An inter-religious farewell service was on Friday held in honour of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse 11. The inter-religious service by Christians, Muslims and Traditional Religious faithful was held at Enuwa Square located in the frontage of Ile-Oodua which housed the Palace of Ooni. TUNDE OYEKOLA, who has been following the developments since the passage of the Ooni of Ife was announced, reports…
Although, a seven-day curfew was imposed on the people of the town as a result of the Oro cult, which is still ongoing following the declaration of the demise of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse 11, many residents of the ancient town managed to attend the service held at Enuwa square, Ile-Ife, while shops and business houses remained closed. WESTERN POST observed that majority of the indigenes remained indoors while all the markets were empty and deserted by the traders. The demise of Oba Sijuwade was made public on Wednesday by the Ife Traditional Council led by Chief Gabriel Omisakin who visited Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola. The inter-religious service was attended by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko while Governor Aregbesola was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti.
Other dignitaries at the service included former governor of the defunct Western State, General Adeyinka Adebayo, who was a bosom friend of the late Oba Sijuwade, Real Admiral Akin Aduwo, who was also governor of the old Western state and General Alani Akinrinade. The Awolowo family was represented by Revd. (Mrs) Tola Oyediran and Dr Olatokunbo Dosumu. Others in attendance were Prof. Bamitale Omole, Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, former PDP governorship candidate in Osun State, Chief Iyiola Omisore, and Chief of Staff to Osun State Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola.
Neither the corpse nor the casket containing the remains of the late monarch was visible at the service. In his speech, Vice President Osinbajo said the people were in celebration mood because it was the belief of the Yoruba that Ooni does not die. “We are in celebration mood today because Ooni doesn’t die,” he said. Prof. Osinbajo, who said that Oba Sijuwade excelled during his lifetime, stated that “we should thank God that he did well and live long. We should remember him for all the good things he did and we should pray that we continue his legacy.”
In the homily, the Very Reverend Olusola Akanbi, Dean of the Ife Anglican Diocese, who represented the Bishop, Rt. Rev. Oluranti Odubogun, said Oba Sijuwade brought fame and popularity to Ife. Rev. Akanbi who said that every human being would die stated that this is the time of challenge, which everyone should be prepared to meet our God. Mufasir Yusuf Usman, who preached on behalf of Ife Muslim Congregation, said that all of us should learn a lesson from death that there would be an end to life. He recalled that the life of Oba Sijuwade was full of blessing, adding that he made a lot of people happy. He said Oba Sijuwade contributed millions of Naira to the rebuilding of Ile-Ife Mosque.
The Traditional Religionists led by Ifaloba Ifagbenro spoke of the fatherly role played by Oba Sijuwade during his lifetime, saying “we do not regret his death.”
Aregbesola Says Ooni Was A Man of Honour
As reported in last week’s edition of WESTERN POST that the demise of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, would be announced on Wednesday, the Ife Traditional Council paid a visit to Governor Rauf Aregbesola midweek and announced that the monarch had joined his ancestors. Announcing the passage of the monarch at the Government House Osogbo, the Obalufe of Iremo Quarters, Oba Solomon Omisakin, who led the traditional council to the Governor, held that the delay in the announcement of the Ooni’s death was due to strict adherence to Yoruba tradition of announcing the death of a monarch. Omisakin said it was imperative for the council to lay to rest the rumours making the round on the death or otherwise of the late Ooni of Ife, saying the announcement of the death of the monarch is not one that would be made in the market place or any other social gathering. He asked for the support and cooperation of the governor and government of Osun for peace and progress of Ife Kingdom and Yoruba Land in general. “We, the Ife Traditional Council have come here to brief you the governor and the government of Osun about the passing on of our royal majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the Ooni of Ife.
“The breaking of the news of the demise of the king must follow traditional ways and rites, that is why it is coming at this time. The news of the transition to glory of any Yoruba monarch is not pedestrian news that one can just announce at a market place or a social gathering.
“The announcement of the death of a great man like our royal monarch is great news that must be announced in a grand style. On behalf of the entire Sijuwade family, the Ife Traditional Council and the entire Ife indigenes, we hereby announce the passing on to glory of His Imperial Majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuade, Olubuse the II”.
Responding, Governor Aregbesola recounted the last message he received from the late monarch on July 23rd when he briefed him of his medical trip abroad. Aregbesola described Oba Sijuade as a person who during his lifetime did everything humanly possible to uplift the Yoruba tradition the world over. He held that it should be on record that during his lifetime, he showcased and left the traces of Yoruba tradition anywhere he visited across the globe. In the course of his address, Aregbesola read verbatim the message the late Ooni sent to him when he was going for medical trip abroad; “I am still not feeling good, so I am travelling abroad for further medical treatment this week.
“I place you and your government in the hand of God and under His continuous guidance. “This was the last conversation I had with the late monarch; we dearly miss his charisma, demonstration of loyalty and his position as a rallying point for all Yoruba people and a bridge-builder across all ethnic groups in Nigeria.”Indeed, he was a great man and he left an indelible mark on the sand of history, not only in Yoruba Land, Nigeria but across the world,” the governor said.
Ooni Died a Born Again Christian, Says CAC Evangelist
Renowned Christian Cleric, Evangelist Toluwase Akeredolu, has said that the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade died as a born again Christian, having confessed his sins shortly before his demise.
Evangelist Akeredolu said he was privileged to minister to the deceased monarch few weeks before his death and confessed all his sins to God after the ministration.
The Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) Evangelist who hails from Ido-Ani in Ondo State said he lived his youthful life in Ile-Ife, Osun State and got familiar with late Oba Sijuwade during a revival programme he organized in the ancient town.
He recalled that the late monarch at one of the last crusades he attended before his demise publicly announced his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.
According to him “Oba Sijuwade told the congregation at the last crusade we organized in Ile-Ife that he had forsaken sins and accepted Christ as his Lord and Personal savior. He confessed publicly that he will live the rest of his life to serve the Almighty God.”
Oba Sijuwade who was said to have died in a London hospital last Tuesday had in 2010 dropped the title of “Oluaye” saying he took the decision to reference God who is the God of all”.
Akeredolu said: “During the revival, Oba Sijuwade said he has given the rest of his life to Christ, the savior of all and sang a popular song “all to Jesus I surrender.”
He prayed God to grant the family members and others the monarch left behind the fortitude to bear the great loss, just as he prayed God to grant the deceased eternal rest.