By Leke Adeseri, South West Regional Editor & Gbenga Olarinoye
The cloud surrounding the issue of who becomes the 51st Ooni of Ife started to clear yesterday as the Giesi ruling house received a letter from the state government to make the list of its eligible princes available.
The Osun State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, which is mandated to handle chieftaincy matters got the go-ahead from Governor Rauf Aregbesola, to commence the process of filling the stool, a reliable source told Vanguard yesterday.
This led to the Giesi Ruling House being asked to present its nominees.
The development has therefore put paid to the ambition of princes from the Ogboru, Lafogido and Osinkola ruling houses.
However, the government directive which passed through the king-makers made it clear that the selection process should be without rancour either within or between the ruling houses.
Speaking with a source within the Giesi family yesterday, Vanguard gathered that after the preliminary screening by the elders, 27 princes were pencilled down in a list to be presented to the king-makers any time from now.
The Osun State chieftaincy edict stipulates that the government should commence the process of filling the stool by writing the ruling houses to produce candidate for the stool after 14 days that the stool has been vacant.
The stool of the Ooni of Ife became vacant following the transition of Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II which was announced by the Osun State Government on August 12, 2015, while the traditional rites was completed on August 22, 2015.
The four ruling houses are Ogboru, Giesi, Lafogido and Osinkola.
The Giesi house which has repeatedly said it is its turn to present the Ooni has the highest number of contestants and had to design a form for all contestants which the Chairman of the ruling house, Prince Ropo Ogunwusi, said was given out freely to any member of the family who wanted to vie for the exalted position.
It was after the submission of the forms and performance of other scrutiny that the list of 27 princes was compiled.
According to our sources; ‘’If all goes well as expected, the next Ooni may emerge in the next seven days.
‘’But the king-makers are being as thorough as possible since the new Ooni must be a man of vision with deep interest of the town at heart and is ready to sacrifice personal gains for Ife’s overall well-being.
“All the past Oonis did their best to keep Ife on top. The new Ooni must be a man of honour, integrity and strong-will who is determined to see Ife rise to a new level of prominence in development with positive impacts on local residents and the Yoruba at large. This is my vision.” he said.
Meantime, the Ife Kingmakers, yesterday confirmed that a new Ooni of Ife will emerge soon. They also said that the Giesi Ruling House out of the four ruling houses in Ife has been selected to present candidates for the vacant stool of Ooni.
Addressing newsmen in Ile-Ife yesterday, one of the two highest ranked kingmakers of Ife, Obalufe of Ife, Oba Folorunsho Omisakin, said the new monarch for the town should possess relative ability for the throne, should have good character and have the support of the people of the community.
Reading the position of the 16 Ife kingmakers in Ile Oodua, the Ooni’s palace, Obalufe, who is the Prime Minister of the town, Oba Folorunsho Omisakin, who was flagged by Lowa of Ife, Oba Joseph Ijaodola and other kingmakers, explained that 1980 Ife Chieftaincy Declaration will be relied upon in choosing the next monarch.
He said; “Only Giesi Ruling House will be allowed to contest the throne, explaining that the concerned ruling house will be expected to present candidates upon receipt of letter from Ife East local Government Area”.
Obalufe added: “When the candidates are presented to us, the kingmakers, we will sit upon the names and within 14 days, we must come out with our findings. After that, in another 14days, the new monarch must emerge”.
The statement read in part: “we the 16 traditional rulers making up kingmakers by Ife tradition, rules and customs, hereby unanimously declare and confirm that the 1980 Ife Chieftaincy Declaration is the one in existence now and we affirm as follows:
*Section 19 subsections a (3) that it is the turn of Giesi Ruling House to present a candidate/ candidates for the vacant stool of Ooni of Ife Chieftaincy, other 3 ruling houses, that is, Osinkola, Ogboru, and Lafogido should wait for their turn.
*No ruling house should be restricted to a particular quarter or areas of the town because members of the ruling house live in different parts of the town.
*Finally, we hereby enjoin the members of the ruling houses, the town’s people, all religious bodies, men and women in Ife environs, to please maintain absolute peace. By doing this, the kingmakers would be able to select the best candidate for the vacant stool of Ooni of Ife.”
Also speaking, the Executive Secretaries of Ife East and Ife Central Local Government Areas, Messers Tajudeen Lawal and Taiwo Olaiya, said it would not be the first time the 1980 Chieftaincy Declaration would be used to select Ooni.
Lawal specifically mentioned that 1980 Chieftaincy Declaration was relied upon to pick immediate past Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade.
Commenting further, he said that part of the requirements of law for whoever will become Ooni of Ife is that he must have relative ability, character and the support of the people of Ife land.