ECHOES FROM THE PAST (5) – Alaigbajo of Arigbajo, Oba Gbemileke Babajide Interviewed (Part 2)


Alaigbajo of Arigbajo, Oba Gbemileke Babajide.

(Interview continued from Part 1, featured on the Owulakoda Blog yesterday 22nd February, 2020)

ELERE IN OGUN STATE? “Yes. (question was obviously misunderstood as later revealed) I was the Divisional Crime Officer, DCO 2. I was there till 1998. I came there in 1996.”

YOU WERE THERE FOR 2 YEARS? “Yes. So, I was posted in 1998 to Pen Cinema Police Station…a brand new Police Station. I was the Officer in Charge.

OFFICER-IN-CHARGE. IS THAT DIFFERENT FROM DPO?
“Yes. It is under DPO, but is the person in charge of that station. However they are using DPO now. You know they change these phrases from time to time. I stayed there about 2 years. You see there used to be incessant robberies at Elere, so the CP directed that I be taken back to Elere Police Station as the Operations Officer. That must be 2001.”

BUT, ARE THEY NOT SEPARATE POLICE COMMANDS. PEN CINEMA IN LAGOS, AND ELERE IN OGUN, THAT THEY KEPT TRANSFERRING YOU BETWEEN THEM?
“Elere is in Agege.” (in a stressed frustrated voice)

OH! I WAS ASSUMING ADUBI-ELERE (IN OGUN STATE) “Oh no! Not at all! It is Elere in Agege. (laughs and explains) You get to Elere first before reaching Pen Cinema. Immediately you leave Abattoir going to Total Petrol Station.”

SO YOU WERE TAKEN BACK TO ELERE BECAUSE OF THE CRIMES THERE?
“Yes. I was there for about a year again when there was another mass transfer, and I was transferred to Enugu. In Enugu State I was posted to Nsukka as the 2-IC…First of all I was the Area Crime Officer of the Nsukka High Command. The headquarters and the Division are housed in the same premises. The Area Commander’s office is there, and the DPO’s office is there.”

THAT ARRANGEMENT IS SIMILAR TO THE OJUELEGBA POLICE STATION (IN SURULERE, LAGOS)?
“Gooood. You get it! So, I was the Area Crime Officer. Then something happened. I was the DSP, 3 stars. I was promoted to Superintendent rank…”

(Interjection) WAIT A MINUTE. WHEN DID THIS PROMOTION COME. WERE YOU 2 STARS WHEN YOU WERE DPO-2?
“At Elere in 1996? I was 2 stars already. It was at Elere when I became a DSP.”

WHERE WERE YOU PROMOTED TO 3-STARS?
“The same Elere.”

OH! SO, YOU RECEIVED TWO PROMOTIONS AT ELERE?
“Oh yes. 2-stars and the 3rd star.”

SO, NOW AT NSUKKA AS AREA CRIME OFFICER WITH 3 STARS? “There was this promotion that came for Superintendent and I was one of them, but my own was backdated for a year and a half. I think I had only 4 or 5 months to retire when the promotion came. I was made the 2-IC, and that is where I retired.”2-IC? “That is 2nd In-Charge…to the Area Commander. And that was where I was until I retired.”

WHICH HAPPENED HOW MANY MONTHS/YEARS LATER?
“That was in 2003, December 1st.”

OH! YOU JOINED THE POLICE FORCE ON A DECEMBER 1ST AND RETIRED ON A DECEMBER 1ST?
“Of course, when they calculate it! It is 35 years. It must be the same day. When I was retired, the community leaders – they call them Igwe and Eze, they came to the Area Commander for him to delay me for 2 weeks, which the Area Commander granted for them to plan a meritorious send-off party for me.”

SO THEY PARTIED YOU AND GOT YOU DRUNK? (Joke)
“No o! They did a party and gave me gifts. One of the Igwes gave me a silver…no, brass walking stick.”

OH! HOW MANY IGWES WERE INVOLVED?
“Five of them. 5 Igwes. Throughout the 35 years in service, I thank God my conscience is clear! Very rare that you will see somebody that will attest truthfully that his conscience is clear!”

THAT’S INTERESTING. A POLICEMAN WITH A DIFFERENCE!
“Glory be to God.”

WELL. ALONG THE WAY DURING THOSE 35 YEARS, SOMEWHERE SOMETIME YOU GOT MARRIED. SOMEWHERE SOMETIME YOU HAD CHILDREN. LET’S SORT THOSE ONES OUT, SIR.
“Ok, ok. I got married 1971. Very early.

TO…?
“To Olori. To now Olori Magdalene Nkoyo Paul-Effiom.”

THAT HAPPENED IN CALABAR, WHEN YOU WERE IN THE CALABAR COMMAND?
“Yes.”

WHAT WAS YOUR POST THEN? “I was about coming to Calabar township from Ikang.”

