On January 25th, the people of Itori town in Ewekoro local government in Ogun State celebrated this year Itori Day.
Also, on the 26th February 2019 will make it 15 years that Oba Akamo came on the throne as Olu Itori. But because of the forthcoming general elections, the 15th coronation anniversary of Oba Akamo has been shifted to March 29th-April 7th, 2019.
Recently SEYE KEHINDE, the City People Publisher spoke to Oba Akamo, at his Palace in Itori. He spoke about his 15 years on the throne of his forebears and how his style evolved over time. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Congrats on this years Itori Day. How do you feel?
We thank God. All glory and adoration go to Almighty Allah. it has never been a very smooth journey but I feel delighted that we have had the 15th edition of Itori Day. My 15th year coronation anniversary is also fast approaching. It falls within February. But because of the elections holding across Nigeria in February, we decided to shift the anniversary to late March and early April. But come 25th January we are going to have Itori Day. It will be full of fun.
Looking back at the last 15 years on the throne of your forebears, how has it been?
Hmmm! We just give thanks to almighty God. It has never been smooth. But, at the end of every turnel, there is light. God says whoever he has chosen he will empower him, he will give all he needs to strengthen him so that he can succeed. He has done that, so we give thanks and glory to Almighty God for his support. He is my pillar. From day one, God has always been there for him. When I think back at when I came to the throne in Itori, when I think of what I met, Alhamdulillahi it is not the way it is now. Itori town was in a mess. I still believe God has not stopped his work. When I came to Itori as the new Oba there were only a few people living in the town, there were about 20 to 30 major families that live in Itori, but today we are running into thousands of people. In my ICT Polytechnic alone we have over 7,000 students there we have a lot of private primary and secondary schools in Itori today. We thank God. We have a Civic Centre in Itori now, that has about 100 ensuite rooms and a sitting capacity of about 1,500 guests. It has a swimming pool and all the facilities that are required for a modern city. God has been so kind to us generally. God has been so kind to me. When I became Oba, I was the only Oba in Ewekoro Local Government but as at today, with the support of Almighty God we are about 19 as at today. Me, I just keep giving glory to God. God has been using me for good things. In a couple of weeks, Iddo Terminals will be coming back to Itori here. They are doing light rail. That tells you Itori to Lagos will take 25 minutes drive by train. Itori to Ibadan will take 30 minutes to 35 minutes by train. It is a blessing in disguise for us.
We really appropriate God in his intervention in the community we have been living peacefully. Our socio-economy has grown up tremendously. A lot of estates has been established we have a lot of gas stations. We have a lot of companies. We have a company here that produces Polythene. We have one there that produces Iron. Glory be to God. Because of the light rail that is coming land in Itori has appreciated when I came to Itori to become king land was N2,000, N1,000 but today you can’t get a plot of land for less than N1 million. If it is within the access of the palace where you will be talking of N2.5 million or N3 million. So you can see why I give thanks to God almighty. We have just started. God is taking us to a high place. Where God is taking us to God knows. We know we have not reached the promised land.
My thoughts on life as an Oba is that as an Oba, I believe it is a call like Prophets get called. It shows in your appearance, it shows in how you conduct yourself, how you conduct your life. When people see you they will ask questions. Is he an Oba? Is he not an Oba? My belief is God has a way and purpose for everything.
When you were much younger did it ever occur to you that you will be an Oba one?
No. On a good day, I didn’t know. It never occurred to me. The only thing I noticed and know is that my parents give me preferential treatments. My mother was Christian before she married my father. My father was a top Moslem. Immediately my mother got married because of a Moslem.
My mother was so religious to the core that she was so submissive. It was from my mother that I learned the act of giving from. My mother always gives Zakat. She made me understand the meaning of Zakat. She made me understand the meaning of Zakat. It is the act of GIVING.
Nevertheless, it has never occurred to me, but I have always noticed that I have always been given certain preferential treatments from my parents. I came up like a mystery child. My parents were not rich. Most of what I did I was endowed with.
For my primary school, I attended All Saints African Primary Schoo, here in Itori, which I have turned to a model primary school. I have renovated it.
Then they took me to Ibadan to school. I finished my primary school in Ibadan. Then my parents took me to Abeokuta. I attended African Church Grammar.
After I left, it was like no road for me again. But God created a way.
From there, myself, Kola Omoyinmi, & Co. we both traveled to London. Along the line, I got tired. I said to myself, no, no, no I can’t continue to stay here. So, I came back home. I floated a company called Great Expectations Nig Ltd. under it, I have a travel agency, haulage, car hire services, salon and it has never occurred to me that I will be a king. But something flashed my memory. In 1972, the Alakes stool was vacant, one of our uncles called Ashafa Akamo, contested from the Oyekan ruling house in Ake. He hasn’t got money, so they played him out. That is when I knew Ifa knows Dollars, Ifa knows Pounds. Eventually, the table was turned around. He was declined. He wasn’t given.
That was when Oba Oyebade Lipede became the Oba. But as fate would have it. In 2003, I was far away in Copenhagen, Sweeden when my uncle, Chief Onigbanjo came for me. When he got to my house, he met my wife, and he took my wife to his house in Ikoyi. My wife called me from there to say my uncle has kidnapped her too.
