ILE IFE, Federal Republic of Nigeria. The ancient city of Ile Ife, yesterday erupted in wild jubilation as the 51st Ooni, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Babatunde Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, was presented with the staff of office and instrument of appointment.
All commercial activities in the town were put on hold in honour of the monarch, as schools, banks and shops were shut.
The event, held at Afewonro Park, Enuwa, which had in attendance, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, governors of Osun, Ogun, Oyo and Lagos states, came exactly 35 years and one day after the immediate past Ooni, Oba Okunade Sijuade was coronated.
In his goodwill message, Prof. Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event, said the throne of Ooni, being a deep and revered institution among the Yoruba people carries the responsibility of the race. Osinbajo identified honesty, integrity, and hard work as integral attributes of the Yoruba race.
He described events, such as the coronation, as rare and very historic in all ramifications, especially to the people of Ile-Ife and the entire Yoruba race. The VP also used the occasion to remind the new Ooni of the great responsibility before him.
“The stool of Ooni is revered and deeply important to the Yoruba race and the Ooni remains the father to all. “And as a father to all, you have the primary responsibility of carrying the responsibility of the people.
“We are indeed grateful to God for affording us the opportunity to celebrate with pump and pageantry,” he said.
He told the new monarch to exercise courage, integrity and loyalty to truth, urging him to be virtuous and use his position to work for the unity of the country.
He averred that Ile Ife is blessed to have a youthful monarch at this critical period in the history of the country and prayed for the anointing of virtuous as explained in the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 10 verses 16 and 17, to rest on the monarch.
Speaking in similar vein, co-chairman of National Traditional Council, His Eminence, Saad Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto, noted that the coming of Oba Ogunwusi to the throne was timely, saying the demand for recognition by youth at the moment should not be taking lightly.
The sultan said all traditional rulers in the country would give Ooni the needed support to lead the charge to get youth positively engaged, being one of them.
In his remarks, Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, urged the monarch to handle the responsibilities attached to the throne with fear of God and large-heartedness.
He urged him to draw on the wisdom of people by listening to them and advised him against pursuing naked personal interest at the expense of the larger interests of his subjects.
According to the governor, the new Ooni must mobilise his subjects to support government in its bid to implement its programmes by enlightening them on the need to pay taxes.
“New Ooni must work towards fostering unity among his subjects, not a unity that will be achieved through coercion. Your attitude will be the cardinal determinant of your success and try to carry along all in decision making,” Aregbesola said.
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 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 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 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.
Guests at the event included, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), his wife, Senator Daisy Danjuma, former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, two former Osun State governors, Chief Bisi Akande and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Oyo State governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, members of the National Assembly, and representatives of foreign missions in the country.
Traditional rulers across the country and beyond in attendance included; Dein of Agbor, Obong of Calabar, Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran, Orangun of Ila, Oba Wahab Adedotun, Elegushi of Ikate, Oba Saheed Elegushi, Orangun of Oke Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin and monarchs from Benin Republic, among others
Credit: National Mirror (Nigeria)