By Femi Makinde
Nigerian King Ordained Pastor, Owa Omiran Of Esa Oke Oba Adeyemi Adediran Says Idol Worship Not A Sin
A Nigerian monarch who knelt down in church during his ordination last year, Oba Adeyemi Adediran, the Owa Omiran of Esa Oke has explained why he went on his kneel in front of a Pastor ordaining him. He went further to reveal why marrying many wives is considered a norm in his culture.
How was growing up?
I was born in Oyo town but into the Aragadagbagun ruling house in Esa Oke. I grew up in Oyo town and attended primary school after which I went to a modern school. I attended Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo for both ordinary and higher school certificates. While in Olivet, I was also a sports man. I played football, I was a sprinter and then I played handball.
I was the first captain of the handball team of the school. I even led our school to tournaments in 1980. After my secondary education, I started working with the Oyo State Government as a clerical officer. I went further to obtain Ordinary National Diploma and Higher National Diploma in Business Administration at Iree Polytechnic, Osun State where I finished in 1991.
I won a scholarship to study in Israel after I won a competition where I came first among the Nigerian states. I led the exam and the interview, so I was given the scholarship to study advance diploma in tourism in 1999, then I came back to start my Master’s programme at the then University of Ado Ekiti.
When I was in the civil service, my interest was into tourism and I practised it. I started my work in the Ministry of Commerce in Oyo State but when Osun State was created, I was transferred. I used to organise trade fairs and exhibition for the state government throughout Nigeria and outside Nigeria.
I was at a time posted to Erin Ijesa waterfalls to manage the place. I developed it to the best of my ability. At a time, they used to call that waterfalls ‘Omi Brother Yemi. I am that Brother Yemi.
Can you tell us a brief history about how Esa Oke came into existence?
I was told and I read it that the founder of Esa Oke, Adeolu, was one of the descendants of Lafogido. He came from the Lafogido Ruling House in Ile Ife. He came from the Aragba compound and this was confirmed after my installation as a monarch. I was taken to the compound of Lafogido to confirm if truly I was from the place. Nobody entered the place with me, I was there alone and I prayed to Lafogido for guidance, wisdom and strength. I prayed to him as my father and I came out. Before I entered our compound in Ile Ife, they had to perform some rituals which authenticated my root as a bonafide son of Lafogido
How did you confirm this?
My eyes turned red when I came out of the place and nobody could look straight into my eyes. I do attend the meeting with them in Ife at the ruling house of my descendants. We are called Adagba komoyepo; we do our things together with them.
To confirm this, you will see my door marked ‘Esu-Esa’. I was told that the founder of this town was a great warrior and a very radical person but very intelligent. He fought so many wars and settled in many places as I was told before he came to settle in Esa Oke. They called him Omiran, not a giant but it means O-m-o-n-r-a-n(intelligent). Instead of consulting oracle, he was the one being consulted and he would advise you correctly. Then when he was on this stool, he was called ‘Olumojo Esa’ he had the authority to command rain. The man was so intelligent to the extent that he would make sure he prepared cover for the guns he was using while he would use his power to command rain on his enemies in order to make their guns and weapon wet. That was why they called him an intelligent Oba. When he left Ile Ife, they missed him because instead of consulting the oracle, they consulted him.
You said some rituals were performed before you entered into the Lafogido Ruling House, what type of rituals?
That is traditional. I would not know what they used but I can confirm that a sheep was slaughtered and the blood was sprinkled around and some other things before I entered into the place.
You said that you are a direct descendant of Lafogido Ruling House in Ile Ife , does that mean you too can become the Ooni?
I have come to establish my own town; to poke my nose into the affairs in Ife means I am going beyond my boundary. Some people are still there and those ones should be in that line. As at today, we have some Obas in Ile Ife that come from Adagba Ruling House . There are other children of Lafogido that left the town but going to that place requesting for what is not existing; that is like trying to cause a crisis where there is none.
How did Lafogido answer your prayer when you went there to confirm your paternity?
He did not appear to me in person but when I came out of the place, no one could look directly into my eyes as they turned completely red. That was a sign that something had happened to me. Also, there has been no calamity, no outbreak of disease since I ascended the throne. That is enough evidence to confirm that he answered my prayers.
Were you a pastor when you went to do this?
No! but I had been undergoing the training privately before becoming an Oba with Bishop Mike Bamidele of Victory Chapel. I served in other units in the church and I was the head of the church’s security unit.
Is there any taboo in this town?
