The Dawn of a New Era
Five years ago, precisely on the 16th of January, 2016, the historic city of Iwo witnessed a watershed that has continued to define its identity. That day, the eventful coronation of the 16th Oluwo of Iwo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr) Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu I, took place with pomp, aplomb and pageantry as the whole world rejoiced with a people who had sorely missed a monarch. Indeed, what could have been a great feat in the life of a man marked a glorious dawn in the life of a people, who had for long yearned for a charismatic and phenomenal leadership to take them to where they deserve in the sky, not where they were.
Since the dawn of this new era, Iwoland has not remained the same again as it has continued to witness progress in leaps and bounds, courtesy of the strategies, tactics and operations of the youthful king, whose passion for serving his people especially and humanity at large is primus inter pares. A monarch with his peculiar swag and gravitas about whom everyone must have an opinion, courtesy of the sensational headlines, Oba Akanbi’s ascension to the throne of his ancestors has been a blessing to Iwo in all ramifications. Meanwhile, one truth is clear to the blind: the Oluwo of Iwo takes no half measures when it comes to proclaiming, projecting and transforming his domain and his subjects stand firm behind him.
Iwo to the World
Within a time span of just five years, the Oluwo has not only succeeded in bringing Iwoland to national and global consciousness, he has also managed to deploy deft diplomacy and royal activism to attract all the goods and gains that had eluded the famed city of scholars (Gerin Malami) for several decades, despite the tremendous achievements of the past monarchs, especially the 15th Oluwo, Oba Asiru Olatunbosun Tadese, Ariwajoye 1. From relative obscurity in state and national affairs, it is nostalgic to the true sons and daughters of Iwo that their beloved town has attained global prominence as they often behold their king standing shoulder to shoulder with all those who matter in the country. He is also a foremost ruler in rallying the community round to achieve their potential greatness.
It is spectacular to the perceptive that the Oluwo has converted his sound training in Mass Communication and Administration to making Iwo the centre of the universe, so to speak. His good looks, impressive diction, colourful dress sense and top-notch personality as a First Class monarch and Deputy Chairman of the Osun State Council of Obas have all coalesced to make the Oluwo a terrific newsmaker and well-sought after public figure. With the deftness of a strategist and the clinical precision of a skilled sniper, the Oluwo has vigorously pursued a riveting career of hitting many targets successfully at the same time while using all his sinews to make Iwo renowned all over the world.
Since the appointment of His Imperial Majesty on November 9, 2015 and his eventual coronation four months after, the people’s king has left no one in doubt about his passion for his domain, his vision for taking Iwoland to a new level, his mission to positively alter the course of history and his courage in making things happen. Some five years after, the city is better off in all indices of development as it has become a magnet that attracts projects, institutions, monuments and symbols of federal presence either facilitated or directly executed by the people’s king himself.
I started to admire the Oluwo after my brothers and I paid him a courtesy visit shortly after his coronation sometime in February 2016. Resplendent in his royal regalia and sitting majestically on his throne in the terrace of the old palace, the Oluwo displayed abundant energy as he engaged us in an academic conversation on royalty, history, Islam and culture while invoking historical names and dates. His versatility, eloquence and depth in the subject matters were awe-inspiring, even if one didn’t agree with him completely in some areas. Since that day, and the subsequent meetings we had, the Oluwo has always proved his mettle as the modern-day Philosopher-King.
In his The Republic, Plato, the Greek Philosopher, considered a philosopher-king as a ruler who possesses a love of wisdom with intelligence, reliability, simplicity and accessibility. He sought this type of ruler in his utopian city of Kallipolis while advocating that “philosophers must become kings…or those now called kings (must)…genuinely and adequately philosophize.” If Kallipolis is utopian, Iwo is not and I reckon Oluwo as a Philosopher-King based on the soundness of his logic and breadth of his intellection such as the one he used to propound the theory of how a king should preside and descend on idols, not beholden to them: Alase l’ori gbogbo orisa. After all, humans made idols, idols did not make us and it is high time we denounced all the vestiges of retrogressive tradition!
