Now, I am more confident that it is something I ought to do, to be of help to people. If you are in the Western world and you are comfortable, it is okay but if you come back to your own place, with the experience that you have and the idea that you have, you can begin to do things differently, you can begin to do things that will be of benefit to your people when you are back here.
Dr Ajibade Adebayo Adeladan is one of the frontline Princes who wants to be the next Alaafin of Oyo.
In this interview with newsmen, Adeladan spoke on some of his plans for the people of Oyo, Nigeria and the entire Yoruba race.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Dr Ajibade Adebayo Adeladan of Ilaka Lawuwo Compound, Oyo. I was born into the royal family of the Agunloye dynasty in Oyo on January 4, 1961, to my parents, Prince Samuel Ademola Adeladan, the Mogaji and the current head of the Agunloye Ruling House and Mrs. Rachael Folorunsho Adeladan. I attended Nazareth Convent at Ibonwon in Epe for both my Nursery and Primary School.
I later attended Olivet Baptist High School Oyo, for my secondary school where I later graduated with flying colours as a science student from 1973 to 1977. After my secondary schooling at Olivet, I attended the Federal Government College, Ijanikin in Lagos State for my Higher Certificate Education (HSC) from 1977 to 1979. I graduated with the best results from the Federal Government College. I attended the University of Ibadan where I studied Medicine and did my clinical at the University Teaching Hospital (UCH), Ibadan. I graduated as a medical doctor where I later proceeded to do my housemanship at Adeoyo Hospital in Ibadan from 1984 to 1985. I served as a Youth Corps Medical Doctor at Kukawa Community Hospital, in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State from 1985-1986, where I was the only medical doctor in that local government at the time.
I worked as a surgeon in several Caribbean nations, Including Jamaica, The Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands and finally at the United States Virgin Islands. After acquiring much knowledge in my profession, I decided to move to the United States, where I did a specialist training in Psychiatry at the Ivy League Colombia University in Manhattan, New York City. I was appointed Chief Resident at this institution. Few years later, I became certified in Psychiatry and Neurology in April, 2009. I also became board certified in Addiction Medicine In 2012. In the USA, I have worked in different states and medical facilities, including New York, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado and the state of California
Even though, I work in the United State, I have actually been coming to Oyo, virtually every year. I have participated in the process, including taking my name to the relevant people, the Babayaji in Oyo town. We were about 89. Actually we were initially about 119 candidates, then it dropped to 89 and then, 65 of us were interviewed. The King makers are aware of my candidacy because they interviewed us.
You said 65 of you were interviewed, how many of you were from your Agunloye family?
All of us. There are 2 ruling houses producing the Alaafin of Oyo – Agunloye and Alowolodu – The Late Oba Lamidi Adeyemi is from Alowolodu, so it’s the turn of Agunloye ruling house.
Why do you want to return to Nigeria at this time that many people are ‘japaing’?
You will not be the first person to ask me that question. Even in the United State, my co-workers ask me every now and them. Just before I came, they asked me, why do you want to leave California for Nigeria? But I always tell them, Nigeria is the biggest economy in the whole of Africa and there are many opportunities in Nigeria and also, there are many people I think I can be of help to in Nigeria. With all my experiences, with how I have seen how things are done, even though I have been on the medical field, I am very much interested about Agriculture. Why, because I worked in Nebraska. Nebraska is an Agricultural state. I have interacted with farmers, I interacted with ranchers. When, I come to Nigeria, those things are not there, those things are not readily available, and farms are small. In Nebraska if you drive for like 100 miles, you see corns, maize, wheat for more than 100 miles.
So, I say to myself, we can do all these too in Nigeria. We may not be able to build planes, build rockets or submarines but we can at least do all those things. We should be able to generate electricity; we should be able to have agriculture, especially in Nigeria. And now came the opportunity, biologically, I belong to the royal family and it is now the turn of our ruling house and I see myself as eminently qualified to do it and my family are also in support of that. So I said well, I think, I can do this and my interest has been growing since then.
Now, I am more confident that it is something I ought to do, to be of help to people. If you are in the Western world and you are comfortable, it is okay but if you come back to your own place, with the experience that you have and the idea that you have, you can begin to do things differently, you can begin to do things that will be of benefit to your people when you are back here. I feel that with all those experiences I have had, if I come to a place like this, I should be able to be of help, I should be able to contribute my own quota and I think that being an Alaafin, it is going to be an Alaafin that is experienced. It is going to be of huge benefit, not only to the people of Oyo but to the people of Oyo State, South West and Nigeria as a whole.
