“Men of action stand on the stage of history with their life stories capable of explaining what they intended and achieved. They are bound to their individual history and collective history of their time.”
From the above remark, leadership and rulership are intertwined and both only have a slight difference of context. But, the weight they carry in any given context is one every reasonable individual must be keen to discern. In this piece, however, both words will be used sparingly as the flow of this piece demands.
Before I go deep, it should be made clear that this writer does not have any connection to the palace or association with the palace. I should equally endeavour to relieve the mind of the reader of the curiosity to demystify the conceptualization of the title of this article, as it relates to the meaning of the word “protest”.
By the Mobile English Dictionary, Version 4.5.1, the word “protest” is defined as “to make a strong objection“, “to affirm“. It will be unnecessary to attempt a definition of the term “development”. Most crucially, the term “developmental protest”, which seeks to appraise the leadership philosophy of the classical Oluwo of Iwoland, will be explained quickly as follows:
Developmental Protest is a conceptual objection against perceived or identified socio-economic injustice and an establishment, affirmation and reassertion of an individual or a group of individuals’ self-esteem and rightful place in the scheme of life.
Having demonstrated the conceptual appreciation of the theory above, this piece now sits well to explain its ultimate and purposeful objective.
The concept of monarchy in Africa is as old as the continent itself. It has however continued to evolve in its characteristic dynamism over the centuries. Looking at the dynamism exuded by Oba Akanbi, we see a classical style of monarchy. As in English Literature with various genres, Oba Akanbi is a completely different genre in Nigerian traditional institutions.
One of the profound elevations his rulership has brought to the traditional system is the completely unusual understanding of the traditional institution from what we used to know. An Oba, Emir or Eze in the Nigerian traditional institution was believed to live in almost seclusion. In the understanding of Oba Akanbi, a king is a servant to his people and therefore, he should stop at nothing to serve their common interest while making the door of his palace wide open to them.
Enthroned on January 16, 2016, Oba Akanbi has within five years asserted himself in the hearts of numerous Nigerians across tribes and religions. In the media industry, the name Oba (Dr) Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi Telu 1, The Oluwo of Iwoland, is known like a wife knows her husband.
African traditional system remains of a strong legacy that has survived for centuries with dynamism. It is also the only institution that heavily relies on history. Hence, the ability of a king to govern is not just a function of age, influence or exposure, but adequate possession of the history of his people and native wisdom.
It is therefore understandable that Oba Akanbi understands the historical development of his domain and he’s effectively deploying this to make case for the development of his community while repositioning the community to its prestigious seat in national affairs. A careful analysis of the history of Iwo is dotted with peace, tolerance, ancient beliefs and collective strength.
It is not arguable that each of the five years the maverick king has spent is punctuated with remarkable feats long desired by the people of Iwoland. To bring these developments about, Oba Akanbi not only leads from the front but invests his energies, resources and mobilizing creativity to show readiness of the community to be receptive to what they crave.
It is newsworthy to state that it was this man that championed the opening up of the long-abandoned Iwo-Osogbo Highway, which was already providing effective cover for armed robberies and kidnappings. The case of an eminent lawyer in the community alongside a wife of a former Iwo Local Government boss in 2015, on that deadly route, comes vividly to mind.
Among other things done was the facilitation of multi-million naira health equipment to the General Hospital in Iwo, patching of road portholes, visitation to prisons to clear legal impediments to some inmates’ release. Other numerous things being done include clothing and feeding the needy on a regular basis, supporting the security operatives with some logistics, prioritizing productive youth engagements. The reader will perhaps be bored if greater attention is devoted to this aspect.
I have traversed this length to bring out the basis of fascinating style deployed by His Imperial Majesty in leading his people. It is now delightful to see that incredible public and private investments are now being situated in the community.
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The agitation that saw the eventual situation of a Federal College of Education in Iwo in the year 2020 was an intense one. Oba Akanbi showed he was intensely impassioned about having the school in his domain when he declared publicly that he would cease his support for President Muhammadu Buhari if Iwo was denied the school.
To make this palatial domain habitable for all including visitors and a point of call for investors, Oba Akanbi converged all young persons in the community on 31st of December, 2020, whose attitudes could retard the fulfillment of the collective aspirations of Iwolanders during his reign, for frank talks, rehabilitation and reorientation. While assuring them of academic scholarships or vocational skills, Oba Akanbi maintained that they are among his children for whom he is striving.
Aside from other noteworthy government facilities now in Iwo, his development agenda for his community has been further consolidated by the establishment of a huge private university, Fortress University, Iwo, this year.
The task of leadership is not to force the led do certain things, it is for the leader to do what he preaches. It is not doubtful that Oba Akanbi’s leadership ingenuity has instilled a new wave of individual interventions to help the underprivileged in the community. Well-to-do Iwolanders are now more willing to commit their resources to help the community than ever before.
We have seen a number of such great increasing group and individual interventions, in terms of scholarships, free WAEC, NECO and UTME registration grants recently. We can only hope more are still in the pipeline.
It is not intended in this piece to provide a compact of private and public investments Oba Akanbi leadership disposition has attracted. To say the final word in the middle, the singular objective is to appraise the fresh insights he has injected into the traditional institution.
Oba Akanbi would say, are you willing to go to school and your parents are not capable? Come to me. You want to learn any vocation and nobody is ready to help you? Come, the palace has provisions for that. Such is the life of a leader fully committed to the welfare of his people. If Awolowo had a reincarnation, Oba Akanbi could have been the one.
This king who rules with a difference has, through his philosophy, eliminated hopelessness from many people and emplaced boundless joy and better life. Everywhere you live in Nigeria today, to identify yourself as an indigene of Iwo, Osun State, comes with some pride.
His Imperial Majesty has never lost any moment to magnify the name of God. Kaabiesi, may your kind multiply! He treats Muslim faithful as much the same way he treats Christians as well as Traditionalists. As a big believer in the Nigeria Project, he is at home with all Nigerians from different political, sociological and ethnic identities.
Of course, as a king, his novel model of leadership has won him many friends across different geographical areas as well as oppositions. It will be naturally repugnant to his position if he does not have such.
Iwoland has been a victim of neglect for far too long. To reclaim its pride of place, the theory of developmental protest explains why Oba Akanbi is not just a king we want, he is the one that can drive home our community’s aspirations.
Your 54th year birthday renews our hope of a better future in Iwoland. Baba wa Aláṣhẹ Lórí Òrìshà, happy birthday, sir. I wish you long healthy and wealth-some years, Kaabiesi o!
ABOUT THE WRITER
Sodeeq Adisa Atanda
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria