Senator Kola Balogun, who represents Oyo South Senatorial District in the Senate, is the younger brother of the 42nd Olubadan of Ibadanland, His Imperial Majesty Oba (Dr) Lekan Ishola Balogun Alli Okunmade II. He speaks on the circumstances of the emergence of the new Olubadan. Newscoven.ng brings excerpts:
The Balogun family has become unique in Ibadanland, having produced two senators and now the 42nd Olubadan in the same generation. To what factor can you attribute the uniqueness of your family?
I can confidently say that it is a family that is loved by God Almighty. It is unique in that respect because, as you rightly pointed out, it is not very usual to have the crown in the same family twice in one’s life time. The last time we had it was 70 years ago and I think that is very unique in Ibadan history too. So we have every reason to be thankful to God and we will continue to do that till eternity.
Again, having two senators in the same generation from same family, same mother, same father, you just can’t ask for more and for that, we would remain grateful to God. That is what I will rightly describe as the audacity of grace in action.
The uniqueness you are referring to is a function of all of these because, when you talk about my brother’s emergence, the next story is he was a senator. Sometimes, people do mix us up; there are times they take me for my brother. Some top people in Abuja will see me and, thinking it is me that has become the traditional ruler, they will say “Kabiyesi, congratulations! Are you still going to remain in the Senate?” Of course, those who know both of us very well knew that it is my brother that has become the traditional ruler.
You are a sitting senator, the new Olubadan was once a senator; you are a PhD holder, he is also a PhD holder and now the Olubadan. What could your parents have done to deserve these great achievements?
I don’t know what my parents could have done but I know they are people of very clean spirit during their lifetime. All we know is that in the Aliiwo neighbourhood, our father was referred to as “Baba Station”, because he was a merchant at Lalupon Railway Station. But when he retired back to Ibadan, in that neighbourhood then, he was not the mogaji of the family. He contested for that position, but our cousin got it instead of him.
Members of our immediate family were sad that he did not become the mogaji. But, as a devout Muslim, he was not bothered but kept on with his life. Our father will tell us not to feel sad. He used to say that he knew that, one day, one of his children would attain a position greater than the post of a mogaji.
My late father used to observe his Jumat service at Oja’gbo. Every Friday, he will go with the multitude to go and pray and they will come back to eat in his house. In fact, every Friday was like Christmas Day in our house. My father could take the last shirt off his back to give to people.
I also recalled, when he died in 1964, we were just little children. There was this man from the North; he was a beggar. Anytime he came around, he will stand by the window and start saying, “Baba, Olorun a gbo adura”. My father will give him food and money. I think he went home during the farming season. By the time he came back, the old man had died. So, he came back and was standing by the window and was as usual saying “Baba Olorun a gbo adura”. We, the little ones, said “ole, barawo, maa lo. Baba ti ku”. My mother came out from the house and told him “baba yamutu”. The man just collapsed. When he came around, he asked for my father’s grave. This man went there and prayed there for like two hours.
My mother, when we moved her from the family house to my elder brother’s (kabiyesi) house for better care, she will be requesting for money almost everyday and she was there eating free food and being well taken care of. So, I don’t know what she was doing with the money she was getting from us. She will say, “tell your brother, I am broke”. I will say to her “how can you be broke, I just gave you some money”.
My mother will buy a basket of kolanut. You know my brother was still very active in politics. People will come in and out of the house and she will be giving them the kolanut. And whenever people ask her, “why are you like this?, she will say, ‘mo fi n ra emi awon omo mi ni’. I can’t forget that.
I am just saying things that I know about them. I don’t know what they did that made God to be so benevolent to them because all these things that I said might not even matter to God. Like you said, there must be some things they did that were pleasing to God. Back then, I used to hear people saying ‘Iya awon eni yi, o ye k’eeyan maa fi toro’. Some others will say ‘iya alubarika, baba alubarika’. It is, indeed, an uncommon grace.
Apart from the little the public know about him as a politician and a senator, who is the man that became the 42nd Olubadan of Ibadanland?
Kabiyesi is a very light-hearted person. He is very cerebral and is extremely intelligent. As you know, he is one person that schooled in the United Kingdom (UK). He came back and he never lost his British accent. My brother is liberal to a fault. If you come to him, even if you have offended him, he can’t keep malice; he doesn’t know how to do it. Even if you are the one that offends him, the next thing, he will call you to greet you. In my own case, I won’t call you to greet you. Once I get switched off, that is it.
The people of Ibadan, Oyo State and Nigeria should expect to see a man who does not keep malice; a man who has no time for enmity; a man who worries about the development of his community; a man who will like to serve the people. He is a man who is always willing to help and very accessible.
We were worried after the approval and appointment [as the new Olubadan] by Governor ‘Seyi Makinde because of the multitudes trooping into his house to pay homage. From morning till night, he will just be receiving visitors. We were worried about his health and we would asked him to go on an hour break. But once the people call him, he will just say, “let them come in”. That was when we told him, “you can’t be seeing everybody”. He does not avoid picking phone calls and he is not afraid of anybody. He can speak truth to power anytime and he is very courageous. I am sure the people will enjoy his reign.
