Our festivals bring peace and unity

Our festivals bring peace and unity

Oba Ayorinde Ilori Faboro is the traditional ruler of Ido-Ekiti, in Ekiti State. This season he will be celebrating ten years on the throne. Oba Faboro was a staffer of Shell and Exxon-Mobil where he worked as an expatriate loadmaster and seaman before he was recalled by his people to become an Oba. In this interview with Edozie Udeze in his palace at Ido-Ekiti he speaks on national and international matters, festivals in his domain that are celebrated to usher in peace and unity.

You are ten years on the throne. What is the experience like so far?

The experience has been good. We thank God. Initially I was reluctant. At the beginning I wasnt happy. I was not happy to leave or abandon my profession to come and stay at home here in Ido-Ekiti. When you want to make a drastic life transition, it is a very difficult decision to make. Then you leave your profession to come to a place youre no longer able to work, where you can no more look for income. You have to content yourself with whatever you find on ground. For some time I wasnt happy. But in the past four years or so, God started showing me a lot of blessings. The sons and daughters of the town started lifting me up. For now, you can see many of them surround me like Biodun Abe, your friend here seated. Even then when you have good people behind you, youll be bold all the time. And when you also have God behind you, things work out better. You know, when I look at the progress the town has made since I became Oba ten years ago, I marvel. The town has more than doubled. Well meaning indigenes of the town have started coming home not only to join in the development but to also identify with the progress of the kingdom. God has done that for me to attract the well-meaning sons and daughters of the town to come home, to build their own houses and contribute immensely to the development of the town. It is sweet when you see how the town is spreading, how development is spreading fast. You know when government knows I have big people in this town behind me, it helps to make the government refocus attention here. I am lucky then.

So, in other words, I have made that transition from unhappiness to happiness. Seeing these illustrious indigenes around me I am happy. So the journey so far has been like this. As you know, the task of looking after human beings is the hardest. If you do not do it, youll not have the experience. Human beings are difficult to look after. But for God to have put me here, theres now so much peace and happiness. The rate of development is tremendous. And for these I am happy, I am grateful.

You have placed so much emphasis on your profession?

Oh yes, I was a loading master for Exxon-Mobile. I was a loading master for Shell too, before I went to Exxon-Mobile. I was a seaman. That was what I did before I was brought home to be an Oba by my people. I was going round the world as a seaman for these two oil companies. If you know what I mean, it is not the same when youve been there and then you see yourself here now. It can never be the same. I was working as an expatriate in Nigeria for those oil concerns. So I was well-looked after. But when you come to our own government, our own people, it can never be the same, especially financially. And that is what I was talking about that I was not too happy. When you now realize that what they give me in a month is not up to what I received in a day where I was before, then you know you have to make drastic adjustment. And if you do not have a wife who is ready to support you, then youre in trouble.

Now, let us look at the community festivals here. How have these been useful in the area of socio-cultural development in the kingdom?

Yes, we have many festivals here which we celebrate annually. Theres one we do which is the major one. That is the Ido-day, a big celebration indeed and which is a part of this kingdom. It started like twenty years ago and we have been celebrating it to bring our people together. Before I became Kabiyesi, it used to be celebrated first week of October. But when I became king I needed to adjust the calendar. I was appointed Kabiyesi last week of November. I now shifted it to last week in November to coincide with the coronation. We do not have to have two celebrations close to each other. So, this year, I will be ten years on the throne and we will be celebrating both the Ido day and my ten years anniversary.

We talk about security in the kingdom, what do you do to safeguard your subjects and strangers?

You know, there is an organisation from the palace. I have chiefs who report to me. People only quarrel when they do not have people to report to. I provide leadership. When people are quarreling in town, instead of exchanging blows, they bring it to the palace and we are able to settle 75% of cases they bring in here. This is a local government headquarters. Therefore we have a divisional police headquarters here in town. Also we have the area command here. So the town is well-covered and secured. But I think the one that is going for me is the traditional security, I have organized. Hunters go out at night and people know that they are there. They are even more effective than the police.

Ido is not the only town in my domain. Ido kingdom comprises of 13 communities. Ido is the head. Some of them include Ifaki, Usi, Igbonla, Aye, Orin; those are my kingdom. The Oyibo arrangement they added Osi, Aiyetoro too. So, those people and places are under my traditional authority. We have the same arrangement in all these towns. When they have problems they run to me and I am here to solve them all. I usually settle their problems. So, that is the mechanism of security we have put in place here to secure both the indigenes and other people. And then I do not discriminate when it comes to religion. As a father, I bring everybody together Christians, Muslims, the babalawos everybody is one here in my kingdom. They see me as their father. In fact, they have access to me. You saw some set of Christians when you came here earlier. I am able to bring them together and there is peace in the land.

