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By Abdulfatai Tomori

How time flies. Just like yesterday, it’s been 10 years since multimillionaire monarch and business mogul, His Royal Majesty, Oba (Alhaji) Mufutau Okikiola Muhammed Gbadamosi, Ajagungbade I Esuwoye II, the Olofa of Offa Kingdom, ascended the throne of his forebears. It has been a decade of bringing development to the Offa people, Ibolos and Kwara State as a whole. The revered town of Offa was founded by Olalomi Ọlọfàgangan; a crown prince from Oyo, and a direct descendant of King Oranmiyan of Ile-Ife, earlier before 1395. He was a renowned hunter reputed for his dexterity as an archer. Before he settled at Offa, he had earlier established several settlements of Offa in the area such as Illofa (in Kwara State), Ofatedo (in Osun State), and Iyana-Offa (in Ibadan, Oyo State), among others. The name, “Offa” was derived from Ọlọfàgangan - a name formed from the weapons Olalomi Ọlọfàgangan used for his hunting activities. The weapon was a bow and arrow called ‘Ofa’ in Yorùbá language. Offa falls within Ekun Ibolo, one of the four Ekuns (political units) in Yorubaland. The other three Ekuns are; Ekun Otun, Ekun Osi and Epo. At the initial stage of Oyo political transformation into units, Iresa-Adu was the first headquarters of the Ibolo province unit, headed by Oniresa. But due to the collapse of the town of Iresa-Adu as a result of the Fulani Jihadist attack, the mantle of leadership was shifted to Offa. Thus Olofa became the head of Ibolo political unit. The choice of Offa as the Ibolo provincial head was based on the town military strength; although the town was later attacked and partially destroyed by the Ilorin forces in 1887.

It is good we do a synopsis of some of the past Olofa in a brief. From Olalomi Olofa-Gangan who reigned as the first Olofa of Offa between 1397 and 1448 having spent 59 years on the throne to Oba Olugbense who was the 8th Olofa of Offa between 1726 and 1786. Oba Olugbense spent 60 years on the throne. The twelfth Olofa spent twelve years on the throne. He was Oba Alade Alebiosu, he reigned between 1832 and 1844. Oba Esuwoye I, the twentieth Olofa spent 10 years on the throne. Oba Esuwoye I was the grandfather of the current Olofa, he reigned between 1926 and 1936. Oba Wuraola Isioye who succeeded Oba Esuwoye I as the twenty-first Olofa spent twenty-one years on the throne - that is between 1936 and 1957. Oba Mustapha Keji, the twenty-second Olofa of Offa, reigned between 1959 and 1969, he held the stool for 10 years. Oba Mustapha Olawore Olanipekun II, the twenty-third Olofa of Offa spent 40 years on the throne - between 1970 and 2010. The era of Oba Olanipekun II saw the transform of Offa from a mere dusty settlement to a modern town of national reckoning. But, the emergence of Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi Ajagungbade I Esuwoye II, who succeeded Oba Mustapha Olanipekun II, on the 9th of May, 2010, has, indeed, opened a new phase in the development of Offa, the second-largest city in Kwara State, after Ilorin, the State capital.

The chronicler of history may regard 10 years in the life of a man as very crucial, 10 years in a lifetime of a king is enough to make or mar a well-established reputation of a city like Offa. Oba Esuwoye, in the last ten years, has, not only build on the achievements of his predecessors but also usher in a more improved lease of life for the people of Offa. Hence, his reign in the last ten years is full of strenuous activities resulting in dynamic changes, of the ferment of ideas, of great inventiveness and expansion of the great town of Offa. As first university graduate to be elected as Olofa, Oba Esuwoye II has taught us how to be a traditional ruler and business mogul, at the same time, where one is not affecting the other. Oba Esuwoye II, who graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria where he studies Building Technology, has taken Offa from where he meets it to the next level of growth and development. Though, it must be realized that the gradual growth experience in Offa was/is as a result of our self-help. It is known by many that Offa people would sacrifice anything to make their town developed. It is just for you to initiate a project that will benefit the people, you will marvel how people will support you with their resource. The establishment of Offa Grammar School, the first community secondary school in the old Northern Nigeria as far back as 1943 is still fresh in our memories. What of the establishment of Owode Market, Offa General Hospital and the recent Offa MOPOL Barrack is another evidence that Offa people will never wait on the government to provide amenities that will benefit their community. Even in the face of government failing to provide basic facilities such as roads, hospitals, power and other support infrastructure. Offa men and women will never shy away from their communal responsibilities. It has been part of our culture in joining hands for communal development.

