Trendy, urbane and suave, these three descriptions aptly fit the young monarch, HRM Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi from Lagos.
Oba Elegushi fondly called Gucci recently celebrated his 9th Anniversary on the throne of his forefathers and just before the big day, he has this interactive session with journalists that was attended by The Boss.
Oba Elegushi revealed that before becoming King, he has always dreamt of becoming the Governor of Lagos State.
The former Personal Assistant to then Governor Tinubu said his ambition was fueled by working closely with the Jagaban and seeing the kind of impact he was making in the lives of the people and the development he was bringing to the state.
At only 34 years old when he became a monarch, the journey according to him was initially rough because he was not enthusiastic about taking up the role, but he had to navigate it with wisdom and he was happy that he has gradually grown into the assignment of ruling his Kingdom.
He also answered some questions about the marriage institution and also made a case for Nigerians to respect and practice their culture and tradition.
Here are excerpts:
Share with us your experience of the last nine years
First of all, I give glory to Almighty Allah. But you categorically that it has not been easy.
I was crowned at the age of 34, firstly, I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want them to kill me. In fact I had a political life that I was pursuing. Then I was Personal Assistant to Governor Tinubu.
I was so convinced that I used to tell myself that whenever the heart is set on something, it will surely come to pass. Then I use to see myself as the next Governor of Lagos, not knowing that Allah had much bigger assignment for me.
You know as a young man, I was not too prepared but what saved me was the experience of working with a man like the Asiwaju.
Working with him was like being a school, you learnt new things every day. There was nothing that would intimidate you because you had the opportunity to interact with the most powerful people in Nigerian. It exposed me to so many things and also it taught me life’s lessons that many my age will never know.
So that experience help me manoeuvre when I took the crown. Also, I was born and grew the palace and that made things much easier for me. I was versed in the tradition, so it was not strange to me and also relating to people, young or old was easy.
That was not all though, most importantly, one had to seek Allah’s wisdom which is necessary no matter whatever you are doing in this life. You can have all degree in life but if you don’t have divine will of God in your life, everything is zero. Everything will just be up and down.
You said something about dreaming of becoming Lagos Governor, where you being serious
Of course, I am from this state and I am eminently qualified. I used to see myself on that seat and the thought become constant when I was working closely with Asiwaju, I saw him in action and having leant so much I believed I could also be able to serve my people. But I am serving in a different capacity according to the will of God.
How has being king impacted you, has it affected your private life
What I tell people all the time is that being a king should not affect my private life.
Let say now, I am a private person and working as a regular guy, definitely I will have my private time. I will have time to enjoy myself and attend to the affairs of my family. So I have been able to differentiate my work life as a king and have my off time as a private person.
We know you bring class and panache into the kingdom, you even were jeans a times to public functions, don’t you find that as odd
One thing I ask anybody that asks such question is, Is there any of my responsibilities that I an not doing right? And if they say No, then if I have been able to fulfill the responsibilities of my office as a king, then I should be allowed to be happy, to enjoy myself.
In recent times there have been so much rancor among Yoruba monarch on the history of the race, how does this make you feel and can you tell us the history of your kingdom
Thank you for this question. There is no unity among us, I mean the Yoruba kings. There is so much hypocrisy, we don’t have unity at all, there is hypocrisy among us, when we look at the history of Yoruba, many events have happened in the past and these events are what we keep repeating.
Elegushi historically was one of the chiefs who stepped into Lagos called, ‘Idejo’, they migrated from Ile-Ife and started this kingdom before the British came and used their power to install a ruler over us.
From the beginning we the children of Olofin have been kings but since you cannot call yourself a king without a kingdom and people, we were heads of the people living here. Then the British in conjunction with the Oba of Benin came and appointed a head, who was called the Oba of Lagos, everyone was subservient to the Oba of Lagos.
But my father was the first among the Idejo children in Lagos here who resisted the authority of the Oba of Lagos and fought for our right.
He insisted that we were kings and therefore no one can you come and appoint another king over us. He said we had right to this throne and that the history of Lagos was different from ours. And that was it.
In terms of history, if I Elegushi of Ikate Kingdom begin to go down memory lane, there will be issues, plenty of maters will be raised so let us just leave it and not trouble ourselves.
Your Majesty, what developments have taken place here since you became king
I thank God. Everything that you can see are mostly the work of my father who dug the foundation and when I ascended the throne, I began to build on them, that is why everything is like this. May God grant him peace.
He worked hard to make this kingdom great and also develop the place to this level. I will, by the grace of Almighty Allah take it to the next level.
Your Highness, what are those major significant achievements that you can point to directly and that you can be happy about?