WHAT WAS THEN YOUR RANK? “Constable. Only a Constable.”

WAS THAT ABOUT THE TIME YOU WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE BAG-CARRIER WHO GOT AN ACCELERATED PROMOTION?
“No o! It was 1970-71. You know I left Ikang in early 1970. Around September 1970, we had not perfected the issue of marriage, and around 1971 the lady was under pressure. Her father made a little noise and later kept quiet. The man was the Counselor of their community and his ego was bruised then. The man was tough o! But later he became the Royal Highness of their clan, although he is late now.”

DO YOU SPEAK EFFIK?
“Perfectly. All my children do too.”

HOW MANY CHILDREN SIR?
“I think I have five left.”

BOYS, GIRLS…?
“Two men, and three ladies. The leading lady is a lawyer. Born around 1973. Only 2 of them were born here, one at Owode and one at Ago-Iwoye. The last born who is female was born in 1985.”

WHICH TITLES DID YOU HOLD BEFORE BECOMING KABIYESI? “I didn’t have any chieftaincies. I had my titles in Christ! I am an overseer in the Apostolic Church.”

SO WHICH TITLES DID THEY GIVE YOU IN THE CHURCH.
“The Apostolic Church don’t give titles. Even this Obaship…if not for the prophesy that led me into it, I wouldn’t have…!”

A PROPHESY LED YOU INTO IT. CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT? “Ah! No. I will rather it should be very private.”

OK. BUT I CAN LET THE WORLD KNOW THAT A PROPHESY LED YOU INTO OBASHIP?
“Oh yes! And I stand by it anytime.”

WHEN WERE YOU CROWNED SIR?
“On the 31st of March 2006 by the Olowu of Owu, Oba Dr Olusanya Adegboyega Dosunmu, Kangunere, Akobi Oodua, Amiwo-aja…”

AMIWO-AJA…!
(Laughter in veneration of the complete recitation of the Olowu’s credentials) “Amororo the second.” (jointly and loudly echoed in unison)

WHY WERE YOU CROWNED? “You see what a lot of people don’t want is change. I saw that a change in Arigbajo was needed. It was a matter of common knowledge in the whole neighborhood that people were being tormented and oppressed. And I was nominated by the whole communities led by their Baales, ie. Ejio, Apomu, Abese, Gudugba, and Arigbajo.”

IS GUDUGBA UNDER YOUR…? (Interjects). “It’s not under me, but the Baale there is so affiliated to Owu and Arigbajo so they take him very important there in anything they want to do at the Owu Palace…because of Gudugba’s ancestral nature…”

SANGOJIMI?
“Aha! And the Baale, Chief Ibikunle is a man of trust. That’s why even though he is not of our ward now, people have known him to be straight-forward.”

AND STUBBORN…LIKE A TRUE OWU MAN!
“Yees! Proper…he is very Owu-like! (laughter)

SO, THAT’S HOW YOU WERE NOMINATED AND…
(Interjects). “ And Olowu told me that definitely in his position as a person, anything God does not direct him to do he wouldn’t do.”

NOW YOUR ROLE AS AN OBA? “Simple. You see our roles are basically the welfare of the people, and establishing their togetherness, security, progress, development, welfare and so on.”

AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING TOWARDS ENSURING THESE? “Yes! That is why we have all these little…because those who were… before we came in here were oppressing the people. And when they saw a retired Policeman…they knew the frequency will not be the same. Ṣe you understand me?”

YOUR PROFILE AS A RETIRED POLICEMAN ALSO…
(Interjects). “Is a treat to them. That is why I was brought…”

ONE OF THE REASONS WHY YOU…
(Interjects again). “Yes!…But we thank God everything is…The Lord is shaping us towards normalcy now!

AND DO YOU ACCEPT YOURSELF AS WINNING THE RACE?
“Ah! By the grace of God. God does not fight any race He cannot win, and there’s no race God cannot win! We are seriously winning. We have 2 cases in court and by His Grace…God has shown us that He is fully in control.”

WELL THAT’S SOMETHING WORTHY OF CELEBRATION! “Yes!”

NOW, ABOUT THE CONGREGATION OF OBAS AND BAALES IN EWEKORO LOCAL GOVERNMENT. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF IT, AND WHAT ARE ITS ACHIEVEMENTS, AND WHAT IS YOUR PART IN IT?
“The importance of it, of the meetings in Akinale is for us to look into our common problems, exchange and inter-marry ideas on how to solve them. It’s a formation of Obas in Ewekoro and all the Baales and we endeavor to move our various communities forward.”

AND DO YOU THINK IT HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE IN ACHIEVING ITS PURPOSE?

I UNDERSTAND YOU MEET EVERY 2 WEEKS ON MONDAYS? “Yes. Every two weeks. Tomorrow is another one.”

