Ife Traditional Council confirms Ooni’s death
AT long last and following denials, controversies and suspense spanning two weeks, the House of Oduduwa and Ife Traditional Council yesterday officially confirmed the transition of the foremost traditional ruler, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse 11.
His first son, Prince Adetokunbo Sijuwade briefed Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola on the development when he and members of the Traditional Council visited the governor.
Shortly after, the state government issued a statement saying: “The State of Osun wishes to announce that our Royal Father, His Imperial Majesty, Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, Olubuse 11, has joined his great ancestors.
‘‘The governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, received the news today Wednesday August 12, 2015 through the Traditional Council.
The governor joins other sons and daughters of Osun to celebrate the translation of this highly reverred monarch whose era brought prestige, honour and dignity to traditional institution in our clime, his reign brought tremendous development and increased global attention to his domain.”
Meanwhile, encomiums and condolences have begun to pour in with President Muhammadu Buhari expressing sadness over the passing on of one of Nigeria’s foremost traditional rulers while the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara called the ruler’s death a monumental loss to Nigeria.
Also, the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation has expressed “shock and utter dismay at the news of the sudden departure from this earthly realm of His Imperial Majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, the Ooni of Ife, after 35 glorious years on the throne of his ancestors.
In a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, Buhari extended his sincere condolences to the late Ooni’s family, his friends, as sociates and subjects, as well as the government and people of Osun State on the incident. The President joined them in mourning the revered traditional ruler, “who will be long remembered and celebrated for his worthy service, over more than three decades, as the Chief Custodian of the traditions of the Yorubas and his invaluable contributions to the sustenance of the cultural heritage of his people within and outside Nigeria. “President Buhari believes that Oba Sijuwade’s place in posterity has already been assured by his long and worthy service to his people and country as well as his notable contributions to the development of his community, state and country as a leading businessman, administrator and inspirational traditional ruler.
The foundation said: “Kabiyesi ascended the throne better prepared than most for the uniquely critical leadership role of the Ooni in Yoruba land. He had a formidable geo-political and social network, nationally and internationally. He possessed considerable material wealth. And he possessed ample personal attributes of kindness, generosity and tolerance, amongst many others, to make his reign the outstanding success that it turned out to be.” On his part, Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, Najeem Salaam said in a statement that the absence of the Late Ooni at this critical phase of national life would be deeply felt.
He said: “Ooni Sijuwade was a repository of Yoruba tradition and history, he deployed his wisdom and royalty for the interest of the Yoruba race.” Also Senator Felix Ogunwale has said the demise of Oba Okunade Sijuwade without doubt has created a vacuum in Yorubaland.
On behalf of the royal family, Prince Sjuwade thanked the governor for his support and cooperation to the royal family and later told him point-blank that the elephant had fallen. Adetokunbo, who tried to overcome emotion said the body of his father would arrive the country today and his committed to mother earth tomorrow at 10 a.m.