- 2 Hrs With ONIBEJU Of IBEJU LEKKI, Oba RAFIU SALAMI
Few weeks back, City People visited Ibejuland in Ibeju-Lekki axis and not just that, we also met with Kabiyesi himself, Onibeju of Ibejuland, Oba Rafiu Olusegun Salami. City People finally spoke with time after several cancellation of appointments. Kabiyesi is the paramount ruler of Ibeju-Lekki axis. He is a first class king and he controls large expanse of land in the axis.
A few months ago, he celebrated his 10th year on the throne and a lot of dignitaries were in attendance.
Lately, there has been an increase on the number of people going to Ibeju-Lekki, either to buy land or invest in the community. We can tell you that real estate activities in that area is bubbling. These are some of the things Kabiyesi spoke on.
Please sir, we would like to know more about Ibejuland and how you have been able to stabilise things in the area since you became king?
The meaning of Ibeju means Ibee-Ju in Yoruba language. (This place is bigger). The founder of this community came all the way from Ile-Ife, Benin about 17 centuries ago. This place was founded in 1482 by Agbedua. Agbedua happened to be the founder of Ibeju and this Ibeju is the traditional headquarters of Ibeju kingdom. I’m the 19th Onibeju of Ibejuland. In other words, kings have come and gone. I came into power precisely on the 21st of December, 2007. I did my 10th year Anniversary around December last year. This place is a very tough place because it was founded on traditional ground which makes it a traditional place to the core. We are beginning to see civilization in Ibeju kingdom and it’s kindred are making waves. I have allowed alot of people to come to this place to develop it by buying land, building houses and the likes. I was able to do this because I was given birth to in Sapele.
I have worked the whole part of Nigeria as an Insurance manager. So as a result, I was able to pick important things from that. In Ibeju, I have made Hausa, Igbo, Nupe and Itsekiri people. As a result, those who have problem can take it to their Chiefs who will now bring the matter to me in whatever language they understand. I speak a lot languages and I know and that is how I have been able to manage the affairs of this place very well. If you look at this area very well, it is called new Lagos by the people that are purchasing lands here because almost everybody in Lagos now comes to this place to buy land, build houses, establish industries, etc and I thank God. I can tell you that in the next 5 years, Ibeju Lekki will be the Dubai of Africa.
Please tell us sir, what have you been able to achieve over the last 10 years?
A lot of things have happened. Like I said, so many people are coming in to build industries. Even the government are coming into the this area. So many people are investing. You talk of industries, Hospitals, schools, good roads, and even airport is coming soon to our place here and seaport too. We also have foreign investors that are making this place develop.
Sir, we heard that you are part of those that support the Free Trade Zone. Please tell us more about it sir.
Yes! you are correct!! We, the Obas are part of the people that engineered it. Many of us travel abroad and see what is happening there. We believe that bringing such things here will help our people, university graduate and other people in Ibeju. My believe is that you are a citizen of Ibeju if you have spent over 10 years here and that is why we are giving everybody an opportunity for a job, either in civil service, medical line or even if you want to be an entrepreneur. So, a lot of development has actually come to be in Ibeju Lekki.
What are the challenges you have faced in the last 10 years?
Well you see, naturally, in a marriage, if you marry one wife you are going to face a challenge, even two wives and children you will still face challenges, not to talk of someone ruling over a whole community; the biggest Local Government Area in Lagos State. I’m the paramount ruler. I’m the Chairman of Ibeju Lekki Local Government Chieftancy Committee. I’m a member of Lagos State Obas and Chiefs, and even Federal Obas and Chiefs. So you know I’m going to face a lot of challenges. But we are thanking and begging God to ensure that all the problems are solved meritoriously.
Talking about land in Ibeju Lekki, what is the attraction for people who are coming into invest.?
Land is becoming a serious issue not only in Ibeju Lekki but also everywhere in Nigeria. Land in Ibeju Lekki is the oil of our time. We usually tell people to purchase our lands from the right owners and not through back door. Like a company called EUC Homes, he comes to me whenever he wants to buy land.
My Chiefs are here and they have lands from their fathers. If you buy land from them, we will tell you the previous owner and get a verified documents for purchased land. So you won’t have problem of land if you go through the right channel.
Sir, what would you describe as the right channel to people who want to purchase land here.?
The right channel is to see the king himself. You should tell anyone who wants to sell a piece of land to you to take you to the king just to prove that he or she truely owns the land. I’m the Onibeju of Ibeju which means that all the land belongs to me. So, if there is anybody who says he has land from his fathers or anyone else, he should be able to bring you to me. And I will approve the sale and sign the necessary documents. That is the proper way.
Alot of people can’t differentiate Ibeju Lekki from other areas around. How would you describe it to them?
Well, Ibeju starts all the way from Abijo to Akodo, that is Ibeju as a whole and I am in charge of all those areas. From Tiye down to Lekki area, Oba of Lekki is governing that area. But they merged the two together to make Ibeju Lekki of which I am the Chairman of Ibeju Lekki Local Government Chieftancy but my own domain starts from Abijo to Akodo.
What advice can you give to those who buy land here sir.?
I would say that when they get their land, they should start developing it as fast as possible. You see, one thing that is making them to lose their land is the fact that some will buy and not do anything on it in the next 2-3 years. They wouldn’t even go there. The law is that, if you buy land in three years you should at least do the fencing just to keep it safe.
A lot of people say that you are the richest king due to all you have. How true is that sir?
How can I be the richest king? You see, this life is funny life. Some people can have name but don’t have money. I’m rich in terms of name, popularity, buying cars etc but when you talk of financial wealth, I will say I’m not.
Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
I didn’t go to too much schools. After my primary and secondary school education, I went straight into Insurance business. I had my primary education at Magbon Alade in Lagos State in 1964. My secondary school was at Ife in 1970. I joined the Insurance company and started doing evening courses. That was where I got my experience from because I was employed by Commerce Insurance Company where I became the branch manager and I got Associate Chattered Insurance Institute of Nigeria.
How did you emerge as the Oba of Ibeju Lekki? Please tell us the process!
Well, to become the Onibeju of Ibeju is a very serious thing because it is a very serious kingdom. It has its own crown which was brought from Benin to this place. So, to become an Oba is very serious. They would need to consult the Ifa oracle and Ibeju has their own special oracle they consult when they want to appoint their own Oba. During my own time, we were 15 people who were eligible for the post but the oracle pointed at me to be the Oba and I became Oba. The process of the seclusion is actually a secret, we don’t let out. It took me seven years to eventually become the Oba.
The CEO of EUC Homes often refers to you, sir, as his father, how do you see him?
I see him as my son. His business has made it so because he is a straight forward person. If he tells you he would come tomorrow, he will come. If he says he would do something, he will do it. And all the land he bought from us is genuine and that is why we say EUC Homes is No 1 real estate company.