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Why I dumped Oba title for ‘Emir’ — Oluwo

By News Express on 01/04/2018

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•Oluwo of Iwo, Emir AbdulRasheed Akanbi
•Oluwo of Iwo, Emir AbdulRasheed Akanbi

The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba AbdulRasheed Akanbi, is known for his outspokenness and passion for public discourses bordering on controversies. In this interview by Nigerian Tribune’s TUNDE BUSARI, he speaks on how he appears inseparable from controversies, among other issues.

 

You have spent two years and five months on the throne. How would you assess your reign? 

I don’t feel that I have spent two years on the throne. I feel as if I only came into the palace yesterday. I feel so because of the number of innovations I want to bring to my town. I thank God I have achieved some of these innovations but I still have a long way to go in getting everything done. I want to get these things done so that I can spend the latter part of my reign, that is, my old age, in peace and fulfillment.

What do you mean?

I want to spend my old age reaping the fruits of what I am planting now. I am determined to bring up a new generation of youths with a developmental mindset. I am determined to give the youth a fresh hope that truly, the future belongs to them. It is only a bad father that will not want his children to do better than him. I want all my children to hold higher positions of authority not only in Nigeria but all over the world. When they get to those positions, they will return home and contribute to the development of the town. That is my focus now and I am happy it is yielding fruits. You can hardly see me without these young ones surrounding me. It gives me joy seeing them around and sharing their experiences with me. The palace is not mine, it is theirs. They all have access to it.

What is the position of Iwo in terms of Yoruba custom and tradition?

The position of Iwo is not different from the positions of other Yoruba towns.

Recently, you said Iwo is an Islamic town but the Yoruba have their own religion and culture, which are different from Islam. Some people are of the view that you are undermining Yoruba heritage. What do you think of this?

It is not right to say that I am making attempts to undermine the Yoruba culture. I have never made such an attempt and I never will. I am a Yoruba man before any other thing. I am a Yoruba Oba in Iwo, which is geographically located in Yoruba land, in the south-western part of Nigeria. Whenever issues like this come up, we need to seek clarification instead of making what I will call hasty judgment to score cheap points against a traditional ruler. But in fairness to those who see it from a different point of view, they only exercised their right to think and form opinions and air them.

Didn’t you declare Iwo as an Islamic town?

It is not a matter of declaring Iwo as Islamic town. The matter should be verified. People should seek knowledge and get the facts of a matter and not jump to conclusions. People should go and research on when and how Islam came to Iwo and by whom. People should research on the number of Islamic scholars which Iwo has produced and who have contributed to and are still contributing to Islamic education. People should find out about all these before they go public to condemn what they have limited knowledge about. I am not bothered because whatever I say is not baseless. I speak from knowledge, which I invest in. Iwo is known for Islam and we are going back to the religion. I know what happened when I wanted to erect the statue of Telu at the entrance of the palace. It was widely condemned and it would have been pulled down if I had gone ahead to erect it. This showed that my people cannot compromise their faith for anything. Don’t forget that there are also Christians here. In fact, Bowen University is owned by the Baptist Church. And that is the beauty of it. Islam is accommodating and friendly to others. That is what Iwo stands for. My being the Oluwo today is divine and I must not shy away from that reality. I am on the throne to make a difference. If the difference I am making is not palatable to some interests, how should that be my problem? It is not my problem.

Is it true that you take pleasure in controversy?

I should throw the question back to you as a journalist. What does controversy mean in the newsroom? Your answer will help you to understand me better as regards what you call my penchant for controversy. I want to tell you that I am not controversial. What is seen as controversy about me is the same thing which I have said earlier. When I was ascending to the throne, I came with a mindset that was probably not in alignment with the existing order. I did not come to the throne unprepared. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to bring to the palace. I had clear vision of where I wanted my town to be in my first year on the throne. I had a clear vision of the kind of transformation I wanted my town to witness by my 10th anniversary. If my vision and how I go about achieving it make me controversial, then I am good. My town is Iwo. I cannot be the Oluwo and the king of another town at the same time. I am the Oluwo and I must do all I can to make Iwo a distinct town that the whole world will know and appreciate. If the public now pays attention to me, the attention is to Iwo and I am happy for that.

One of the controversies is the ‘Emir’ title you are said to be adopting. Isn’t it an insult to Yoruba culture?

I said earlier that I would never insult the Yoruba culture for any reason. The Yoruba culture is so rich that nobody can insult it. I also said earlier that I would not say or do anything based on nothing. That is why I said we should always seek knowledge to understand issues better. The ‘Emir’ title is used by the Hausa-Fulani. But has anyone researched into the meaning? Emir is not even Hausa or Fulani, it is an Arabic word. Arabic is an international language like English and French. Now, what does Emir mean? It means king. It means the same as Oba which the Yoruba find convenient to call me. If we are seeking true unity in this country, I don’t see the reason why I cannot use ‘Emir’ which simply means my title in another language. To me, the unity of Nigeria is strengthened by our diversity. We should appreciate what God has given us through this diversity. How did you feel watching the Super Eagles take on Poland? You felt proud as a Nigerian, not as a Yoruba or Ibo or Hausa. That was a demonstration of the unity in our diversity. The team is made up of people from different ethnic groups and they give us results. I will not relent on this issue because I believe so much in it. That is why you will always see me among the Emirs today, the Obis tomorrow and back home among my fellow Obas.

How is your wife coping with her new role and environment?

Olori is coping very well. Since she joined me from her Canada base, she has accepted her new role and the environment as hers. She appreciates the enormity of my workload and offers support where necessary. You can see her by my side at major public outings. She complements me.

Source News Express

Posted 01/04/2018 8:54:12 PM

 

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