How do you ensure people of means come to the kingdom to bring infrastructural development to create jobs for the youths?

I am a traditional ruler, first and foremost. I am not the government. The government is there. But we have well-meaning sons and daughters of the town. Yet, it is the responsibility of the government to give us industries; to give us factories, to give us social infrastructure to develop the domain and make it more attractive. It is for the government to develop our town for us; to give us electricity, to bring water to the town, to give us hospitals and health centres. And also pay teachers salaries. The position of the Kabiyesi is to only lobby those people to come to our place to do so. This is so because I cannot buy all the transformers they will use in town. It is the government who should provide that. My duty is to make sure we have people in government and then have access to the government and the ministers and talk to them. And then when we hear what to do, our people in Abuja will get in touch with us over here. Then if need be we write a letter and present it to the government in Abuja. My position as Kabiyesi is that of a coordinator, or that of a flag bearer. It is not the responsibility of the Oba to build industries or factories for the people. I can encourage all that to happen. However once there is peace, development comes in naturally. Peace attracts development to a place. Once people see peace and prosperity, banks will come, entrepreneurs will come, because they want to enjoy the peace. What I do however is that people who come here, I guarantee them peace, security and guidance. Even then, people see for themselves that there is peace here. This is why people now come from all over the country to settle down here.

The festivals are celebrated to cement unity. In what other ways do they also help to attract investments and tourism to the domain?

We have a number of festivals that attract people home annually. We have also Ogun festival. All these have been going on since time past. Nobody can put any date on them. They are as old as the kingdom itself. Part of what you are doing now to put it in the newspapers and what others do to ensure publicity help us to have resounding festival every year. We also print magazines that we send out to people. In addition we do jingles on radio and television to attract people to the festivals. It is to let people know what we are doing and I tell you a lot of dignitaries usually come here to be part of these festivals.

Are you making any arrangement to ensure one of the festivals is made a UNESCO recognized festival?

I have not exploited that possibility. But with some of my people being in the highest echelon of culture administration there in Abuja I think it can be made possible. Biodun Abe is there as the director of Abuja Carnival and a top notch in the culture sector. He and others can set that in motion and see how it works out. So those are the people who can be encouraged to broadcast what we are doing and let others get to know and hear about them. Those people can also come to advise us and equally finance our activities because all these need huge budgets. We do not have much, we rely heavily on what we get from government. If the town can have its own businesses apart from selling lands and the sorts, we will generate enough resources. I am talking to government to site industries here. There are people who are asking for schools, universities. They are good, for they help to swell the town up. But they are not necessarily what we need to improve the quality of life. It is industries we need more. Here we have a teaching hospital that employs a lot of people. And government pumps a lot of money into it. A lot of the people are there and receive salaries, do consultancy and sorts. However, industries make a lot of difference in terms of employment, helping to settle youths who are there looking for what to do. This is why we are talking to politicians to remember us when they are citing their industries so that the youths can be employed.

On our own we invest in agriculture. We have attention focused on agriculture. The only problem we have now is that the youths do not want to go into agriculture. They want white collar jobs. Me I have done all these and I have discovered that agriculture has its own values. I have my own farm. I have plantains, I have yams. I farm all the time and it has been really good. I grow castor bean now and all that help a lot.

What are the major features you expect at the anniversary this year?

The anniversary is going to take a weeklong. In the morning there will be prayer procession through the town, involving all the people, religions, and all that. There is an organizing committee to handle this. It has already been set up. There will be a novelty match, followed by series of cultural displays. There will be dancing competition, then followed by street carnivals throughout the town. The final ceremony will be on the last Saturday in November. That will be the grand finale. It is where all of us will come together. Then we will raise money in the palace. That was how we raised money to build this palace like this, plus the little savings I had to do this. It is a befitting palace. We also have other projects. We are building an army barracks in town. The area command is in my house. They use my house right now. I evacuated my personal house for them. So the government needs to provide them with a permanent place of their own so that they can leave my house. We raise money to finance our own securities, to check criminals. We also equip our local security with the materials to work with. We want to do so because hoodlums tend to fear the army more than they fear the police. After we have done that we then hand it over to the Nigerian Army and ask them to bring some soldiers over here.

Lets go to Xenophobia. Nigerians and other foreigners are being attacked by South Africans. What is your take on this?

Id like to leave the comments for politicians. I lived abroad. I schooled abroad. Sometimes when you are abroad it is not only Nigerians who are in South Africa. I was reading the statistics on that. There are more foreigners of other African nations there than Nigerians. Nigerians are only 27,000. From Zimbabwe you have 400,000 people. Also from Zambia, you have about 400,000. I think and that is my own personal advice to our fellow Nigerians is that when they go abroad no matter how prosperous they become, they have to be humble. They should be humble in their dealings with others. They should be decent, quiet, and conform to the rules and orders of their host society.

