Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos, in this interview, speaks on the state of the nation among other issues. Excerpts:
How did you emerge as the Oba of Lagos?
Any genuine prince from the day he is born has an ultimate aim to ascend the throne. Any prince that does not aspire to become a king may be impure. The Bible says many are called but few are chosen. The person who God chooses should operate with the fear of God, absolute discipline and honesty.
The welfare of his subjects and all should be paramount to him. He should also be a no-nonsense person. He should not fear anybody, no matter how highly placed the person may be, he should be able to say the truth at all times. That is the way I operate. The same respect I give to labourers, I also give to billionaires.
With all that is going on in this country today, I am not God but I pray and will work towards President Buhari doing his second term. This country should not go back to corrupt people. Buhari does not have 100% wisdom and knowledge; he has to be assisted. If God brings him back, God will help him to choose those that will work with him to make things better.
Nigeria is blessed, but most of our leaders are not only greedy, but also incurably bad and they know themselves.
What are the challenges you face in ruling Lagos?
I am not ruling, that is why I say people should not call me Kabiyesi, God is the only Kabiyesi, power belongs to God, authority belongs to government, while influence belongs to monarchs
What is the driving force behind your success as king?
The support of God and the support of people. One thing that is still bogging my mind as king is the poverty of the people, not only in Lagos, but Nigeria as a whole. We can get majority out of poverty. Not only government, everybody has to contribute. With N10,000 now, by midnight much of the money is gone.
What is your advice to government and the people, especially the youth as we approach the 2019 general elections?
It is unfortunate, many Nigerians are deceiving themselves. The kind of politics we play here is ‘money politics.’ Politicians should bring their manifestoes and their followers should make sure they deliver on their promises. But for some people to line-up somewhere and be collecting $20,000, $25,000 to pick a presidential candidate is wrong. If the person gets there, he will first recoup his money.
I pray those people should not get there. It’s unfortunate that Buhari did not stay long as Head of State in 1984, Nigeria would have been better. Buhari is one of the few, politicians who are not materialistic. Majority of them are ‘grab –grab’ politicians. Let me use this medium to tell all those politicians moving about because election is coming, that if they are not ready to hear the truth, they should not come to my palace. I will tell them that they are thieves, Nigerians know them, and youths should not allow politicians to use them.
What is your advice to government on Lagos?
They should give us a special status. Education should be given to all, and I mean, sound, qualitative education. They should provide good security and good healthcare. I will always be grateful to Jim Ovia and Zenith Bank. First Bank was the one that first gave us money, N50 million, when I introduced the project to them. I mean the Island Maternity Hospital.
Then Jim called me and said he will provide everything needed for the hospital including equipment. He spent over N400 million.
Your view on Nigeria?
The major problem of Nigeria today is former President Olusegun Obasanjo. When he was in government, he was running after Lagos while someone was cornering all the blue-chip companies that belong to the country. He cannot win election in his ward in Abeokuta. He ignored all Supreme Court judgements which were in favour of Lagos State.
He told me that ‘Tinubu is stubborn, each time he goes to court even if he wins, I will make the condition of the court unenforceable’. I told him, it is true Bola Ahmed Tinubu is stubborn but his stubbornness is based on popular support. Tinubu is a good man and an achiever, but stubborn to a fault; if I tell him he’s stubborn, he will say he is taking after me.
How do you relax?
I relax with my grandchildren, for example, I was at the boat club with my grandchildren the other day. I play with them a lot.