Encounters with a Kind King
As a father-figure that the Oluwo is to all, he is fond of keeping a tab on his subjects and updating them on the activities in the homeland. As a people-centric monarch, the welfare of his subjects is foremost in his heart and he encourages them to excel. Rarely do we have kings who are as down-to-earth as the Oluwo, a trait that has endeared him to the rank and file of the community, while conceding perfection to the Almighty Allah. I remember the Oluwo called me in June 2016 while I was away at Notre Dame University, Indiana, United States, for a peace training summit, that I should represent him at a programme at the University of Ilorin. When I told him of my unavailability and location, he was kind to offer royal blessings.
I also recollect that His Imperial Majesty called to notify me of his historic royal visit to the Emir of Ilorin on September 7, 2017 when he was accompanied by over 50 traditional rulers and Chiefs of Iwoland to Ilorin. I was honoured to be at the Emir’s Palace to receive him and entourage. On that memorable day, the Emir of Ilorin, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, united Ilorin Emirate and Iwoland as one, a significant moment for me as a proud Iwo son who has spent about three decades of his earthly sojourn learning and earning, believing and living in Ilorin. It was indeed serendipitous that courtesy of the retired Grand Kadi of the Kwara State Shariah Court of Appeal, Ilorin, Hon. Justice Idris Haroon, the connection between my father, Shaykh Ahmad Mahaliy Adedimeji, and his shaykh-friend, Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory, whispered to the Emir, was used as the rallying point of the renewed friendship of Gerin Malami and Geri Alimi.
I have had reasons to meet His Imperial Majesty at a wedding of my nephews on July 2, 2017 and at the installation of my great uncle, Alhaji Liad Tella, as Asiwaju Musulumi of Iwoland, on October 12, 2019 and he was always full of grace and kindness. When the announcement of my 2019 promotion was eventually made in December 2020, His Imperial Majesty is one of the first callers to offer royal blessings. How more caring, kind and loving can a monarch ever be?
Emperor Telu is a community builder, a national icon, a master mediator, a humanitarian par excellence, a marvellous philanthropist, a consummate media personality and of course, a no-nonsense Traditional Ruler. Little wonder that honours, including honorary doctorate degrees, have been conferred on him across Nigeria and beyond in appreciation of his immense contributions to the service of humanity within and outside his kingdom.
The King as a Peacemaker
Beyond the klieg lights and much public awareness, the Oluwo has remained a committed peacemaker whose peace advocacy reverberates across Yorubaland and Nigeria. His Imperial Majesty had successfully mediated between the Olubadan and a former Governor of Oyo State, the late Alhaji Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi, with a view to ensuring harmony between the traditional institution of Ibadan and the government of the state. He also waded in the inter-community land dispute between Igege and Tooto communities of Osun state in order to make peace reign. In his own domain, he intervened in the management of the brewing discord at a time between the Iwo Muslim community and Bowen University over the latter’s perceived religious discrimination in its staff recruitment patterns to the disadvantage of its hosts and a resolution was reached.
His Imperial Majesty has also demonstrated his peacemaking skills in rallying politicians together for harmonious co-existence as a result of the ripples generated by the Osun West Senatorial election in 2019 while nipping in the bud an inter-communal conflict that would have erupted between the Yoruba and Hausa communities in Iwoland over the theft of a mere mobile phone. In this regard, apart from seeing to the resolution of inter-state boundary dispute between Oyo and Osun states, a regular inter-ethnic meeting of various ethnic nationalities in his domain, which he put in place, has also served as a conflict prevention mechanism in the greater Iwo Empire.
Moreover, between his ascension and now, the Oluwo has used his good office to reconcile the Governor of Cross Rivers state, Prof. Ben Ayade, and a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic from the state, Senator Florence Itta-Giwa; worked hard to douse tension that greeted the appointment of Eze-Ndigbo among the Igbo residents in Iwo Federal Constituency; and extended his hands of fellowship to the monarchs and people of the North and South of Nigeria with a view to engendering national integration and harmony.
