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Late Alaafin III was not just called ‘Ikubabayeye’ for fun — Nephew, Ayanlakin

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His Royal Ambassador, Aare Ayandotun Ayanlakin, JP KCOP, Plenipotentiary to the Imperial Majesty, Alaafin of Oyo kingdom bares his mind with Bisi Adewumi on his early life career, marriage, relationship with the late Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III and what he expects of the next Alaafin

Your early life, how did it all start? 

I was born about 65 years ago to Mr & Mrs Matthew and Esther Ayanlakin in Akinmorin town near Oyo. I lost my dad at a very tender age. My mother moved on to remarry. This compelled me to stay with my uncle, my father’s younger brother, who had little or no interest in western education. From there, I went to my maternal uncle’s (Uncle Lamidi’s) place in Oyo. With his assistance, I was able to reunite with my mother in Lagos. I was enrolled at UNA Primary School, Bashua, Somolu. I proceeded to Timothy Secondary School, Onike, Yaba. As I went back to Oyo, I joined Oranmiyan Grammar School, where I schooled for just an academic session. I eventually completed my secondary education at Origbo High School, Ipetumodu, in present State of Osun. While in school, I started “Ewi” (Yoruba poetry), through which I performed for two Juju music maestros: Dele Abiodun (Adawa Super) and King Sunny Ade. By 1977, through the connections of the friends I met in school, I travelled to the United Kingdom. On getting there, I met and started work with the late chairman of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Chief Meredith Adisa Akinloye. Although, I went through a lot in life, God has been so merciful to me. I was in the UK for 28 years and acquired landed properties. By the time I returned to Nigeria, I started as a journalist with Daily Times newspaper, though as a freelancer. I remember Titus Soyombo was our editor then.

You were with late Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III for over two decades. How would you assess him?

He was not just been called “Ikubabayeye” for fun. You can ask his people the meaning of that (laughs). He was reverred. I mean highly respected. He loved all, and was loved by all. He was so open minded. But loving and lovable as he was, his authority was unquestionable, as he held Oyo town and people firmly. Oba Adeyemi would be missed by all the people in his kingdom. All we can pray for is for God to give us respite and fill the vacuum his demise has created.

You sound so passionate about him. Is there more to it?

You may not understand. I was his royal envoy, I mean his ambassador. He loved me like his own son. I adored him like my father and king. We were too close. I have always strived to look like him even in appearance. He was so good and generous to me. There was an instance when I was not having money to pay my children’s school fees. I ran to him, and was rattled but he gave me N1million. He was generous to a fault. I was projecting him in good light before the people at all times. At times, I offered my counsels on certain issues, which he would take. Oba Adeyemi was a rare gem. I have always wished and prayed somebody like him will succeed him. I have not seen any royal father to be compared with him. He really impacted my life. Like I said earlier, it will be difficult to fill the vacuum his departure has left behind. May his soul continue to rest on.

Is the chieftaincy tittle “asoju oba” for your lineage?

No! I was the first person to be honoured with the title. You know, it was the Asalu of Oyo, Chief Afolabi that took me to him. He introduced me as the grandson of Adekunle Ayeleso, the famous Alaafin’s Kanfo drummer, who was so deligent in his services as the lead drummer to Oba Adeyemi II. When we met him, he asked what I was into. I told him I was a journalist turned business man. The monarch promised to honour me with the title based on my grandfather’s meritorious service to his own father. I can unequivocally say that Oba Adeyemi never attached monetary gains to awarding chieftaincy titles. In my own case, I think he must have instructed some people to keep eyes on me before he eventually conferred my chieftaincy title in 2001. To your question, no one had ever earned the title of Aare Asoju Oba (royal ambassador) before me. That’s why I’m happy I didn’t disappoint him.

Would there still be continuity in your services when the new Alaafin is installed?

As the Asoju Oba, my tittle transcends the reign of Oba Adeyemi III. I am not restricted to him. My services definitely continue as the royal ambassador. I will work with the new Alaafin when installed, because my chieftaincy tittle is a lifelong one.

We learnt 119 candidates have shown interest in the throne. Isn’t that strange?

As we speak, they have narrowed it down to 6. That isn’t a problem.

What is the yardstick to select the new Alaafin; education, wealth, influence or “Ifa”?

It has always been Ifa. This one would not be an exception. Ifa will decide who takes over as the next Alaafin.

As a Christian, why did you go for Ifa?

You see, children of nowadays take our culture and tradition with levity. The elders know better. Our negligence has cost us so much. And that’s why we are experiencing this level of decadence in our values. I am a Christian. I was born into Anglican Communion. I told you my mother is Esther and my father Matthew. My wife is Victoria, while I am Daniel. They’re all Christian names. I even went on pilgrimage to the holy land, Jerusalem, for you to know I am not a baby Christian. Our forefathers engaged Ifa in choosing their obas, and that’s what we are standing on to select the new Alaafin. Religion is religion, while tradition remains tradition. We should not mix the two together. It doesn’t stop me from being a Christian.

