ArchBishop (rtd) Ayo Ladigbolu is a childhood friend to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi. He is the chairman of the working committee for the golden jubilee anniversary of Oba Adeyemi holding in January 2021. He speaks with TUNDE BUSARI on the road to the 50th anniversary. Excerpts
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi is approaching 50 years on the throne. What can you recollect of his reign?
So, it is 50 years already? That is wonderful. That is amazing. Why it is wonderful and amazing is that everything just appears to me as if it was just yesterday. I mean, January 14, 1971 when Baba was given the staff of office was like yesterday. I can recall some incidents which occurred on that day, particularly one in which some palace security guards (akoda) were holding a man probably caught in a wrong place. Well, beyond that, we need to give glory to God for his support to our father, the Alaafin of Yorubaland because attaining 50 years on the throne is not a tea party.
Can you expatiate on that statement?
Why not? What I mean is that Baba Alaafin of Yorubaland faced some stormy weather during his reign right from the beginning; he needed to fight some battles and he did fight them; he needed to assert Oyo position in Yorubaland and he did just that. You can now imagine what he would pass through in that journey. But in the end, he would always come out with victory songs. That is the inference of my statement.
What is your relationship with him?
Aside that we are both from royal houses, from which the Alaafin is selected in Oyo, we were what can be called bosom friends in every sense of it. That was from our childhood. We were fond of each other, and that bond has been sustained till date. But I must emphasise it with every sense of responsibility that he is my father.
How can you describe his person having the benefit of relating with him closely before and after he had become the Alaafin?
Can anyone describe Alaafin? Can anyone do justice to that assignment? I doubt it because Alaafin is a simple and complex entity, if I must put it that way. He is a self-developed and strong-willed who is ready to take on any challenge and do it all alone. He is a self-confident, a character trait which unfortunately has been misconstrued. But because he is driven by a strong spirit, he is not moved or intimidated by such misconception of his stands on issues.
As the chairman of the working committee for his golden jubilee anniversary, what are your responsibilities?
My responsibilities started on the day Baba approved my appointment as the chairman of this committee. He has his reasons to have come up with that decision, and I am most grateful for him for giving me the opportunity to play such role. I am to supervise the administration and finance of the committee and coordinate the sub-committees to ensure that we organize a befitting golden jubilee anniversary.
When did the idea of the anniversary come up?
I must tell you that this year 2020 has been a challenging year to us and the entire world due to this COVID-19. Many events have been paralysed. For instance, we could not hold the annual Oranyan Festival due to the same reason. And Baba, in his usual manner, exercised some cautions on his anniversary due to the same problem. He said he would not want the government to see him as being insensitive to that state of emergency. As a matter of principle, Baba does not like to find himself being boxed into impossible corner. He likes to be on the right side of the law so that when he has a reason to assert himself, he would do it with all his strength without looking back.
Which picture of ceremony do you have in mind?
Of course, as the chairman, the pilot of the working committee, I see success and a befitting ceremony ahead. That is the picture in my mind. We are all going to work and ensure we give Baba what he deserves as the foremost traditional ruler in Yorubaland. We are going to make a positive statement with this anniversary, a statement to further assert the Alaafin’s preeminence.
What is your impression about the members of the working committee?
I have confidence in the members because they were selected based on merit and Baba’s recommendation and approval. That shows we are blessed with tested and trusted male and female of substance who will work together as a unit to plan and execute all our plans here.
Your final words to the members
I want every member to see this assignment as a privilege. That is why there is a letter to back up the appointment into the committee. Baba respects protocol a lot. He wants it to be on record those who served in the committee which organized his golden jubilee anniversary in January 2021.