Minority Leader of the Senate, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has described the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade as an enigmatic leader, great patriot and statesman who had written his name in the national folklore and whose memory shall remain a national treasure.
He said during the Ooni’s lifetime, and his 35-year reign, he had proven himself as a worthy successor to the legendary throne of Oduduwa, whose contribution to national unity cannot be overemphasised.
Senator Akpabio made the observation during a condolence visit he paid to the family of the late monarch in Ile-Ife over the weekend. According to the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, the demise of the Ooni was a sad loss not only to the Yoruba race but also to Nigeria as a whole.
“We acknowledge the pain and agony of the loss of a father, a worthy Prince and a Spiritual Head, but we urge you to take solace that the late Royal Majesty, by virtue of his many good deeds, shall forever be embalmed in the hearts of his loving subjects.
“Further be consoled that he lived long enough to guide and witness the many successes of The Royal Family and the Yoruba race. He was an epitome of visionary traditional leadership.
“The Late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, shall be long remembered as the one who modernised the kingdom of Ife. Moreover, the late Oba fortified the position of “Arole Oduduwa” in the tablets of contemporary history as the preeminent keeper of the seal of Yorubaland.
“He devoted his time, knowledge and resources in serving his people, community and State. His virtues were exemplary, and his faith in transparent leadership was the key attribute he exhibited throughout his kingship,” he said.
Chief Akpabio recalled that on his 50th birthday anniversary, the occasion received a royal blessing with the dignified presence of the late Monarch and said the late Ooni had such a profound heart for people and this marked him out as a Royal Father who extended his fatherhood role to all Nigerians in particular and humanity in general. He said the fond memories of that kind gesture have left him with a great sense of loss.
The Senate Minority Leader however urged members of the late Ooni’s family to continue to tread the path of honour, decorum and righteousness, which he said the late Monarch treaded and that would honor his memory in a way no statue or monument can.
He condoled with the family on the loss, extended to them the sympathies of the good people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, and prayed God to grant the family the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.
In her response, the wife of the late Ooni, Olori Odun commended Senator Akpabio for identifying with the family at the time of their grief and said the support of well wishers have kept the family strong.