Has the state government kept its promise of non interference in the choice of the new Alaafin?

To the best of my knowledge, there are no issues. Everything is fine.

Gov. Makinde advised against delaying the process. Is the process not being delayed already?

Let me first say this, I am not part of kingmakers. I have said I would not get myself involved. All the same, I know every community has its founders and early settlers. Those who are not of royal blood should stay clear of chieftaincy tussle, to prevent unnecessary squabbles in the race to fill vacant stools. In the case of Oyo, if you’re not from the lineages of Adeyemi or Oladigbolu, you have no business with Alaafin’s stool. This is always one of the reasons for delay in the process.

Atiba Local Govt. Area has petitioned the state government claiming that only Agunloye Ruling house is eligible to the throne. Is this justifiable?

Let’s leave all that to the stakeholders in that line. What I can promise you is that everything is going to be fine. Oyo cannot choose wrongly.

Does tradition permit an aggrieved candidate to seek redress from a law court?

Why not? It’s a free world. I hope you have not forgotten that we are practising democracy.  It’s the fundamental right of whosoever that seeks justice to approach the court.

What roles do traditional institutions have to play in securing our societies?

First, I would  appreciate if the traditional rulers can be granted more powers by the constitution. Aside, the traditional rulers have an obligation to sensitise elders and landlords in our communities on the need to register strangers and visitors accordingly. If they err by breaking the law, it would be easy to identify and prosecute them.

As an admirer of Oba Adeyemi, are you a polygamist too?

Oh, no. I am married to only one wife. My mother made me an adherent of one wife. She used to say that a man married to two women would be afflicted with two sicknesses.

Where and how did you meet your wife?

We met in Somolu area of Lagos. I still remember vividly the day. She came for photoshoot at a photo studio close to my mother’s house. The photographer, Ade Photo introduced me to her as the son of “Iyaloja,” (market leader). Coincidentally, she hails from Fiditi, a town in the same local government where I come from. I was told she was working with Union Bank then. That was how the journey started. The first 25 years of our marriage were so challenging. We had no child. It was a source of worry to my mother. Meanwhile, all tests carried out showed we were fertile. Eventually, my younger brother, Olayinka Sosan who lives in the United States (US) invited us. On getting there, he introduced us to a specialist doctor who after series of test recommended IVF, which we gladly did. The result was a set of twins. We really thank God for taking away that reproach. My mother was overjoyed.

We understand you’re pulling your weight behind “Tinubu 2023 Agenda.” What informed your decision?

You’re correct. I support Asiwaju Tinubu’s candidature. As Yoruba, we should support and rally round him. But beyond that, when you look at his strides in public service and as an astute builder of men, you will agree with me that he’s the right person for the job. His achievements as the Governor of Lagos State are visible. Out of all the candidates across the parties, his track records stand out.

One could mistake you for the late Alaafin in appearance. What influence did he have on your dressing?

I took after the late Oba Adeyemi in dressing. Like I told you, I was his royal ambassador, the Asoju Oba. I represented him everywhere. So, I am expected to carry his image and character. Oba Lamidi was fashionable. He didn’t expect anything less from me, and I was conscious of it. I spent fortunes on my outfits. On the average, what I put on, from head to toe at once is worth N2million and even more at times.

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True Life Story

From Okada rider to first-class graduate: Hezekiah’s inspiring journey

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Toyinbo Hezekiah’s story is one of determination and resilience. Toyinbo is 30 years old, he hails from Igude village in Ogun State, Nigeria.

Despite the weight of financial burden and the grind of unconventional work, Toyinbo clings steadfastly to a singular dream: the pursuit of higher education. With each brick laid and every mile traversed on his motorcycle, Toyinbo’s determination burns brighter, illuminating the path towards his ultimate goal – to grasp the coveted title of graduate.

When he started his degree in Animal Breeding and Genetics at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, he didn’t aim for top grades. His main goal was to earn his degree.

However, his journey took an unexpected turn when he achieved a GPA of 5.0 in his third year. This success opened his eyes to the possibility of graduating with first-class honors.

Throughout his academic journey, Toyinbo’s passion for learning never wavered. From excelling in primary school to navigating challenges in secondary school, he remained focused on his goals. Despite growing up in a farming-focused village where education wasn’t emphasised, Toyinbo’s determination to succeed propelled him forward.

During his university years, Toyinbo faced numerous challenges, including financial hardships and balancing work with studies. While his classmates relied on support from family and friends, Toyinbo had to borrow money to pay for his exams and immediately start working to repay his debts.