I wouldn’t say there are some and I wouldn’t say there are not some. But anywhere you are, you must adhere to the laws of the land and listen to what the king and the chiefs say. I will appreciate my predecessor who tried his best. He laid down his life, I am talking about Oba Isaiah Adeniran. He did so many good things.
How many wives do you have?
For now, they are many.
Many wives even as an ordained pastor, why?
I am a royal father. Pastoral duties are there and traditional duties are there. Even in the Bible, there are circumstances that led some people to marrying many wives. I have my reasons and they are personal.
Thirteen years after you ascended the throne, you were ordained as a pastor, why?
As a royal father, majorly our duty is to lead the people in the community. If you check the story of David in the Bible, you will discover that David was a king and also a servant of God, so there is nothing strange there. I am so friendly to all religions even my last born was named by the Muslim community. They gave him Usman as his name just to show their love for me and my love for the religion.
Secondly, I was born by a very strong Christian father and I grew up in this environment. Although I had undergone the training, there are many revelations even before I became Oba that there would be a time that I would become a pastor. Though this didn’t appeal to me that time, Pastor Adeboriota came all the way from Akure, that is the founder of the Acts of Apostle Church. He came to request for a piece of land and we gave him some plots of land to build his church and he came with some people to the palace. When he came I preached to him and talked to him but when I was talking, he got a revelation that I should be ordained as a pastor. I didn’t even know the man at all. I never met him or spoke with him before that time. But that revelation was given to him when he came to the palace.
He said Lord told him to ordain me as a pastor but he said that he told God that he did not come here to ordain a pastor but to acquire a land and pray for the king. He told me that when I was talking, God told him to ordain me as a pastor but when he said it, I didn’t take him seriously. Another pastor came from Germany called Pastor Adenuga who is a renowned evangelist. He was to hold a crusade here. I also didn’t know this pastor before this time. The crusade was organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria, Esa Oke branch, He came to the palace to see me. He also told me that when he was praying the previous day that he got a revelation that he should come and ordain me as pastor. When he told the CAN members here, they told him that a revelation had come before that I should be ordained a pastor. So, with these revelations, I knew that what they were saying had God’s backing. So on June 4, 2017, I was ordained and by April 22, I would be 14 years on the throne.
Did God also reveal to you that you would be an ordained pastor before the men of God told you their revelations?
There had been many revelations on it but God told me that I would be an ordained minister at the right time.
What type of revelations?
It was revealed to me through dreams. Also, I would also see myself preaching to the people in a typical church setting and even on the field, I would see myself preaching to a large number of people. It was not once nor twice. You just go round the town and ask anybody, they would tell you that if you go to Kabiyesi, he would preach to you. I will be 14 years on the throne this Sunday and I can say it boldly that I have not collected isakole (royalties) from anybody since I ascended the throne. That is just an example to tell them that I am a good Christian because you preach the gospel not only by the word of your mouth but by your actions and inactions as well. I have been relating very well with everybody in the community. I relate very well with the children, youths and the old ones. I don’t have any problem with anybody.
It is forbidden for an Oba in Yorubaland to kneel down or prostrate for anybody in the public especially after their coronation. But you were seen kneeling down before some pastors during your ordination service, why did you do this?
I will answer this with a song that goes this way, “ Gbogbo aye gbe Jesu ga/ angeli e wo le fun un/ angeli e wo le fun. (All hail the power of Jesus Christ/ let angels prostrate for him…) God is the king of all kings and the Lord of all lords. So, I knelt down in honour of my creator, the one who chose me to be king over his people. I don’t have any regret about that because God is nobody’s equal. Let’s get that one right. In the book of Genesis Chapter 1, it is recorded there that God created everything, including man and he didn’t take permission from anybody before he created all. Everybody must reverence the God of all kings and the giver of life. It was God that sustained me since I was born and made me Kabiyesi. I was not named Kabiyesi when I was born but God made it possible for me to be. If you search through the book of Proverbs chapter 21 which reads, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts. … The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked.” I knelt down before the almighty God and not before any human being.
After embracing the pulpit, why didn’t you abdicate the throne so that you can face the ministry work squarely?
The job of an Oba is a pastoral work. As an Oba, members of the community would come to me and I do counsel them and guide them using the word of God and always tell them the truth which the gospel is all about.
So you use the throne to preach to your subjects?
