Following the official proclamation of the demise of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, by the Ife Traditional Council through the Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the remains of the foremost traditional ruler would be buried today.
A joint statement from the palace, dated August 12, 2015, signed by the Obalufe of Iremo Quarters, who is also the Vice Chairman of Ife Traditional Council, Oba Folorunsho Omisakin, Prince Adetokunbo Sijuwade, son of the late monarch, for the Ogbooru Ruling House and Lowa of Ife, Oba Joseph Ijaodola, said an interdenominational service would hold at 10 a.m. before the interment.
A visit to Ile-Ife Thursday by our correspondent revealed that arrangements were in top gear for the interment of the monarch who passed on at Saint Mary Hospital in United Kingdom.
Part of the funeral arrangements is the closure of all markets and shops in the ancient town with immediate effect for the next seven days, according to the Ife tradition to honour the departed monarch.
As early as 9 a.m. on Thursday, town criers were seen in all markets of the town and public places and institutions announcing the closure of the respective markets.
Addressing the people in the local dialect, the town criers warned residents to comply with the restriction order, warning that defaulters would face the consequences of non-compliance with the directive.
Daily Independent observed that the premises of some commercial banks and other business enterprises that had opened for the day hurriedly shut down when the news filtered to them.
The traditionalists also embarked on the cutting of trees in the heart of the town, while the state government assisted by ordering the clearing of bushes along the road between Ife-Ibadan Expressway to the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife.
Meanwhile, the Senate, based on a motion moved by Senator Babajide Omoworare, resolved to send a delegation to the state to commiserate with the government, just as Senate President, Bukola Saraki, described the Ooni’s death as “the end of an era in Yorubaland.”
Saraki in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, said he was particularly saddened by the fact that the Ooni departed at a time when the country is in dire need of his wise counsel, respected interventions and patriotic stand on issues of national significance.
While describing the transition of Oba Sijuwade as a “national loss”, the Senate President also described the late Ooni as a royal father who would remain dear to his heart for a long time due to his deliberate efforts to promote Yoruba culture and tradition.
Also, Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, in a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, described the transition as “lamentable, but also worthy of celebration, because his life truly ran its full course.”
“Oba Sijuwade was a great monarch. He joined his ancestors at a time when his wealth of experience in all spheres of life was mostly needed to guide the younger generation,” the governor said.
Among eminent personalities that visited the ancient palace to commiserate with the people of the town was a former Governor of the State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who described the late Ooni as father, confidant, mentor, nationalist and a rare patriot. He prayed for the repose of his soul.
Oyinlola noted that the passage of the monarch was a big loss to him personally because of the close relationship he had with the monarch before, during and after his governorship sojourn.
Immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, described the late Oba Sijuwade as a highly respected traditional ruler who had and demonstrated immeasurable love for his subjects as well as citizens within and outside his domain.
“For Oba Sijuwade, it is a celebration of a life well spent in the service of humanity. I urge the children, family and the entire people of Ile-Ife not to mourn but rather celebrate the passage and legacies of this great monarch who gave his very best and a touch of class and royalty to every assignment he handled,” the statement added.
The former Ekiti Governor recalled his encounters with the late first class ruler both in and out of office, described him as great traditional ruler who was well endowed with wisdom.
“Kabiyesi had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Yoruba tradition and history and had an amazing way of relating with both the low and mighty,” he said.
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, on Thursday, expressed shock at the Ooni’s “relocation to higher realm of the Adimula of the source at this time,” adding, “we give thanks to the Almighty for the great life that the revered monarch lived.”
Also among the early callers was the factional Chairman of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Chief Gani Adams, who described Ooni’s stool as that of the entire Yoruba people.
Adams who acknowledged that Oba Sijuwade did not toy with the tradition during his reign noted that Yoruba had lost a rare gem.
Another factional leaders of the OPC, Chief Fredrick Fasheun, expressed shock on the passage of the first class traditional ruler describing him as crucial and paramount.
Born into Ogboru ruling House on January 1, 1930, the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, became the 50th Ruler of the ancient kingdom on December 6, 1980.
Until his death, he was the Co-Chairman of Nigeria traditional Council.