WE are once again gathered in this magnificent edifice for yet another Ojude Oba Festival. Ojude Oba Festival as you are all aware, is an important event in our community as a people, being the only festival of its type celebrated in South-West, Nigeria by all and sundry without religious barrier and bequeathed to us by our forefathers centuries ago.
While congratulating and thanking the chief host, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, FCA, Governor of Ogun State and his amiable wife, Mrs Olufunso Amosun, for their usual support for the festival, we wish, on their behalf, to heartily welcome our special guest of honour at this year’s edition, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, CFR. Likewise, we welcome our illustrious Ijebu son, Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa State Governor.
All our august visitors here present including distinguished Senators, Honourable members of the House of Representatives, the Chief Judge of Ogun State, other members of the Judiciary, Ministers, Commissioners and other dignitaries, we say welcome to you all and as well thank you warmly for coming to share this moment with us. Our other guests and tourists from far and near, our sons and daughters, our friends and well-wishers from the world over, the various Age Grades, the Baloguns, and lovers of our culture, we welcome you all.
If I am not mistaken, Mr. Speaker, this is your first official visit to Ijebu-Ode, the headquarters of the Old Ijebu Province. This visit, therefore, will forever remain green in our memory. Not only will it serve as a bridge for the unity and stability of our great country, it will no doubt, further cement the friendship and the brotherhood, between the Yoruba of South-West and the North with whom we share more or less the same or similar culture.
Permit me, Mr. Speaker, to also observe that the way you have been directing the affairs of the House of Representatives since your coming into office has largely welded our country together regardless of the various competing and conflicting interests of the members.
For all these and your other sterling qualities, and indeed your personal sacrifice and commitment to good governance, progress, unity, stability, and the general well-being of our country, we warmly thank you. Our prayer always is that Allah will uphold and guide you in your onerous duty of piloting one of the most important ships of our nation. May the peace of Allah continue to rest and abide with you and members of your family (Amen).
At this juncture, we wish to formally welcome our distinguished son from the Awujale Fidipote Royal family of Ijebuland, Prince Seriake Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State.
Your presence here today is to fulfill the Ijebu saying that ‘Ori Ade ki sun oko ati pe Ajo ki idun, ki Oride ma mo ile’ which literally means ‘a crown head will always return home and also, that no matter how beneficial a foreign sojourn is, the bird must come home to roost’.
Our prayer for you is that Allah will keep you and your family. He will guide you aright and success shall be yours in the governance of your State and in your other undertakings. Let me now conclude by paraphrasing a passage in the Holy Bible by asking you kindly to return home (Ijebu),(our own Macedonia) and help us.
Henceforth, we shall continue to look forward to your support and contributions in aid of our various community development projects, notable among which are this venue recently completed at a cost of over N800,000,000 (eight hundred million naira), and the Palace of the Awujale on the other side of this venue, both of which were built with voluntary donations from our people. We, however, wish to assure Your Excellency t hat whatever support that may come from you from time to time, will be thankfully received and wisely utilized to God’s glory and for the benefit of our community.
To all Obas, Otunbas, Chiefs and others here present, we welcome and greet you all. May the good Lord continue to bless your path. The Baba Egbes, the Iya Egbes, the Giwas, the Iyalodes and members of the various male and female Age Grades (Regberegbes), we greet you all. We salute and congratulate you for your courage and contributions for the sustenance and enhancement of this our important cultural heritage (the Annual Ojude Oba festival).
That you are succeeding in showcasing to the whole world this important Ijebu culture and tradition, has always and shall continue to be a thing of immense joy to all and sundry, and more so that it continues to be a source of envy to our neighbours. For your information, our Regberegbe (Age Grade) system which started over a century ago as a unique democratic system of administration of the Old Ijebu nation h as ever since become a major factor of our progress, unity and stability. Ijebuland, today remains united, prosperous and stable, and we pray that it shall continue to be so. To the Security agencies, the media and others present here today, we thank you all. We appreciate you and God will reward you abundantly for your kind gesture.
Our partners: It is gratifying that our Ojude Oba has been greatly transformed in dimension, quality and popularity. This transformation we owe to our major sponsor - Otunba Mike Adenuga and his company, Globacom. Our Annual Ojude Oba Festival since the past eight years continued to enjoy tremendous patronage each year from Otunba Mike Adenuga, with the result that the festival is today accessible to every part of the world through the satellite, print and electronic media, and the social media.
