I have just one wife. I met her in my elder brother’s house. I went to my brother’s house to play with him and we just ran into each other.
The Ojora of Lagos, HRM Oba Fatai Aremu Aromire Ojora, is, no doubt, a force to reckon with, when talking about traditional rulers who wield influence and affluence in the country.
The billionaire monarch who recently clocked 65, in this interview, takes out time to talk about his ascension to the throne, his marriage and lots more.
As a child, did you know you were going to become a king someday?
Not at all! I never knew that. In fact, I was supporting someone to become the oba. I served the late Ojora for 30 good years. What people don’t know is that, as the Ojora, you have so many issues and challenges to battle with and I was already bearing a bulk of the burden as the Personal Assistant to the late king. Every time I looked at the king, I never felt like stepping into his shoes. So, that was why I was supporting another candidate but Ifa (oracle) picked me in an open contest.
You recently clocked 65. How do you feel at 65?
I feel normal. There is no special feeling about that. If you cannot adjust yourself because you have attained certain heights in life, you will just finish yourself. You also have to always cut your coat according to your cloth.
Are there some regrets you have in life, at this stage of your life?
My only regret is that my parents are not alive today. I would have loved that my mother sees me on this stool because she suffered a lot. She single-handedly trained me.
What would you have done for her if she was still alive?
I can tell you that if she was still alive, we would be sleeping on the same bed.
What is the Ojora family known for in Lagos?
The Ojora family is one of the land owners in Lagos. We are very popular and influential in Lagos.
How did you meet your wife?
First of all, it would interest you to know that I have just one wife. I met her in my elder brother’s house. I went to my brother’s house to play with him and we just ran into each other. Her elder brother was a fisherman. The moment I set my eyes on her, I liked her as a person and to cut the long story short, that was how we started.
Kings usually have many wives. Why is your case different?
What you need to know is that I once had about three wives and I learnt some lessons from that. I think that was because I was trying to follow the norm. But then, I woke up to my senses and said to myself, I have to live my own life, rather than copying what others do.
What innate qualities actually attracted you to her?
I actually saw that she is from a good family coupled with the fact that her parents are from this community. She is also from a royal house.
Tell us about some of the traditional rituals in your community?
You really want to know? We have Elegba. Do you know that? Go and ahead and find out. We also have ogun, esu, and the rest.
As an Oba in these modern times, do you still get “Isakole” (royalties)?
‘“Isakole” takes different forms. If you have to come to the palace to meet the king, you don’t come empty-handed. You have to come with something. Then, you might call that Isakole. You must also know that it can take the form of leasing out lands. We (Ojora family) don’t sell our lands. We only lease out.
What led you to donating to charity and showing philanthropic gestures to people?
I lost my parents at a very early age and that was why I decided that instead of giving to people who already have, let me start giving to people who don’t have. More so, I love my parents so much, especially my mother. Giving to charity came as a way of making me remember my parents.
How do you tackle security challenges in your community, knowing full well that Ijora and its environs are full of hoodlums?
Everyday, we try to tackle the security challenges. Our community used to be regarded as a den of criminals before now. Even policemen used to dread going to those hideouts. But when I saw that government was not really coming for them, I told them I am the owner of the land. I told them from the onset that ‘I will drive all of you hoodlums away from this community’. I successfully did that today, and everyone is living peacefully. People around me know that if I know that your child is a criminal, I will bring the police to your house am ask them to arrest you as a parent. I will then instruct the police never to release you. I will fight you if you release them. I will fight you myself and even charge you to court. All the DPOs around know me very well for that. You dare not compromise. Even my people know me for that too.
It is on record that you were the first traditional ruler to detect the hiding place of Boko Haram insurgents in Lagos State and hand them over to security operatives. But there is still an area alleged to be a hideout of fraudsters. What are you doing about that?
Let me tell you what I am about to do to that. I want to pick up the landlords harbouring them and take over the buildings from them. I have warned all landlords on that and I will ensure I send them to jail. I have no apology on that. Also, the Baales have all been mandated to ensure safety in all aspects.
How much of worries do you have on the tankers’ menace in your community?
It has been a huge menace and a risk to our lives, especially this Otedola bridge. I am only much confident that the Lagos state Government is doing something to ameliorate the worrisome situation. They (tankers) constitute a lot of nuisance to our community. How can a tanker park on a bridge for over two months?
What do you have to say to traditional rulers dabbling in politics?
Let’s stop deceiving ourselves. We are the grand patron of politics. If you want to be a councillor, you may just come for blessings, not to talk of governorship or the presidency. You can’t rule out traditional rulers from politics but we have to be matured enough. All politicians, regardless of their political parties, are our children and must always come to pay homage. That’s normal.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I can’t talk about that. Let my hand judge me.
Would you support any of your sons becoming the next king after you?
My father tried it but he was not opportuned. If God says yes, then so be it. If only you know what it takes to be here, you will check yourself properly before you say you want to be the Ojora.