Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN and his wife, Her Excellency Dolapo Osinbajo, have congratulated His Royal Majesty, Oba Dr. Babatunde Adewale Ajayi, on his 60th birthday today and his 5th coronation anniversary.
In a personally signed statement, the Vice President wrote:
“Your Royal Majesty, Oba Dr. Babatunde Adewale Ajayi, CFR, the Akarigbo and Paramount Ruler of Remoland:
“Kabiyesi, Dolly and I join you, the family, friends and all Remo people at home and abroad in thanking and praising God today on your 60th Birthday and 5th Coronation Anniversary.
“Your reign has brought vision and purpose to Remo Kingdom. Sons and daughters of Remo now see a clear pathway to unity, prosperity and peaceful co-existence with all.
“We pray that God will grant you many more years on the throne in good health and joy, and that you will see the abundant fruits of your excellent leadership in Jesus name. Amen.”
The Journey So Far – Akarigbo
Oba Babatunde Adewale Ajayi, the Akarigbo and paramount Ruler of Remo, a chartered accountant, an expert in insolvency and restructuring, and a former managing partner at Babington Ashaye & Co marks his 60th birthday and five years on the throne this week, he took time out to speak on the journey so far and his expectations with a select journalists in his palace in Sagamu.
Congratulations on your fifth coronation anniversary. How has the journey been; especially administrating the 33 communities that make up the Remo federation?
Thank you and let me welcome you to the palace. So far, so good, it has been wonderful and a good experience. How time flies! Even if you get into a university, after five years, it is expected that you would have gotten your degree. It has been a stimulating experience; not something that one would regret. So, I just look forward to many more years, and to things I want to do for our community. And to correct you, the communities are no longer thirty-three (33); that was the initial number, but of course, it has gone beyond thirty-three now. It’s now over forty (40). Remo has been a federation; most of these communities all have their kings; the Akarigbo just happens to be the head of all, the first amongst them. By and large, it has been challenging, no doubt about that. I never knew it would be this challenging, but we have coped so far.
Also, congratulations on your award of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) by President Muhammadu Buhari; how would you gauge the progress since your ascension to the Akarigbo throne in terms of some of your subjects, who are now in high places and development within the Remo Nation?
We’ve been very lucky. Good fortune seems to be following us everywhere. The current number two citizen of this country is from Remo; the current governor of this state is from Remo; but they’ve always been good Nigerians and good sons of Ogun State. We try not to look like we’re labeling them as Remo leaders, because we want them to be fair to all. And they have indeed been fair to all. In all, our sons and daughters are doing well; not only in Nigeria alone; even overseas. And we will only continue to pray for them. As far as the community is concerned, a lot has been done. However, we don’t want to start counting the little things that we have done, because we want to see them as challenges to do more. The icing on the cake was the conferment of a national award by the president of the Federal Republic, and we felt humbled. That was the first time an Akarigbo would get to that level. Of course, we’ve always had Akarigbo getting national honours, but this was the highest ever conferred on an Akarigbo, which is something we take with pride. And we are very grateful. All I can say is that our best is yet to come. We will continue to try. Something I always tell people is that we would not be accused of not trying. We will continue to give our best. We’d give our soul and our lives to the development of our different communities.
As a young prince, did you at any time envisage that you would be king of Remo?
As a young prince? No. And I have said that a million and one times. I never described myself as a prince; I didn’t even know I was one. It was all overwhelming. I knew my dad had something to do with the palace but I didn’t know how close. It was not until my predecessor passed that I knew this thing could happen. Initially we said no; and somehow, we changed our mind. The competition was tough, and here we are.
Sagamu is a cosmopolitan town; how have you maintained a healthy relationship with all the ethnic groups, and among all the other obas?
The significance of your question is that I am the current chairman of Ogun State Council of Obas. Of course we all have our differences but I think the key thing is ability to listen to all sides of a problem. We all have our issues from different communities. Even at the larger state level, anywhere I go, the respect is there, because they know that anything they put on my table in terms of what they want, I would go out of my way to ensure that it is looked into. So far so good, even beyond Sagamu, beyond Remo, the kings have extreme confidence in me when they talk to me. Of course we’re not promising that everything they ask us to do, we would do, but they know me that I’m not afraid or reluctant to push their course. And we have a very fantastic governor who happens to be from Remo. Of course it’s not just because he’s from Remo; he’s just a good man and he listens to us and pushes our case.
What would be your strong message to your subjects and to Ogun State in general as you mark this twin celebration?
First is to express our gratitude and appreciation to God and to them for their cooperation. We want to also assure them that patience is still required, and that our best is yet to come. We will also need their patience with the government; the whole world is going through challenges; and Sagamu cannot be an exception, Remo cannot be an exception; Ogun State and Nigeria cannot be an exception. So we need that patience and cooperation with the people in authority, to ensure that even the little gains that we have had, we do not destroy with impatience.
A lot of Remonians are quick to make a distinction by insisting that they are not Ijebus. However, the general perception out there is that people from this axis are all Ijebus. I’d like you to explain that. Is there really a dichotomy between Ijebu people and Remo people?
The word dichotomy is relative, but the bottom-line is that overtime, Remo is Remo. I’m always reluctant to dabble into that issue. But be that as it may, I know that at a time, we were Remo; and at a time, we were Ijebu-Remo. But I thought for the purpose of distinction, every community wants to assert itself. They don’t want their identity to be submerged or emasculated, so Remo evolved as a separate entity. But that is not to say that we don’t have affinity with Ijebu people. We have do. We’re like brothers. The language is similar, the culture is similar; but having said that, the fact is that Remo is distinct from Ijebu.
Sagamu as a town has a rather negative reputation for cultism and youth restiveness, what are you doing to stem or stamp it out?
Thank you very much (general laughter). Maybe if you had asked this question about a month ago…. But you would notice that it is now on the ebb. But having said that, I think it’s a national problem; and it’s not fair to single out a town or Sagamu. You need to see what happens in Lagos – Somolu area, Fadeyi, Ikorodu and co; even in Ogun State, Abeokuta, Ijebu-ode. So rather than pinning it on a community, we should start identifying solutions, like we have in Sagamu. We just hope it’s a thing of the past. Really, really, it is on the downward trend. As we speak, it’s not even happening. Of course no society is crime-free but we’ve tried to talk to the youths about the problem. Unfortunately, and I keep saying it, there is this thing about education. Irrespective of what your child or children want to become, education is very important. Don’t forget, it was when uneducated and illiterate people got involved that the whole cultism thing went haywire. We used to have it in the universities and other higher institutions but we never had people cutting people’s arms and heads and displaying them. So, we’ll continue to educate our people. I am glad that it is currently on the downward trend. We just hope it’s a thing of the past.
Where do you see Remo in the next ten years?
Huge. In the next ten years, I see Remo as the industrial capital of Ogun State, the industrial capital of Nigeria, and a place where everybody would want to live in peace and harmony.