Oba Olateru Olagbegi is one highly revered traditional ruler who loves his subjects with great and undiluted passion. It will not be out of place to describe him as a distinguished personality, an accomplished leader, a technocrat, a man of honour with parallel humility and above all, a pious gentleman.
Oba Olateru- Olagbegi is an accomplished lawyer. He had a decent education at Imade College Owo, Poole College,Poole, Dorset and Holbornr College of Law and Grays Inn, London. He obtained a Bachelor of Law degree(LL.B) in 1968 and began a private law practice. He later became a Lecturer and Reader at the Nigerian Law School.
In 1981-1983, he was counsel for the then Vice –President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and in 1984, he became Principal Lecturer and Head of Department of Litigation of the Nigerian Law School . oba Olateru Olagbegi rose to become the Acting Secretary, Nigeria Law School, Lagos from where he was moved to the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, as Secretary and Director of Administration in 1995.
Oba Olaturu-Olagbegi’s rose to become the acting secretary, Nigerian law school, from where he was moved to the Nigerian Law School, Bwari , as Secretary and Director of administration in 1995, Oba Olaturu-Olagbegi’s humility played out shortly after ascending the throne of Owo kingdom as Olowo of Owo on February 21, 1999, his ascension was resisted with vehemence by some people but his intellectual calm, discipline, bravery, determination and the fact that many people of Owo kingdom loved, paved the way for him, since he ascended the throne, he has dedicated himself to task of building the Owo kingdom, he demonstrated his commitment to speed up the process of development within a short period of his reign, Owo kingdom has witnessed increased economic activities ,His royal majesty created the Owo heritage and development council, by which effort, the ancient palace of Owo was recently declared a National monument by Federal Government .
Oba Olaturu-Olagbegi holds no fewer than 12 positions, some of which are chairman Ondo state council of Obas, chancellor university of Abuja, former chancellor university of Benin, former president Holborn College students union, former member of the national political reform conference, he has six awards and honors to his credit. They include doctor of laws(LL.D) Honoris causa by the University of Benin , Doctor of letters(D.litt) Honoris causa by the university of Abuja, award of excellence by NBA, Akure branch, award OF Excellence by NUJ, Ondo State Council And honored by the international who’s who of intellectuals in 1997-1998
His royal majesty, Oba David Victor Falagbade Olateru-Olagbegi 111, the current Olowo of Owo kingdom in Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State and current Chairman, Ondo State Council of Obas, was installed on February 21, 1999. Oba Olateru-Olagbegi is the son of the influential and celebrated, dignified father, Oba Sir Olateru-Olagbegi 11, generally acclaimed to have brought wealth and fame to the Owo kingdom in the 50’s and 60’s. Oba Victor Olateru Olagbegi is a highly educated professional lawyer. Born in Owo on June 26, 1941, he attended Government Primary School Owo, Imade College, Poole College, Poole, Dovset and Holborn college of Grays Inn London where he bagged his Bachelor of Law degree in 1968 until his installation, the path to the throne of the revered ancient Owo kingdom was tortuous and strewn with rocks and storms. It was a mine field of intrigues and strife, trouble and turbulence often associated with important African monarchy.
His Majesty was Deputy Chairman, Committee on Traditional Institutions and Culture and Member, Yoruba Tennis Club.
He has some publications to his credit. His royal majesty spoke with South West Bureau Chief, TOLA BAKARE on some knotty issues and on his life as the Olowo of Owo Kingdom. Read on.
Your majesty, can you give a peep into your background before you became the Traditional ruler of Owo Kingdom?
Yes Bakare, I was a counsel in the Chambers of Chief FRA Williams Q.C, (SAN) and a Doyen in the Nigerian Bar at the time. I was there right from the time I was called on 12th of July 1969, and I started with him on the 14th of July in his chambers for about five to six years. I then started as a lecturer at the Nigerian Law School at Victoria Island. And I was there on 1st July 1975 until when I voluntarily retired from the service in 1999 after I was nominated and appointed as the Olowo-elect to the throne. The only time that I wasn’t there was when I had about two years stint with the presidency was when I was appointed as Counsel to the then Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Sir Alex Ekueme. That was in 1981 to 1983 December.
How did you receive the news of your selection considering how active your professional carrier was at that time?
Well, I was happy to see that I was accepted and appointed as the Olowo-elect. Obviously, if you are a prince, and you were appointed to come and become a king, you must be happy about it because behind the back of every prince, they also want to be something higher. I think it is natural.
