Many books have been written on the life of Oba Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso, the Osile Oke-Ona Egba, one of the four autonomous constituent kingdoms making up Egbaland, alongside Ake, Owu and Gbagura, with the Alake as paramount ruler of the entire Egba land. So, you may want to ask what the reason is that I have chosen to write yet another book on this puissant monarch. To start with, I must state that Oba Tejuoso is such a humble human being that anyone who has had a privilege of close proximity and association with him is left with little or no option but to be awed by his genial charm and very modest personality, to the extent that it is quite possible to easily lose sight of the fact that you’re in the presence of royalty, a king of immense stature in Yoruba land, and indeed throughout Nigeria, when interacting with him from close quarters.
The truth is that too much cannot be said or written in tribute to this man of royal provenance, as there is indeed a lot to admire about him, which is worthy of numerous documentations for the sake of posterity. This, as an attempt to ensure future generations will continually have a wide variety of information sources to read from on the life of this great man, is one of the primary reasons I have chosen to write yet another book about Katunwi III, Osile Oke-Ona Egba, His Royal Majesty Oba Adedapo Tejuoso. Is it the fact that Oba Tejuoso is the son of the third Iyalode of Egba land, Chief (Mrs.) Bisoye Tejuoso, a foremost and very redoubtable industrialist who achieved an enviable height of success in a field of endeavor which many men would not even dare to tread upon, that is not worthy being recorded again and again? Or is it the fact that Oba Tejuoso acceded to the throne of his ancient forbears via a matrilineal lineage, rather than through a usual patrilineal provenance as is more common in most African cultures? In my opinion, all of these factors and numerous more are substantial enough to justify having as many as possible written documentations on the life of this greatness personified. As the popular cliché goes; a gold fish has no hiding place, and this is why a man of such humongous stature and majestic aura can really not be over celebrated in any way of form.
Having said this however, beyond merely celebrating the life of an extraordinary royal as he marks his ascendance into the club of octogenarians, there is much more noble purpose for putting this book together. Without doubt, I am using this book to commemorate the 80th birthday anniversary of the Osile, even as he uses his auspicious occasion to confer a chieftaincy title on me as the Asiwaju Gbofinro of Oke-Ona Egba. I reasoned that this occasion of the Osile’s 80th birthday celebration and my investiture as a chief in his kingdom offers a perfect opportunity to draw the attention of the public and the world at large to a very great cause that is quite close to both our hearts. This also serves as the purpose of revealing another aspect of Osile’s life that may not be known by many, in terms of a heart filled with kindness and compassion for the most downtrodden and disadvantaged in our society. It is this humanitarian and altruistic dimension of the Kabiyesi’s life, especially with regards this particular cause for which we’re both actively involved, which forms the central focus and purpose of this book.
As the title of this book already suggests, rather obviously, this cause to which Kabiyesi has selflessly lent his stentorian voice and royal standing, is all about prison reforms in Nigeria. As a former jurist, my interest and involvement in this cause seems quite understandable and straight forward, even if my judicial career was never in the field of criminal adjudication, but in employment and labour matters. But for a king and wealthy industrialist of no mean stature, what is it that could have sparked his interest and passion to become a very vocal advocate for prison reforms in Nigeria? In fact, why prison reforms in the first place? Naturally, a man of Kabiyesi’s stature and wealth, who has the milk of human kindness flowing to the rafters in his heart, would have a few philanthropic causes with which he identifies, and to which he contributes his time and resources. However, having worked closely with him on the board of trustees of PREMI (Prison Rehabilitation Mission International), an NGO dedicated to prison reforms and rehabilitation of former prisoners in Nigeria, and indeed beyond Nigeria, I can testify unequivocally to the indefatigable energy and passion which Kabiyesi brings to the pursuit of this organization’s noble objectives. This, amongst many other factors, is what makes him such an admirable man in my estimation.
The underlining purpose for writing this book is to explore how Kabiyesi’s passion for prison reforms came about, while enunciating the great contributions he has already made towards advancing this selfless pursuit. This is with the aim of drawing public attention to this pernicious issue, towards rallying public spirited individuals and corporate entities, as well as relevant government bodies and multilateral agencies to rise up and lend themselves to this noble agenda of achieving comprehensive prison reforms in Nigeria, and beyond. If someone with such a towering stature in society like Kabiyesi can give himself wholeheartedly to this cause, it speaks volume bout the man’s unquestionable humaneness, while also pointing to the fact that this is indeed a noble pursuit which is worthy of support from every section of our society.
(c) Hon. Justice O.A Shogbola (JP)
Secretary General of Prison Rehabilitation Mission International (PREMI)
Otunba Ifetunwase of Ijebu-Ife
Asiwaju Gbofinro of Oke-Ona, Egba
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