Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, yesterday installed the Co-founder of EKO Hospital, Olor’oogun Sonny Kuku, as the third Ogbeni Oja of Ijebuland.
The ceremony was also marked alongside Kuku’s 80th birthday.
The Pro-Chancellor, University of Benin, succeeded his late uncle and lawyer, Bayo Kuku, the 2nd Ogbeni Oja of Ijebuland, who died in 2015.
The Ojude Pavilion used for the installation was filled to the brim with well-wishers, relatives, friends and associates of the new Ogbeni Oja who came to keep a date with the epoch-making occasion
Dignitaries at the event were led by the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, who was represented by his Deputy, Noimot Salako-Oyedele.
Others were the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; former governors of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, Ibikunle Amosun and Gbenga Daniel who currently represents Ogun East in the Senate, among others.
Royal fathers at the event included the Akarigbo and Chairman, Ogun State Council of Traditional Rulers, Adewale Ajayi; the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount ruler of Yewaland, Kehinde Olugbenle; the Osile of Oke Ona Egba, Adedapo Tejuoso, amongst others.
Speaking at the programme, Abiodun, represented by his deputy, said Kuku’s accomplishments in medicine and the business world, coupled with his love and commitment to the development of Ijebuland were more than enough to qualify him for the title.
While congratulating the new Ogbeni Oja on this achievement, Abiodun said, “I, however, challenge you to use your good office to foster unity, economic development and educational advancement in Ijebuland.
“Your accomplishments in the medical world and philanthropic gestures are indicating the positive impacts you are capable of bringing to Ijebuland and Ogun State at large, and we urge you to use your new office to pursue the benefit of all.”
Abiodun said his administration would continue to partner with the traditional rulers and other stakeholders to enhance the prosperity of the residents of the state.
Meanwhile, the Awujale and paramount ruler of Ijebuland said the selection of Kuku as the 3rd Ogbeni Oja was purely based on merit and his loyalty to the throne of the Awujale from time immemorial.
The Royal father said, “Let no one think that the choice of Olor’oogun Sonny Kuku was influenced by anyone. I did not pick him as the new Ogbeni Oja for any reason other than for being worthy of this highly coveted seat.
“He has proven to be so loyal to the Awujale throne and demonstrated capability for leadership. I urge him to continue in that trajectory and continue to use his networks worldwide to uplift the socio-economic development of Ijebuland and Ogun State as a whole.”
The monarch also used the medium to urge governors in the South-west to follow the footsteps of the state governor who has assented to the law, which now allows for traditional rulers to be installed and buried according to their religious beliefs “either as Christian or Muslim” and not compulsory traditional way.
He added that he has been “championing for this shift for some years now so that we won’t be discouraging people who have good intentions to serve the people to be running away from Obaship. It is something we need to do that will add value to Obaship institutions.”
The new Ogbeni Oja, while speaking with journalists at the event, said he was honoured to be so chosen by the Awujale for the exalted office, saying that he was ready to re-double his commitment towards further development of Ijebuland.
“I am highly elated with this honour and I am grateful to Awujale for considering me for this highly exalted office of Ogbeni Oja. I receive the honour with a great sense of humility and it is really a call to serve and God helping me, I will do my best to seek for further growth and development of Ijebuland and Ogun State as a whole,” he said.
Also speaking, the Baagbimo of Ijebuland, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Installation Committee, Fassy Yusuf, said the conferment of Ogbeni Oja title on Kuku also coincided with marking the 80th birthday of the accomplished physician.
Yusuf said: “The choice of Olor’oogun Dr. Sonny Kuku as the new Ogbeni Oja is like putting the square peg in a square hole. It is acknowledged by many people given his towering achievements in life and commitment to the development of Ijebuland.
“What is left for all is to cooperate with him and support him to achieve success in his newfound role as the Ogbeni Oja of Ijebuland.”