On His Grit, Grace and Goals
“Kaa-bi-yee-si! Kaa-bi-yee-si! Kaa-bi-yee-si!” the tuneful salutation comes and goes in crescendo amidst the pomp and circumstance. The air is literally filled with myrrh. It is a delight to see the confluence of cultures, class, and colours. In royal splendour, he sits majestically on a sofa. His shimmering traditional attire is matched with glittering beads. His countenance irradiates with a serene smile that exudes warmth and conviviality. Until December 13, 2018, His Royal Majesty, Oba Akinola Oyetade Akinrera, Latiiri I, Olubosin of Ifetedo Kingdom in Osun State was a corporate man whose resilient and can-do spirit helped him to achieve his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer, writes Funke Olaode
“Kaa-bi-yee-si! Kaa-bi-yee-si! Kaa-bi-yee-si!” the tuneful salutation came and went in crescendo amidst the pomp and circumstance. The air was literally filled with myrrh. It was a delight to see the confluence of cultures, class, and colours. The celebratory drumbeats reverberated around the town. The chiefs and the subject wore expansive smiles and danced their hearts out. Everybody seemed to be having a breath of fresh air.
Their mood was no misplaced and their joy unmistakable. It was a new day and there was somebody among them who was going to open a new vista in their lives. Everybody wanted to have a glimpse of him. With keen eagerness to be part of the auspicious day, they sang, danced and praised the new king in town. Few moments in their life are like this. It is little wonder they were savouring this very occasion.
In royal splendour, he sat majestically on a sofa. His shimmering traditional attire was matched with glittering beads. His countenance irradiated with a serene smile that exuded warmth and conviviality. Until December 13, 2018, His Royal Majesty, Oba Akinola Oyetade Akinrera, Latiiri I, Olubosin of Ifetedo Kingdom in Osun State was a corporate man whose resilient and can-do spirit helped him to achieve his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer.
Before ascending the throne, Oba Akinrera, a lawyer, was a public servant with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which he joined in 1992. Prior to that, he had worked as a teacher and a police officer.
“I grew up at Ifetedo in Osun State and at the age of seven my parents took me to Ipetumodu also in Osun State where I started my primary education. I attended CAC Primary School, Ipetumodu. My father was a farmer and my mother was a trader, trading largely in palm oil. I had my secondary education at Ifetedo Grammar School, Immediately after that, my Alma Mater gave me a teaching appointment which I did briefly,” the monarch said.
Continuing, he disclosed: “From there, I went to Oyo State College of Education now Osun State College of Education, Ilesha. I finished from there in 1987. In 1988 while I was looking for a job, I joined the Nigeria Police Force. I worked as a police officer between 1988 and 1992. In 1992, I joined NNPC in Lagos. It has been my ambition to be a lawyer and that desire was burning in me. In 1993, I went to the Lagos State University, Ojo and did a Diploma in Law. In 1997, I went to the University of Lagos to study Law and graduated in 2004. It was an evening programme which was abolished while I was there but they (the university management) allowed us to finish. I went to the Nigerian Law School the same year and was called to bar in 2005 while still working with NNPC,” he said.
In the face of his disjointed academic trajectory, Oba Akinrera admitted that one thing has kept him going is the grace of God, determination and being focused.
“When you look at of someone being determined and focused, you see that in the end it boils down to the grace of God who has helped me and make me realise very early in life, the kind of background which I found myself and the need for me to work harder so that I could get myself out of it. Today, when I look back and see what God has done for me or what is doing in my life and I compare it to my background it amazes me. And that is why I encourage upcoming boys and girls that they should have faith in God, plan for themselves,” Akinrera stated.
“Yes. It is important because if you have faith in God and work hard things will walk in your favour. And God can bring you as something out of nothing. That is the lesson and I thank God for backing that childhood dream of becoming a lawyer and I thank God that I achieved it.”
While recounting his journey to the throne, Oba Akinrera says apart from lucky, the successive Obas saw him as a potential leader, which endeared him to them. Again, the frequent promotion by successive kings later catapulted him to the throne.
Going down memory lane, he recounted, “My gradual ascension to the throne began 10 years ago in July 2008 to be precise when the late Oba Tiamiyu Oyekunle Adegbite made me the Agoro of Ifetedo. To be honest, I didn’t take it serious. Unfortunately, he died in November 2008 of that year. Oba Isaac continued with the good work which Oba Adegbite had started. He consolidated it by elevating me from the position of Agoro to the position of Otun which is like a second in Command on January 3, 2011. The baba who was Balogun until then died on January 15, 2015.