How do you intend to turn Oyo state into a medical tourist center and also Nigerians are migrating at record rate this time, what do you think the government of Nigeria needs to do to stem the tide?
On the long term plan, for instance in Oyo, Oyo is now a university town. There are three Universities there. One of the universities (Ajayi Crowther University) is well established. All of them are well established, I should say, but I see that university as an institution that can have a medical school. Because when you have a medical school, you always have doctors. They may staff like 20 doctors every year and that will be very helpful to the community. There is no country in the world that has enough doctors but you see that in Nigeria, there are doctors that will finish NYSC and they say they cannot find a job. That tells you that, there is something wrong with the system.
Because Israel has one doctor to 160 people and yet they say they don’t have enough. US have 50,000 short falls of doctors. Right now, they need 50,000 doctors and there is no way that can be met because it will involve only medical schools and others. And to now say they quickly need 50, 000 doctors, it is going to be a difficult thing. That is why they always attract doctors from all over the world, because people are retiring. So many doctors are retiring in their thousand every year and they need to replace all of those.
So, one of the things I want to do that I will be looking at on a long term is medical school but on a short term, as long as the economy of Nigeria is how it is now, they would find doctors that would also want to leave and again, there are no positions for them. There are not enough positions for them. In UCH, I think they have about a thousand-bed for a city like Ibadan, whereas there should be probably about 20 of it in this city. So, they won’t be talking that doctors are done with NYSC and they did not have jobs. We don’t have enough hospitals in Nigeria. I think the government is not helping that sector enough as they should.
For now we have Primary Health Centers in Oyo state or all over Nigeria and there are many things that can be done with those Primary Health Centers. I understand also they have Health Care Insurance which is a big thing, which every community should have, I understand in Oyo state they have the OYSHIA and people are paying certain amount of money every year like 13,500. I will like to encourage Oyo indigenes that are investors, that have not been coming home, that are in Diaspora, to come in to sponsor people. They can sponsor as many as they want. Pay those fees for them, in order to have access to Healthcare. Aside from that, I will personally sponsor people. I intend to do that as soon as possible. I have many Nigerians in the US that don’t know about this and if they knew about this, they will do something quickly. If they know that you can sponsor people, there are people that can sponsor 100, 200, 1000 people. If it is 13500 every year, they can do that. So, I will be vocal among Nigerians in Diaspora and I myself will want to sponsor people.
Apart from the agro-medical policy aspect, do you have any plan for culture, art of the Oyo people?
If you look at the palace in Oyo, I think that it is very important to have a museum (Palace museum) in the palace to showcase the history of the Oyo Empire. The Oyo Empire has been great and it is well known not only in Africa but in the world. You go to USA, you go to other state and you mention Oyo Empire, they will tell you that they have had of it before. You will tell them where you are going they quickly Google it. Those people will want to come and visit. There are Yorubas in Cuba, Europe, Caribbean Island and in Trinidad and Tobago. There are Yorubas in Brazil and they want to come and visit, so they should be able to come to the palace museum, the museum can be in the palace and another one can be in the city also. They come to the palace; they see all the different kings that have ruled in Oyo for 700 years. They see all the different kings like Alaafin Sango, Alaafin Abiodun that started the new Oyo Empire that we have now, Atiba and all that. They want to see all that. Those things will attract people, people will like to come and one of the things I am looking at is how to encourage them. There are many things that can attract people to Oyo and I will like encourage and I think the museum thing, letting people to be aware and the Diaspora knows about it, so that we can begin to get ready to travel, in the western world they like to go to such places so tell them about Oyo empire they will like to come.
Also, our festivals, many festivals just like we have the Sango festival, Obatala festival, Oranyan festival that a lot of people will like to come and see. Hopefully, these will bring economic prosperity, influx of tourist to see our tourism, art and culture.
The last Alaafin of Oyo was a very big in that and then we intend to continue to attract people to come around to bring people in. We will let people know that you can come and visit and see the Oyo empire that they’ve seen, they’ve read about in the newspaper, online and all that.
