Elerinmo of Erinmo, Oba (Dr.) Michael Odunayo Ajayi, Arowotawaya II, ascended the throne of his forefathers a year ago, after being unanimously chosen by the ruling dynasty. Erinmo is fast becoming the dream town of the indigenes with tangible development under the new king. As the first anniversary of the coronation sets, the first class king narrated the journey through the year to Encomium Weekly’s Joshua Shobiye…
Hosting your people can be very tasking. What have you put in place to attract more indigenes home and abroad for your first coronation anniversary?
One is that we are at the completing stage of our civic centre which has been under construction for a while. That is the venue we are going to use, to let people see the development that is ongoing. It is being done by one of our notable sons, Hon. Nathaniel Agunbiade. The Erinmo Civic Centre is going to be opened for this particular event.
Second, the epileptic electricity situation has been reduced substantially by repairing some of the damaged transformers that we have.
Third, the indigenes themselves who are residents are ready to host visitors home and abroad as well as friends and associates who will be attending the anniversary. Of course, the event will attract a lot of traditional rulers.
The level of development within your first year of reign is very impressive. How have you been able to raise support for all the laudable projects completed?
I will say it’s more of a personal and individual effort, but we believe with this event, we will further enlighten people about Erinmo as a town, to let them see the various opportunities we have. We have a lot of land for industries and investments. We are inviting people who are interested in setting up private universities, manufacturing plants and so many others.
Erinmo is well located as a major link to other Ekiti towns, and going to Abuja, you will pass through Erinmo. It’s a link to Akure, Ondo State. We are more at the centre. Erinmo is very popular because of the popular mountain, Orioke Erinmo. Beyond that, we have about five other mountains within the town. We believe what we have done so far is to set the foundation which others could build on and improve.
Tell us why you are immortalizing the founder of Erinmo, Agidanyin?
Every major cities and towns have the statue or picture of the founder within their development, as you’ll find statue of Queen Amina of Zaria, statue of Ogedengbe. This Agidanyin is the first man that came here and made the people to be known as Erinmo. There is a big story around him, because he was led by a mystic and he was on a horse. The statue was unveiled on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, which was the actual date of the first anniversary of my coronation. We were told by our forefathers that he was a Christian, that he should be named Solomon Agidanyin. It’s been unveiled in company of an oba who is from Ijesha North traditional council and Erinmo chairman of Oriaade Local Government council and myself.
What are the major challenges since your enthronement and how you were able to resolve them?
Before I took over, there were some issues within the Christian Association of Nigeria, Erinmo Chapter. We had a meeting to relate together, to bring all the warring factions together. And now, I’m happy to say that the Christian body is one and they are performing their respective duties as expected. Second, as usual in Yorubaland, whenever a major kingship tussle arises, chiefs would form different camps and people struggle, but as the king is installed, it is the job of the king to reconcile the warring chiefs, and that’s what I have done. Now, everyone comes to the palace under one umbrella of the Elerinmo of Erinmo.
Your Majesty consented to granting of staff of office to Aringbajo. Was there a rift between the two cities before now?
There was a rift between the Erinmo and Igbajo for over two decades before I took over as the king. The story is that Erinmo people who are the original occupants of this land are close to so many kingdoms, the same people migrate out of war into Erinmo. The then Elerinmo gave the Igbajo people a small portion to stay, and live with us. Over the years, they started to develop their own culture, having baales and then they wanted their autonomy. The past Elerinmo didn’t agree to give them the autonomy and that became the bone of contention, it was on for long. By the time I became king, a lot of issues had been taken to the Ijesha North Traditional Council. The king called me to a meeting and requested my support in order to find a way to mend the rift so that it doesn’t continue. The case has gone to court, and the court had judged that the Erinmo is the consenting authority whether they can be accepted into the rule. The way it goes is that there must be a request and I must consent to it. I have to consent to that to avoid further rift and allow peace to reign. It was a similar case of the Modakeke and Ile-Ife people. There are a lot of Erinmo and Igabjo people inter marrying now. Igbajo is like 10 percent of Erinmo and its still our land anyway, but I have to consent for the sake of peace and my people.
What are the things Your majesty gave up to broker peace with your consent?
First, I called the Igbajo people and spoke to them about it. I explained to them the need for them to understand the reason why Erinmo people are having difficulty accepting them and they accepted it. And I told them as far as we are concerned, we are brothers. Erinmo is one, Igbajo is part of Erinmo. It’s like having a street in Erinmo and now becoming autonomous. Yes, we have Olu of Ikeja, Ogba, Isolo, Ipaja and all that. I’m sure at one time in the past all of them were under one ruler, but over time people became bigger and each of them worked on their autonomy. The next thing was to now convince my own chiefs, though it was a difficult task for me, because they always looked at Igbajo as a very small community. Though development is coming every year, and we have nothing to lose in granting them the autonomy, it’s part of Erinmo, but they can have their king. What they have gotten is part 2 obaship, which is first recognition. There are kings that are part of the state council of obas and there are many kings that may not be part. Over time, chiefs from both Erinmo and Igbajo met and agreed. Later, the government officials came and I accompanied them, they made them realize how it is done and my role as well, and everybody lived happily after.
Can you give a brief of the feature and content of your new book entitled, The Making of a Modern King?
The book is actually about me, and the idea is that over time, traditional institutions always rule out traditional rulers. Now, you are bringing a modern king in a traditional setting, young, educated, exposed and enlightened king. Same people would have said what will you be doing in the bush, but this is not about being in the village, it’s about taking what belongs to you, using all your knowledge, exposure to help your people and develop. The book is about the making of a modern king. It talks about me, the Arowotawaya II, my profile from my birth, school, achievements and my ascension to the throne. It gives insight of my real person, to let the people know the true picture of their king before ascending the throne. There is also a chapter that talks about the Erinmo.