Less than seven months before Nigeria was granted Republic status by the British which had governed her from 1914, Adetayo Rasheed Oladele was born into the Lafogido ruling house in Ile-Ife by the late Sooko Olojo, Kasali Adewuyi Oladele and his wife Falilat Asabi Oladele.
The young Oladele was growing steadily alongside his siblings in the Ijioke family compound in Ile-Ife, then in the defunct Western Region. The parents were religiously overseeing his activities as expected of them to prevent exuberance for which the under aged are naturally notorious.
And the senior Oladele, who was endowed with strong instinct always drummed cautionary words into the ears of his son on need to tread softly because, according to him, ahead of his son laid a bright future.
“My father used to tell me that I should be careful how I relate with people and how I conduct myself in public because I will become a ruler one day. He would always repeat that message to me, especially whenever he felt I was probably not doing some to his expectations,” he reminisced.
Did those sermons make a serious meaning to the young boy who was born precisely on March 3, 1963? Oladele was enjoying his youthful years in company of his peers all of whom had no clear picture of what their future looked like.
“At that time, all we, kids, knew was to eat and play and help our parents. Talking of future ambition or any serious dream, we were not there. We were living our lives believing what would be, would be. But all together, those years also had their value which I later grew to appreciate,” he said.
While growing up, something stood Oladele out, and it was his eventful days as a pupil of St. Pauls’ Primary School, Iyanfoworogi between 1969 and 1974. He saw education as a vehicle through which he could become a pride of his very hardworking parents, both of whom were always excited at the news coming from the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, regarding matriculation and graduation of students.
Oladele’s parents always dreamt that their young boy too would one day grow to secure a seat in the classroom of the architectural masterpiece, which the OAU was and still is. Given that fact, they would impress it on their son to work harder and become an undergraduate that would transform their social status in the community.
As some of his contemporaries were dropping out of the elementary school, Oladele passed his Primary School Leaving Certificate and consequently advanced to Anglican Mixed Commercial Modern School Iyekere Ife from 1974 to 1975, after which he gained admission to the prestigious Oduduwa College Ile-Ife where he acquired secondary school education which he completed in 1980.
“My parents were not only happy by this feat, they were confident that I was moving towards achieving their dream. My father in particular was perceptible, watching my gradual progress in life. But as an African parent would do, he would not always show this to me but deep inside me, I knew he was satisfied by the progress.
“So, when I was offered an appointment as account clerk at Ife University Teaching Hospitals Complex now Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospitals Complex Ife after my secondary school, he was fulfilled. That was from 1980 to 1984,” he noted.
With his experience on the job, he was no longer satisfied as a staffer in junior cadre who could only rise to become the chief accountant by the power of luck. He knew he needed higher certificate to reach the peak of his career.
He, thus, sought, and was offered an admission into The Polytechnic Ibadan (Esa-Oke Campus) from 1984 to 1986 where he studied Marketing and bagged Ordinary National Diploma (OND). Oladele did not miss admission of the following year in Ibadan Campus of the Polytechnic to have his Higher National Diploma (HND) from 1987 to 1989.
“Just as it obtains till today, I did my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at Plateau Publishing Company in Jos, Plateau State from 1989 to 1990. That one year was another experience but as I always say, no knowledge, good or bad, is wasted, unless one decides to waste it. I am somebody who is open to knowledge. That is one of the attributes of a Marketer. If you don’t study your target customers, how would you understand their needs,” he said.
After he was done with the national service, Oladele was set for the labour market to pick his choice job. Expectedly, by 1991, he was employed as Sales Representative at Daily Times of Nigeria PLC. The media organisation was still holding on to its status as the oldest Nigerian newspaper, and Oladele was doing his best in expanding the sale margin of the paper.
In 1994, he got married and two years after in 1996, he departed Nigeria for the US where he sought the proverbial Golden Fleece and had an improved life in where he considered a saner work environment. He worked as a Real Estate Broker with Royal Executives Realty in Columbus Ohio USA, He had a successful career filled with memorable moments that redefined his work ethics and placed him among the best real estate brokers in the US.
However, he needed to return home after the immediate past Adagba, Oba Debolu Fatunmise had joined his ancestors, thereby naturally creating a vacant stool in the palace. So, upon his return, he also threw his hat in the ring during succession contest.
“The late Adagba, Debolu Fatunmise was to my uncle, I signified my intention for the throne. The process started from my royal compound (Adagba). Four people signified intention to occupy the throne, we collected form and passed through screening exercise and I came first. My name was sent to the palace as the candidate from our compound.
“There are other four contestants from other compounds that make up Iyanfoworogi Kingdom. The palace organised another screening for the five of us and I came first too. From there, my name was forwarded to the Ooni for final ratification and that led to my coronation on the 24th of November 2018 as the second Adagba of Iyanfoworogi,” he recalled.
His exposure to different faces of life at home and across the Atlantic, specifically in the USA, has left him with moments that would remain evergreen in his memory for a long time. But the day the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi consented to his coronation in a well-attended ceremony was exceptional.
It was a day of fulfillment having endured the selection process that saw him dwarfing other contestants at every stage of the exercise. He felt so good and saw the new status as a good way to give back to the community that has given him so much.
I cannot thank God enough for seeing me through the journey to the throne. That is why my mission statement centres on the need to make Iyanfoworogi the business hub of Ife Kingdom. We are going to explore the proximity advantage which we have with Ile-Ife to develop the community and make it investors destination. But it is going to be a gradual process,” he said.
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