Eesa of Omu-Aran … from newsroom to kingmaker’s stool

Scenes from the installation ceremony

For sons and daughters of Omu-Aran at home and in the Diaspora, the memory of May 11, 2018 will ever remain indelible. That Friday, the sprawling town in Kwara State stood still for one of its illustrious sons, former Executive Director (Marketing/Lagos Operations), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Otunba Jide Adebayo as he was installed Eesa Omu-Aran. The colourful event was accentuated with doses of cultural displays, including the showcase of traditional dances and masquerades. Guests and well-wishers were held spellbound, savouring the theatrics and thrill.

The size and calibre of personalities who graced the ceremony from far and near reflected the character and social standing of Chief Adebayo who, in his over six decades on earth, has continued to build a formidable network of friends and associates across cultures, nations and professions. All these segments were fully represented to as well honour him.

In fact, it is gathered that one dominant criterion for his selection and eventual installation is his rare teamwork and community spirit that has defined his numerous interventions in the development of Omu-Aran in the last four decades.

Testimonies from diverse class of people in the town confirmed that he was the best man for the traditional post. His family background, personal development, exposure and carriage, as well as his love for the people accounted for his rancor-free choice and installation. Above all, he has distinguished himself as an epitome of integrity, kindness and humility. These virtues were proclaimed during the ceremony, especially in the advertorial placed in the programme brochure.

One of the advertorial inscriptions – Oniwaniselu (leadership is for people of worthy character in the society), projects Adebayo’s good character known to all and sundry in the town. No wonder, he was described as ‘whom the cap fits’ has finally mounted the kingmaker’s stool.

Apart from using his various positions at various times in the past to assist Omu-Aran people, Chief Adebayo is fond of identifying with development projects in Omu-Aran financially and morally, from time to time. He was the President, Omu-Aran Social Club, 1984-1990. He also served at different times, and in different capacities in the ad-hoc committees of the Omu-Aran Development Association (popularly known as ODA). He was PRO of the association for three consecutive terms, from 1980. He was Chairman, Odun Omu-Aran Planning Committee for 2017. He edited the popular book on the history of Omu-Aran titled: The Chronicle Of Omu-Aran: Head-Post Of Igbomina in 2001.

Although, responsibilities associated with the new title may appear to be tasking, Eesa Adebayo is fully prepared. In the last two months of his installation, he said, “the experience has been quite interesting. I have virtually been confined to the town by my traditional responsibilities, presiding over the Olomu-in-Council in the absence of the Olomu. The Olomu stool has been vacant since the passing of Oba Oladele Ibitoye, Adogbajale bi Ileke II on November 30, last year.

“The challenges have, however, been manageable because of the tremendous support of all members of the Council and the good people of Omu-Aran, especially the leadership of the Omu-Aran Development Association and the Youth Forum. We had to deal, on daily basis, issues of security and liaising with the various security agencies to ensure safety of life and property in the community.”

The most sensitive task, he reiterated, “is the selection of the next Olomu for which the entire people of Omu-Aran, both at home and in the Diaspora, are eagerly waiting. Not even the state government is left out of this anxiety. The selection process is, traditionally, driven by the Eesa, who installs the Olomu. Customarily, the Olomu lives with the Eesa for seven days for his statutory ipebi rites before he is crowned and presented to the public. His role is historically significant and sacred.

“The selection process, to the glory of God, is at advanced stage. We are trusting God for divine direction for the right choice for the vacant stool. On a personal note, it has not been a problem adjusting to the local environment. I have always been a homeboy, having had my primary and secondary school education in the town, my place of birth. It is like the chicken coming home to roost.”

By virtue of his position as the Eesa, Adebayo is the second-in-command to the king, Olomu of Omu-Aran. He is one of the three ward heads. He is the Head of Ihaye Ward; otherwise known as Osi Omu. The other Wards are Ifaja and Aran.

The new Eesa of Omu-Aran, a journalist par excellence, climbed the career ladder from a reporter to become Executive Director (Marketing) at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), where he gloriously retired at the age of 60, on August 5, 2015. He acted briefly as the Managing Director during which he demonstrated superior leadership traits. In the course of his journalism practice, he held many strategic leadership positions, anchored high profile and equally sensitive assignments without any stain. He has traversed the length and breadth of the globe to work and to learn.

Before veering into news agency journalism, Otunba Adebayo had served as a reporter and City Editor of the Nigerian Herald newspaper in Ilorin, Kaduna and Akure between 1974 and early 1980.

In retirement combined with the traditional responsibility as Eesa of Omu-Aran, Chief Adebayo sits atop Paramount Image Limited and 1999 First Media Limited as President/CEO. Both in Lagos, the firms undertake public relations and media consultancy services.

The appointment to the high chieftaincy office of the Eesa of Omu Aran, he believes strongly, is a call to higher service; a privilege to be appreciated and to be deployed in further advancing the cause of the town and the welfare of his people.

Born December 14, 1955 into the family of Malam Karimu Adebayo Iyanda and Madam Muniratu Adeponle Atunke (both of blessed memory), of Afin quarters, Ihaye ward, Omu-Aran, Chief Adebayo attended SIM/ECWA Primary School (popularly called ‘Agamo’ in Omu-Aran) from 1960 to 1967; Government Secondary School, Omu-Aran (1969 – 1973); Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Lagos (1978) for a certificate course in News Writing and the University of Lagos (UNILAG, 1978 to 1979) for Diploma in Mass Communication. He also attended the International Organisation of Journalists’ Julius Fucik School of Journalism in Prague, then Czechosvakia for International Diploma in Journalism. He later attended the University of Cardiff, UK (2003 – 2004) for MA degree in International Journalism (MAIJ).

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