“I was elevated to the position of Balogun which made me next in command. Unfortunately on Friday March 9, 2018, Oba passed on and the mantle of leadership fell on me and on November 22 I was crowned at Ifetedo by my people which coincidentally was the day the Osun State government made the announcement for my appointment. And in December 18th, 2018 we had elaborate coronation at a celebration presided over by the deputy governor of Osun State with His Imperial Majesty, Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi in attendance.”
From the corporate world to the throne, Oba Akinrera thinks his transformation was a matter of evolution, describing himself as a grass-roots person.
“Well, it is not that difficult especially for me as I have always been in the midst of my people in Ifetedo. For instance, I was privileged to build my country home in my home town over ten years ago. I made it a point of duty to be at Ifetedo at the interval of two months where I spend my weekends. And since 2011 when I became the Otun of Ifetedo, that position comes with a lot of responsibilities. I attend the meeting of council of chiefs every fortnight. I have always been part of Ifetedo Day, Olojo Festival etc.,” he said.
Oba Akinrera as a traditional ruler is also an Elder at Christ Apostolic Church (CAC). How does he strike a balance between being a traditional ruler and a spiritual leader?
He explained: “I think there has been an erroneous impression about position of an Oba. As far as I am concerned, the throne has not turned the Oba to become a Satan or being fetish unless a person chooses to be so. I can’t joke with my faith as a Christian and as an elder of Christ Apostolic Church. Even though I am fully prepared to serve my people but don’t intend to go into any activity or activities that I won’t be able to defend before my God.
“You see when you look at Ifetedo Community we have people practising the three religions: Islam, Christianity and the traditional one. And even before I was born they have been co-exciting in peace and harmony and as an Oba I want to ensure that I continue to lead them in manner that will promote that peaceful co-existence.”
Speaking on his plans for his kingdom, he said efforts are being made on various programmes that will drive the town’s economy.
“My plan is to collaborate with well-meaning and illustrious sons and daughters of the town and also partner with Friends of Ifetedo to see how we can bring development to Ifetedo especially in the area of industries. In no distance future, we are planning to set up Ifetedo Development Council which is going to be our power house where we intend to draw out our plans. It is being championed by one of illustrious sons of the town, Mallam Yusuf Ali, SAN, and other eminent sons and daughters of Ifetedo like Surveyor Kayode Akinbola who is Apesinola of Ifetedo Kingdom.
“It is in that forum that I intent to present my agenda so that we can see how we can collaborate and move the town forward. The purpose is to provide job and empower the teeming youths. Apart from that, I also have a plan to do empowerment programmer for the youths: a kind of skills acquisition programme training. We are talking to one institution in Iwo and another one in Lagos so that they can acquire skills and be on their own. Another area we are looking at is agriculture because we have the land and want to formulate it in a manner that would be attractive to the youth particularly in the area cassava plantation. I know by the time they start doing it and making money they will develop interest in it. In the area of culture, I want to develop some of our cultural activities such as Olojo festival, etc.,” Akinrera disclosed.
However, for him there is no gain without pain as he talked about his newfound status and the issue of privacy.
“It has taken away my privacy,” Akinrera began. “I have been in a position where I have to be restrictive in the sense that I can’t talk with my friends the way I used to do openly. Even in privacy. I can’t exchange banters with them and when they want to greet me they have to prostrate. Again, I have to be in agbada all the time. I can’t wear suits again. The last time I wore a piece of suit was November 15, 2018.
“When I came back from office that day I called my daughter and said ‘that if you want the picture of the last day your father wore suit you can start to take it because once I remove it that will be the end of me wearing suit. Being an Oba has taken away my privacy, my choice of dressing and the way I interact with people.”
Oba Akinrera as a modern monarch and an elder in his church also believes in one wife. His love between Oba and his Olori Adetokunbo is well pronounced. Olori Adetokunbo is his second shot at marriage having lost his first wife a few years back.
“We got married three years ago and since then we have become inseparable. She is being very supportive of me and my vision. She sees my children as her own and the throne as her own cross. I am an oba but it is not in my plan to marry another woman because I know God is going to protect her for me and won’t have any cause to cry over her and the children. I have told the church that I want to remain a member and an elder. The issue of having two women is completely ruled out,” he stated.