By Leke Adeseri, South West Regional Editor, Gbenga Olarinoye & Dapo Akinrefon
With the official presen- tation of the staff of office to the 51st Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi on Monday, December 7, 2015 by governor Rauf Aregbesola amidst pomp and pageantry, the attention of the Yoruba race particularly in Osun State is now shifted to the chairmanship of Osun State Traditional Council of Obas which was recently contested publicly by the Owa Obokun of Ijeshaland, Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran.
Indication that trouble may be brewing in the house of Oduduwa emerged barely one week to the official presentation of staff and instrument of office to the 41 year old Ooni Ogunwusi when the Owa of Ijeshaland Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran while briefing the press at the end of the Obas, monthly meeting in Osogbo said his councils’ members have unanimously appointed him the substantive chairman of the state traditional council of Obas.
Oba Aromolaran acted as the chairman of the state council of Obas after the demise of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okuade Sijuwade on July 28 2015. He told newsmen at a briefing that traditional rulers in the state may boycott the coronation and presentation of staff of office ceremony of the new Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi unless they receive formal invitation letters from the central planning committee of the event.
Oba Aromolaran stated that members of the council could only shift their position if they are accorded due recognition which befits their offices as custodians of culture and tradition in their various domains.
“If we are invited with invitation card or letter, we would go there after consulting with the governor. As at the time we concluded the meeting of Osun Council of Obas today, we have not received any invitation from Ile-Ife about the Monday’s coronation. We don’t just go to where we have not been invited,” he said.
According to him; “We held a meeting of Council of Obas in Osun. During our discussion, we deliberated on the chairmanship of the council. Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun moved the motion that since I have been acting as the chairman, I should continue in that capacity as the substantive chairman and other monarchs supported the motion”.
Oba Aromolaran continued, “I have been acting as chairman of the council even when late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade was alive. I usually presided over the meetings in his palace because of his old age”.
While promising not to disappoint all the traditional rulers who stood by him, the monarch said; “Now that Osun Obas have unanimously adopted me as their substantive chairman, I would work for the growth of Osun State and also collaborate with Governor Rauf Aregbesola in moving the state forward socially and economically”.
However, when asked what would be the status of the new Ooni of Ife now that he (Aromolaran) had been adopted as the substantive chairman of the Osun Council of Obas, he said; “it is the Obas that can answer that question because they made me their chairman”.
But the Ife Development Board, IDB, the umbrella body for all Ife indigenes dismissed the claim by Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran, that he has been chosen as new chairman of Osun state Council of Obas. The board also advised the monarch not to stir any controversy or distort history on the matter saying there exists a law that gives the chairman’s seat in the council to Ooni of Ife permanently.
Addressing newsmen in Ife, the chairman of IDB, Prof. Muib Opeloye, said the law ceding the chairmanship seat of Osun Obas Council permanently was passed by Osun State House of Assembly in 2003 and signed into law by then governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola in the same year.
The IDB chairman recalled that since 1960 when Oba Adesoji Aderemi, was Ooni of Ife, the position of chairman of the Western REgion council of Obas has been permanently reserved for the OOnia and not rotated.
The statement read in part: “Ife Development Board notes with dismay the Osun State Council of Obas’ resolution to make the OwaObokun of Ilesa, Oba Dr. Gabriel Aromolaran the permanent Chairman of the State Council of Obas as contained in the communiqué released at the end of their meeting of Thursday 3rd December 2015.
“This resolution to say the least at is ultra-vires as it contravenes the Council of Obas (Reposition) Law of Osun State signed by Prince Oyinlola in 2003, making it null and void and totally unacceptable to the good people of Ile-Ife and the entire Yoruba nation.
“It is a fact of history that right from the colonial era till date Ooni has been recognised as the natural father of the Yoruba Obas, a position which derives from the incontrovertible status of Ife as the ancestral origin of the Yoruba people.
“If we should go down the memory lane, we should remind ourselves that in the old Western Region when we had bicameral legislature, Sir Adesoji Aderemi as Ooni of Ife was not only the President of the House of Chiefs he was also the permanent chairman of the region’s council of Obas. Nobody rotated the chairmanship with him.
“It was when he became the Governor of Western Region that chairmanship came to Owa Obokun, Oba Ogunmokun. It is also pertinent to state that when Oba Aderemi became very old and could not attend the council meeting any longer, his deputy, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi was the one acting and he was coming to Ife to report their deliberations to the Ooni.