OTUNBA Mike Adenuga, we shall remain eternally grateful to you and your organization. We pray for your good health while Globacom shall continue to grow from strength to strength. We equally thank the Olori Omo-Oba of Akile Ijebu and Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians, founder of FCMB and the First City Group, and the Olori Ebi of Fusengbuwa Royal Family, Otunba (Dr.) Michael Subomi Balogun, CON., and his First City Monument Bank PLC for their contributions to our annual Ojude Oba Festival and indeed for his commitment to the peace, joy and happiness of the royal household. May you and the Group continue to flourish in good health and service to our nation (Amen).
Similarly, we thank all our friends and admirers who are always at our beck and call to support the Ojude Oba Festival. Among these are the WEMPCO Group, the Nigerian Breweries (brewers of Maltina), Coca Cola, Julius Berger, Diamond Bank, 7up Bottling PLC, Kessington Adebukonla Adebutu Foundation, and indeed, Mr. Tunde Folawiyo of Folawiyo Group, who singlehandedly provided the Public Address System at this venue at a cost of about N20,000,000 (twenty million naira). May Allah continue to bless you (Amen).
2013 theme: actualising the creation of Ijebu State, noin! noin!!
One important issue that continues to agitate our minds is the issue of Ijebu State. That Ijebu remains till today without being created into a State is worrisome to us as a people. How can one explain it that Ijebu Province, one of the twenty four Provinces that made up Nigeria during colonial era is yet to be created into a State, now that Nigeria is presently constituted into 36 States with Abuja as its Capital territory, making a total of 37 (thirty-seven)?
Our denial of State status is an injustice and clearly a marginalization. Consequently, our adopted theme for this year’s Ojude Oba celebration is: “Actualizing the Creation of Ijebu State, Noin! Noin!! (Now, Now), to further draw the attention of all concerned to the need to actualize the creation of our Ijebu State, without any more delay, being the only way to correct this glaring injustice. After all, we meet all the criteria as enunciated in the 1999 Constitution”.
The state of our nation: I cannot end this address without touching briefly on the state of our nation. It is of course a great pity that Nigeria, a country of anticipated land of milk and honey at Independence, has today become a nation of ills and shame. Corruption has become pervasive and endemic, nepotism is rife, infrastructural decay, collapsed education system, kidnapping, armed robbery and pen robbery, child abuse and human trafficking, comatose economy, lack of employment opportunities, criminality and other various negative activities have all become the order of the day. Our political landscape has today become a nightmare and more so with the approach of 2015 elections.
My appeal to our leaders and the political class is that they should re-dedicate themselves to the ideal of service and endeavour to take the country to a safe landing. The recently proposed National Conference, however, provides a ray of hope for the country’s survival and it is our hope that the opportunity will be utilized fully to correct all the ills and thus save the Country from the untoward calamity now befacing our Nation.
Ogun State government: Let me, once again, heartily welcome our energetic Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and his amiable wife for their invaluable service to Ogun State. Your Excellency, we note with indelible satisfaction and grateful thanks and appreciation your unique style of administration since your assumption of office as the Governor of our Gateway State. Your seven-point programme - The urban renewal programme, programme on education, health programme, programme on agriculture, fly-over and above all, your support for traditional institution-all of which are some of the innovations of your administration.
Our prayer is that Allah will see you through these your laudable programmes to God’s glory; your own personal glory and achievement for the peace, joy and for the benefits of the people of Ogun State so that at the end of the day we shall all have cause to thank Allah that thus far, He has helped you in the discharge of your contract with the people of Ogun State (Amen).
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, your Excellencies - the Governors of Ogun and Bayelsa States, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I personally give thanks to Allah for His mercies over me for granting me this special privilege to stand with you here today. Let me, therefore, use this opportunity to thank you, Your Excellency, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and your wife for your kindness and support during and after my recent domestic accident.
To you, my people and those of you who in various ways stood and supported me throughout my trying period up to this moment, I thank you warmly. I promise to further dedicate myself and serve you faithfully and truthfully to the best of my ability. And so, help me, God (Amen).
Thank you all. As-salam alaeykum, Wa ramathulahi, Wa baraqathuhu.
Kabiyesi Alaiyeluwa, Oba (Dr.) S. K. Adetona, CFR, J.P. is the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Aafin Awujale, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.