The Ile-Ife people in Osun State, South West Nigeria sent a clear signal to the Nigerian people, particularly, Nigerian Youths early Monday morning: “It is the time for the youths” they seem to say as they chose a 40 year old monarch, Prince Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ooni elect, to steer the affairs of the ancient city regarded as the cradle of Yoruba civilisation.
The State Government of Osun, in giving voice to the choice of the people through the Ile- Ife kingmakers, according to law, announced the appointment of Prince Ogunwusi as the new Ooni of Ife in the early hours of Monday through a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Olalekan Adeoti. Gavel International had exclusively reported that the new Ooni may emerges today at midnight. Less than two hours after the report, the announcement was made.
The Nigerian police have tighten security in the ancient city since Friday in anticipation of the announcement. The announcement of the Ooni-elect is expected to douse tensions in the city. The three paragarph letter signed by Alhaji Adeoti reads: “The Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, has approved the appointment of a new Ooni of Ife. He is Prince Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi of the Giesi Ruling House of Ile Ife State of Osun. This choice follows the completion of the due process by the kingmakers and the communication of their decision to the Government.”
Since the death of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade at a London clinic on July 28, there have been tension and controversy as the race for who succeeds the late monarch splited the ruling house.
Recall that the late Obalufe, Chief Solomon Omisakin, while addressing the media on the decision of the kingmakers to stick to the 1980 Ife chieftaincy declaration and narrow search for new monarch to only the Giesi Ruling House, inside Ooni’ s palace a little over one month ago, said new monarch would emerge 40 days from then.
But the death of Obalufe, who was the most senior kingmaker and many court cases instituted by the aggrieved parties in the matter had made the projection very unlikely. However, the insinuation that a new Ooni had been chosen by the kingmakers, only for the state governor to approve yesterday, sparked tension in the town. An Osun State High Court three days ago presided over by the Chief Judge, Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo has dismissed a suit challenging the competence of Ooni of Ife 1980 Chieftaincy Declaration.
This is just as Prince Kayode Adebowale and four others from Akui branch of Oshikola Ruling House urged the Chief Judge to transfer their case to another judge, saying they cannot get fair judgment in her court. Sooko Adegoke and Prince Marcus Adebola Akimoyero had on behalf of Lafogido Ruling House of Ile-Ife, dragged Governor Rauf Aregbesola, the Obalufe of Ile-Ife, Oba Solomon Omisakin (now late) and Lowa of Ife, Chief Joseph Ijaodola to court, challenging their decision to allow only Giesi Ruling House present candidates for the vacant stool of Ooni.
The appointment of Ogunwusi has however put paid to the whole controversy. There are four ruling houses in Ile-Ife – Lafogido, Giesi, Ogboru, and Oshikola. Oba Okunade Sijuwade, who reigned between 1980 and 2015, is of the Ogboru royal lineage. The Giesi ruling house last produced an occupant to the position – Ooni Derin Ologbenla – between 1880 and 1894.
The other royal houses have also taken turns to produce Obas for the ancient town at various times.
The Ogboru lineage produced Oba Adelekan Olubuse I, who reigned between 1894 and 1910, with the Lafogido ruling house producing his successor, Oba Ademuluyi Ajagu (1910-1930).
Oba Sijuwade’s predecessor, Adesoji Aderemi, who reigned between 1930 and 1980, came from the Oshikola ruling house.
But the Adetipe family from the Amodo clan of the Ogboru ruling house curiously said it had already submitted an expression of interest for the Ooni stool, saying Oba Sijuwade’s time on the throne should not be counted for the Ogboru ruling house.