Story by Sandra L. Blood

All roads led to Ilara-Epe Kingdom on July 13 and 14, 2023, when Alara of Ilara, His Royal Majesty, Oba Olufolarin Ogunsanwo (Telade IV), conferred a chieftaincy title of Aare Atunluto of Ilara Kingdom. At the palace on the 14 in Lagos State, Nigeria, it was upon the High Commissioner of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) to Nigeria, His Excellency Wendell De Landro (Aare). The event was delineated as symbolic as it further reinforced the diplomatic overtures that the Caribbean Island envoy made in creating a mutually beneficial relationship between Nigeria and T&T, cognizant of the traditional African institution as the custodian of the value which connects motherland Africa and the Caribbean, revealed a NewSpread release.

The Aare’s “immense contribution to the development of Nigeria is evident in the area of diplomacy and economy having served as an expert in Oil and Gas sector in the country. His enthusiasm to see the development of Ilara Kingdom and Lagos, in general, is demonstrated by the interventions his office has made, and will be making moving forward.

Part of the programmes to celebrate the conferment was the official signing of the bilateral relations and cooperation memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Kabeyesi (Ilara-Epe Kingdom) and High Commissioner (T&T) – a highly anticipated historical moment that will open up the Lagos town to investment in the area of trade and commerce, cultural tourism and creative industry initiatives.

   “Aside from the traditional conferment and reception, T&T cultural heritage, the Africaribbean Cultural movement which is an offshoot of the Nigeria-T&T Trade and Commerce Cultural Tourism and Creative Industries Relations Initiative, is set to open a new vista of cultural reawakening between Nigeria, West Africa and the Africa continent on the one hand; and on the other, T&T and the Caribbean region.”

   The programme was “coordinated by Honourary Consul Designate Rotimi Vaughan and leadership of the conferment planning committee Rotimi Otedola, who specifically planned it to be a memorable one to bring Africa and the Caribbeans together in unity through many Africaribbean Movement initiatives.”

Republic of Trinidad and Tobago's High Commissioner to Nigeria, His Excellency Wendell De Landro, right, receives his Instruments of Appointment from Alara of Ilara, His Royal Majesty, Oba Olufolarin Ogunsanwo (Telade IV), after being conferred Aare Atunluto of Ilara Kingdom, at the palace on July 14, 2023, by the HRM.2

Recently designated Aare Atunluto of Ilara Kingdom, and High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to Nigeria, His Excellency Wendell De Landro, right, pose with Alara of Ilara, His Royal Majesty, Oba Olufolarin Ogunsanwo (Telade IV).

Aare Atunluto of Ilara Kingdom conferred on July 14, 2023, and High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to Nigeria, His Excellency Wendell De Landro, proudly bears himself to the world as admired by Alara of Ilara, His Royal Majesty, Oba Olufolarin Ogunsanwo (Telade IV), left, who bestowed the honor at his palace, and other guests.

Aare Atunluto of Ilara Kingdom as of July 14, 2023, and High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to Nigeria, His Excellency Wendell De Landro, left, being interviewed on The Morning Show on Arise News on July 17.

Aare on Arise News

In a videoed release, three days after the conferment – Aare being interviewed on The Morning Show on Arise News – the agenda entailed: what the conferred title means to him, the bilateral ties between Nigeria and T&T, and the T&T Trade and Investment Convention.

   “This title is particularly important to me,” he said. “It means helping or working with the Ilara kingdom with regards to promoting and empowering the youths. It means reorganizing, revitalizing the community, and based on the bilateral and MOU that was signed, one of the plans is to fashion trade schools like those in Trinidad, starting with Egbe.” Aare also spoke of the opening of the refinery, and apprised that T&T has been in the oil business for about 100 years, so there is a lot of training to impart.

   Harking back to around 2009, Aare. referenced issues that arose with militants and the Delta. He said T&T trained Nigerians in T&T as part of the amnesty that was worked out, and as that exercise ceased, he wants to revive it. He’s set his sights on Kenson School of Technology, apprising that they train operators for all the IOCs in Trinidad, naming a few. He also said he sees the marriage of training blossoming to training the youth of Epe who will ultimately strengthen the labour force to benefit the refinery.

