Oba Solomon Ilesanmi Ajibade is the Owa Odo Ayedun in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State. In this interview with Yaqoub Popoola,DAILY INDEPENDENT. the monarch revealed how he used the Holy Bible to defeat Ifa divination during the Obaship tussle to emerge the 17th King of the community. He also outlined the gains of the annual Odo Ayedun Day celebrations. Excerpts.
Could please trace your Journey to the throne?
My journey to the throne was a peculiar one, because traditionally in Yoruba culture there is a way of installing an Oba. But in my own case when the position of Owa Odo Ayedun became vacant in 2008, about six contestants showed interest. My name was put there by somebody from our family and when the person informed me about the development, I did not object to it. And the process commenced. My position had been that whoever God had chosen nobody can stop the person. Several protests took place in the community in relation to the Obaship tussle because there were speculations here and there that the government of that time was trying to foist a particular candidate on the community. When all these were going on I was still working at Federal Ministry of Transport, Inland Water- ways Department in Lokoja. But it came to a time when there was serious crisis in the community and the people of Ayedun were sending petitions to Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital but I did not partake in that. The petition is about the same matter that I mentioned earlier.
Eventually, when the process of selection was to come, all the contestants were sent for by the Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs where they informed us about the modality. At the end of the meeting they said the oracle would be consulted in line with the tradition but they didn’t give us the date. So, one day, I decided to host my age- group at home on January 27, 2010.When I got home on that day I met a document slipped under my door. Immediately, I entered, I offered my prayers. When I opened the letter, it was an invitation by the Ministry for the selection process on January 29 and my own programme was to come up on 30th of January.
What actually worked in your favour?
I thanked God for the life of my wife she is a prayer warrior. If not for her intervention, we would have missed the date. She was the one who insisted that we must come home on January 27 to prepare for the hosting of my friends and peer groups in the community.
Meanwhile, at the Ado-Ekiti meeting the Ministry officials told each contestant to come with his own Ifa- Priest so as to ascertain the authenticity of the verdict of the oracle. But there I stood up and told them that I have never in my life consulted the oracle and that I was not planning to do so. I told them, the only weapon I have is my Bible and I belief strongly that it is superior to any Ifa or Oracle. I was trained as a Pastor and God has been so wonderful in my life.
So, on the D-day, the process was to commence by 10am but I got here around 9.30am, because I don’t belief in African time. So, when I got arrived the venue, I didn’t see the sign. Something like that would take place, the doors were not open. Somebody later surfaced about 20 minutes later to open the doors. The officials came around 11am and they apologise for coming late.
How many contestants vied for the stool?
Five contestants came from our own ruling house and one from another. And all of them came with their own Ifa priest but I held my Bible. As they commenced the Ifa procedures I was praying within me that God let your will be done in this matter. There were about nine Ifa priest in attendance. The state and local government officials also came with their own Ifa-priests. But one of them was leading. I sat at the back and watched how Ifa thing is being done.
Could you still relive the selection procedure?
They wrote the names of each contestant in a sealed envelope. The Ifa Priest was opening the envelop one after the other when it got to my turn, he opened it and put it in one side. And then discovered that one of the envelopes was a faded apex one and I protested, because our agreement at the meeting in Ado-Ekiti was that similar envelopes would be used for all the contestants. With a little augment here and there the officials sent for new brown envelopes in the community. Then the process started all over again. At the end of the process, they said those ones that are not good would open first. So when they opened the first four, my name was not there. And I said thank you O Lord my name is now in the highest cadre in the community. When they now opened the two that were good, the first one was mine and then the second one .The officials then said the next stage was for the Kingmakers to their votes for the preferred candidates. Within that moment I prayed to God that the process was about to end peacefully and I left the venue. I was at my house that when about three chiefs whom I did not know said I should not have left the venue because the process was yet to be completed. I was not expecting my name to be chosen because I did not lobby anybody and I did not agree with the Ifa thing .Even I did not discuss the matter with any member of our own ruling house.
I later went back to the venue and the officials queried my earlier departure. I explained I gave then same reasons. It was then time to vote and we had six Kingmakers on seat. My name was the first to be called and all the six members endorsed it and to the other contestant it was none. That was how I emerged as the 17the Owa- Odo Ayedun.
We learnt that the government at that time actually queued behind a particular candidate who later lost. Were you aware of this ?
What really surprised me was that the month that followed my emergence as Oba. Specifically, in my first outing in Ekiti Council of Obas, the then Deputy Governor came there and greeted all us in the traditional way. He then told my colleagues Obas about what transpired in Odo Ayedun and that their government did not believe in making nonsense of the Yoruba Tradition as it affected the selection of Oba. He said the state officials who oversaw the selection process called the then governor that his candidate did not scaled through and the governor replied that nothing else could done that God has chosen the right candidate for the community and nobody must tampered with it verdict of God. And God be the glory there has peace and progress in the community since my assumed the throne.
What advice do you have for Governor Ayo Fayose?
I want Ekiti people to rally round our governor as you can see, the governor is trying to instil discipline and people should embrace it. Ekiti people are educated and must appreciate the efforts of the governor in ensuring that our system works, even in the face of the limited resources.
Who is Oba Ajibade?
Well, I was born in June 1947 to late Pa Emmanuel Akande Ajibade of Iserun Royal Family of Serungunle Ruling House in Oke Owa quarters in Odo Ayedun. I started my primary school at Saint John Anglican Primary School Igbemo-Ekiti (1955-60). Then Secondary Modern School (1962-64). I went to Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago Iwoye in Ogun State where I studied Computer Science.