The ancient town of Iloko-Ijesha in Oriade local government area of Osun State is yet to come to term with the passage of its monarch, Oba Samuel Oladele Olashore, the Ajagbusi Ekun, Owaloko of Iloko-Ijeshaland who joined his ancestors recently at the age of 77.
To many indigenes of the town, the history of the modern day Iloko Ijesha would not be complete without giving the late Oba Olashore an important chapter - due to his immense contribution to the development of the town.
He was installed as monarch and head of the Iloko-Ijesa Traditional Council in 1997 after much pressure from well meaning Nigerians particularly members of his community. The pressure for him to accept the seat stated since 1989 and when he eventually succumbed, he made indelible imprints in the lives of his people.
While on the throne, many of his followers believe Oba Olashore was a dedicated traditional ruler who brought a lot development, progress and growth to the town. Prior to his assumption of office, he had established a first class secondary school christened Olashore International School, Iloko-Ijesa, where prominent people in the country take their children to for secondary education due to its standard.
The traditional ruler also established a five-star hotel, the Royal Park International Hotel, where dignitaries from far and near normally stay when in the town. At a point in time, he single-handedly tarred the road leading to the town from Ilesha - the headquarters of Ijeshaland which endeared him to the people of Iloko-Ijesha.
LEADERSHIP also gathered that Oba Olashore was about to start an 18-hole golf course in the town when the federal government approved a N500 million dam project to serve the community and the fishing industry for the state.
The federal government project puts a temporary stoppage to his golf course as the land earmarked for the project was the one he intended to use for the golf course.
His philanthropist gesture made him to regularly donate fund to schools and organisations for educational support. In 2005, Oba Olashore donated the sum of N1 million each to three higher institutions in Osun State for developmental projects to make learning effective in their various campuses.
The schools that benefited from the largesse are the state College of Education, Ilesa, College of Technology, Esa-Oke and the Federal Polytechnic, Ede respectively.His passage recently was a big loss to many indigene of the town many of whom did not believe that their monarch was no more until confirmation came from the state government.
Reacting to the sudden death of the Oba, the state governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola described his death as a colossal loss adding that the state has lost a community builder, a gem and someone who used his greatness to impart on his people.
According to the Aregbesola, he served Nigeria as a dedicated professional to the best of his ability before retiring to offer community service to his people in Iloko. The governor recalled Olashore’s brilliant performance within the Nigerian financial sector, a performance that saw him to the pinnacle of his career as managing director of the First Bank plc.
He said, “It is a measure of his brilliance and contributions to the Nigerian banking system that he was called to serve again as the secretary of finance, by the government of General Ibrahim Babangida and his decision to establish Olashore International School which rated as one of the best in Nigeria and competing with the best international schools in the world, has put the hitherto rustic Iloko-Ijesa community on a global pedestal.”
While commiserating with the Iloko-Ijesa community, Ijesaland, Osun State and Nigeria in general, Aregbesola urged them to take solace in the fact that Olashore was a great man who used his greatness to impact on his people.
Also speaking, the state deputy governor, Otunba Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori expressed sadness over the sudden demise of Oba Olashore, describing the prominent traditional ruler as an extraordinary man whose passion for education and the development of his people is legendary.
Otunba Laoye-Tomori who doubles as the commissioner for education, science and technology in the state disclosed this through a press release issued by her chief press secretary, Mr Tope Ademakinwa. She commiserated with the state governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, people of the state and Iloko-Ijesa people, and prayed to God to grant his family and people of the ancient town the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
“Oba Olashore’s contributions and astounding achievements in education has etched his name in gold, and made him a pillar of reference whenever and wherever the history of education in Nigeria is to be written. Without doubt, his demise has created a deep vacuum in the education industry; not only in the Osun State, but in Nigeria as a whole”, she added.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Osun State has also described the demise of Oba Olashore as the end of an era. The ACN described Oba Olashore as one of the nation’s patriots during his life time. “In his life time, the monarch was one of the greatest patriots in Nigeria.
He served as a minister of finance meritoriously and built a niche for himself in the finance sector, so much that his name cannot be easily forgotten in Nigeria,” the party added.
Born to Oba Samuel Oyerinde Olashore and Lydia Bolatilo Olashore on February 18, 1935, in Ilesa, late Oba Samuel Oladele Olashore started nomadic life early in his life when his father, a trader, moved from one place to another, specifically in the northern part of the country.
He attended St Matthew’s Redemptory’s and St Peter’s Primary School, both in Minna, Niger State, for part of his elementary education. He later completed his elementary school at Holy Trinity School, Kano. He proceeded to Offa Grammar School, Offa, Kwara State, for his secondary education.
He was at one time at the College of Administration, University of Ghana and later Leeds College of Commerce, United Kingdom, in pursuit of his Accountancy education which he completed in 1964.
Upon his return to Nigeria with a degree in Accountancy in 1964, Olashore joined British Petroleum (BP). He left the multinational oil giant in 1967 to join the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where he rose through the ranks from being a bank examiner in 1967 to becoming chief bank examiner in 1973.
Between 1973 and 1980, he was director of banking operation and chief bank examiner. In 1980, he left the Central Bank to become the managing director of the International Bank for West Africa (IBWA). From IBWA, he moved to First Bank to become the chief executive officer and managing director.
Oba Olashore was sacked from First Bank in 1987 but his banking career did not end with the sack. In 1988, he emerged as the chief executive officer of Lead Consult Limited and by 1989, he established Lead Merchant Bank Limited.
In January 1993, he was invited by the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida to serve in the transition council, a cabinet put together by the former head of state to hand over power to a democratically elected government later in that year. He was appointed secretary of finance in the transition council, a position that was equivalent to that of finance minister.
He returned to the Lead Merchant Bank Limited as Chairman after his eight months meritorious service to the nation as finance secretary to the military government from where he assumed the position of Ajagbusi Ekun of Iloko-Ijeshaland in 1997.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP, the Lisa of Iloko-Ijesha traditional council, Chief Olusola Ogunsanya maintained that the late Oba Olashore deserves all the accolade and honour considering his contributions to the development of the town before and during his reign as the Ajagbusi Ekun of Iloko-Ijesha.
He said the death of the monarch has created a vacuum which would be difficult to fill in the town, saying that the entire community was devastated by the death of Oba Olashore.
He disclosed that the community had commenced consultations with the immediate family of the late traditional ruler, the state council of traditional rulers and the state government on the funeral rites of the oba, adding that details of his final funeral would be made public after the consultations.