The last working day of 2022 witnessed the coronation of Chief Olu Falae, one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) as a traditional ruler of Ilu-Abo in Akure North Local Government area of Ondo State. Babatope Okeowo, who witnessed the presentation of staff of office and instrument of appointment to the elder statesman, reports
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae has been given a staff of office and instrument of appointment as the traditional ruler of Ilu-Abo in Akure North Local Government area of Ondo State by the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu leading to the effective end of a political career that spanned decades.
The rustic town of Ilu-Abo is located along the Akure/Owo road in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State and has produced prominent indigenes of the state including Afenifere chieftain, Chief Falae, former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Dayo Awude and businessman and philanthropist, Mr Sunday Falae among others.
However, the town was an affiliate of Akure, the state capital as the head of the community was posted to the community by the Deji who is the paramount ruler of Akure kingdom. Falae’s father was posted to Ilu-Abo as lesser monarch by Oba Ademuwagun Adesida in the 70s. He was succeeded by his son after the death of his father on December 12, 1985. Since then, he had served as a lesser monarch of the agrarian community. The community is synonymous with the Falaes. With the release of the white paper on the Justice Ajama Commission of Inquiry on Chieftaincy Matter, Falae becomes a recognised monarch under part C of Chiefs Law of the state. This recognition was coming 37 years after he succeeded his father as the Olu of Ilu-Abo.
Speaking during the coronation ceremony, Akeredolu said the upgrade of the traditional stool of Ilu-Abo followed the report and recommendation of the Justice Ajama Commission. He said the upgrade of traditional rulers across the state should not cause anarchy.
The governor, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Gbenga Ale, warned against the crisis in every community within the state and described traditional rulers as stakeholders who play a vital role in ensuring the security of lives and property of their subjects in their domains. According to him, traditional rulers can be helpful in providing adequate security in the country, pointing out that they are supposed to be given an opportunity to make their own contributions in finding a lasting solution to the security challenges ravaging Nigeria as a nation. Akeredolu described the former SGF as hardworking, honest, and committed to the development of its immediate environment, saying that the Olu of Ilu-Abo is one of the few highly reputable and respected personalities, not only within the state but in Nigeria as a whole. He noted that the presentation of the staff office was a long awaited victory and a big breakthrough for the entire people of Ilu-Abo and Ondo state as a whole.
His words: “What we are witnessing today is a big breakthrough. Out of all the Obas upgraded to the status of Oba, Akure North has nine in all with Oba Samuel Oluyemi Falae as one of the beneficiaries. Let me use this opportunity to tell you that your appointment is divinely orchestrated, you have seen it all in the government, civil service and I want to appeal to you to continue with your elder statesmanship attitude as usual.
“The priority of this administration is the security of lives and properties and we in government can be sure that with you as the Oba of Ilu- Abo, we have no worries as we are confident of your capability. Please note that the government will not tolerate any incessant appointments of local chiefs by any traditional ruler outside his own jurisdiction, on this note, accept my hearty congratulations on your new office.”
Falae in his acceptance speech expressed his readiness to join hands with the people of the town to bring unprecedented development to the community, saying as the Olu of Ilu Abo, he has been facilitating development to the community within the last 37 years. His words: “This community has witnessed tremendous progress.
I have been a servant king here, heartily serving the people to bring a change to the community. I usually grade this road every year, Ilu Abo is a big community and I will be grateful if the government can help us make this road more motorable and embark on infrastructural development for the good of all.” In his speech at the occasion, Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti congratulated Falae and the entire Ilu Abo community as he observed that his coronation was a well-deserved one.
“Today’s occasion is indeed a memorable one and I want to wish the new monarch a peaceful reign. He is an elder states-man and one worthy of emulation,” he said. Dignitaries, who spoke with reporters, expressed their joy and satisfaction as they described the event as a welcome development saying Falae had been an Olu for several years.
