When most kings ascend the throne of their forefathers, they resolve not to stir ripples in the waters for fear it could trigger a wave that might capsize their fledgling rule. In other words, they see but seldom talk; talk but seldom walk. For the Olugbo of Ùgbó, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinrutan, that is the coward’s way and unknown to him. He makes a point of rocking the boat. What some would call a love of anarchy, he regards as his God-given right of self-assertion.
That Oba Akinrutan, the chairman of oil and gas conglomerate Obat Oil is a flamboyant and somewhat popular character would be stating that the earth is round. He has had verbal scuffles with some of the most prominent monarchs in Yorubaland on points of culture, history and the place of his kingship in the Yoruba monarchical hierarchy.
Even his ascension to the Ugbo stool wasn’t without its twists and turns that would be excellent material for a Nollywood blockbuster. Indeed, it is hard to shake the feeling that the Olugbo enjoys pitting his singular wits against those of his peers, and the might of public opinion if need be.
Yet, behind the pantomime act, lies a person of deep feeling, possessing a depth of knowledge that would rival many a school’s library. Charming and erudite when he chooses to be, he can take the listener on riveting excursions to far-flung points in time and unravel fascinating threads in ethnic and national histories.
With his 10th coronation anniversary on the horizon, the sleepy town of Ilaje is prepared for another display of their sovereign’s warm nature and consideration for his people. Unlike other monarchs who would see such occasion as the best time to display their grandeur to the exclusion of everything else, Oba Akinrutan knows that a crown of gold is useless if the people do not respect its wearer.
Hence, he will use the event to further enrich the people’s lives through initiatives like free healthcare delivery, distribution of assorted gift items to the needy and general face-lift of the Ilaje community. And be doesn’t need to dip into the kingdom’s till to do any of these. After all, he was once named the richest king in Africa by Forbes International.
He started a foundation that caters to indigent Ilaje citizens at the primary, secondary, tertiary levels, and the very brilliant ones at postgraduate level. There is also routine medical checks and a whole host of other community-oriented initiatives that have collectively left his people dancing to the merry tunes of progress.