June 1, 2021 marked the 22nd year of Oba Sunday Oladapo Oyediran Lagbami Osekun III, Onpetu of Ijeru Kingdom, on the throne of his forefathers. Oba Oyediran was installed on June 1, 1999, with his coronation later coming up on December 18, 1999. His 20th anniversary in 2019 was an occasion elaborately celebrated, which of course, was deserved in view of the mammoth accomplishments he had recorded as the king of Ijeruland, formerly Oje Kingdom, a contiguous town to Ogbomoso.
Kabiyesi’s reign has no doubt been eventful and productive. He has performed extraordinarily well etching his name in gold. Indubitably, he will go down in history as a great Onpetu, who guided the kingdom from an insignificant entity to one of impressive status today. When he ascended the throne, Ijeru was just another area or quarter in Ogbomoso but to the credit of Oba Oyediran, the status of Ijeru as a town of its own has been restored. To me, that is his greatest achievement in 22 years.
One of his earliest achievements after coming on the throne is publishing a history book on Ijeru, which was titled, “Tokuloje.” The highly explosive book traces the history of the Ojes from their time at Ido in Ile-Ife, the acclaimed cradle of the Yoruba, through the various places they settled in to found different communities up to their final settlement in Oje and present Ijeru location. Through the book Oba Oyediran authenticates the importance of Oje/Ijeru people and the independence of the town. The Onpetu is an authentic bearer of Oduduwa crown and the kingdom had existed long before Ogbomoso was founded and assumed importance. Tokuloje thus establishes Ijeru as a contiguous town to Ogbomoso and not a neighbourhood in Ogbomoso as most of us grew to believe.
This status Oba Oyediran has persistently advanced and entrenched many times to his peril but he never is deterred. The expression, “Ilu Ijeru yi” (This town of Ijeru), instead of “Adugbo Ijeru yi” (This Ijeru quarter) has become well entrenched and underscores his effort. He doesn’t joke with this, who will except one is not an Omo oko (a true bone)! He is a proud son and king of Oluoje and being conversant with the antecedent of his forebears and the negation his town and its traditional stool suffered during the incursions of various imperialists into the land, he is far too conscious to restore both to their pristine positions.
He suffered personal tribulations that could have deflated the sail in a less resolute person but he trudged on unswervingly, rather serving to reinvigorate him. To his credit also is the refurbishment of Onpetu palace, transforming it into a modern, befitting edifice. This, he accomplished through his untiring consultation with some influential people. He is rapaciously leveraging on such alliance with men of influence and means, without caring a hoot about the possible contemporaneous scornfulness, for the betterment of his kingdom. This is Onpetu’s modus operandi, which undeniably has been yielding positive results on the development of Ijeru. Through this also, he facilitated the construction of hospital buildings within the Oyo State Hospital (General Hospital) at Sunsun, executed by Dr. Samson Adegoke a.k.a. Maigida. Furthermore, he convinced Mr. Ezekiel and Mrs. Elizabeth Okeniyi to put up a paediatric ward at the same hospital. Prior the provision of these structures the hospital was faced with inadequate building facilities but these have helped raised the bar. In addition, the hospital now has an x-ray machine, which also came through the exertions of the monarch.
More importantly, he is able to maintain unity and peace in his council area – Ogbomoso South local government – and beyond despite the many sensitive and volatile traditional and other matters. His sagacity and forbearance has ensured that crisis does not erupt especially with the Onijeru chieftaincy family, the two having been laying claim to Ijeru community. Federal projects continue to spring up in his domain courtesy of his persistent efforts and support for developmental exertions such as the recently established Behavioural Action Care Centre provided by Ogbomoso First Group under the auspices of the NDLEA. His reign also brought the establishment of an agricultural centre for the Nigerian Correctional Service at Ago area. Personally, he founded a School of Basic Studies – Precious Spring School of Basic Studies – which despite several teething problems is growing. Onpetu is an indefatigable fighter in the ring of development initiation. Though he has some disagreements with certain vested interests in Ogbomoso metropolis, he is focused on the greater development of Ogbomoso and the whole Ogbomoso zone. In addition, Oba Oyediran has helped many indigenes of the communities secure employments and is unrelenting in this direction. The annual Odoje festival which is now rechristened, “Odun Oba Onpetu,” he has rebranded to attract more tourists.
Onpetu who celebrated his 60th birthday last January 1 is ever passionate about progress and will even snatch it off the jaw of the lion if it is locked therein. Towards his goal identity restoration, he is connecting Oje people across Yorubaland, those whose progenitors migrated from Oje to establish homes in other communities with many responding to the clarion call to identify with their home and contribute to its evolution in line with the modern aspirations.
But for me, his greatest legacy so far is reinstating the identity of Ijeru nay Oje, establishing it as an autonomous town, which destiny only forged together within the same geographical sphere as Ogbomoso to become one. The nomenclature Ogbomoso might be overriding but Ijeru remains a separate entity.
As the pastor Oba celebrates 22 years on the throne though on a low key, I wish him many more years of bliss and achievements on the throne of his forefathers.