The Ojima of Okeluse in the Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State, Oba Oloyede Adeyeoba, is one of the youngest monarchs in Nigeria. In this interview with PETER DADA, the traditional ruler, who just completed his secondary education, speaks about his life, the throne and his future plans
Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Oba Oloyede Adeyeoba, Akinghare II, the Ojima of Okeluse in Ondo State.
How old are you?
I am 19 years old.
Since when have you been on the throne?
I have been on the throne since 2019.
That means you have been on the throne since you were 16 years old.
Actually, I was 15 years old during my enthronement because it was two months before my 16th birthday.
How were you selected or elected to be the monarch of this town? Was there an election before you emerged?
No, there was no election. The tradition of my town stipulates that the first male child of the reigning king is automatically the successor of the king, and in my own case, I’m the only male child in our family. That is how I became the king, by succeeding my late father.
When you became the king, how were you shuttling between the school in Arigidi Akoko and the throne in Okeluse?
I was in the boarding house there (in school), so I stayed in school.
How often did you go home when you were in school?
Every last Tuesday of the month, I would go to meetings and if there was an occasion that I needed to attend, I would attend the occasion and come back to school.
How did you get the permission of the school to go home when you were needed by the community?
The school knew my position in the community and they did release me.
Where does the king’s mother reside?
She is also in the town, but she stays in another house. She can’t stay with me because tradition does not allow that.
How did you react when you found out you were going to be king?
I was very surprised because I was very young then. It looked like a dream to me. I was in school then. I was in JSS 3. It was on a Tuesday morning. They told me in school then that my dad had said I should come home. I was so surprised that I asked myself, “What is going on?” The reason was that I went home only when we had holidays, so saying my dad asked me to come home was a surprise to me. Though I knew he was in the hospital then, I didn’t know he had passed on. They told my manager (guardian) not to tell me.
When you got home, who then informed you that you would be the next Oba?
That is our tradition; the eldest son in the family would be the next king, and also, my dad always told me that when he was alive.
How did you get along with your teachers, friends, and everyone else at school?
I did play with everybody, but when I became the king, there were some changes in the way I related to them. For instance, we used to play and touch one another’s heads before, but now that has stopped.
Also, before, when I wanted to greet the teachers in the morning, I would bow, but now I don’t bow again.
As you have finished secondary school, what is your next aspiration?
I want to go to university. I have written the UTME. I want to study public administration.
How much do you understand the tradition of the community?
I understand the tradition, but I’m still learning to know more every day.
What is your plan for the town?
My cardinal plan is to bring development to my community, to attract investors to this place and make it develop more.
The king is always confined to the palace. How do you enjoy your time as a young king in this regard?
I don’t move around. I will stay in the palace even though it is somehow boring. When I was in school, I played with my friends, but when at home I didn’t have them around me.
Do you have female friends?
Yes, I do have a lot of them.
But as a traditional ruler, you must have a wife.
Yes, I know, but not now.
Why not now?
I want to get a bit older and get more mature before I get married.
Do you have a girlfriend or fiancée among your female friends?
No, I don’t have any. They are mere friends.
Many monarchs have more than one wife. Do you have such a plan in your own case?
In our tradition here, it is very compulsory for a king to have more than one wife because the first wife, if she has a male child, will become the next king, and the second wife’s first male child will become what we call Eleki. If the first wife does not have a male child and the second wife has, it is the first male child of the second wife that will become the next king.
What is the role of Eleki?
The Eleki is the second in command to the king. If the king is not around, the Eleki will be in charge.
So you, too, will have more than one wife now?
Yes, it is compulsory.
If there was an offence that all the students needed to be punished for, were you also punished with them?
No, they did not punish me with them. They always separated me while others would be punished.
What about if you, in particular, committed an offence in school? How were you punished?
No, I didn’t commit an offence that would warrant punishing me, because I am a gentle boy. I used to be very careful in all my schooling.