“In July 1996 before the assassination of Nigeria’s then Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi, Oba Aderemi presided over the meeting of the traditional rulers from different parts of the country that took place in Ibadan. Such was the position of things during the time of Oba Aderemi.
“In 1980 after the demise of Oba Adesoji Aderemi, Oba Okunade Sijuwade took over in Oyo State as permanent chairman till 1992 when Osun State was created.
“The position of Ooni as the permanent Chairman of the Council of Obas did not change since the creation of Osun State. In fact, Oba Okunade Sijuwade was pronounced as the Chairman of the State Council of Obas the same day he was announced as the Ooni of Ife.
“It is pertinent to note that in Osun State today, there is a subsisting law which makes the Ooni permanent Chairman of the Council of Obas.That is the law which constituted the Council in 2003 signed by the former Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlol.
“Even at the national level, the Ooni co-chairs the national traditional council with the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar. This is in recognition of his supremacy as the foremost Yoruba traditional ruler. “One then wonders the principle invoked by the Council in announcing Oba Aromolaran as Chairman of Osun Council of Obas given the incontrovertible status of the Ooni as the father of all the Yoruba.
“In fact, it is an extreme act of bad faith for the people responsible for the so-called resolution which is against an extant law to not even have the courtesy to wait for the conclusion of the coronation activities of the new Ooni before acting maliciously against the throne of Oduduwa.
“We want to believe this to be a figment of imagination of the ambitious few who want to upturn the course of history and this cannot work”, the statement added.
Ooni calls for unity in Osun State
At a book presentation as part of activities organised for his installation, held at OAU campus last Saturday, Oba Ogunwusi, responded to the claims by Owa, saying chairmanship of the Council of Obas is not about age but about the stool. He said Ooni would remain the permanent chairman of the state council of Obas regardless of the age of the occupant of the stool.
Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife called on the people of Osun State especially the residents of Ife kingdom, his domain, to remain united in order for them to attain their dreams in life.
The monarch, who was grateful to God for making him a king over his people advised the people of Ile-Ife to emulate the jews who through their industry and ingenuity dominate the world’s economy. He further admonished his people and the traditional institution in the state to live in love and harmony, saying charity begins in Ife.
Oba Ogunwusi in tacit response to Oba Aromolaran’s comment said he was not pleased with the comment adding that he was not on the stool of Ooni to fight for supremacy with any traditional ruler. His comments: Ïn life, you don’t struggle for power to be great. Greatness comes naturally.”
Meanwhile, the Orangun Oke Ila Oba Adedokun Abolarin Aroyikeye1 who showered praises on Oba Ogunwusi for keeping Ile Ife cleaner and safer under his watch said: “I don’t have any choice than to be totally loyal to Ile Ife since Oke Ila has its historical background traced to Ile Ife. Extolling the virtues of Oba Ogunwusi, the Orangun of Ole Ila said the new Ooni is on the throne to build many foundations for generations unborn, also referring to him as a bridge builder.
The Orangun of Oke Ila therefore congratulated the people of Ile Ife for having Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi as their king while calling for their support for the new Ooni of Ile Ife.
Ooni declares new Yoruba nation
Commenting shortly after receiving the staff of office, Oba Ogunwusi, dedicated ascension to Nigerian youth and promised to liaise with the people in leadership positions to fashion out ways that the teeming youthful population can be engaged. The monarch stated that shortly after he was named Ooni-elect, he immediately commenced interfacing with monarchs across the country, declaring that during his reign, there would not be competition, stressing the need for a more united Yoruba nation.
He said: “Shortly after I was named Ooni-elect, I sprang into action. I called my friend, Oba Saheed Elegushi, I spoke to the Sultan of Sokoto. I also called Kabiyesi, Alaafin. I spoke to Awujale, Alake. I am prepared for the throne and this is not accidental.
“I am close to many monarchs and uniting them should not be a problem. It will be easy. No competition with anyone. And I want to announce to the entire world that the new Yoruba nation is coming.” On his programme for the youth, Ooni Ogunwusi said he had experimented with a model for youth empowerment in the last three weeks, with the employment of about 3,000 of them on the site of a resort he is building, which has in return, reduced the crime rate in Ile Ife. He called for conscious efforts by all tiers of governments to get youths off the streets by providing them with good jobs.