I won’t inherit wives of late Alaafin if I become king, says Prince Sanda
The jostle for the much coveted throne of the Alaafin of Oyo is intensifying with many eligible princes not only showing their desire to succeed the last occupant, Oba Lamidi Atanda Olayiwola Adeyemi III, who passed on some months ago. In this interview with ABOLAJI ADEBAYO, one of the contestants for the stool, Prince Dr Ayobami Sanda, speaks on why he wants to be the next Alaafin. Excerpts…
Who is Prince Dr Ayobami Sanda?
Prince Dr Ayobami Sanda means different things to different people. To some people, I am an academic. I am an advocate of a just society; I am a students’ union leader. I am comrade to some people. Going further, Prince Dr. Ayobami Sanda is a descendant of a former Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Abubakar Siyanbola Onikepe Ladigbolu (Akanbi Erin). I am from Oridota compound, Oyo. I had my primary school education in Oyo at Baptist Primary School 2, Agboye. I went to Saint Bernardine Grammar School and Anglican/ Methodist Secondary School Ajagba, Oyo. I also studied at Saint Andrew’s College of Education in Oyo. I had my first degree from the University of Lagos and Master’s degree and PhD from the University of Ibadan. I am a researcher, a community development advocate, an activist, a social commentator, a teacher, a psychologist, and a mentor to a number of youths. I have passion for African culture and tradition, history, behavioural science and research.
There are about 118 aspirants jostling for the coveted stool of Alaafin of Oyo, why do we have so many aspirants?
It is even 119. These are people who were nominated by their respective families including those whose families are not included in the Oyo State Government gazette on the Alaafin of Oyo stool. The 48 princes that were recently unveiled are the nominees from the next eligible family, the Agunloye Royal Family. If the process had not been regulated, we could have had more than 200 contestants.
There are a number of qualified princes for the throne of the Alaafinate. Agunloye family is a big royal family. Our main progenitor, Alaafin Adelu Agunloye, the first son of the founder of the current Oyo town, I mean Alaafin Atiba Atobatele, who had 10 sons including: Lawani Agogoija, Lawuwo. One of his sons who was an Alaafin, Lawani Amubieya Agogoija also had two sons (Alaafin Ladigbolu and Aremo Owoade). These two sons, in turn, also had several sons all of whom had the right to contest for the throne of Alaafinate. This is simple. Over the years, large numbers of princes who are sons, grandsons, great grandsons have grown up.
What is your chance of becoming the next Alaafin?
I am number 37 on the list. One’s number on the list is not the determinant of one’s chances of becoming the next Alaafin. Also, my chance is anchored on God’s wish and destiny. I will make efforts, I will take all the necessary steps and I will leave everything to the hand of Almighty God.
Why do you think you should be the next Alaafin?
There is a concept in psychology called self-efficacy. It implies a person’s belief that he can carry out a particular assignment successfully. Such a belief doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s hinged on ability. I have the ability and capacity. I love my community. I love my people. I have held several leadership positions with records of success. I have an adequate level of education and exposure that can help me cope with the requirements of the office. I am vibrant. I am also relatively young.
Broadly, what are the qualities the Oyomesi (the kingmakers) are looking for in a person to be installed as an Alaafin?
The basic requirement is being a Prince. And the person must come from the royal family whose turn it is to produce the next king. I don’t want to name some other qualities because I am not a member of the Oyomesi but I am sure they would look at the antecedents and potential of a person to be installed as an Aláàfin. Becoming an Aláàfin is a service. It is a service to both the Ọ̀yo people and the entire Yorùbá nation.
Engaging in selfless services and community development is my passion. This informs why, as a corps member in Jalingo, I was a member of two community service development groups (Drug Free Club and Editorial Board). And I took leadership positions in both groups. Let me also say that I recorded big successes within the Jalingo community during my services year (2009). I have been achieving similar feats in Ọ̀yo town. I must say that even if I don’t become the next Aláàfin, I will continue to serve Ọ̀yo, Yoruba and Nigerian communities.
Nowadays that tradition has been politicised across Nigeria, don’t you think the installation of the next Alaafin will be influenced by politicians?
Truly speaking, the influence of politics on our lives is huge. I would not say more than this.
It is also believed that the rich take it all, do you think you are capable in terms of wealth?
I may not have dollars and millions of naira, but I have a good name. I have people. Vox populi, vox Dei!
How many families are entitled to the throne in Oyo?
Based on the existing gazette, two families (Agunloye and Alowolodu) are entitled to the throne. It should be noted that Aláàfin Atiba Atọ́batẹ́lẹ̀ gave birth to more than two sons and all of whom are potential Aláàfins.
Is it possible for any of the children of the departed Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi III to become the next King?
If eventually you become the next King, will you inherit some of the wives especially the younger ones of the late Alaafin?
Is it not part of the tradition for the new Oba to inherit the oloris?
It is not. And it is not obligatory on a new Aláàfin to inherit the wives of the immediate past Aláàfin. It might have happened during a period when some oloris could not leave the Palace after the passing of their husband. These days, it is a different narrative.
What will you do differently for the people of Oyo if you eventually become the next King?
I will promote unity. I will adopt a policy of cultural integration. I will attract industries with the help of all illustrious sons and daughters of Oyo (home and abroad). What I mean by cultural integration is that I will identify with all Ọ̀yos in Yoruba land to trace their origin back home. There will be an Ọ̀yo day that will incorporate people from Ilobu, Modakeke, Igboho, Offa, Ilaro, Ede, Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina and America.
Is there possibility of IFA (oracle) to play significant role in the choosing of the next Alaafin?
Yes, very well. Ifá oracle will play a prominent role.
Does this mean that the oracle will be the one to choose?
The oracle will play a role. It may or may not be the final selector.
What do you think should be corrected in the Oyo tradition of choosing new Alaafin?
I have never being the part of the process of selecting a new Aláàfin. The ongoing process is fine. Every candidate must pass through the family and Baba Iyaji for onward presentation to the Oyomesi. The Agunloye Royal family, Baba Iyaji and the Ọ̀yomesi are doing very well in the current selection process.
This will be the first time you are going to witness choosing and installation of Alaafin in Oyo despite being a prince, how grounded are you in the traditions of Oyo especially concerning the obaship?
Yes, I am well grounded in the nuances of the installation of a new Aláàfin. Like gods, the installation of an Aláàfin has some wonderful rites. I will mention the stakeholders but I won’t mention what they do. The Otun-Ẹ̀fà and Ogboni Ona Onse-Awo play crucial roles in the rites that are involved in the installation of a new Aláàfin.