Synopsis: Prince Tajudeen Adesegun Gboleru is one of the contestants for the vacant Akirun stool after the immediate past monarch of the ancient town, Oba AbdulRauf Olayiwola Olawale Adedeji, II, joined his ancestors in February, 2021. Tajudeen from one the three ruling houses – Oba Ara, Adedeji and Gboleru, is Chairman and CEO of the Mortgage Centre – Canada Choice Financial Inc. and Georgia One Financial Mortgage, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He also founded SDA GBOLERU NIG LTD in Ikirun Osun State and presently working in collaboration with a South America Medical University in Caribbean Island to establish Gboleru University in Ikirun, the headquarters of Ifelodun Local Government Area of Osun State.
A Canada-based Nigerian real estate mogul. He grew up in the neighbourhood where the first executive governor governor of Osun State, late Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, was doing his business in Atlanta, United States of America. He shares his grass to grace story with Adesoji Adeniyi. He also talks about his plan to assume the throne of his forefathers, his plans for his people, among other issues.
Question: At what point did you decide to travel abroad?
Answer: I left the country in 1985. I had to leave to find greener pastures, to find a better life. I knew if I did not help myself, who was going to help me. I had a tough beginning. My parents were traders, we had little opportunities to make it in life, so we just had little opportunity to make it in life , we had to struggle all the way to get a better life that was my main reason for travelling out of Nigeria.
Getting out of Nigeria wasn’t easy too. As a matter of fact, when I first got abroad, there wasn’t any place to stay. The person I wanted to go and meet gave me an address, on getting there, I knocked several times, but there was no answer. I was outside for four hours and it was very cold. I was so confident that I would see the person I came to meet because three days before my arrival. But unfortunately for me all the apartments in the house were empty. His neighbours who were coming into the house around 3.00am were drunk, as they tried to climb the stair case, they saw me and were scared. They just ran away.
Later they returned that was when they eventually summoned enough courage to ask me questions. I introduced myself and told them that I came from Nigeria. They said, ‘ who are you looking for?’ I said I was looking for Bernard. They told me that they had just moved into the apartment and there was nobody living in the apartment. They were happy to see someone from Africa and they told me to come and stay with them. The first thing that attracted my attention was the left over bread that they kept on their table. They gave me hot tea, I quickly eat the bread. At that point in time I was seriously hungry. The second day, they asked me what I wanted to do, I said I did not know but I knew I had some people in Atlanta and I would call those ones, which I eventually did.
They took me to the airport and bought a first class ticket for me at their own expense. When I got to Atalanta one of my friends came to pick me. To cut the long story short, the person that bought the ticket for me had to go through divorce, we’re still communicating, he just called me one day that he wanted to move to Atlanta that the real estate was booming there. Lo and behold, when he came, he taught me real estate business which I am still doing up till today. When he came I accommodated him. The man is a multi millionaire today. It is always good to do good.
Staying in the United States wasn’t easy at the beginning, before that my friend who was into real estate joined me in Atlanta, it was not easy then I was going to school. I was doing three jobs. Isiaka Adeke had a convenience store in the neighbourhood where I was staying, he was selling biscuits and other things. I would go and collect ice cream, deposit some in his store.
Other Nigerians taught me how to sell ice cream, fortunately, majority of them are doing very well now. If you want to go to school you need to survive, to shock you, this time I’m talking about we had no papers, but we needed to work in order to survive. The jobs we were doing then were menial jobs. I was doing three jobs everyday, the first job I would do was to wash the floor at Walmart Store. I would do this from 12 midnight till 6.00am. Sometimes, if I was fast, I would finish washing the floor by 4.00am and would just get into my vehicle and sleep for two hours. After resting for two hours, I would go to Burger King to flip hamburger, I would do that till 12.00noon. After that I would return to the parking lot, enter my vehicle and sleep till 2.00am.
Let me tell you a story about my vehicle, I needed the vehicle to go to school, I needed the vehicle to go to work, I needed the vehicle to sell ice cream. I had to buy post office used van. It was cheap, the one that is in good condition is sold for 300 dollars and if you use it to sell ice cream, you can make a profit of more than the amount you used in buying that vehicle in a day. I felt that instead of buying luxury car, let me buy this vehicle because I would use it to sell ice cream. Selling ice cream could be rough, but except you do drug, that is when you can make the kind of money we were making selling ice cream. In a box of ice cream, we have about 60, you may not get it more than five dollars but when you are selling each, you sell for one dollar and if you get to a neighbourhood where you have a lot of children, by the time you sum up what you sold, you could be getting to 600 dollars. At times I would make 700 dollars.
Serubawon Adeleke had a store at Campbellton road in Atlanta, State of Georgia. He was very hard working and was determined to succeed and he succeeded. After I had finished selling the ice cream, I would then go for lectures, my face would be red due to lack of good sleep, I would also have serious headache due to lack of sleep. But because we knew what we were pursuing, we could not give up. Whatever you are doing that you are making money, you would be happy to do it.
