By Temitope Oyefeso
On this day, a decade ago, Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi (Kusenla III) was presented with the staff of office by the Lagos State Government, making him the second monarch of Ikate-Elegushi Kingdom, a riverine community in Eti-Osa LGA that was rapidly evolving into a prime real estate hub.
He was unanimously and enthusiastically chosen to succeed his father, Oba Yekini Adeniyi Elegushi, reputed as the first Idejo (white cap) chief to become an Oba. The older Elegushi’s enthronement on February 4th, 1993, effectively helped to rewrite and declutter the distorted history of the Elegushis and their status in the Lagos traditional circle. This would also signal the beginning of the Ikate-Elegushi Kingdom, though historical facts traced the autonomy of Ikateland to decades before the coming of British colonialists.
From whichever part of the world it is written and by whoever, Oba Adeniyi will be eternally remembered in the history of Ikateland as the brain behind the evolution of the ancient community into a model royal kingdom though, he was fond of reminding all that his rise to the obaship was not only the correction of a biased historical description but also the restoration of lost sovereignty.
While Oba Yekini Elegushi was unable to fully implement all his lofty ideas for the wholesome development of Ikate-Elegushi, he must be glad and smiling in his grave that he bequeathed on the community and humanity at large a dynamic heir apparent who has not only stepped into his big shoes with aplomb but has carried on with the development template with even more clinical zeal.
Since 2010 that he was crowned, Oba Saheed Elegushi has never hidden his desire to ensure that the kingdom and its people occupy their rightful place in the socio-economic and political strata of Lagos State. These, he pursues vigorously, harnessing all of his experiences and contacts gathered over the years of serving two Lagos State governors, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN).
He was clear in his agenda from the first day of his coronation; it was the people first and the people always. The wellbeing of his people remains the focal point of his reign. And in doing this, he continues to build bridges and relationships beyond Lagos; while also creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in what is unarguably the fastest growing real estate corridor in Nigeria.
As a stakeholder in the Lagos project, he never shies away from speaking truth to power, albeit using the instrument of accessibility, and as earlier mentioned, his vast experience in government. He once said that it is not an act of true friendship to condemn one’s friend in public; as he believes that it is honourable to address divergent views most constructively without jeopardising existing relationships. This is the hallmark of a good leader.
Perhaps, this explains why Oba Elegushi enjoys unrivalled goodwill amongst all facets of human interaction. From business and government functionaries, music and movie stars, to indigenes and Lagosians at large who daily throng his palace and social media handles to either eulogise, show gratitude for help rendered or to seek help in areas of need.
Noteworthy, in the last ten years, Oba Elegushi has redefined monarchy; bringing modernity to tradition while holding very dearly to the dictates of Yoruba traditional values. This, he says very often, must not be traded away if we truly desired a society that works. He also believes that if we must build an egalitarian and prosperous society, tradition and those in custody of it must be respected and their roles redefined. While these have led to friction between some traditional rulers and elected public officials, he is quick to opine that both can only function side by side where each other respects the limits of their powers.
Though young and cosmopolitan, he has a way with older traditional rulers across the country that now see him as a redoubtable ally in the retention of core traditional values of monarchy. Hence, he continues to champion the course for respect for traditional rulers both from their subjects and governments.
In recognition of his intervening roles and support for critical institutions over the years, he was appointed a patron of the Olympic movement in Nigeria and this was followed up with his unanimous selection as the chairman of the Patrons Forum, a group that consists of two former governors, accomplished businessmen and successful sports personalities.
He has also been honoured both in Nigeria and overseas by academic and philanthropic organizations notably, the Federal Polytechnic, Offa; European-American University, Accra, Ghana; and most recently, the Igbinedion University, Okada, where he was honoured with a doctorate degree alongside former President Goodluck Jonathan and other eminent Nigerians.
At the convocation ceremony at Igbinedion University last November, the Chancellor and founder of the university, Sir Gabriel Igbinedion, said of Oba Elegushi, “I have watched you closely and I have seen how you have redefined a stool usually occupied by the older generation. Your humility, friendliness and support for all, both young and old, leave me with no doubt of a great person and the likeable king you are.”
A major donor of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International where he continues to support the projects of the Rotary Club for the benefit of humanity.
As Oba Elegushi celebrates a decade of royal excellence and ten years of purposeful leadership in Ikate-Elegushi Kingdom, the world can look forward to many more decades of a dynamic and result-oriented reign during which the gap between the haves and the have-nots will be blurred.
This is wishing Kabiyesi many more years on the throne and hearty congratulations on this milestone.
- Temitope Oyefeso is Special Assistant on Public Affairs to His Royal Majesty