This tribute speaks mainly to the star qualities of late Colonel David and how he is so uniquely different from most Akure Chiefs I have been privileged to know. I wrote one on late High Chief Asamo Omojowo Olusanya of blessed memory. This one is different, however, because I am doing it with deep personal regret or guilty conscience.
The late Colonel would probably have reached the peak of his career in the military and earn his promotion to the rank of a Brigadier General in the Pay and Records Squadron of the Nigerian Army if he had not taken the title at all. He was a self-made man who did not need the title to be all he could have been in life. I was among the few in his circle of friends and his blood relations who persuaded him against his better judgment to take the title. Looking back, I strongly believe he would have been better off without the title.
He believed he lost more from the title than he gained from it but he blamed nobody but himself. He attributed the mistake to his destiny and he was thankful to God for giving him the chance to make his contributions to Akure, and to walk away from a journey that carried the potential to deny him a seat at the right hand of God after the completion of his mission in life. The late Colonel made that amazing confession to me on one of my few visits to him as his friend and brother-in-law.
As the Olisa, he was second-in-command to the Deji of Akure and head of the “Iare” Group of Chiefs and Akure’s traditional Prime Minister by acclamation and consensus. Part of the reason he accepted the title was to correct the wrong impression engrained in “Akure Oriki,” which says, “Ori no mu je Olisa ki I se oye Idile.” This came from the fact that the first Olisa had come from “Ohon” in Ekiti where the individual with his retinue of slaves and many of his loyal followers had left “Ohon” in frustration because he had contested but was not given the title. He therefore chose to leave “Ohon” and was passing thru Akure on a journey to nowhere.
Somebody had informed the then Deji of his plight and the Deji, looking for more people to enhance the prestige and status of his town, had promised to give the affluent visitor the title his people had refused to give him. The Deji advised the then High Chief Odopetu to step down and to become number two, and the Odopetu agreed. That was how the Olisa became the next-in-command to the Deji and the Head of the “Iare” Group of Chiefs in Akure till tomorrow.
Some people have rumored that the Deji has a right to offer the Olisa title to anyone outside the Olisa family based on that story and precedent. The Colonel heard the story and he insisted that that was not going to happen in his lifetime. He threw his hat to the ring as one of the last candidates to show interest, and Deji Ataiyese was more than happy to give him the title by ignoring the agitation in some quarters that it was wrong to have a retired police man and a retired soldier becoming the number one and two in the power configuration of Akure.
It was a title the man did not want to begin with but was more or less compelled to take due to relentless pressure from his family members, among them the then Deji, Kabiyesi Oba Ataiyese Adebobajo Adesida, whose own mother was the first daughter and regent of Olisa Otutuleyowo the First.
Colonel David therefore could not in good conscience turn down the offer from an uncle he himself had actively supported with everything he had in 1975 and 1991, when his uncle Adebobajo had sought the position. Kabiyesi Deji Ataiyese felt he owed the Colonel a moral obligation and gratitude to offer him the title without much ado. So for the third time in Akure history another Olisa was “ipso facto” begged to take the title.
Olisa Kole Oluwatuyi, his predecessor, became the second to be begged to take the title. That was how Omo Osadeyi earned his nickname as “Olisa Abejoye,” because he was persuaded to retire from his pensionable job as an Accountant in Oshogbo to become the Olisa of Akure in succession to his own father, Oluwatuyi the First, the first “Baba Egbe” of the CAC Church in Akure who was also begged to take the title.
The man had earlier made a covenant with God to take his life if he ever forsook God to go serve Mammon. He reluctantly took the title against his own better judgment. The man died in a mysterious circumstance after only 3 months in office. He returned from a weekly meeting of Akure Chiefs usually held at the Asamo Court where every Akure High Chief is by tradition expected to pledge allegiance to “Obanifon” the Supreme Deity of Akure, whose central shrine is located in High Chief Asamo’s traditional quarters in Idiagba in Akure.
It was the last meeting Olisa Oluwatuyi the First attended. He died within 3 months of his taking the title. His first son, Kole Oluwatuyi the Second, as I hinted earlier, was persuaded to take the title free of charge because Deji Afunbiowo and Okelisa people wanted an educated Olisa. Kole Oluwatuyi took the tile and he survived much longer than his father.
After his death in 1994, a vacuum was created for the Colonel to fill. The Colonel, another devout CAC devotee, had some reservation on taking the title like his two predecessors, but his secondary objection was based on the fact that he did not want to leave his lucrative pensionable job as a Colonel in the Nigerian Army to go settle for some traditional title whose annual salary at the time was less than his driver’s annual salary.
His trouble as Olisa began when he led Akure King makers to select the first “Non-Omo Ori Ite” Deji-elect Prince Ileri Oluwa Adelabu and when he was forced by the Agagu government to shift his support to another “non Omo Ori Ite” in Prince Adesina Adepoju Osupa the Second, who reigned from 2005 to 2010 but got deposed and sent into exile for beating up his wife in a high visibility domestic violence scandal.
The Mimiko government had no other choice than to rusticate Deji Osupa in 2005 to be replaced with Deji Afunbiowo II Oba Adebiyi Adegboye Adesida, who reigned from 2010 to 2013. Deji Afunbiowo the Second and the Adesida Dynasty, instead of blaming Governor Olukoya for breaking the Asodeboyede Ruling House into two, had put all the blame on the Colonel as Head of the King makers who merely carried out the demands of the new Deji’s Declaration as stipulated without fear of favor as a retired military officer.