Growing up, was there any sign that kabiyesi would attain this level in the future? Did your parents ever tell you anything or did he ever shared with you any revelations that pointed to the fact that he is the future Olubadan?
Yes, there are signs. There are reasons to think or believe that he might become Olubadan. Of course, you know our mothers, typical parents, those who go to Church who are Christians, pastors will say, ‘this your child omo ologo ni’. Muslim parents too have a way of checking your star. My mother used to tell us; his older brother, her first child, was an engineer and UK-based. He was also doing well; he was a British man and a very straightforward person. My mother said that they said the eldest child will be a star, while he (the new Olubadan) is going to be a bigger star. That is, he will be famous.
Some few days ago when I was speaking with him about his mandatory seven days in seclusion, he was like, “how can I be in seclusion for seven days?” I said, you have to be because you asked for it. He said how? I said “it is something you have been praying for”. He said, “I never pray for it”. That is why it is good to leverage on that kind of attitude. He is not desperate. That is why you can’t have him doing anything bad to his predecessor or to anybody.
I will also tell you why I said this thing is really destined to happen. When he was installed mogaji in 1986, the next thing he wanted to be is the Jagun. He began to lobby the then Olubadan to see how he can be appointed into that office. It could have been because he was promised. He had lobbied and almost secured the position but some powerful Ibadan people worked again it and supported another chief. Members of our family were not happy; in fact, they were annoyed with the then Olubadan. But he was placated and was told that he would get the next one. If he had gotten that one, he will still not be the Olubadan today because the Balogun line that he sought for was so static, while the Otun line they gave him was just moving up the ladder rapidly.
How badly did the brief crisis that preceded the emergence of the 42nd Olubadan affect you other members of the family, pyschologically?
Members of the extended family were restless, anxious and they were worried. But I wasn’t worried; I was not restless. There have been stories out there that some people were even praying for somebody else to the Olubadan. There were all kinds of mathematical permutations. Even the other quarters were, for me, full of wishful thinking for whoever it is that is their favourite.
But each time the story came to me, I will say “look at the three critical service providers on this matter. First is God Almighty, and I am with him. Second is the Olubadan-In-Council who are the kingmakers. I have been with them. And the third is the governor and I am with him. I am with all of the three critical service providers so, I was not anxious. I was not restless because I was also praying and there is nothing I prayed to God for that He does not give me.
Did you play any role in prevailing on the members of the Olubadan-In-Council to withdraw that case to pave way for your brother’s emergence?
Of course, I was in the middle of it all. I played a major role, in collaboration with some key members of the council. I knew that that had to happen, especially, since the governor said that is what he would like to happen. And the government was misunderstood by some people.
The fact still remain that Governor Makinde was also being sued as a government and he also made a point that has a lot of meaning to me; that who will want to approve something that somebody will wake up tomorrow and say but the matter is still in court when you gave approval. You know people can come up with legal stories to cause problems.
That is why when people were coming to me; some of the high chief came to me and said, “tell baba to beg his people threatening, so that he can move on”. That time, it was a win-win situation for us. By and large, I played a critical role to which some people are even saying “God has used you to do something you may not know. If it was not pre-planned by God, why is it now, that you are a senator?
People are expecting changes in the Ibadan Traditional Council and also positive development in the Ibadan metropolis. Did you think your brother has what it takes to do these?
Yes! Being on the throne, being a former senator, being a man with lots of strategic connections across the country, it should happen. Because, we are now looking up forward to an Olubadan that will sit in his palace and will call Mr. President. So, all you need is to have an oba with the required connection.
Upgrading of the Ibadan Airport to an international standard is part of the first motions I moved successfully on the floor of the Senate. We are still working on it. Fortunately, the Oyo State governor is also interested. In fact, he is going to spend huge resources to expand the runway, while I am also pushing for us to have the support of the Federal Government to make it a reality.
So, when you have a governor that is working, when you have an Olubadan that is working and when you have a senator that is working, of course, development will come to Ibadan.
Ibadan people should expect some positive changes. Given his friendly disposition, we expect a cordial relationship between him and the members of the Olubadan-In-Council. We expect an Olubadan-In-Council that will conform with the traditions and customs. I don’t expect an Olubadan-In-Council where the Olori will be calling the shots. It will not happen.
How did you feel about your own brother becoming the Olubadan?
It was destiny fulfilled. I feel happy about it because I can say it is an unusual grace, uncommon grace. I will just continue to be thankful to God for the rest of my life. Like I said, I was praying when he rose to the Otun Olubadan level. You know, that is a critical level, if anything snaps. In Aliiwo, we have had a mogaji that had risen up to Otun, but we lost it. So, for him to have made it to become the Otun, it was that time I intensified my prayer to God. If the statement my late father uttered which I considered prophetic, if God was the one that put it in his mouth, let it happen.
Who is the new Olubadan to you?
Kabiyesi Alayeluwa, Olubadan of Ibadanland is my brother. He taught me the first English that I learnt. He will say, “Are you crazy” to which I will say, “I am not a crazy. I am not cravening.” Some of his friends then still ask him, “what about that your brother who is not cravening?” He is also my mentor.