By Gbenga Osinaike
The Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo 111 has expressed great displeasure at the nonchalant attitude of Nigerians to made- -in-Nigeria products.
He expressed this concern while responding to a question on his greatest challenge as an Oba at a media parley on Friday September 10 to flag off his 75th birthday celebration.
Oba Gbadebo, a former Army Colonel who will be 75 on September 14 said he feels more at home wearing locally made Adire fabric and eating Ofada rice noting however that many people who claim to uphold culture and promote our values would rather wear the English man’s dress and eat the English man’s food.
He said he will be greatly delighted if Nigerians begin to look inward and patronize the things we make. He said, “My greatest challenge is how to make people eat ofada rice, wear adire (local fabric). Our refusal to eat our food and wear the things we produce is the reason for our being backward economically. If we don’t buy our rice there is no how farmers will be encouraged to produce more and it will not be economically worth the trouble. The only way we can improve on the quality of food that we produce is if there is increased patronage.”
He observed further that selfish attitude of many Nigerians and leaders in corporate and political arena has given birth to the impoverished state of many Nigerians. “I think we should begin to imbibe the values propagated by the Rotary Club, which promotes selflessness. It should be others before us. If we do that Egbaland and indeed Nigeria will be a better country,” he said.
Responding to a question on the role of traditional rulers in a democracy he stated that democracy and tradition can’t go together adding that the best traditional rulers can do is to advise the government of the day and help in articulating cultural values. “By tradition we mean values that have been tested over time and which have been successful. “An Oba must endear himself to the people. An Oba must not overreach his people as if they are nothing. He should be a unifying factor.”
He advised politicians to think more of the people they are representing rather than their own selfish interest.
The monarch who once claimed to have converted to Christianity from Islam at the age of 13 said his greatest joy is his ability to unify the Egba people irrespective of religious and political differences. “I will consider the unity of the Egba people as the high point of my achievement in the last 13 years of my reign. I am also happy that the crime rate in Ogun State is the least in the entire country. The police normally publish crime reports. You will find out that we are always the least. That is a thing of joy for me.”
He praised the effort of the Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun for transforming Egbaland while also expressing hope that the man who will take over from him will improve on what he meets on ground.
The monarch seized the opportunity of the conference to announce the building of a N500 primary school science laboratory by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation. The project is being facilitated by the Association of Nigeria Women Professional Engineers to encourage the learning of science from primary school.