Serve your dead gods; let me serve my living God
Obasaoye of Isaoye Ekiti, Oba Gabriel Olajide, in this interview with ABIODUN NEJO insists that he will never compromise his Christian faith in God by involving himself in the traditional rituals of his town
What are the issues involved in the crisis between you and the community?
It is about religious activities. It is a tussle between Christian/Muslims and the ritualists and probably, the people who are eager to be on the throne but do not have the access to it.
Why don’t you participate in their traditional practices?
That is not tradition, it is ritual. They believe in worshipping dead gods and I believe in the God that created heaven and the earth, who created everything that we enjoy today.
But you knew what was involved before you became the king…
They will not tell you until you get to that level; it is when you get there that you will begin to see what they are doing there. For me, I cannot play along with them. I cannot have anything to do with darkness.
They said you didn’t even perform the necessary rites to become the king…
If I did not perform the rites, I would not have been with other kings. I did all the necessary things. They gave us a bill and I did everything, even, I deferred some of the rites until I had money. The rites lasted for seven days. Different types of societies came and I did the things I needed to do. On the seventh day, they took me to every strategic place in the community for the necessary rites. Even in December 2017, they asked me to bring a ram for a chieftaincy installation where I had to preside. Fortunately, the ram that the then governor gave me as December gift was the one that I gave to them.
What about the allegations that you used tear gas to disperse them and beat up your mother?
They are lies. Is it logical? Why will I use tear gas to disperse them? When I am not a thug or a drunkard, why would I beat my mother? No reasonable human being will ever do that. They were the ones that beat up my mother the day I went to the community. They also deflated my car tyres. My mother was worried and begged them, but they pushed her away. They beat her. They are saying all these things because I did not arrest them or press charges against them.
What do you do with the money collected for dead persons?
The money collected when somebody dies belongs to the king. When somebody dies, they bring N1,000 and kolanuts to tell the Oba that someone has died. Anytime such happens, the Obaisa would bring it; he would give me N600 and take the remaining N400 away. If there is anywhere they take the money to, he would have told me that this money is for this deity or that god.
Do you see this as a struggle between development and underdevelopment?
Those ones that are struggling with all these things don’t want development in the town. Anybody that supports them is an enemy of good things in that town. I weep because I’m from the town. They are supposed to give me credit for coming from the city to the community. If I did not belong to a royal family, I would not have been a king and nothing would have brought me back to that place. It is not a happy thing to look at that place in its present forgotten state. That is the trend I want to change. While other towns are enjoying dividends of democracy, we are fighting one another for no reason.
What development have you brought to the town?
I thank God that put me there. By now, I have a councillor. I struggled to get the slot and I got it for my town. I have a new transformer and nobody ever travelled to another country, but now there are at least two that have done so. There was no palace there before, but we are building one now.
But they said you worship elsewhere and that your children don’t attend their school…
I have personal rights which should not be infringed upon. I have right of worship and choice of where I worship. I have the right to take my children to any school I want; nobody can stop that. They are trespassing by saying that. The Nigerian Constitution, Section 37, spells this out clearly.
What do you think can be done to settle the dispute?
The government should be the one to tell them they are causing unrest. If I go with them in the manner they are going, there will be serious trouble. But I am not a violent person; I am a man of God. I do not beg the people of the community. I still stand on my words that I want to serve God. Let them serve their gods and let me serve my God.
What is your reaction to their appeal to the government to remove you?
Let the government do what it deems fit. But one begins to question the sanity of the people of the town. Their mistake is that they think Governor Kayode Fayemi is a man of injustice. Let them go to court so that the court will decide maybe I have committed any offence.
But they said they had performed rituals which are done when the town has no Oba?
They performed rituals to kill me. They want to kill me. They should know that nobody can kill me except I accomplish the assignment that the God of heaven and the earth has given me.
What is the assignment?
The place is not worth living in, so I want to make it to be like other communities. I want it to enjoy what other communities are enjoying. I want us to have people as heads in companies and government offices.