It is clear that the people of Offa, under Oba Esuwoye II, have found greatness stability and peace, a situation that has made the whole world admiring us to the point of being envied. Although, quite sometimes, the town has made headlines for wrong reasons. The very recent one is the case of an Offa man allegedly having COVID 19, this situation has become a great concern to our people. Whatever the case, the people of Offa are satisfied with great progress made so far under Oba Gbadamosi Esuwoye II, we are unperturbed. Oba Esuwoye II had made sure that the people of Offa have not abandoned their traditional heritage and culture. He has mobilized Offa sons and daughters in the last ten years to participate in the development of the town while using his own personal resources. The completion of both the Offa Central Mosque and ODU hall is evidence to this. Oba Esuwoye used his personal resources to build a 21st-century world-class palace for the people of Offa in less than six months on the throne. Wonderful! He has also maintained a cordial relationship with both wealthy and not so wealthy individuals within and outside Offa. This pattern of good human relationship, thus making him a loved and cherished monarch whose fame has spread across Nigeria.

Interestingly, Oba Gbadamosi has, through these years, been able to provide strong and vibrant leadership that has brought more light to his people, thus reflecting his determination to maintain, with vigour, his service to humanity. It is true to add that Oba Esuwoye has placed the values of which Offa was known for - equity, fairness, justice, kindness, humanitarianism and, philanthropic activities - far and above other consideration in his leadership style. He has ensured that the basic foundation upon which Offa civilization is built must not be destroyed with the incursion of western values into the society. Though a few elements within the town are fast parting from our cherished traditional heritage and culture, wondering towards sheer materialism. But, Olofa Esuwoye II has been doing much in giving them the necessary guidance they needed.

Oba Mufutau, being a just father, has mastered the ideas and thoughts of modern times and can confront any issues that may be raised anytime. His recent live appearance on some international TV news programs such as the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Channels Television and Television Continental (TVC) where Oba Esuwoye exhibits his intelligence and in-depth knowledge of his people. The way by which he arranged his spoken English, his straight forwardness and how he nail the point one after the other show that Offa is lucky to have Mufutau Gbadamosi as their King. Oba Esuwoye II has that dynamic wisdom and knowledge which has enabled him to understand and which tells him the absolute values upon which society should be established and which provides him with the sight into the operation of universal forces. Oba Gbadamosi is endowed with the moral and spiritual authority which he has used in influencing the heart and mind of humanity and also to sway events. In line with the following, Oba Mufutau has that moral will and spirituality that has also enabled him to administer his people properly. He has uprooted evil and expanded the frontier of justice, knowing that the Ibolos and by extension, people of Kwara State are one and the same. It is succinct to say conclusively that Oba Gbadamosi in the last 10 years has achieved a lot in the area of development of Offa town. Some of his major physical achievement are; 1. The building of an ultra-modern Olofa's palace, 2. Completion and rehabilitation of Offa Central Mosque, 3. Completion and total rehabilitation of Offa Descendants Union's Halls, 4. The building of Moremi Hall of Fame, and 5. Reconstruction of the burnt Owode market.

Others are; 6. Mobilising community to build Mobile Police Barack in Offa, 7. Reviving the Ijakadi Cultural festival taking to national consciousness, 8. Making Offa one of the sought after investor's, tourist's and trader's haven, 9. Making the Ajegunle market an alternative market in Offa, and, 10. Building free market stalls for market women in Offa night market (Oja Ale) among others. More importantly, Oba Esuwoye II, in the last ten years, has provided good leadership, promote justice among his people, and supporting the truth against falsehood and supporting the oppressed against the oppressors. Hence, His Royal Majesty, Oba (Alhaji) Mufutau Okikiola Muhammed Gbadamosi, Ajagungbade I Esuwoye II, the Olofa of Offa Kingdom is, indeed, a God's own ordained King! It is expected that the grand 10 years coronation anniversary celebration will come at a later date as the date falls in the period of Ramadan fasting. Trust, Oba Esuwoye will attract those who matter in and outside Nigeria to celebrate with him.