The 16th Oluwo of Iwo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu I, is a community builder, national icon, and consummate media personality. In this interview with STELLAMARIES AMUWA, he speaks on how he brought gains that have eluded his domain.
What have you achieved since you were appointed?
Since the dawn of this new era, Iwoland has not remained the same again as it has continued to witness progress in leaps and bounds, courtesy of the strategies, tactics and operations we embarked on, my passion for serving my people, especially and humanity at large is primus inter pares.
Since my appointment as His Imperial Majesty on November 9, 2015 and my eventual coronation four months after, I have left no one in doubt about my passion for my domain, my vision for taking Iwoland to a new level, my mission to positively alter the course of history and my courage in making things happen. Some five years after, the city is better off in all indices of development as it has become a magnet that attracts projects, institutions, monuments and symbols of federal presence either facilitated or directly executed by me.
I have also demonstrated my peacemaking skills in rallying politicians together for harmonious co-existence as a result of the ripples generated by the Osun West Senatorial election in 2019 while nipping in the bud an inter-communal conflict that would have erupted between the Yoruba and Hausa communities in Iwoland over the theft of a mere mobile phone. In this regard, apart from seeing to the resolution of inter-state boundary disputes between Oyo and Osun states, a regular inter-ethnic meeting of various ethnic nationalities in my domain, which I put in place, have also served as a conflict prevention mechanism in the greater Iwo Empire.
While training artisans through the Telu Empowerment Scheme to make them more productive, I have been working round the clock and behind the scene in facilitating employment opportunities for my subjects and Nigerians at large in the private and public sectors, using my vast social capital. To curb crime and facilitate the work of the security agencies, I have also donated operational vehicles and motorcycles to the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps in my domain while championing campaigns against corruption and other social vices in Iwoland especially and Nigeria at large.
Under the astute leadership of the Paramount Ruler of Iwoland, we have the Iwo City Polytechnic, Iwo; National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Iwo Study Centre; Al Ummah College of Education, Iwo; Royal College of Public Health and Technology, Iwo; Federal College of Education, Iwo; Westland University, Iwo; and National Library, Iwo. The city of Iwo has also gained tremendously from the approval and take-off of the Police Area Command, Iwo; Federal Road Safety Corps Unit Command, Iwo and Operational Zonal Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Iwo, while an industry is also in the pipeline.
What stands you out among other monarchs?
I am a monarch with a peculiar swag and gravitas about whom everyone must have an opinion, courtesy of the sensational headlines, my ascension to the throne of my ancestors has been a blessing to Iwo in all ramifications. I take no half measures when it comes to proclaiming, projecting and transforming my domain and my subjects stand firm behind me. Within a time span of just five years, I have not only succeeded in bringing Iwoland to national and global consciousness, I have managed to deploy deft diplomacy and royal activism to attract all the goods and gains that had eluded the famed city of scholars (Gerin Malami) for several decades, despite the tremendous achievements of the past monarchs, especially the 15th Oluwo, Oba Asiru Olatunbosun Tadese, Ariwajoye 1. From relative obscurity in state and national affairs, it is nostalgic to the true sons and daughters of Iwo that their beloved town has attained global prominence as they often behold their king standing shoulder to shoulder with all those who matter in the country. I am a foremost ruler in rallying the community round to achieve their potential greatness.
What are your challenges as a paramount ruler?
By the grace of God, we have been able to overcome some challenges, since five years ago, precisely on the 16th of January 2016, the historic city of Iwo witnessed a watershed that has continued to define its identity. That day, the eventful coronation of the 16th Oluwo of Iwo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr) Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu I, took place with pomp and pageantry as the whole world rejoiced with a people who had sorely missed a monarch. Indeed, what could have been a great feat in the life of a man marked a glorious dawn in the life of a people who had for long yearned for charismatic and phenomenal leadership to take them to where they deserve in the sky, not where they were. It is spectacular to the perceptive that I have converted my sound training in Mass Communication and Administration to making Iwo the centre of the universe, so to speak. My impressive diction, colourful dress sense and top-notch personality as a first class monarch and deputy chairman of the Osun State Council of Obas have all coalesced to make the Oluwo a terrific newsmaker and well-sought after public figure. With the deftness of a strategist and the clinical precision of a skilled sniper, I have vigorously pursued a riveting career of hitting many targets successfully at the same time while using all my sinews to make Iwo renowned all over the world.
Your admirers describe you as a monarch with a unique style. how do you feel about that?
I am resplendent in my royal regalia as I sit on the throne in the terrace of the old palace. With abundant energy I can engage you in an academic conversation on royalty, history, Islam and culture , while invoking historical names and dates. My versatility, eloquence and depth in the subject matters are awe-inspiring.
The king as a serial achiever
Many people outside Iwo wonder why I enjoy immense popularity among my subjects. Little do they know that I am a king with a difference. A king who actively and proactively drives the development of my people and community. I rehabilitated large portions of federal and state roads (Iwo-Ibadan and Iwo-Osogbo roads) for the ease and comfort of travellers. I renovated the Osun State High Court in Iwo to a modern and befitting structure. I personally financed the construction of the Arc of Triumph monument in the heart of the city, this is aside building a new palace for the Oluwo.
What drives you?
My passion for the educational development of our youths made me sponsor the less privileged students in private and public universities in Nigeria. Apart from donating 50 laptops each to Osun State University, Osogbo, and Bowen Universities, my concern for people’s health made me donate medical equipment of over N1.5 billion to hospitals in Iwoland. Through my Oluwo Food and Clothing Bank, many orphans, widows and elders of the community have benefitted from regular feeding on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays , even periodic donation of clothes. Even inmates of Ilesha Prison, Osun state have not been left behind . I even provided cattle to augment their feeding.
How else have you impacted on your subjects?
While training artisans through ‘ Telu Empowerment Scheme’ to make them more productive, I have been working round the clock and behind the scene in facilitating employment opportunities for them and for Nigerians at large from the private and public sectors, using my vast social capital. To curb crime and facilitate the work of security agencies, I have also donated operational vehicles and motor cycles to the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in my domain. This is aside championing campaigns against corruption and other social vices in Iwoland and in the Nigeria generally.
As a custodian of Culture, what’s your take on boosting production of local fabrics?
Yes, I have urged the federal government to consider outright ban of foreign jeans to promote local fabrics and boost Nigeria’s economy. As a custodian of culture, it places a moral burden on me that our cultural attires are fading away. Am sad that religion has infiltrated our culture.
We cannot compel our youths and teenagers to start wearing agbada made of Aso Oke or Aso Ofi. But now, I have branded our Aso Oke as Telu Jeans . This branded Jeans is normal jeans trousers, shorts and jacket made of Aso Oke. Aso Oke will also be used to sew suits and all office, school and religious wears
Our traditional clothes and accessories such as Ofi and beads are demonstration of rich culture and luxuries of wealth. So enticing and admiring, but because a people affiliate wearing Ofi and using some cultural accessories as paganism, our children now run away from it.
What is your advice for other Yoruba traditional rulers?;
As traditional rulers, we have the role of clearly differentiating between the rich Yoruba culture and religion. The infiltration is scaring to our children. Our rich culture has been lumped with traditional religion. It is disheartening. Our culture is clean. It has to be promoted and clearly distinguished to make it adorable and admirable .