The King as a Serial Achiever
When many people outside Iwo wonder why the Oluwo enjoys immense popularity among his subjects, little do they know that Ọba Akanbi is a king with a difference, a king who actively and proactively drives the development of his people and community. Here is a king who rehabilitated large portions of the federal and state roads (Iwo-Ibadan and Iwo-Osogbo roads) for the ease of travel and the comfort of travellers just as he renovated the Osun State High Court in Iwo to a modern and befitting structure. He also personally financed the construction of the Arc of Triumph monument in the heart of the city apart from building a new palace for the Oluwo.
His passion for the educational development of the youth made him to sponsor the less privileged students in private and public universities in Nigeria apart from donating 50 laptops each to Osun State University, Osogbo, and Bowen University, Iwo. His concern for people’s health made him to equally donate medical equipment worth over N1.5 billion to hospitals in Iwoland, as reported by the media, especially The Punch, The Nation and The Guardian in June 2018. Besides, through his Oluwo Food and Clothing Bank, many orphans, widows and elders of the community have benefitted from regular feeding every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and periodic donation of clothes. His philanthropic gestures were also felt by the inmates of Ilesha Prison, Osun state, to whom he had provided cattle to augment their feeding.
While training artisans through his Telu Empowerment Scheme to make them more productive, the Oluwo has been working round the clock and behind the scene in facilitating employment opportunities for his subjects and Nigerians at large in the private and public sectors, using his vast social capital. To curb crime and facilitate the work of the security agencies, he has also donated operational vehicles and motor cycles to the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in his domain while championing campaigns against corruption and other social vices in Iwoland especially and Nigeria at large.
Under the astute leadership of the Paramount Ruler of Iwoland, we have Iwo City Polytechnic, Iwo; National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Iwo Study Centre, Al Ummah College of Education, Iwo; Royal College of Public Health and Technology, Iwo; Federal College of Education, Iwo; Westland University, Iwo; and National Library, Iwo. The city of Iwo has also gained tremendously from the approval and takeoff of the Police Area Command, Iwo; Federal Road Safety Corps Unit Command, Iwo, and Operational Zonal Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Iwo, while an industry is also in the pipeline. Long reign the king!
A Brief Biography
The 16th Oluwo of Iwo was born on June 21, 1967 in Molaaasan Compound of the Gbaase Ruling House in Isale Oba, Iwo. He had his elementary education at Ibadan before attending Iwo Grammar School, Iwo, and Oba Akinyele Memorial High School, Idi-Ape, Ibadan, for his secondary education. He subsequently enrolled at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, where he earned a National Diploma and furthered his education at George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A B.Sc. holder in Business Administration, Oba Akanbi possesses a Seismic Certificate in Operations, Oil and Gas Processing Facilities and a Certificate in Cybis and Axis System at Convergys Institute, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
As a professional and entrepreneur, His Imperial Majesty was at various times a Data Processor in Hamburg, Germany, and an International Development Analyst at Oxfam, Canada, besides being an Associate Supervisor at Purdy Wharf Towers, Halifax, Canada, and Chief Executive Officer of Prince Enterprises, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has also served as Director and Founder at People Against Loneliness Inc., Ontario, Canada, and as West Africa Coordinator of Karcher Group Future Technology. He is equally the Managing Director of Morganz Gamo Quarry, located at Podo Village, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ibadan.
A polyglot who speaks Yoruba, Hausa, English, French and Deutsche (German) and well-travelled monarch who has visited more than 40 countries, Oba Akanbi is the quintessential king of the present and the future. As His Imperial Majesty marks his 5th coronation anniversary on the throne of his ancestors, like millions of his other subjects, friends and fans across the world, I congratulate him on the momentous milestones attained within a short period of his reign. While wishing him good health, abundant grace, divine wisdom and long life to be able serve humanity and Iwoland especially more in the years ahead, I pray that the Almighty Allah continue to guide and guard him all the time till he marks his diamond anniversary on the throne.