Before Deji’ Osupa’s tragic exile in 2005, the relationship between him and the retired Colonel had deteriorated to appoint that Deji Osupa felt intimidated by him because Colonel David was fearless and bold to a fault. Deji Osupa put him in indefinite suspension before he was sent into exile in 2005. The new Deji who replaced Osupa felt no obligation to formally lift the suspension. The retired Colonel saw no compelling reason to go down on his knees to beg for the lifting of his suspension. I actually advised him to see a redress in Court because I was sure he would win but the Colonel refused because he stated he had not committed any offense and that they could keep their title.
The man was never formally deposed as the Olisa. He died as the Olisa on suspension and he was fine with that because it was a big relief to him at one level. He was a highly principled man, a devoted Christian a millionaire in his own right and a highly contented well-to-do farmer with so many assets in real estate and landed properties, not only in the state capital but in Ibadan and Lagos. He earned a decent pension to comfortably sustain him and his big family.
He lived till his death in his crawling Taj Mahal, the Monument of Grace Palace in a low density area of Ijapo Estate in Akure. His “Oteru Oba Ode” clout and prestige never left him and he died as Olisa de facto and dejure because the title was never legally taken away from him. That did not stop the new Deji from going ahead to appoint a new Olisa. Rather than get upset or provoked by that infraction to go seek a redress he clearly would have won in the Court of Law, the unflappable Colonel clearly saw a gift and the hand of God in what clearly appeared to be a negative situation.
His installation as Olisa was a carnival in Akure second only to the installation of any Deji of Akure. He was welcomed to Akure like a rock star in his beautiful open roof Jaguar limousine to begin his installation formalities and rituals which lasted for weeks. He was an Olisa with a difference. His love of family is legendary and his generosity and philanthropy has no equal among his peers in the Akure Council of Chiefs. Once the new Deji proceeded to appoint a new Olisa, he saw no reason to challenge the move and he showed his magnanimity by sending a gift to the new Olisa the day he was installed.
He actually sent a traditional gift to the new Deji and he never held any grudge against him for not lifting his suspension. He held a thanksgiving service in his church to thank God for his suspension.
He is a man without any blemish and any scintilla of envy or bitterness in his veins; there was no pretense about him. With Colonel David, what you saw was what you got. He was one hell of a prayer warrior behind closed doors. He worshipped no other god besides the living God and the God of his spiritual father and founder of the CAC Church of Nigeria, the one and only Apostle Joseph Babalola of blessed memory. He was born the son of a Muslim father and a Christian mother but he chose to be a Christian by choice, never once wavering in his faith while simultaneously never looking down on people of the Muslim faith.
Among his imperishable legacies in Akure included the massive Cashhold Petrol Station and Shopping Complex in Akure and his big Agro Allied Mechanized Farming and Poultry and Fish Pond in Eleyowo Village near Akure. To his everlasting credit as the Olisa, he fought for the preservation of the great Ofosu Forest Reserve and Igbatoro Ala Ajagbusi Forest Reserve to remain the bona fide property of Akure at great risk to his own life and regardless of the obnoxious Land Use Decree imposed on the South by the Obasanjo regime.
He remains one of the greatest Akure leaders and the most benevolent Olisa of Akure in living memory. The second ultramodern palace built at Uworokogbasa in Akure and the Akure Town Hall were all completed during his tenure as the Olisa of Akure.
He is survived by his 3 wives and many children and his junior brother, Orimadegun and many cousins and nieces both on his mother’s and father’s side, including a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Akure I am proud to call my wife. She is the one and only Rachel Oluwasefunmi Abisola.
The great Obafemi Awolowo was thinking of leaders like him when he said, and I quote, that “it is not life that matters but the courage you bring into it.” William Shakespeare was thinking about the Colonel when he said that cowards die many times before their death but the valiant only taste death once.
Olisa Otutileyowo the Second was a priceless jewel of the greatest value in Akure. Posterity would never forget him and I can well imagine he is sitting right now on the right hand of God despite his human failings. He did make atonement for those lapses before he answered the call. I would not end this eulogy without adding the little icing on the cake:
“Colonel Elijah Folorunsho David. Oteru Oba Ode, O mori j’Oloja mo dade, Omo Olokelisa ibi eo sopo si. O mari sowo, E saje woti ona Okelisa. Upalefa gbona, t’Eru t’Omo poyiyi ona Okelisa. O d’Umesi sile k’ebi mob a pa Omo Oba ke e bo Omo Ogun Okelele Ajigbagba Urin, Omo Ogedengbe Agbogun gboro O ti po po l’Oju Ogun. Omo Ayugbo Ebo m’Osupa jiere bo. Omo Aba Lawani Omo Osolo Abibiri, Olisa Otutuleyowo Keji. O kole Owo tan o yo Varanda si. Omo Olomitutu Ajiri Ogolo. Osi dede ta ni, Aseju lo b’Osi a. Anowo bi Eleda Okunrin Ogun, Okunrin doin doin, Okunrin wa , Okunrin wo, Okunrin wa wa wo wo. Eji Egbe re O dumosa luku Ayegbe, Omo Oyunkun Agbomolodo a b’edo yiyun.Omo Akure l’Omi meji hon pejeji l’Ala, Ala Ule wa a re abi t’Oko. Omo Akure m’Osu , Mo pe ira Ule Oye. O darinako O do ju Ala. Ma j’Okun Ma j’Ekolo. Ohun ti won ban je l’ajule Orun ni ko ba won je. Sun re o Omo Eleyinkule atowire. Omo Olule Aletile Ona Ikila. Alukunrin Eiye Umojo Mi kari jokoda, o dege murin.”
Goodbye, my friend, till we meet to part no more.