Sikiru Akinola writes about the historic installation of a 37 year-old ICT guru, Niyi Ajao, as a Mogaji in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. Excerpts.
It had the trappings of an installation of king but it was that of a Mogaji (compound head). Many who could not catch a glimpse, as he had been surrounded by too many people, stood up from their seat, to see the young man.
As early as 7 a.m, members and residents of Ayegun Compound of Inalende had prepared themselves, in various shades and colours of aso-ebi, ready for the Popo-Yemoja palace of Oba Saliu Adetunji, the Olubadan of Ibadanland. Many vehicles were available to convey them. Traditional drummers were on hand to make the event a memorable one. Many passers-by were aware of what was happening as hunters released fire from their dane gun, into the air, from different quarters, intermittently.
The parents of the new Mogaji – Professor and Mrs Ezekiel Ajao were obviously happy for their son. They could not hide the feeling. Decked in blue attire, they stayed behind their son, greeting everybody. They were happy that after close to two years of persuasion, their son succumbed, to take the position.
For long, many Ibadan high chiefs rose to the exalted position of Olubadan at old age. This, it was learnt, has been giving many Ibadan indegenes, especially the elites, sleepless nights. They are of the belief that ascending the throne at old age would limit their performance. And the underground campaign is that vacancies for the position of Mogaji should be filled by young people so that before they rise to the position,
Members of the compound had insisted, after the death of their last compound head, that the next person would be a young person. It was learnt. They needed a young person who would be generally acceptable and represent them well. It was gathered that many qualified young persons were suggested but many agreed that Niyi was the best man for the job.
And their reasons were not far-fetched. Armed with a computer science degree together with numerous professional & ICT certifications, he has not only deployed and supervised the implementation of technology solutions on numerous projects across Europe, Middle East and Africa, he has worked for SAP Ireland, Accenture and Shell before joining the administration as a special adviser on ICT.
His thirst for the development of Ibadan is unquenchable – an action which had made him work with the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) and other notable Ibadan organizations to stimulate economic activity through digital empowerment programmes.
He was the cynosure of all eyes as he entered the large hall where the Olubadan and the High Chiefs were seated. After prostrating three times for the Olubadan, one of the High Chiefs asked members of the family if truly they endorsed him and with a thunderous shout, they affirmed his nomination.
Despite being a member of Governor Ajimobi’s kitchen cabinet, he only informed a few of the team. But he was surprised when, one after the other, they thronged the venue. Politicians, professional colleagues, admirers all came, to show their love. Ex-minister, Elder Wole Oyelese, Youths and Sports commissioner, Barr. Yomi Oke, members of the late Arisekola-Alao and Ajimobi families, State Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Hon. Mojeed Olaoya, son of late populist politician, Adisa Akinloye, Segun Akinloye and members of the APC, especially the youths, graced the installation.
Speaking, Oba Adetunji advised: “Don’t be disrespectful to your people. You are all qualified for this position but they decided to choose you. Be attentive to their yearnings. May God imbue you with the wisdom to direct their affairs. May you ascend this throne one day.”
At home, before attending to guests who had come from far and near, he was led into the house of his forebears -Odesile house, led by Palace assistants who had come for a purpose. After every needed things had collected, he was made to prostrate thrice after which he and his wife were made to sit down. One of them put two royal beads on his head and two on his right hand. A bead was put of the wife’s neck. It was time to enter the house. But before that, an eke -two pieces of wood nailed in a trangular size, which symbolises authority and begining of a reign was to be nailed on top of the burglary by the entrance door. In quick succession, water, salt and palm-oil were sprinkled on the floor, leading to the inside of the house.
Expressing his appreciation to the Olubadan and his chiefs, his parents and members of the compound for the privilege accorded him, he promised to use the opportunity to develop Ibadan particularly through digital empowerment programmes that can create massive job opportunities and help to “diversify our economy. This will prepare our youths for an increasingly competitive digital society and further position us as the nation’s knowledge hub.”