born and bred in Owo in Yewa South LGA of Ogun State. My late father was the Baale of Owo, he was installed as Baale in 1955 at Ado-Odo. He died at the age of 104 years in May 1989 after serving his community for 34 years.There is a cordial relationship in this community, before and when I came in. Although at a point, there were lots of challenges. At the end of the day, I called the neighbouring communities together because I was a politician before I ascended the throne. Now though, I am no longer a politician but a father to all. I love my people and they all love me. We don’t have any problem with the neighbouring communities and they are always available for the Ojude Oba and those who are unable to make it do send their goodwill.
Since you became the king, what impacts have you made to better the community?
Before I came in, the night market was not operating for 15 years. Even the afternoon market too had gone on extinction. What stopped these markets also affected River Yewa and River Akashi. Back in the day, people used to go to these rivers to pray and then they get answers. I influenced a dredger to come here from the Ministry of Environment, Abeokuta; the normal protocol was that communities pay for the usage, but when they discovered that it was for community use, they subsidized the payment. I spent so much to bring the dredger down. I am grateful to God because if you go to the river now, you will be surprised. Ogun State Television (OGTV) was there when I started; they were also there after the completion.
What happened to the market?
When I ascended the throne, my first assignment was to get a generator for the market. Once they did, I asked them to clear the place our forefathers used as a market. However, before then, I gave out power generating sets to complement electricity in the market. I am working on the afternoon market, I will build stalls. I am going to devote the rest of my life to my people.
Are you getting cooperation from neighbouring communities?
Yes, they have been very cooperative. I brought in street lights. I don’t have enemies; the evidence is there for you to see as a journalist. Since last year December, the road from Oke-Odan to Owo has been terrible. I called for a grader from Ifo, I spent so much and they graded the road from Oke-Odan market, stretching about 43km. This is not the first time I am doing this. I love my people. In 2015, the Power Holding Company Plc (PHCN) came and disconnected us from the grid. The complaint was that my people were not paying, I went to their office in Owode and cleared the bills.
You have been talking about markets, electricity and the likes, what are your plans on education?
My Primary School was in Owo here. At a point, I discovered that they lacked certain amenities; no toilet for the pupils among others. I immediately released funds for them to buy materials. As we speak, work is in progress.
In terms of renovation of Methodist Primary School, we went there for a meeting and I discovered there were no ceilings. I called workers and it was repaired. Early last year, I donated exercise books to 17 primary schools in Ogun State and another Secondary School, Owo High School. Each primary school got 100 bundles each and SUBEB gave me a letter of appreciation for my generosity.
I am also the brain behind the renovation going on at Oke-Odan LCDA and Yewa South. I was given a letter of appreciation. What is on my mind is to render assistance to my people. I did the same thing to Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE) and I rendered them assistance; they also gave me letter of appreciation. My determination with what God has done for me is to assist people, my people know that I am a philanthropist.
This is the first Ojude Oba here, what do you plan to achieve through this?
This is not the first time. It is only that this is the first time since I ascended the throne. It has been on for the past 10 years. The late Oba (may his soul rest in peace), we were always together and we have been doing it for over 10 years. OGTV has covered it over nine times. We have bought clothes for the occasion and the programme will be aired by OGTV. I want people to know that there is a community called Owo. By so doing, the government can come to our aid. Although, the past government tried their best, we are still calling on the present government. I know that the current governor loves people. When he came in, his first primary assignment was to ask what the communities need. All the Kings have submitted their requests and he has promised that all the roads in rural areas will be worked on. As a man of God, I hope he will fulfill his promises.
The community has sons and daughters in diaspora, what has been their contributions?
This is the first Ojude Oba in my tenure. Right now, we have about seven of them that returned from London because of the festival. I don’t believe in saying what I don’t know. However, the indigenes are happy. We have some people who have not come home for the past 10 years or 15 years, however, with this festival, they now come around.
How are you able to achieve all these feats because we know that only you cannot do it alone?
Yes, I can’t do it alone, all hands must be on deck for the development of this community. The fact that I was born and bred here doesn’t mean I am for my community alone. The street lights you see that gets to Ijako, Isagbo is on ground already, so if anybody is coming, they will know that there are communities around here.
When I ascended the throne, there was no light, I sent for the manager of NEPA at Owode and we discussed and they clear the bush around the transformer, so they can fix it, but up till now they have not done it.
What are the security arrangements you have made for the festival?
You have asked a reasonable question. There is no problem in Owo. People might be going to media to peddle rumours of insecurity but they are all lies. When I was going to be crowned, some went on air to frighten people not to come. But they were all rumours; nothing negative happened during and after the installation.
Please tell us about your educational background?
I had my primary education at Roman Catholic Primary School, Owo in Yewa South LGA of Ogun State. I later went to Owo Community High School before I proceeded to the National Open University to studied B.sc Entrepreneur and Business, I also had degree in Building Technology. I offered consultancy and professional services to various organization. I am the chairman and CEO of Seras Ascona Nigeria Limited. I am a King, married and blessed with children.