This ice cream hustling would only last for six months or less than six months during summer you could make such money but by time it would be getting cold, the ice cream business would become very dull, that was the period I would have opportunity to sleep, those hours I was using to sell ice cream before the lull in ice cream business I used that to sleep at home.
The first day I entered my first apartment, I slept soundly. Before then I had no apartment of my own, I was sleeping inside my vehicle. If I had to sleep in a house, I would just call a friend who was not going to work to have a short rest in his house. I do hear people talking about going abroad, I’m talking about America now, those who go to Holland, other countries, they are suffering, I’m talking about 80s, things were a bit better then but now it is difficult. Now if you get in without papers, you are in for big trouble.
Question: How did your parents react when you decided to leave the country, considering the fact that you are a prince?
Prince Tajudeen Adesegun GboleruAnswer: As at that time I did not look at my self as a prince. I was an hustler. I never for once considered that but my mum was happy that I wanted to travel and once I got there, I never joked with my mum , I was taking good care of her, she was also praying for me. As at then, my dad had passed away. But my only regret is that I never fulfiled my dream of bringing my parents abroad.
Question: Would you describe that as an unfulfilled dream?
Answer: I would better regard that as the wish of God. I regard this as wish of God because when I had my first child, the love I would have focused on my parents, I transfered that to my in-laws. I was just happy that I was going to pick them from the airport because by the time I had the opportunity of bringing them to the United States, I had started doing well. By then I was capable of doing whatever I wanted to do. The only regret is not being able to bring my parents abroad before they died. It had always been my dream.
Question: I understand you had a relationship with the former the late Oba Adedeji. What was that relationship?
Answer: Before the monarch passed on anytime he came abroad, he would stay with me. We were very close and each time I came to Ikirun then, all my investments in Ikirun, Gboleru Farm. Gboleru factory, it was the late monarch that help as witness when I bought those lands from different families.
Question: As a blue blood, could you give little insight about your family background?
Answer: My great great grand father, Osunpidan Gboleru, was the seventh child of the late Oba Gboleru. His other siblings were late Oba Kolawole, Olatunji, Aderibigbe, Adesina, Torera, Baba Ola and Adeleke. So, Osunpidan Gboleru left home in his early age for masquerade expedition. He left Ikirun for Osogbo. He was living in Balogun Agoro compound, where he picked a wife. There he gave birth to Salami, who was my grandfather. He refused to return to Ikirun, he lived and died in Osogbo. It was in Balogun Agoro that Salami, his only son, married and had a child, Adejumo Gboleru. When Salami died because things were a bit rough, Osunpidan’s sister, Wuraola, decided to take her brother’s son with her because he had nobody to take care of him. Wuraola married to Ojomu Compound in Ikirun. Wuraola had four children, Omosalewa, who got married to Alfa Ajagidi in Odofin Compound, Adepoju; father to Aduke, Wulemotu known as Iya Alaga, Dejò, who died young with no child, and Salami Gboleru, my own grand father, whom Mama Wuraola raised as his foster’s parent at Ojomu’s Compound, where she was married to. This is why some mischievous elements are distorting my life story and are saying I am from Ojomu’s Compound, that I am not from Gboleru Ruling House. She raised Osunpidan’s son, Salami, in Ojomu’s compound in Ikirun , that was why my grand father grew up in that compound, he never stayed at home.
Later my grandfather relocated to Osogbo and got married. He married three wives, two of them gave birth to female children and his mum gave birth to a male child called Bamidele Adejumi Gboleru, who happened to be my father. My dad also lived in Osogbo, he grew up there and did everything there. There was a time he wanted to relocate to Ikirun, he tried but he could not come. He eventually dies in Osogbo. That is the fact. Osunpidan Gboleru, my great great grand father, gave birth to Salami Adetunji Gboleru. My grand father gave birth to my father Adejumo Bamidele Gboleru, who gave birth to me, Adesegun Tajudeen Gboleru.
Question: Why then are some people are saying your are not from Ikirun and that you are from Ojomu Compound, not Gboleru Ruling House?