Despite these obstacles, Toyinbo’s dedication paid off. He graduated as the top student in his department with a first-class honours degree, achieving a remarkable GPA of 4.55.

However, the recognition he received during convocation was minimal, leaving him feeling unsatisfied.

Reflecting on his journey, Toyinbo remains optimistic about the future. He has already immersed himself in farm work, rearing various breeds of chickens and providing free consultation to aspiring farmers.

His ultimate goal is to further his education and become a professor specializing in animal science and research.

When asked about his advice for underprivileged individuals aspiring to continue their studies, Toyinbo emphasised taking initiative and starting with what they have. He believes that with determination and trustworthiness, anyone can change their story, just as he did.

Toyinbo’s story is didactical, as it emphasises the need for perseverance and hard work, even the most unlikely dreams can become a reality.

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True Life Story

From Nigeria to Australia: A journey of resilience and reinvention

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Leaving Nigeria behind was a monumental decision, one that altered the course of my life forever. Even with a comfortable salary and years under my belt, I took the leap, knowing that the grass might just be greener elsewhere.

The initial months in Australia were anything but easy. Despite my efforts to secure an accounting job, rejection letters flooded my inbox, highlighting my lack of Australian experience and certifications. It was a tough pill to swallow, especially for someone accustomed to professional success.

Yet, amid the turmoil, my wife emerged as my unwavering rock, shouldering our financial burdens single-handedly. As an Igbo man, the notion of relying on my wife for sustenance struck at the core of my identity, nearly plunging me into despair.

Determined not to succumb to defeat, I pivoted my approach. Embracing versatility, I enrolled in a forklift training program, swiftly obtaining my license. But I didn’t stop there. Armed with a newfound resolve, I pursued certifications in disability support work, expanding my skill set exponentially.

Transitioning to warehouse employment was a pragmatic move, albeit temporary. While it didn’t fulfill my ultimate career aspirations, it provided stability in uncertain times. In Australia, opportunities abound for individuals of all ages, fostering a culture of inclusivity and productivity.

However, amidst the allure of order and security, nostalgia for Nigeria lingered. The opulent displays of authority, once commonplace, were replaced by a more egalitarian ethos. Here, respect for the law reigned supreme, contrasting sharply with the pervasive corruption back home.

Health and well-being underwent a remarkable transformation as well. Escaping the clutches of recurrent malaria, I marveled at the absence of illness in my new environment. Even my children thrived academically, flourishing in a system that prioritised excellence.

In hindsight, the decision to migrate was unequivocally the right one. Despite the trials and tribulations, the dividends reaped in terms of quality of life and financial stability outweighed any hardships endured.

As I reflect on my journey, I’m acutely aware of the toll migration can exact on familial bonds. The specter of divorce looms ominously, a testament to the complex interplay of cultural adaptation and interpersonal dynamics.

My story serves as a testament to the transformative power of resilience and reinvention. For those contemplating a similar path, heed this advice: seize the opportunity for a better life, but tread carefully, for the road ahead is fraught with challenges and unforeseen consequences.

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True Life Story

Finding hope in despair: Nancy’s story of perseverance and redemption

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In the wake of her father’s untimely demise when she was just nine years old, Nancy’s life took a challenging turn.

Her mother, facing financial hardships, struggled to pay for Nancy’s education, eventually leading her to enroll in a public school in Alimosho Local Government.

Despite the adversity, Nancy remained diligent, excelling in her studies throughout her academic journey.

Her determination and hard work paid off as she secured admission to the prestigious University of Ilorin to pursue a degree in Medicine & Surgery.

However, the financial burden remained a constant obstacle, with her single mother barely able to make ends meet. Undeterred, Nancy took matters into her own hands, juggling multiple jobs and even resorting to borrowing loans to fund her education.

Tragedy struck again during Nancy’s final year at medical school with the passing of her beloved mother, leaving her devastated.

Despite the emotional turmoil, Nancy persevered, determined to complete her education. It was during this challenging time that she crossed paths with Daniel, who offered to support her financially.

Initially grateful for Daniel’s assistance, Nancy soon found herself trapped in a toxic relationship. Daniel’s controlling behavior escalated, and Nancy found herself coerced into unwanted physical intimacy.

Despite the turmoil, Nancy completed her studies and returned to Lagos to start afresh.

Her resilience and determination caught the attention of Mr. Nnamdi, who saw beyond her past hardships and recognised her potential.

Initially hesitant to trust again, Nancy eventually opened her heart to Mr. Nnamdi, and their relationship blossomed into marriage.

Today, Nancy’s story serves as a testament to the power of perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity.

From humble beginnings to owning her businesses and three cars, Nancy’s journey is a true inspiration, proving that with grit and determination, one can overcome even the greatest of challenges.

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