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1st anniversary: Oniru gets Presidency’s vote of confidence

A week-long beehive of activities marking the 1st coronation of Oniru of Iruland, Oba Abdulwasiu ‘Gbolahan Lawal came to a climax on Sunday with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Chairman, Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi passing a vote of confidence on the monarch, MURITALA AYINLA reports

When Oba Abdulwasiu ‘Gbolahan Lawal ascended the throne of Iruland as the 15th Oniru of Iruland last year, nobody ever envisaged that the development of the kingdom and its environs would be so rapid. Although some especially, Governor Jide Sanwo- Olu of Lagos State, had expressed hope that the monarch would bring so much progress to the kingdom, having served as a three-time commissioner in the state.

Sanwo-Olu, who had described the people of Iruland lucky to have had the calibre of Oba Gbolahan, who he said was very resourceful and valuable to his administration, said that the monarch would bring his experience in public service to bear with turnaround development.

Today, almost 365 days after the coronation, the development envisioned with the emergence of the king by Governor Sanwo-Olu and several other eminent Nigerians, who predicted a tremendous progress and achievements of the king, is taking place in Iruland and its environs with better network of roads, infrastructural development and establishment of a Primary Health Centre and the facelift of the estates across the kingdom. Hence, to the king and his friends and well-wishers marking the first anniversary was an occasion worthy of celebrating.

For them, it is even worthier when the people of the kingdom show enthusiasm with the king they all described as the ‘Peoples’ King’. The week-long celebration kickstarted with an interfaith service where all the religious leaders, members of the state executive council led by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat gathered at the palace to pray for him and admonished him on how best he could have a successful reign in the kingdom. At the event, the National Missioner Ansar-Ud-Deen Society, Sheikh Abdul Rahaman Ahmad and Pastor of Trinity House Church, Ituah Ighodalo, urged Oba Lawal to always make himself accessible to his subjects in order to endear himself to them.

They said that the monarch would be able to make more impact on the lives of the people of the kingdom, if they have access to him. Dignitaries at the event were: former Defence Minister (State), Senator Musiliu Obanikoro; former Deputy Governor of Lagos, Otunba Femi Pedro; Erelu Abiola Dosunmu; Chief Imam of Lagos, Sheikh Oluwatoyin Abou-Nolla; Pastor in Charge of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Idowu Iluyomade among others. Day Two was followed by the inauguration of the Primary Health Centre at Oniru Estate, by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Princess Joke Orelope- Adefulire.

She said that Nigerians, especially people of Iruland and Victoria Island, must be wary of the kind of drugs and people they consult for medical attention. According to her, the health facility was constructed in commemoration of the first year in office of the Monarch of Iru kingdom, Oba Wasiu Gbolahan Lawal, adding that with the facility, the resident has no reason to patronize quacks and unauthorized patient medicines stores, who, according to her, sell fake and expired drugs.

The event followed the conferment of honorary chieftaincy titles on some eminent Nigerians including foreigners who have contributed to the growth of Iruland and the economy of the state. Among the dignitaries at the colourful event were the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; the immediate past governor of Kwara State, Alhaji AbdulFatahi Ahmed; Senator representing Kwara North Senatorial District and former governor of the State. Alhaji Shaaba Lafiaji, former Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo; former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Olusegun Osoba; former Minister of Youths and Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi; Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Sulu Gambari, represented by Prince Yusuf Gambari; former Minister of Defence (State), Senator, Musliu Obanikoro; former senator representing, Lagos West Senatorial District, Senator Ganiyu Solomon and others.

Those conferred with the titles were the wife of the former Senate President, Mrs Toyin Saraki as the Erelu Bobajiro or Iruland; founder of Choice International Group; Chief Diana Chen; Managing Director of VAVA Group, Ambassador Michael Tawadrous and his wife, Magy. Speaking at the grand recep-tion of the event on Sunday, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudasiru Obasa and others described the Oniru of Iruland, Oba Omogbolahan Lawal, as a visionary monarch that has brought unimaginable development to the land.

They added that the projects already initiated by the monarch across the town within the first year of his reign have further shown that Oniru has the zeal to bring developments to Iruland. Addressing journalists at the grand finale of the Oniru’s first year on his ancestors’ throne, Osinbajo said that turnaround witnessed across the town proves that the Oniru is a visionary leader.

The Vice President, who congratulated Iru indigenes for being blessed with such a leader, hinted that they should be expecting more developmental projects to spring up across the land. The VP said: “The Oniru is someone that I have great respect for. And with his emergence as the monarch of Oniru, I know that the future of the Iruland is very bright and more developments are bound to start springing up across the land. “He is a visionary leader and he often ensures that the vision that he has comes to fruition in a very short time. We have had some conversations that could help bring more developments to Iruland,” he added.

Also speaking on the monarch, Ekiti State Governor, Fayemi explained that the developmental projects witnessed across the town does not come as a surprise considering Oniru’s background in urban regeneration and housing developments which are his core areas of competence.

Fayemi, who further described Oba Lawal as a brother, said: “I am glad that we have started seeing a new Iruland; a land that is organised and progressive as well as expected to develop than its previous state.” The governor, while acknowledging the developmental projects being put up within the Oniru’s palace, commended him for his visionary leadership and assured residents that more development would begin to spring up within the next few years.

He said: “I have seen tremendous progress within the space of one year that he assumed office. I have seen all that he had put into the town and I must commend him. I know his background in urban regeneration and housing development in the country. “I know his capacity. I am not surprised by what I have seen since my arrival at the palace, particularly the clean-up.

I am glad that we have started seeing a new Iruland; a land that is organised and progressive; and is expected to develop more than its previous state.” Meanwhile, the elated monarch accompanied by his queen, Olori Mariam Lawal, expressed appreciation to Vice President Osinbajo, Dr Fayemi, the Lagos State government and all the other dignitaries, saying that he would remain grateful to everyone for their support since he ascended the throne.

He attributed the successes recorded to the support by all and sundry. The monarch urged the people of the kingdom to remain united and tolerate one another for the kingdom to witness more progress. He said: “We are also working on infrastructural development. We are strongly working with Daar Andersen, a master consultancy firm to see how we can come up with some form of rejuvenation and special planning because that is where and how we can intervene.

We want to ensure that our intervention in the special planning is global in approach because this kingdom is the corporate headquarters of Nigeria. Any form of intervention that we would come up with must be sustainable. We must ensure that the life below the water (SDG 14) and the life above the water and on land are preserved. “Essentially, I am grateful to the good people of Iru Kingdom and everyone who has supported me. It is precisely 372 days today and I am grateful for how far we have come.”

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