We say it in Ekiti here, that if your yam is big, use your hand to cover it when you are eating it. Our people need to conform. Yes, it is not good that those people are attacking us. Like I have heard the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, there is no Nigerian casualty. The point is that our people are garrulous noisy. Very noisy indeed. It is as if it is only Nigerians they know there. Our people are loud. We are very loud and manner less. Some of the things we do here in Nigeria cannot be tolerated outside of this clime. They will not allow it. I mean other societies cannot allow the sort of behaviour we display here in their own countries. If you go to another mans country and you find prosperity, you have to humble yourself. You do that, when there is trouble they will not target you. Our people; I think the way they live there make people target them. It is not only our people that travel in the world. When you go to America it is Nigeria, Nigeria, you go to Britain it is Nigeria, Nigeria. Even in Ghana, they are pursuing us there. You go to Gabon, the same thing. Wetin? So we need to talk to ourselves. That is my opinion. We need to talk to our people over there to take it easy. It is not as if it is right for South Africans to attack us. No! I even learnt some of our people got themselves together to defend themselves. Now, generally Nigeria is not seen as a serious country because what is our government doing to protect its citizens. Nothing! Even if government orders them to come home, will they come home? It is not the first time they are attacking Nigerians in South Africa. So, the question still remains: what are they doing there, you cannot do here? Like I tell my children who live abroad, precisely in the States, when the police stops you, stop, obey the law where ever you find yourself. If they ask questions, answer them quickly, be friendly with them. Dont do like the Americans that will confront the police and the police may shoot them. You notice that police in America kill more of Black Americans. It does not happen to immigrants, for we are more polite. So, like I have said, let our people be humble, live quietly even when they have made money over there so that they will not attract attention to themselves.

Do we then say it is because we are losing our cultural value that has made some of us to forget simple mannerisms?

Our people are mannerless. Can you believe that in a small town like this, there are hoodlums; there are area boys and girls. There are cult boys, there are garage boys all over. So in terms of mannerlessness I think Nigeria went off the track about thirty or forty years ago. We have lost it and it will take serious leadership to bring us back on track, to teach our people. I know it is not everybody that has lost it. No. My children cannot misbehave. So, also are your own children. But the main problem that is contributing to this is uncontrolled population. The government is not doing anything to encourage family planning. Most of the boys out there, their fathers do not even know they are there. They do not even know them or who they are. Their mothers have forgotten they have them. And nobody is controlling them or what they do. These boys you see them, a boy of 18 years has already impregnated four girls. And you see a girl of 18 with four children. What is she going to teach those children? So I think government has to make a deliberate effort to discourage unplanned childbirth. That is what is contributing to our lawlessness.

Again UNESCO is saying that by 2050, many world languages will go extinct?

It is possible. It is already happening. About two weeks ago, I read somewhere that governor Fayemi made a law that in every traditional gathering in the state, you must use Yoruba to conduct it, you must use Ekiti dialect to do so. Like I said, government has to make deliberate efforts to make Nigerians, Nigerians. Those of us in positions it is a shame. For instance my wife is Igbo. When my children were growing up she wanted them to speak her language. She was speaking it to them. I was speaking Yoruba to them. The children became confused. So they spoke English, but they are picking Yoruba now. My grown up children, those ones are okay. We must encourage ourselves to speak our languages at home to our children.

How do you appraise the security situation in the South-West as it is today?

Oh, I do not follow the politicians to assess the security situation in our land. Our politicians make politically correct statements all the time. I believe that Nigeria is not as bad as it was in the 1980s. Then we used to have robberies from street, house to house in most urban areas of the country. They would come with megaphones and say all of you bring out all your money and come deposit them here. If we come to your house you are in trouble. In this West, in Lagos, there was hardly any night when you did not hear cases of armed robbers terrorizing residents. They would be shooting and people would be crying and dying. In this same country car snatching also happened at a time. Then if you boarded a Peugeot car you had 90% chances of being kidnapped or the car being snatched. At times the passengers may be robbed or shot at or even killed. This country, was worse than this. Yes, things are bad in the North, in Zamfara, Jigawa, Katsina and some others. Borno is a war zone. It is evil for those in the West to be crying as if the Boko Haram war is here with us. Even people are saying it is the Fulani herdsmen who are invading us when there are more troubles in the North. The people who are killing or being killed in the North over there, are they Yoruba? People in Zamfara they carry a whole village and say okay we will massacre all of you and they do so even after they have paid ransom. Those are the people facing the trouble but here we say oh, they are the ones attacking us here. I am not saying there are no crises here in the West; but I believe we should talk about the whole country and not isolate one from the rest. Thats my take on it.

Author: Edozie Udeze

Source: https://thenationonlineng.net/our-festivals-bring-peace-and-unity/

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