I said why? Why would my family members kidnap you? She said she does not enjoy her freedom again that she has been sleeping, eating. They didn’t allow her to go out again. My uncle said wherever I am I should come. That is when I just knew there was a problem. That was in 2003. As fate we have it, that was how we started this Obaship race, and by February 26, 2004, I was enthroned. I went through preparation for about 7 or 8 months.
On a good day, I didn’t know I would one day be a King. Several times I had passed through here. I had forgotten about Itori but as fate has it we came to Itori and I became King.
What was it like then?
It was like a desert. But glory is to God, things have changed. Things have started manifesting. And I believe God will reveal himself in a very miraculous way. He only has to be praised.
When you talk of Olu Itori, what comes to mind is style and class. You are one of the most colourful Obas in Ogun State and South West. How did you develop your style?
I have always been very fashionable. When I was working, before I became an Oba, I had a fashion house. That is Great Expectations Outfit. I have about 7 companies under my umbrella company called Great Expectations.
The art of dressing well is an instinct. Moreover, the kind of people you move with shows in your outfit. And the kind of fashion sense you have shown in your outing. I am a creative person. I love creating things myself. Even in the palace, no Architect drew the design for me. I drew it myself. All my house, it is after I have sketched it then, I will call in the Architect to do the professional drawing for me. As for my taste, it has to do with all those I have mingled with. Who are your friends? Fashion is an instinct that I am born with. Likewise myself and my wife. We are fashion conscious. We really understand the word colours, and what it stands for. My growing up really mattered and really assisted me a lot. My exposure. All these puts together made me who I am. That's what people love in me and the art of Giving.
Where was your growing up?
I grew up in Itori and Ibadan and came back to Abeokuta. All those were between the age of 16 downwards. From 16 upwards was in Lagos. I came to Lagos in 1981. I thank God for my destiny. I thank God for everything. It has never been so easy. Whilst I was in Lagos, I had the opportunity of traveling. When I came back, I came back to Lagos.
I became Oba when I was 40 years of age. I thank God for that. When I became Oba, I purposely just left Lagos alone. I concentrated on where God has brought me. God has been so kind and good to us.
What is your relationship with other Obas?
There is hardcore politics in Obaship. In the traditional set up there is a lot of traditional politics that go on. We always pray for Gods wisdom, for strength. On a lighter note, all Obas in the South-West we are on the same page. Like Baba wa Ooni, my darling brother Elegunshi, Olofa; my father, Alake; Osinle; Olubadan; Ewi Ado; Ayangburen; lots of them. We know ourselves. Me I don’t struggle for things. It comes to me from God. Everything comes at will, Alhamadullahi.
As I see all other Obas as myself. Whether they see me like themselves I don’t know. I can’t say. One thing I can say is when God is involved, all things are possible. God as always been my Alfa and Omega. The journey has never been so smooth.
You can be Arrogant. You can also be Humble both virtues live in human beings. And human beings chose to use whichever they like I have chosen the path of Humanity. What God wants is: extend my hands of fellowship to your brother Obas, even to your subjects, to your people.
It is how you carry your stool that people carry it with you. Left to me, I am a friend of all. I believe in friendship a lot. I always give glory to God.
A few years back, you had some problems with the government which led to your suspension. How did you take that period? How did you see that period? What went through your mind during that period?
Lets give thanks to God. Whatever happens to a man, God says it is his wishes. I call it a Challenge. And like you know, Challenge is a Bus Stop in Ibadan and Mushin in Lagos. I don’t see any problem as a problem, in my life, even before I became Oba. I see problem as an issue, as a challenge. When it happened, I was just myself. I just took it to God and God said relax and I relaxed. People suggested all sorts. I refused. I left all to God.
When God intervened it was the governor that said, haa noo! It is the same Governor that now started yes, yes. That is God for you.
Don’t forget, the governor is my brother. We attended the same school. Don’t forget the Governor is a son of the soil in Itori. Don’t forget that the relationship between the governor and myself runs deep. We are so close. We bond so well. We are a family. Whilst I was even young in Abeokuta, I was close to his mum. His mum used to fry local Ojojo. The mother lived at the tail end of the school there. So whenever the yam fries the yam ball (Ojojo). I put the tray on my head, he follows me and we move around to sell it, we are so close. The father lived, in Itori there. His father and my grandmother, they were so close. They were like a boyfriend or like they were doing like they are married.
So for the Governor to have done what he did then, it is like a signal to all Obas that come, I won’t take nonsense from all of you, because people know we are close.
It was like he was telling other Obas and people in the state that if I can do what I did the Olu Itori, I will deal with anybody who I need to deal with. That made all Oba sit up and sit tight. At the end of the day, we give thanks to God. Here we are today. I never felt bad about it. I believe its part of the journey, I have to pass through. I have gathered so much experience on this throne. I have seen a lot. I have gone through a lot. But I thank God. Mine is a mixture of Poverty, and God things - Mine is a mixture of from Grass to Grace. I have tasted poverty from the youth. Today, I am grateful to God. I have become a rallying point for other Obas. Today, alone I have attended to over 50 people. I have attended to Obas, Baales, Chiefs and the community. There is so much tight amongst them that we always try to settle and resolve. And as I am attending to them I have to be careful because many people lie a lot.
They say what they don’t mean. Some are also greedy. Greediness is a problem. Many of them are self centred. They know the right thing but they refuse to do the right thing. That brings conflicts. There is no truth any longer. When we were young Nigeria was peaceful. I came to the world on October 1, 1960. Nigeria was peaceful then because there was truth.