   Also mentioned was the developing relationship between the Augustine University, Ilara, Epe and the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), to synergize curriculums. He identified medicine, engineering, among other academic areas, but also looked at the cultural aspect.

   He edified, “For those who do not know, the steelpan is the only musical instrument (acoustic percussion) invented in the 20th century, and by T&T.” He spoke to T&T’s culture and identified carnival; the music, as aspects he also wants to introduce to schools in Nigeria. “It’s one of my pet projects starting with Epe. We’ve already looked at a programme for it,” he affirmed, and pointed out T&T’s annual Trade and Investment Conference hosted in Trinidad.

   The Conference was held from July 20 - 22, and based on his response during the interview, a delegation from Ilara would have attended, where respective businessmen would have met, with a view to help firm-up the collaborative efforts between Nigeria and T&T. He said T&T has a good industry, and his focus is on youth; to get them involved.

  Regarding other potential collaborative efforts at schools, Aare explained that UTT teaches Yoruba, which creates greater relationships among the Yoruba community that also comprises Yoruba people from Cuba, Brazil, Jamaica. He made it known that T&T’s special guest of the government for this year’s Emancipation celebrations, is Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who will at some point, address the Yoruba people. The Asantehene arrived in T&T on July 30 on the Global 6000 9H-VJY vista jet at 3:45pm for his inaugural state visit for one week and delivered a very address to the nation at 4:15pm.


Aare Interview Highlights...

  Aare also responded to commercial ties between Nigeria and T&T; was reminded that he once voiced the diminishing volume of trade between the two countries since in the 1960s. He highlighted the similarity in culture, natural resources which can be harnessed and traded for mutual benefit.

   One of the three hosts pinned Aare’s memory to having also spoken about T&T’s yams and tomatoes, recalling him having expressed that T&T manufactures tomato ketchup. She pointed out that Nigeria also produces tomatoes. She also drew upon the Aare having touched on the introduction of direct flights – Nigeria to Trinidad – questioning if there was any push for this to materialize, as currently, people go to Amsterdam to get to Trinidad from Nigeria.

   Aare was particularly pleased with the question. He elaborated upon the meeting that was held “in March” (of this year) between Air Peace (headquartered in Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria) and Caribbean Airlines (headquartered in Iere House, Piarco, Trinidad).

   Slightly revisiting the importance of trade, Aare put an extra plug for Nigeria. He said he always boasts that the sweetest pineapples he has tasted are not from Hawaii, but the Queen pineapple from Nigeria. The statement astonished the presenters, who smiled, and in delightful chorus, agreed with the anchor, that “it’s refreshing to hear that.”

   Aare said the direct link makes it easier for Nigerians to travel as they travel a lot, and that’s the link that’s needed for tourism as well. “That’s being worked on. I’m not selfish. You can come to Trinidad, then tour the Caribbean and come back (to Trinidad).”

   Aare said he sees Trinidad as the hub as similar to what Ethiopian Airlines does with Ijazah… in Bolay. The flight should take approximately eight to nine hours – a statement that further elated the presenters, spinning them in a mode of eagerness.

   Beaming with excitement and curiosity, one of the three presenters asked, “When is this starting up?! It’s so refreshing to hear eight hours to Trinidad; to the Caribbean! I can’t wait! I’m ready!” as unanimously agreed by her colleagues.

   In indicating pleasure of what he heard from Aare, the anchor said he envisages a type of twinning of cities between Port of Spain (T&T) and Ilara in Egbe, of which, Aare agreed, then apprised: “People tend to snicker when they hear T&T’s population being 1.5 million, and say ‘that’s a small thing in Lagos,’ but that’s what we are working towards, and to make my conferment of being the Aare, push forward.”


The interview ended on a high note, with the presenters ready to come to T&T.

   The reception was hosted by the wife of Kabiyesi, Olori A. Ogunsanwo, and sharing in the celebration were Ilara Kingdom’s Chief Jelil Olayemi, Asoju Oba of Ilara; Chief Charles Keshinro, Odofin of Ilara; Chief Owolabi Talabi, Olisa of Ilara and Chief Azeez Balogun, Ekeji of Ilara, Col Rotimi Vaughan, Honourary Consul Designate of Trinidad & Tobago; Mr. Steve Ayorinde, former Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture; and Engineer Adejuwon Badejo.