The Eleposo of Eposo in Remo North Local Government Area of Ogun State, Oba Mukaila Olabinjo, in this interview with Samuel Awoyinfa, talks about his road to the throne and how he hopes to cope in his new position
How would you describe your childhood?
I was born in Oderemo to Eposo family in 1952. I belong to the Luwo Abejoye Royal lineage. My father was Kehinde Olabinjo while my mother was Olapeju Olabinjo.
While I was living with my maternal grandmother, I attended CMS Primary School, Oderemo but in 1963, I left to live with my parents in Ikare Akoko in Ondo State. Then my father was working as a goldsmith. I completed my primary school education in Ikare. I later attended Victory College, Ikare Akoko and graduated in 1971. After I completed my secondary school education, I had to move down to Lagos to search for job. Since my parents were not living in Lagos, I had to stay with one of my uncles who was living on Shyllon Street, Palmgrove area of Lagos.
When doors of employment opened for me, I worked in different companies, among them were Nigeria Glass Company, Central Glass of Nigeria, Nigeria Textiles Mill and Dunlop Nigeria, holding such positions as store keeper and factory supervisor.
After my sojourn in paid employment, I decided to start my own line of business. First, I started a transportation company. It thrived and it grew and flourished. I had fleet of vehicles. It is still there and thriving. Over time, I have added a printing business and hospitality business. I have a hotel, somewhere in Meiran area of Lagos. All my businesses are doing well.
At what point did you get married?
I got married in December 1972. I got married to my first wife, Olori Funmilayo Olabinjo. She’s from Ikogosi Ekiti.
What qualities attracted you to her?
I love her complexion, she is ebony. She’s quite gentle but jovial, loving and quite accommodating.
When you say first wife, that means you have a second wife or more?
I have only two wives. The second one is Olori Ismat Olabinjo, I got married to her in 1995. She was living close to where I built my house in Agege, Lagos. She is quite obedient, loving and caring too. She would not allow me go out in the morning without eating. She would ensure I take my breakfast.
My two wives are like sisters. They love each other and are coping well. They are co-existing with me and their children in love.
You said you have thriving businesses, won’t becoming an Oba deny you effective monitoring of these investments?
Like I told you earlier, I am from Luwo Abejoye Ruling house, but I have never given it a thought that I would become an Oba. I was doing business, then one day the late Eleposo of Eposo, Oba Ayoola Sonoiki, called me two years before his demise; that was in 2015, and told me that if he eventually joined his ancestors, I should step in as the new Eleposo.
But I laughed and I tried to dissuade him from such thought and prayed for him to live long on the throne. Because he led the initiative for the construction of a new palace, I prayed that he would live to enjoy it. But he also replied that he meant what he was saying.
He told me how he and my father were age mates but my father had long died and all that. I said I heard what he said and I left.
Again in 2016, when I came to Eposo for the dedication of the palace, he repeated the same thing, that I must step in after him as the new Eleposo. Then I took it with a pinch of salt, thinking that after he was gone, anything could happen and another person could become Eleposo.
In August 2016, I came home for the Lafose Day and he said as prince, he wanted me to either get a title of Lisa of Eposo or Aare Ona Kakanfo of Eposo. I was reluctant again. But at the end of the day, I chose to become the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Eposo.
Weeks later, I came visiting in Eposo and I decided to check on Oba Sonoiki. He was taking his lunch when I got to his house. When he saw me, he abandoned his food momentarily and dragged me inside his room and repeated that I must take up the mantle after him.
Then I accepted reluctantly and I promised to return the following Saturday, but I got a telephone call on Thursday of that week that Oba Sonoiki had joined his ancestors. He was over 90 years.
Immediately after his death, the elders started calling me, that I would be the next Eleposo. At this point I could no longer resist it. So that was how I accepted to become the Eleposo.
How easy would it be to leave your business in Lagos and stay with your people in Eposo?
This is a call to service, a call to serve my people. It is a rare opportunity for me, because there was no opposition from any quarters. All the others who contested with me withdrew early. Again, I must state that I have a structure for each of my business line to run independently, whether I am there or not. I have staff menbers that are trustworthy and reliable.
When I was called to serve my people, I must release myself. And God has made it very easy for me. This is where I hail from, and it is not an accident that I was born here. Moreover, I can always go to Lagos and come back here.
How many ruling houses exist in Eposo and who were those who also showed interest in becoming Oba?
We have three ruling houses in Eposo, they are Luwo Abejoye, where I belong, Lodo Meri, where the immediate late Eleposo, Oba Sonoiki belonged and Lorun Agbayi. It was only one person from our ruling house that also collected a form, but he later withdrew.
What is your dream for Eposoland?
In the next few years, I see Eposo becoming a big town, back to its former glory before the people were scattered during the Dahomey war. Other communities scattered were Are, Eposo, Oluwo, and Idena among others. Gradually, the communities are coming back together.
I see industries and housing estates coming up. We have land for estates, industries and agriculture.
Who are Eposo people?
Our progenitor, Bage, came from Ile Ife and founded Eposo, and Eposo thrived under him and became big, until invaders from Dahomey came and scattered our people. Eposo people are industrious, peaceful, loving and believe in unity.
What are some of the cultures and tradition associated with Eposo?
We celebrate Onire festival, Egungun, Balufon, Agemo, and Odun Oro.
What are those things being an Oba has taken away from you?
I am a socialite, I have to moderate those things now, they are not negative though. I can no longer stop by the road side and buy boli(roasted plaintain) which I love so much. Because If I send my driver, he might not even be able to pick the one that I want.
What were your childhood fantasies?
When I was young, I never had any childhood fantasies but all I have always wanted was to be successful in life and I thank God today, that has been achieved.
But my parents told me that when I was in my formative years, I used to build houses with sand, and then I would use paper as the roofing sheets for those houses.
And later in life, God helped me and I have been able to own houses in Lagos.
Was there any sport you participated in while you were in school?
I was a good athlete. I participated in 100 metres race while I was in both primary and secondary schools.
Do you have any regrets?
No regrets whatsoever. God has been good to me. This is a call to service and I am happy to serve my people.
What message do you in the for indigenes of Eposo both within the country and the Diaspora?
For Eposo indigenes outside the country, they must come and invest in Eposo by building houses and establishing industries. They should also bring their well-to-do friends to come here and establish industries. We have land. And those at home, they should come and join hands with me, so that together we can build and develop Eposo.
We cannot do it all, we also want the state government to help provide electricity and we have land for agriculture and higher institutions. Government should come and establish schools here.
What influence principles your actions in life life?
I am a stickler for time. If I give someone an appointment for 2pm, I will be there some few minutes before 2pm. I prefer to be waiting than to keep someone waiting for me. Again, I keep whatever promises I make. And I don’t like those who backbite.
How do you hope to carry along other faithful from other religions, because you are a Muslim?
As a Muslim, the religion recognises that there are other religions. As the Oba, I have to relate with every religion, I have to accommodate everyone.
What is your relationship with other Obas in Remo land?
The relationship is cordial, and I intend to work with all the Obas in Remoland for the development of the area.