Arigbajo Town on Google map

ALAIGBAJO WAKES UP IN THE MORNING, HE HAS HIS CHALLENGES OF ARIGBAJO TO THINK ABOUT, WORRY ABOUT AND TO SOLVE UNTIL HE GOES TO BED. GIVE US AN ACCOUNT OF AN OBA ALAIGBAJO OF ARIGBAJO’S DAY IN HIS COMMUNITY. A TYPICAL DAY! “Ehm! The most important thing is that we need to commune with God in the household. It is God that plans your day, you don’t do it yourself. During these daily prayers, I believe in prophesies so much. That is my own belief in religion as an Apostolica. So along the prayer, the Lord may intervene through a medium to be handed down and I have to take the important steps…we wake to see what the day looks like. People will come from time to time. Some make their complaints, some come for advice, some make demands about their shortcomings…maybe how to fend for themselves or whatever. Then people have matters that will be referred to the committees. As Alaigbajo, I don’t treat my challenges in isolation. I have set up various committees to handle matters. The ones that are always very busy is the committee on land matters, led by one Eng. Israel Ajayi Owoeye. Otherwise, other committees are always brought in as events unfold, but for land matters committee, every Tuesdays and Thursdays they are always on…and in some cases even when circumstances demand!”

TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS REGULARLY?
“Regularly! To see that there is peace, and to solve land matters and disputes…and they have been very successful! We give gratitude to God that they have affected this community a lot!” (By this time, a growing congregation outside the Palace of the Alaigbajo had started hinting about the need to proceed to the venue they were scheduled for and his attention desired…so a divided attention from the interview ensued with the Alaigbajo trying very tactfully to satisfy the demands and expectation of everybody around, while continuing with this interview dialogue).

RIGHT, SIR!(Uttered loudly to jolt his attention back to the interview) “Another one that we get involved with so much is the Christian Association, Arigbajo chapter. They are fully affiliated to CAAN. We hold revivals from time to time opposite the palace, because these prayers are the bedrock of our endeavors, and we believe in the efficacy of prayers, and we thank God that He is always here listening. He manifests Himself from time to time. Otherwise events that have taken place some years back, when there was duplication of Obaship in Arigbajo. It is something that was taken large, but because of the directives from God who said, “Remain where I put you until I finish the job for you.” I would have been following other injunctions, and that is why Arigbajo is in peace. Even some of those who masterminded the duplication which was later endorsed by the Government are now coming back to tender their apologies, saying they did it in ignorance.”

THEN AFTER THAT, HOW DO YOU CONTINUE YOUR DAY AFTER ALL THESE COMMITTEES HAVE DONE THEIR WORKS…BEFORE YOU GO TO BED?
“Every day people are always coming here. They go by night.”

ARE THEY YOUR CHIEFS OR TOWNSHIP PEOPLE…
(Interjects) “And some are regular! These elders are very regular, on daily basis.”

HOW LONG AFTER YOUR CORONATION DID THE OTHER OBA COME ABOUT?
“In fact it’s 15 months. From 31st of March, 2006, to 17th of August, 2007, a Friday.”

I BELIEVE WE HAVE TO EXHIBIT SOME CAUTION IN THE DISCUSSION OF THIS?
“Ah! Thank you! Because the matter is still in court.

NOW, HOW LARGE IS YOUR LIST OF CHIEFS. HOW MANY CHIEFS DO YOU HAVE?
“Ehm!…Some are on their own there, with their community leaders. You know we cannot account for those.”

ACCOUNT FOR THOSE THAT WERE INSTALLED BY YOU DIRECTLY.
“Directly! The ones we installed were those ones we inherited formally from the late Baale.”

THAT WAS (BAALE) FAMUYIWA? “Yes.”

DID YOU BRING IN OTHERS, APART FROM THE ONES YOU INHERITED?
“Well, unless under honorary basis…and we don’t have more than 4 or 5 honorary.”

I CAN SEE YOU HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE WAITING FOR YOU SO WE WILL WIND THIS DOWN. BUT CAN YOU PREPARE A LIST OF YOUR CHIEFS FOR ME AND FORWARD IT TO ME SIR?
“I will do that and make sure you get it.”

WELL THANK YOU SIR FOR YOUR TIME. IT HAS BEEN A PLEASURE TALKING WITH YOU, KABIYESI. NOW YOUR SUBJECTS AND THE PUBLIC WILL BE BETTER INFORMED ABOUT YOU. THANK YOU!
“Yes, you now know all you want…”

(Interjection) AND IF THERE ARE ANY FILLERS OR MISSING DETAILS, I SHALL GET IN TOUCH.
“You are welcomed”.

On this final note from Kabiyesi, the Alaigbajo of Arigbajo, Oba Olugbemileke Babajide, a retired Policeman and practicing Christian with a clear conscience, the interview came to a halt.

THE END . .

********************************NOTE: As at the time of this publication, the Alaigbajo’s list of his chiefs is yet to be received. If and when Owulakoda receives it, we shall endeavour to publish it

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