The late Alaafin left Oyo on a pedestal that is very high in terms of culture and traditions, do you have what it takes to fit into that shoe?
Remember what I mentioned when I was talking initially about the Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi, he was at the peak on culture and to a large extent that is to be continued. For example, the promotion of Yoruba language is going to be paramount, it used to be you have to pass English, Maths before going to the university in Nigeria, but I think Yoruba should be included for you to go to University in Southwest. You need to be able to speak Yoruba language very well you need to have a pass in Yoruba language, it’s going to start from there. Now, Oyo is full of traditions and there are people who try to bring modern religion into things, everybody should be able to do what they want to do base on their belief system. An Alaafin is the head of all, the Muslims the Christians the Onisese (traditionalist) they are all under him, he should encourage traditional things. As an Alaafin, you must encourage everything that need to be done. There a lot of things that people are doing, cultural things that we don’t practice anymore, some are good and some are not good, everywhere in the world there use to be a time when people come out naked but they don’t do that anymore. There was time when the king die some has to die with him but they don’t do that anymore but there are other things you can encourage, respect for instance children must respect their parent and all that, like the Omoluabi – all those things has to be encourage and promoted.
One of the things that are lacking in Yoruba land is unity, what is your advice for the traditional rulers?
Thank you so much for that question. It is a big thing I’ve been thinking about that actually I’ve been working on, if you look at Oyo now there are some other towns in Oyo like Awe, Fiditi, Ilora, Afijio all these towns, settlement or areas are part of Oyo. You remember that Oyo Empire extended from river Niger in the North to the Atlantic ocean in Lagos that was the extent. So, even Oyo as it is now, the surrounding areas that are purely modern Oyo people – Awe and all that – so there has to be interactions. Alaafin as the head needs to be meeting with the heads of those places, they need to meet, they need to sit down and talk about how culture can be promoted, how the whole place can be developed, before you know on when development starts the whole place will just be like one place, the land between Fiditi will be occupied, there will be factories and so you will not be able to tell is this Oyo or is this Fiditi. All of those things, with time, will all be one city, one city in terms of when development starts. There has to be unity and this is why I am saying meeting with people – the heads of those places – letting people speak out their minds about what has been wrong what has not been done well, what has been problematic in the past? And what has been preventing people from coming to develop the place? Who is standing against the development of those places? So we need to sit and talk about those things that are the unity part. There are some other facets that we will be looking at if we can be united in Oyo then the whole of Oyo state can be united then the whole of Yoruba land.
By God’s grace when you’re crowned as the next Alaafin of Oyo, what kind of Alaafin are you going to be? What will define you as an Alaafin?
I think that I’m going to be a modern Alaafin. Let us put it that way because things are changing in the world, the culture should not change but the outlook of Oyo Empire, Oyo city, Oyo people should be different in terms of development, even if you look at the palace, there are a lot of things that need to be done there – the library – we are talking about the museum. I will be looking at a modern palace, that palace needs to be modernised and of course and maybe cultural things and the Alaafin has to be taking care of them. I want to be a modern Alaafin that will actually change Oyo that will make Oyo great. Remember Alaafin Atiba that was the founder of the new Oyo – Agodoyo – and the Alaafin Shinyanbola that reign from 1911-1944 he changed so many things it was during his reign that Atiba hall was built, Some other structures were put in place. His reign was significant, Atiba hall is prominent in Oyo it was during his reign that it was built, Shinyanbola was also the one that signed the Nigeria amalgamation in 1914, I want to be looking at the thing that will bring about development, you don’t want to come to a city and its dark and there’s is no light no electricity, things will be different in a way there’s going to be a resurgence of Oyo Empire, the people of Oyo need to know who they are and their root. So all those things has to be look into them, things has to be made different and there are people that will want to say because of culture they cannot be the way they are going to come down, you need to bring down some buildings, you need to put up new structures, you need to invite investors to come . I want to, that’s going to be big for me to bring people that will come and do things in Oyo at free hands and you will see people begin to leave Lagos to come and build things in Oyo, people leave Ibadan and come and leave in Oyo because of things that are going on here.
Dr Ajibade Adebayo Adeladan is one of the frontline Princes who wants to be the next Alaafin of Oyo. He is from the Agunoloye Ruling House. He is a Us-based medical practitioner. (insideoyo.com)