If you come to me now to seek counsel, I will tell you the truth though it may be bitter and you may not like it, it is my duty to tell you and I will not hesitate to do so. A member of the Celestial Church of Christ came to me yesterday and reported a retired pastor to me. When the pastor came this morning, I told him the bitter truth. Although he didn’t agree with me at first, he later saw reason with me and agreed that what I was saying was the truth. I told him that this world is a temporary place for all of us and that he could go free if he offended all manner of people but would not if he offended somebody, who would report him to everybody around. He agreed with me eventually. I have the Bible, I have the Koran and these are the traditional things (pointing to the paraphernalia of office).
What are the things you renounced after your ordination and what are you trying to change about the process of installing an Oba in Esa Oke?
I have not renounced anything because I was not doing anything bad. I had been a Christian long before I was made the king. Personally, being pastor doesn’t mean I should say what the people are doing is bad. No! Like I said, I had not been doing anything evil before, so there is no need to renounce anything.
Were there some things you were doing before that were not Christianly?
None. I was not doing anything evil before I became the Kabiyesi.
We are starting our Egungun Festival today and you will see me dancing with them, I will wear their uniform. I was practising tourism before, so I see Egungun Festival as a tourist attraction . It is a part of me.
Is Egungun not part of idol worshiping?
It is not idol worshiping. We inherited these things and we are using them to entertain ourselves in appreciation of what our forefathers did when they were alive. It is like doing Ikore (harvest) in the church. When Egungun Festival is approaching, people that are sick will force themselves to stand up so that they can go and see the egungun dance and display all manner of things. They will become well naturally and will go and watch them. I love watching egungun. I used to travel to Ogbomoso to watch egungun before I became an Oba. I used to go to Imesi Ile to watch egungun. I used to travel to Ogbomoso to watch egungun called ajomagbodo and other ones. But I can’t do that again now because people will easily know me. If I travel to Ogbomoso now to go and watch egungun, some people will recognise me and say this is Kabiyesi, no matter what I wear. It happened to me in London, I wore a shirt and a winter jacket but despite that, one boy just came and prostrated before me and I wondered how the person knew I was an Oba.
So what church are you leading as an ordained pastor?
My pastoral work is not that I am affiliated to a church and I don’t collect salary from any church. But churches do invite me to come and preach the word of a God and I do honour such invitations.
Do you wear your crown or a cap while preaching as a man is supposed to remove caps while worshipping God in the church?
There are various Obas. There are Obas that brought their crowns directly from Ile Ife. Those crowns are their identities given to them by the Lord. That category of Obas must not expose their heads. But there are some Obas who the government just elevated because of the expansion witnessed in their towns, those ones could choose to expose their heads. You can hardly see any Oba who brought his crown from Ile Ife exposing their heads. I wear a cap in any church or anywhere I preach.
You say churches invite you to come and minister, but do they put your name and photo on their fliers for such meetings?
Yes, they do. I do wear cassock to preach and I wear cap. That is no way disrespecting God.
So, have you gone to US to preach before?
No, I have not been there but I might soon go to Egypt to preach with Apostle Paul Adenuga. I want to be a good example to the people. Being a pastor gives me the power to do good things. It helps me and encourages me the way I relate with people and the way I handle things. The best thing as a leader is to live a clean life. You can’t be a king unless God makes you one.
Why do you still encourage other things especially traditional things even though you are a pastor?
I love them all. Even I am going to the United Kingdom with some masqueraders very soon for a certain weekend programme which is about tourism. All my point is to be a peaceful and exemplary leader.
The college in the town used to be notorious for cult activities, what are you doing to help rid the school and the town of this menace?
God has taken absolute control. The management of the school in cooperation with the community has been fighting against this menace. I could remember, I was the one that started the issue of having the rector who is from the college, who must have known the nooks and crannies of the town. If you bring a foreign person to the town as the new rector, such rector would spend like three years in the place before he would be familiar with the town because he would not know the way things are operating. But since we have been using rectors sourced from within, we have been able to curb these nefarious activities and with the support of the local hunters and security agencies, the town has been enjoying peace and we will continue to enjoy peace.
I am part of the security team and we are 24hours on duty. If you look round the town now, you will not see anybody sagging their trousers, whether boys or girls and all those inappropriate hairstyles can’t be seen here because a team of security agents can just come to town and arrest such persons.
But I am appealing to the Commissioner of Police of Osun to give more strength to the police station here. This will go a long way to serve both the community and the students. He should provide patrol vehicles and other able hands. We are the ones covering up for this and we are paying with our own sweat. Even now, security teams are going about which the community is paying for. At times, we use my car for patrol.
[Interview First Published in Punch NG]