Answer: Whatever they like they can say. Whoever that wants to run for a political office or ascend a royal throne would be lied against. The opponents and detractors would rewrite his life story for him just to deminish him and reduce his chances. I am not perturbed because this had been done to a lot of Obas in Yorubaland in the past. They said same of the late Olufon of Ifon-Orolu, Oba Adekunle Almaroof Magbagbeola, that he was Fulani. They spoke against the revered Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, before he mounted the exalted stool of the Ooni of Ife. I don’t care about whatever rubbish they say, I want to stay focused. I have told you my brief life story from my great great grand father. I have told you how many children Oba Gboleru had, he gave birth to eight children. His first born, Kolawole, gave birth to 15 children known as Wuraola, Jimoh Popoola, Segilola, Okunlola, Laanni, Abiola, Raji Afolabi, Ladejo, Kasali, Olaniyan, Laisi Abefe, Olawale Mudasiru, Ayisatu, Bolatito and Olarinre. I have the list. Those of them who are now claiming to come from Gboleru family should show us where they belong in the names I just mentioned. If they can fault it, let them go to the Doadu of Gboleru family compound Oke Afò and identify where they belong. Which of the eight Gboleru’s children do they belong? The second king from Gboleru Ruling House, Kolawole, had 15 children, which of the 15 children do they belong? I just traced my roots, let them come out and trace theirs. The first Oba was Gboleru from our royal house, that is why I bear Gboleru. The name in my dad’s birth certificate was Gboleru, my own birth certificate bears Gboleru and all my children are Gboleru.
In summary, Prince Tajudeen Adesegun Gboleru’s life story is this. The first Oba Gboleru was my great great grand father, his direct son, Osunpidan Gboleru, was my great grand father, and Salami Adejumo Gboleru, was my grand father, giving birth to Bamidele Adejumo Gboleru, my own father.
Question: What is delaying the announcement of the new Akirun of Ikirun by the Osun State government?
Answer: It is not the Osun State government that is delaying, it is those people who are bent on a scuttling the peaceful succession process that are frustrating the process. They created new families to join those from the ruling house to also lay claim to the kingship right.
Question: Another argument is that what would somebody who has stayed abroad for a very long time would be contributing to the community, he doesn’t know so much about the place?
Answer: I have been contributing to the development of that town for more than two decades. I have Gboleru Farm in the town which is providing employment to people. I am proposing a radio station in the town How about the Gboleru University, which I have almost concluded a collaboration with a South America unuveristy in the Caribbean Island? The late kabiyesi, Oba Olayiwola Adedeji was still alive when I started these projects and other things we have been doing. We have started a process of empowerment program for the people in vocational training and skills. Soon those we have giving forms to fill, two persons from every compound in the town will see the program come to fruition when our partner would be ready. Our partner in Canada, wants to give scholarships too for some students in Ikirun right now. More importantly, youths are my focus. I have the plan to support the youths for sound education because without them there will be no development.
Question: We learnt that there are three ruling houses in Ikirun on rotational pattern, can you give us an idea on how the rotation operates because there are conflicting stories about the kingship process in Ikirun?
Answer: There is no other way to do it than to do it better than the way the Akirun of Ikirun, late Oba Adeyemi, who reigned before the immediate past Akirun did it by passing a gazette during the regime of Chief Bola Ige of Oyo State. He said while he was on the throne, after him Adedeji would succeed him, the one that just passed and after Adedeji, it would be the turn of Gboleru. I happened to be one of the candidates that came out from Gboleru and it is the turn of Gboleru right now.
Question: What is causing the delay in picking the next Akirun because I learnt that your ruling house has not presented any candidate?
Answer: Well did they ever ask us to present any candidate? We did not go to court we did not do anything, they just jumped. One Ademola who is a member of Adedeji family is the one having issue with his family, the Adedeji Ruling House. He claimed that he was supposed to be the king when Oba Olayiwola Adedeji, immediate past Akirun, was installed. He got an injunction on the process of the next ruling house, saying without settling the issue that trailed the appointment of the former monarch there could not be another one. We told them to go and settle among themselves and when they are through we will present a candidate. We didn’t know that their plans were different. We were asking them to bring a letter asking us to present our candidate, they kept promising that they would bring it, until we heard that the case of Ademola Bamidele and Adedeji had been resolved. That the slot of their family had been used, and it was the turn of the next ruling, which is our own, the Gboleru ruling house. They went to pick someone from the ruling house of Oba Ara. Is it the turn of Oba Ara or Gboleru? Oba Ara just ruled, does that mean they want to be rotating it among two families? What surprised me was that as soon as they got the judgement that they should go and pick someone from Oba Ara’s family was the when they went to the local government, the same day they said they sold forms to 21 people, the same day they voted. The same day a new monarch emerged. From the way it went, you would know that it was pre- arranged.
They did not inform anybody from Gboleru family. They just said they had selected an Akirun elect. It was strange to us that was why we reacted too and we voided the selection.
Question: Now how does the whole process make you feel?
Answer: It is ridiculous that Ikirun for that matter it is taking this long. There is no need for election, to my understanding it is the Ifa that our forefathers used to consult. Anybody that the Ifa picked should be made king. I don’t know why we should be going through an election to select an Oba.
Those who are in charge of the process should please in for God’s sake and for equity and justice do the right thing. And I believe the governor, Mr. Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola, as man of peace and known for promoting social justice know the right thing to do and I have no doubt in my mind that he would do the right thing in this matter. The governor is following what is going on in Ikirun and he would ensure the best for the town is done.