The saddest, challenging period in my life, by Alake of Egbaland
Oba Gbadebo, who spoke in Abeokuta during a press conference to herald the activities to mark his 10th-year coronation anniversary, also revealed the most challenging period of his life was the attempt by the immediate past administration to dethrone him over a comment he made.
Answering a reporter’s question, the Oba Gbadebo said: “August 28, 2005 was the saddest day in my life. It was the first night that I spent at Ipebi, which is a secluded place where by tradition Egba kings are kept for three months under difficult conditions as a way of teaching them the poorest man’s style.”
He said when he got to the place, he discovered that there was only latrine instead of water closest toilet and there was no bed or mattress so he had to sleep on a mere mat.
His words: “The room was seven by seven metres wooden house without any window, that was 10 years ago. In fact, it was really a bad night, the experience was worse than when I was in the army.
“Anyway, it was a kind of training and I had to go through that for three months.”
The monarch recalled that based on a harmless comment he made that roads in his domain were in deplorable condition hence the government in power then should do something about it, the immediate past administration misinterpreted that to mean he was criticising them and therefore in their view “the government must return fire by fire” and initiated moves to dethrone him.
He said what changed their mind was Chief Duro Onabolu’s article at that time that there was an existing court ruling that no governor had the power to dethrone a king.
“The foremost journalist, (Onabolu) wrote a two-part article on that question you’re asking me now, saying there is a law court ruling which said no governor has a power to dethrone any Oba.
“The court pronouncement came from Abeokuta here, government didn’t appeal that judgment and so it remains, that was what he was telling that government that you haven’t got that power. Try it and you will fail and the shame will be too much for you.
“But in the text the governor sent, he said ‘Alake has joined the group of people criticising us, we must return fire with fire’, but I don’t like fire and I don’t work with fire either. So, I didn’t criticise government, I only commented on bad roads and I didn’t say they have been spending money on something else instead of fixing the road, I didn’t say they must do the road all over, I only asked them to fix the potholes.”
The monarch, who however emphasised that he bore no grudge against anybody, but admitted that it was a trying period for him, said his mission was to render selfless service to his people, adding that he was glad that during his time, Egbaland had witnessed an unprecedented development.
He, therefore, commended the Senator Ibikunle Amosun-led administration for its developmental strides so far and urged it not to relent in its efforts.
Answering another question on whether by tradition the kingship still engages in human sacrifice, Oba Gbadebo stressed: “Human sacrifice is gone and gone for ever in Egba tradition. What is left is personal sacrifice by the King and all his lieutenants.”
On national issues, Oba Gbadebo appealed to Nigerians to be patient with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, insisting that the President possess all the needed qualities to move the country forward.
He mentioned unity among the Egba monarchs as one of his major achievements during his 10-year reign, saying: “I had to personally visit the palaces of all Obas in Egbaland.”
Asked what he misses most since as a king and what tradition bars him from doing, he said: “What I miss most is not going to clubs. I was a member of seven clubs and I used to go to one of them at least everyday but now, I cannot go to any of them anymore.”