- Residents stockpile food as burial
- rituals commence
As the formal announcement of the demise of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II, will be made today, the race for the successor to the sacred Ile-Ife throne has discreetly begun.
This was after the transition rites on the remains of late Oba at the Oduduwa Shrine and other forests around Ile-Ife vicinity, were concluded last week.
Nigerian Pilot gathered that after the initial rites on the late Ooni at the Oduduwa Forest, in which some spirits had to be invoked to pave way for his successor to emerge, the body was moved to the Obatala House, also known as “Ile Ase”, after which the traditional announcement of him joining his great ancestors was fixed for today.
Though the Royal Traditional Council, RTC of Ile Ife, comprising all traditional chiefs and title holders, is yet to make categorical statements on the demise of the late monarch, it was gathered that the new occupant of the throne may come from the Lafogido Ruling Family, which is being popularly referred to as Ademiluyi Ruling Family in the media in recent times.
In this regard, the names being thrown up for consideration in the Lafogido-Ademiluyi Family include that of Prince Ademola Ademiluyi, a lawyer and a close confidant of Chief Rasaq Okoya (chairman, Eleganza Group); Prince Yinka Ademiluyi, a socialite, and Gboyega Ademiluyi, in his late sixties and a highly successful oil magnate. Others from this same ruling family include Prince Adebambo Ademiluyi, ex-Kings College graduate, and Prince Kanmi Ademiluyi, former Editor of The Punch Newspapers.
Nigerian Pilot also gathered that Kanmi, with maternal connection with the Lagos Peregrino family, may be in serious contention in the selection of the new Ooni. According to reports, he is not only having close affinity with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Osun State, he is said to be extremely close to both Governor Rauf Aregbesola and the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Investigation by Nigerian Pilot showed that four ruling houses – Osinkola, Giesi, Ogboru and Lafogido – are recognised to contest for the Ooni stool, going by the 1957 Western Region Chieftaincy Declaration and adopted by the reviewed old Oyo State Chieftaincy Declaration of 1976. Though, Ife maintained the four ruling houses, it moved the Ogboru from number three to two because, according to history, for 150 years till the time the Olubuse I, the grandfather of Oba Sijuade, mounted the throne and ruled for 16 years (1894 to 1910), the Lafogido had three slots, the Osinkola, two slots but the Ogboru had only one slot. Thus in 1980, Oba Sijuade, from Ogboru Ruling House and with many qualities required for the revered stool- local and international contacts, wealth, education among others – was favoured.
According to reports, the same criterion used for picking Ooni Sijuwade was used for his predecessor, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, who reigned from 1930 to 1980. Aderemi contested the Ooni stool with Prince Adewoyin Ajagun Ademiluyi from Lafogido and Prince Adedire from Giesi but was said to have been chosen because he was rich and educated.
In 1910, Adekola from Osinkola ruling house died and after him, Ajagun Ademiluyi became Ooni from 1910 to 1930. In all these, there was no rotation until the time of Oba Aderemi.
It was also learnt that other princes who might eventually throw their hats into the ring in the race for the stool, the Yoruba esteemed cradle of human civilisation, include Abdulraheem Adedoyin, Sikiru Adetona Ayedun and Tokunbo Sijuwade, son of the late monarch.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the last lap of the Oro ritual, one of the important rites on the passage for a dead Ooni, billed to take place today, has thrown Ile-Ife Township into frenzy.
One of the features of the Oro rite is the cutting down of some sacred trees, closure of markets and restriction on movement while the ritual will last across Ife metropolis.
In preparation for the historic event ahead the official announcement of the demise of an Ooni, residents of Ife yesterday engaged in the stockpiling of foodstuff as they will stay at home for most parts of today.
Most markets in the town were filled as customers bought their basic needs in large quantities.
The information of the Oro ritual as released by Oba Layi Adereti, the Obawara of Iwara Ife, will be performed between 9am and 4pm.
Students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, confirmed to Nigerian Pilot that they were informed of the historic event, adding that they were told that it might not affect them.
Foreigners who may have one thing or the other to do in the township are however urged to reschedule their visits while travellers were advised to seek alternative routes to Ile-Ife.