Former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka were among prominent personalities that witnessed yesterday in Ile-Ife the first year coronation anniversary of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II.
Oba Ogunwusi on December 7, 2015 received his staff of office from Osun Stste Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola in the presence of several dignitaries that included Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN
The eloquent Nobel laureate and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo speaking at the one year anniversary which included presentation Irawo Oodua Medals Awards and launching of a book titled: “Venerated” – detailing his background and emergence, the two prominent nigerians threw their weight behind the on going moves by the monarch to unite traditional rulers and prominent leaders in yorubaland and the country as a whole.
In his speech, Professor Soyinka said somebody’s view about Moremi did not take away anything from the reality of who she was and that no celebration in her honour could be too much.
Though Soyinka did not mention anybody’s name, observers noted that the world famous academician was referring to Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, who had controversially referred to the great Moremi Ajasoro as a traitor that was not worthy of celebrating few days after the Ooni inaugurated a statue, the tallest in Nigeria and 3rd in Africa, in her honour.
“There is controversy about the origin of someone whom we know as the origin of Yoruba race, kingdom, black race and humanity. The controversy may continue for long but the reality is that Kabiesi, the Ooni of Ife above all, Ile Ife is the cradle of humanity.
“We know what we know; we know what we accept and believe and that remains the fact. I have just gone to see the statue of Moremi and the controversy on Moremi. I learnt that some people said that Moremi, the heroine, is a traitor. That does not touch any part of reality of what Moremi is or was. And as the head of this race, I don’t want you (Ooni) to spend any time or energy at all responding to counter or alternative theories. It is not necessary.” Prof Soyinka said.
Soyinka, who added that the influence of the Ooni and Ile Ife as the cradle of mankind transcended this region also said the Ife monarch was recognised and referred above other Obas outside the shores of Nigeria.
Soyinka who’s first child bears the name MOREMI added that the influence of Ile-Ife transcends Nigeria and Africa. “If you walk on the street of Cuba or Brazil, somebody will tap you on your shoulder because they know you are black, they say ‘who are you?’ And you say ‘I am Osun, Ogun, Sango’. At the end, they will ask you how is the Ooni? It means the Yoruba race, culture is beyond this environment,” Soyinka added.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Soyinka, who were among dignitaries that graced the book presentation, also hailed Oba Ogunwusi for making spirited efforts to unite the Yoruba race.
The former President said Oba Ogunwusi had done very well to unite Yoruba monarchs and had embarked on the transformation of Ile Ife in the past one year on the throne of his forefathers.
“I commend His Imperial Majesty, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, for his unification agenda and for ensuring that the Yoruba race remains undivided.”
He stated that he had been watching the unification and transformation moves of Oba Ogunwusi with keen interest immediately after he ascended the throne.
The former President described the moves “as a very good thing,” adding that unity would bring peace and development to the people.
He urged the Ife monarch as the spiritual leader of Yoruba not to relent in ensuring that the entire Yoruba race was brought together.
Ooni Ogunwusi later told journalists in an interview that he would not relent in his efforts towards ensuring the unity of the race and to emancipate Ife youths from unemployment and poverty.
He said peace in Yorubaland was critical to the peace of Nigeria and Africa, adding that peace in Yoruba land was non-negotiable.
The Arole Oodua said he was aware of the economic crisis when he was inaugurated as the 51st Ooni of Ife but he decided to make a difference in the lives of his people despite recession.
The monarch stated that he focused on agriculture, tourism and youth empowerment to restore peace and tranquility to the once troubled town.
The Ooni stated that the communal clash between Ife and Modakeke left post-war effect which turned some of the youths to miscreants.
He, however, noted that through his efforts, most of the youths had now been given hope, while peace had been restored to Ile Ife.
“We know the situation of things in Ile Ife before I came. We know that dollar is not affecting what we produce on our farms and we focused on three things- agriculture, tourism and youth emancipation.
“We encourage our youths to produce and I am a promoter of local goods. Everything I wear is produced locally excluding my wristwatches. My beads and shoes are produced here.
“The Ife-Modakeke war left our youths to be heartless and carefree but now Ife has become one of the most peaceful towns in the country.” Ooni Ogunwusi said.
Also in attendance at the low-key occasion were the Esama of Benin Kingdom, Deputy governor Titi Laoye-Tomori who represented Osun State governor Rauf Aregbesola, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, former governor Theophilos Bamigboye, Senator Jeremiah Oseni, Senator Grace Bent, Alhaji Suaib Oyedokun, Asiwaju of Ife Chief Alex Dudu Yemi, Elegusi of Ikate Oba Saheed Elegusi, Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Ganiyu Oloogunebi, about many other monarchs from across Nigeria and Republic of Benin.
While the ongoing first coronation anniversary Ooni Ogunwusi continues till Sunday, the event of Wednesday that witnessed the book launch was climaxed by the O TI SE’ESE CARNIVAL attended by thousands of Nigerian youths at Olokun park and Irawo Oodua Medals Awards bestowed on eminent Oodua’s sons and daughters including Chief Mrs Nike Akande, Professor Sophie Oluwole and Hon. Funmilayo Tejuoso.
Other recipients of the Ooni’s Irawo Oodua include Professor Bola Ajibola, Chief Bisi Akande represented by the Osun state SSG, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, Dr Taiwo Afolabi of Sifax Group, Alhaji Kamaru Ibitoye of Kam Steel Ltd and a black American who is member of the Philadelphia House of Representatives in the USA, Jordan Harris.