Royal Headache… Anxiety in Ijebu Royal Circuits as Awujale Picks Ogbeni Oja of Ijebuland


•The dilemma of choosing among Mike Adenuga, Oba Otudeko, Sunny Kuku, others

For the towering magnate, the path to honour doesn’t lay out in flat miles, it’s riddled with trials of fortune and intrigues of commerce. Eventually, it’s the imagination with which he perceives industry and the gestures by which he honours it that stands him out from his peer. Armed with this ageless wisdom, notable sons of Ijebu land sought their niche in the world of commerce. And having attained acclaim and global deference in the cutthroat world of industry, they silently seek good graces of their kingdom’s paramount ruler, Oba Sikiru Adetona, the Awujale of Ijebu.

As you read, illustrious sons of Ijebu are being considered for the kingdom’s highest honour for merchants and a son of the soil. The title: Ogbeni Oja of Ijebu land (Leader of Commerce and Industry in Ijebu) is currently in contention and Oba Adetona is no doubt having a hard time deciding who, among his subjects, is worthy of the much coveted honour.

The title, which is one of the biggest titles in Ijebu is bestowed on recipients according to the prerogative of the Awujale. It is usually given to a very successful businessman who is accomplished in his chosen career. In recent history, the two men who have held the title were accomplished men of immense means. The first Ogbeni Oja was late Chief Adeola Odutola, an Ijebu icon who in his lifetime was easily one of the most successful industrialists in Yorubaland. When he died, the Awujale made Otunba Bayo Kuku, the next Ogbeni Oja. And he again was a very rich and successful businessman.

He died a year ago. Since then, that seat has been vacant. At the moment, we have in contention for the title, Dr Mike Ishola Agbolade Adenuga, GCON, who is considered in several quarters as the most qualified because of his citizenship of humanity and what he has done for Ijebuland, Ogun State, Nigeria and the African continent. That’s why Adenuga is called the Global Sweetheart! He is one Ijebu man that the Kabiyesi likes so much and his company has been sponsoring the prestigious Ojude Oba Festival of the Ijebu people for so many years now. He is currently a member of the Council of Awujales Otunbas of Ijebuland. He is also a member of Awujales Royal Court. Awujale has conferred on him the title of Otunba Apesin of Ijebuland.

Then there is the Fototek boss, Chief Adegunwa. Adegunwa is also very rich and close to the Awujale. He is from Ososa. Could it also be Oba Otudeko? The latter, a successful industrialist, is close to the Awujale as well. Another likely contender for the title is Chief Sonny Kuku. Kuku is currently the Olorogun of Ijebuland. He is an accomplished Medical Doctor and businessman. But while Ijebu’s royal circuit mull over the likely recipient of the esteemed title, not a few people are wondering if the Awujale would risk making the title one family’s birthright by replacing a Kuku with Kuku as the Ogbeni Oja of Ijebu land. Only time will tell.

When urbane medical doctor and veritable socialite, Dr. Tunde Soleye, was sighted recently, he seemed to have lost his bouncy strides. Apart from pussyfooting, the bearded former husband of ex-beauty queen Nike Oshinowo had a tentative, forlorn look around him. Subdued were the suaveness and confidence that made him a hit among men and women. Sources close to the affable doctor said his present outlook might not be unconnected with his separation from Nike. Despite denials and counter-denials about the state of their union, the couple, who got married in 2007 amid strident opposition from Dr. Soleye’s friends and immediate family, eventually went their separate ways in 2012. But the multimillionaire medical doctor, who was forced by the court to pay his ex-wife millions of naira while also forfeiting his London home in a divorce settlement, has told everybody who cared to listen that Nike would return to him because it was not the first time she would work out on the union.

Like the peas in a pod, the stories of Otunba Subomi Balogun and Pascal Dozie read alike. Apart from the divergence in lifestyles, flamboyant Balogun and conservative Dozie have so much in common. While over eighty-year-old Otunba Subomi is the founder of First City Monument Bank, hailed as the first privately-owned bank in Nigeria, Imo State-born Dozie founded Diamond Bank in 1990. Both are also heavily involved in other lucrative businesses that have helped to establish their imprints in the history and evolution of the Nigerian economy. Both are renowned and reputable boardroom gurus. Without gainsaying the fact, these men, who understand that leaving footprints in the sands of time are not achieved by sitting down, have single-handedly built enduring institutions that can outlive their children’s children. Interestingly also, both are monogamists.

Since his retirement from active business life, the Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State born white-apparel loving Balogun has watched his first son, Ladi, successfully steer the course of FCMB as Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, a position he attained in 2005. An Economics graduate of the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom and MBA holder from the Harvard Business School, USA, Ladi has seen the company through many tempests and has emerged even stronger. Today, FCMB is one of Nigeria’s strong banks.

And Otunba Balogun can jolly well recline on a chaz-lounge in his sprawling Tunwase Court country home with a smile on his face knowing his baby, FCMB, is in competent hands.
For 75-year-old Dozie who stepped down as MD of Diamond Bank in December 2005, nothing can be more heartwarming than the appointment of his son, Uzoma, as MD/CEO of Diamond Bank. The Chemistry graduate of University of Reading, England, who once described himself as an accidental banker joined Diamond Bank in 1998 as an Assistant Manager and Head of Diamond Bank’s Oil and Gas Unit. More than anybody else, the older Dozie must see his son’s elevation as a fitting denouement of his illustrious career as a businessman.