What I tell my people is that I am not a noise maker. In today’s world, if you just help ten people, it will be on social media. If you follow God’s words, he said if you want to help someone, don’t publicize it, I don’t do things for people to start talking about but I thank God because when I sleep and wake and remember everything that I have done, that I have helped, the joy alone satisfies me, the world doesn’t need to know because everything in this world is vanity. On the day of judgment we will all be judged by our deeds.
Is there a programme that you have initiated for the people of Ikateland especially around the beach
Thank you so much. We have an educational programme for our children but those who have taken up the opportunity are few because many of the people here are just content as land owners to sell land. We are trying our best to change their mindset about the importance of education.
In addition, we are building our new city, it is a development called IMPERIAL BUSINESS CITY,. We travel and see how nations turn around their environment and modernize their cities, this is what we want to do here. We see the world moving but we are just stagnant, I want to be different, I want to show the way with this development that it can be done and that those who have done it before do not have two heads.
Regarding the Beach, you know that in Nigeria we are blessed with different tourist centres and tourism is key. The state government also is trying to generate more funds from the programme.
During the December period, the amount of money moving within Lagos is heavy and large. As a contributor to the Tourism sector, we have been able to provide more security at the beach including inviting NDLEA to curb the use of drugs because drugs flow freely at many beaches and we don’t want to encourage such acts here.
We are looking in the direction of making our beech family friendly and enjoyable.
What advice will you give those who are based abroad that want to invest in tourism and other sectors
Most people today fall into the trap of sending money from Abroad to people to help them build and buy properties. This has led to a situation were people just part with their money to anybody.
My advice to any investor is tray and physically inspect the project, not just through pictures before you pay.
In addition, do your due diligence by cross checking with the land ministry. It is better you keep your money in the bank, let it be there, when you are ready to come home , go and see what you want to invest in rather than fall prey to fraudsters.
Kabiyesi, I notice that you have only one wife, do you intend to marry more?
As a king, I have many wives.I have my late dad’s wives, they are traditionally all my wives. In Yorubaland you cannot differentiate wives for a king. A king can decide to marry more if he likes. You know I am the husband of all the widows around, so I am the husband of many wives. If you do have a sister that you want to give me let me know (All laugh)
Last year you celebrated you birthday you celebrated your birthday in Saudi Arabia and couple of months ago, you celebrated the Elegba festival. How have you been able to balance tradition and your religion
I celebrated my fortieth birthday there in Saudi. One major mistake we make as Africans is that we elevate these religions that were introduces over and above our tradition. For me this is wrong.
We have our culture and people should place culture and religion together. The Arabs have their own culture, the Jews have their own culture, why then should we abandon our culture?. If people like they should say whatever they like. On the day of judgment, we will know who will go to heaven or hell.
What don’t you like about being a king
Like I have said before, this position deprives you of some of your privacy. I like to be myself and enjoy my privacy and this does not mean that I will begin to misbehave anyhow outside. Sometimes I go out with my face-cap; I love my private life but you find it difficult when people begin to greet you even with your face-cap on but you know this life is one and there is nobody that have gone and come back to say that this is how it is over there. Since we have just one life, we should try and enjoy it (laughing)
What can you say is the most difficult decision that you have taken on this journey?
As a king; I always seek God’s wisdom and mercy before taking any step, whenever I take my decision on a matter, it is usually directed by the power in me.
In what way would we say Oba Elegushi has contributed to the development of Lagos State?
Like this city that we are building, you can compare it to Eko Atlantic; we have the 10 best builders in the world there. I travel very well and I see what others do and I say to myself. Is it bad for a black man to progress?
If you look at most developers in Lagos, they all start well but along the line, money, fame will get in the way of everything and they forget where they are coming from and become distracted.
So in our project; we have kept money aside so that on completion my name will be remembered when I am no more that I did something. My dad left this position for me and I took over; if the name was bad; I wouldn’t have been able to correct it; my father had worked on the name and it is left for me to see that the good name become even better.
What do you aim to achieve at Imperial City
Hmm Hmm! Have you been to an super city that has all the basic infrastructure; that is what we are working on. Most places in Nigeria have estates that don’t have the basic amenities like Theatre, Football pitch and others. All these are what we are working on.
You are a patron of the Nigerian Olympic Committee, what have you done in terms of sports development
The problem is corruption, until we are able to tackle the issue of corruption to a minimal portion things might not work out. There are some money that they will budget for sport and some people will swallow it, I think the government needs to get more sponsors. Like in other countries abroad sports is sponsored by private companies and sport is also what calms the tension in the land, so we should take it seriously.
Nigeria we can never be patient, we just want one magic to happen overnight, we ignore previous administration but we want Buhari to perform magic that is not possible, everything takes time
Speaking of Private life, you love cars, what can you say about it?
I have worked hard and now God is rewarding me for my handwork.