By Ajibola Abayomi
In recognition of his immense contributions to the fight against human trafficking, the Southwest Diaspora Focal Point Officers (SWDFPOs), in collaboration with Make Mee Elegant Foundation has bestowed on the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the “Nigeria Ambassador Against Human Trafficking” award.
Presenting the award at the palace of the monarch on Monday, October 18th on behalf of the SWDFPOs, Hon. Ajibola Famurewa, who was also the chairman of the occasion, said it was a thing of joy and honour for him to have been tapped to present the award to His Imperial Majesty Oba Ogunwusi.
Hon. Famurewa, who is the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Chairman of the State of Osun and a former member of the House of Representatives said Oba Ogunwusi was simply one of a kind as a result of the multifaceted roles he’s playing, among which was to foster cohesion in the southwest as well as to make Nigeria better.
“Kabiyesi, you were in Abuja sometimes ago and you spoke truth to power. We thank you for that,” Famurewa declared.
In his welcome address, Femi Odere, the Senior Special Assistant (Diaspora Affairs) to Ekiti State Governor said the award was just “our little token that symbolizes our utmost respect and appreciation to the monarch by the Body of Southwest Diaspora Focal Point Officers.”
“Kabiyesi, you have redefined the institution of monarchy in the entire southwest with the way you not only have personally intervened on this issue of trafficking our young boys and girls into slave labour with your moral and material supports, but also the fatherly role you’re playing in the lives of our teeming youths and making their lives better in the way you’re financing the projects they bring to your attention not to talk of the respect that the Yoruba culture and tradition has gained around the world since your ascension to the throne in a short spate of time,” he said.
Odere who is also the Chairman of the States Diaspora Focal Point Officers (SWDFPOs) added that Ooni had shown through his various activities that he was concerned about the development of Nigerian youths.
“Kabiyesi, the very first time I met you, which was in this same palace about a couple of years ago, you would recall that I called you an “activist monarch” because of the unusual ways you’re leveraging your throne to change several narratives about the Yoruba nation. I wish I had found another phrase to qualify you this evening.
“But I must say this; Kabiyesi, that you have fundamentally changed the way I look at our traditional rulers. As an ideologue, I never believed that democracy and monarchy should ever mix. But by virtue of how you have significantly touched lives, I now believe that some kind of constitutional roles should be given our traditional rulers for better management of our society, he said.
The Ekiti State Diaspora Focal Point Officer added that “it was therefore against this background that I mooted the idea of recognizing the roles you’re playing in the fight against human trafficking with my colleagues in the southwest with an award. This is why my colleagues and I are here.”
In her remarks, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of the State of Osun Hon. (Mrs.) Titi Fadahunsi-Ajayi expressed her appreciation to the Ooni of Ife for his tremendous assistance to the youths of the state while she admonished them to seek for the greener pasture the “right and legitimate way” if they must emigrate.
The member of the Ondo State House of Assembly Committee on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs Hon. Favour Tomomewo also thanked the Ile-Ife monarch for his several interventions.
She pleaded with the monarch to prevail on the governors of the region to see the need for the creation of Diaspora Commission in all the southwest states as this, according to her, ” was one of the most effective ways in which governments can effectively nip human trafficking in the bud” in our region.
While showing appreciation to the organizers of the award, Ooni Ogunwusi said he was elated that the organizers thought it fit to honour him.
He said he will not to relent in his efforts in fighting human trafficking in Yorubaland, and by extension the entire country.
Also honoured with an award at the event was the Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon Abike Dabiri Erewa who bagged the “Champion of Women Empowerment and Eradication of Human Trafficking” award. Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa was ably represented by Mr. Wale Ojomo, the CEO of Diaspora Innovation Institute, Federal University of Technology, Akure.