They applauded Governor Akeredolu for upgrading Falae from an Olu to an Oba and they advised him to continue his good way and relate effectively with the government to bring infrastructural development to the community. Those who spoke apart from Pa Fasoranti, include the Olu of Odin in Akure North, Jimoh Oluwadare; Chief Imam of Akure Kingdom Alhaji Abdul Hakeem Yayi Akoredea; Acting Chairman, Akure North Local Government, Anthony Adebusola; and the Asai of Ayeede community Prince Bobade Jolade. Others include Oba Falae’s wife, Olori Racheal Olatunbosun, who is also the Iya Ijo of St. David Cathedral Church, Akure; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Charles Titiloye, and ArchBishop of Akure Anglican Diocese, Most Rev. Simeon Oluwole Borokini. Present at the occasion were the Deji of Akure, Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi; Oba Samuel Aliu, Olumafon of Imafon; Alara of Ilara Mokin, Oba Aderemi Adefehinti; Akapinsa of Ipinsa, Iralepo of Isinkan, Oba Oluwagbenga Ojo, Oba Omoniyi Olufunmilayo; and Oba Oluwadare Agunbiade, Oloba of Oba Ile among other royal fathers. Also at the event were a former Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; and Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Akogun Samson Sowore.
Born on September 21, 1938, Falae, a Nigerian banker, administrator and politician, was secretary to the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida between January 1986 to December 1990, and was briefly the Finance Minister in 1990. He ran for president in Nigeria’s Third and Fourth Republics. After his university education at the University of Ibadan and Yale College, with his bachelor’s degree in economics, he joined the civil service as assistant secretary from where he rose in 1977 to the peak as Permanent Secretary (Economic dept.), Cabinet office.
He left the civil service and was in 1981 appointed the Managing Director of Nigerian Merchant Bank (NMB). Five years after, in 1986, he returned to public service with his appointment by Gen Babangida as Secretary to Government; during which he convinced government to reject the strangulating IMF economic restructuring proposal as a condition for external and instead implement loan from the fund; and implement the home grown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), to diversify export from a crude oil dependent regime, ensure fiscal and balance of payments equilibrium and non-inflationary growth.
In 1990, he was appointed as Minister of Finance in the same military regime, and in August of that year, he left office and joined politics upon the planned disengagement from power by the military through the democratic transition programme towards anchoring Nigeria’s Third Republic. Following the ban by Babangida of ‘old breed’ politicians, most of who had held elective offices including the late Chief Bola Ige and Alhaji Lateef Jakande (former Governor of old Oyo, and Lagos states) Falae became the candidate of choice for followers of the legendary former Yoruba Leader, ex-Premier of the defunct Western Region, and ex-leader of opposition in the First and Second Republics, and iconic politician, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and some progressives within the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Falae contested for the post of the party’s presidential candidate but lost to the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua before the elections were cancelled; after which he threw his weight behind the presidential ambition of the late flamboyant, philanthropic, multimillionaire politician, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, who later died in detention to which he was slammed by the military junta of Gen. Sani Abacha for insisting on his popular mandate given him at the 1993 Presidential Election. In the mid-90s, following the cancellation of the June 12, 1993 election and the coming to power of a new military government, Falae became a prominent member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), during the quest for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria. He was jailed by the military government of Sani Abacha, but was released in June 1998 after Abacha’s death.
He unsuccessfully contested the 1999 Nigerian presidential elections on the joint platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the All People’s Party (APP) against Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired general and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Falae swept the Southwest, and recorded appreciable votes in the other regions, but lost the overall election to Obasanjo. Since then, he has been living in semi-retirement as a large scale farmer in Ago Abo. He was given the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 2008.
As of 2008, Falae was the protem Chairman of the Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA), a progressive party allied with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). On September 21, 2015, Falae was kidnapped on his farm on his 77th birthday, with the kidnappers demanding N100 million as a ransom for his release. He was ultimately released on September 24, 2015, after the payment of a ransom and returned to his home in Akure.