I believe it was just ordained by God and again, I think our people, because of the importance of the institution of Olowo of Owo and because of the importance of Owo in Ondo state and in Nigeria. It is an ancient community in Nigeria and the stool itself is ancient, For instance, let me give you the background history of Owo Ogho(Owo), as oral tradition says came into being in the year 1019A.D by Olowo Ojugbele.
Kabiyesi, what is the relationship that exists between you the people and the chiefs?
Well I think we appreciate each other and we work together is a team, they accepts me wholeheartedly, they love and I love them. They know that I am pursuing their interest hundred per cent. They Know that Owo kingdom is my life, I thank god I am here and I thank god am part of their struggle and sincerely speaking , it is now that am seeing my being here as the Olowo as a divine call for me to come and do the work of my creator.
Your Majesty, you seem to have a lot of plans to make your domain more developed than it is presently, what are you doing to actualize the dream?
We are doing our very best, we have plans, I have a lot of people in this kingdom coming around to help me. A tree cannot make a forest and I am happy that a lot of Indigenes of Owo kingdom is coming forward to help. We have a lot of committees on ground that is helping within a short period of my reign.
The kingdom has witnessed increased economic activities which led to the establishment of three commercial banks in the kingdom and due to my progressive nature; I have created Owo heritage and development council, for instance, though the work of the council, the ancient palace of the Olowo has recently been declared as a national movement by the federal government of Nigeria. We meet regularly with all the members of the various committees and we brainstorm towards rapid industrialization of Owo land since I ascended the throne. I have called for unity among my people for them to forget the past and close ranks and shame the forces of darkness, disunity and backwardness as part of my commitment to restore Owo to it glorious past, and guarantee her future socio-economic development.
I have consulted various standing committees such as Olowo’s community economic council to fast track the process of driving development from within by mobilizing the people’s communal strength, their intellectual and entrepreneur resources for infrastructural improvement and general socio-economic development.
Kabiyesi, as the custodian of culture and tradition in Owo land, how many traditional chiefs do you have in Owo and their quarters
There are so many traditional chiefs in Owo kingdom, because you know, Owo kingdom is an ancient kingdom because they started there about 1019A.D up to the present time and so we have so many chiefs on ground, but for quarter chiefs. We have various quarters: the Igbroko quarter, the quarter chief there is Chief Ojumu of Igboroko and we have others in support and these are Chief Sasere and Chief Elerewa. Also in that quarter, there are traditional kingmakers and in Iloro, we have chief Oshere as Ehin Ogbe quarter chief, but during the reign of Olowo Adedipe Elewuokun, he in fact crowned his brother as an Oba in Ijebu-Owo. So the Ojomo of Ijebu Owo is now the Oba of Ijebu- Owo . So we don’t call them quarters again but a different community in Owo kingdom
What role do you want traditional rulers to play during election?
Well, traditional rulers should be the father of the people. As I would not want traditional rulers to be partisan, but at the same time, I know in the past, they have been actively involved in the government of the people. But quite some time now, we have been playing advisory roles. And that is what we are looking forward to but you know we are looking forward to but you know we have a saying in Yoruba land that before a woman can know which is best, she has to experience two or three husbands, after which she would be able to know which one is the best of them. We have gone through parliamentary system of government, gone through the military system of government. We are presently going through the presidential system of government. I think people should begin to think which of these types of government is most suitable for Nigeria. In the parliamentary system, both the traditional institution has been put in abeyance or they have not been actively involved in the act of governance and the people themselves can judge to see whether that is Ok or not. It is the people’s decision.
Kabiyesi, what is the significance of Igogo festival in Owo land?
Igogo festival is a festival of Owo kingdom. It is an annual carnival by the people, it is like a celebration of love, because the Igogo festival is a festival in memory of one of the past Olowo, that is the 9th Olowo Renrenjengen and he had a wife called Oronse. He loved the woman very well, but the wife deserted him after certain things happened in the palace here. And he wanted the Queen back, and unfortunately, the Queen refused to come back. So, it is in memory of that that the Igogo festival is being celebrated every year.
There is peace in Owoland, How did you achieve this?
We thank God for the peace which we have been enjoying, and we pray that the peace will continue to reign in Owo kingdom, Ondo state and Nigeria as a whole.
Thank you Kabiyesi for the honour and privilege to be with you in the palace for this interview?
Thank you for coming to Owo land.