For a race literally torn apart and denied cultural advancement and overall development for decades by a leadership -traditional institutions- that should ordinarily weld it together, the Unity Move by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Alayeluwa Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, is welcome. It is proof that the missing link in the overall configuration and development of the Yoruba race has been found. It is heartening that the Cradle and the Source is re-inventing itself and the entire Yoruba Nation.
Since his coronation last year, the Ooni of the Source has set aside cultural and age-old prejudices and broken historical cleavages by paying a visit to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, a practice considered impossible by some traditional jingoists. For the over three decades that the immediate-past Ooni, Oba Okunnade Sijuade Olubuse II, spent on the throne, it was a-cat-and-dog scenario between him and the Alaafin.
The current Ooni also took his Unity Move a notch higher by visiting other frontline Obas in Yorubaland, including the Alake of Egbaland, the Osile of Oke-Ona, etc.
Extending the visit to other frontline Obas has closed the gulf created by the tussle between Ooni and Alaafin as other traditional rulers had seemingly lined up behind the traditional titans.
It is fitting to see the Ooni’s Unity Move as a sacrifice for the unity of Yorubaland. It is a lesson in leadership and cultural relationships that love and unity are more valuable than superiority contest.
It is unlikely that seeking for peace will diminish the Ooni of the Source and the status of Ile-Ife as the Cradle of Yoruba Land. Rather, it portrays him as a leader who considers no sacrifice too great in the service of his people. After all, the peaceful co-existence of a people gives meaning and prominence to Royalty. And it is a man of peace that will bend over backwards to settle past quarrels and seek peace, no matter what it may cost.
It is unlikely either that extension of the olive branch to the people of Modakeke, who are regarded as the arch enemies of Ile-Ife, and between whom a fatal war had ensued would portray the Ooni of the Source as a coward.
The Ooni’s promise to rebuild the broken houses of Modakeke can only be a genuine move from the heart that will settle their age-old scores and entrench enduring peace and development. Ooni has started on a commendable note. The Iku Baba Yeye will do well to sustain these moves and avoid the banana peels of politics and murky business. He should use his huge clout to continue to woo investors to Ile-Ife, Yorubaland and the nation.
There is no doubt that a new spirit has entered The Source and Yorubaland. The good people of Yoruba land can only rally round this new spirit to entrench the long-lost peace and fast-track development.
The former tough stance of the traditional rulers can only divide the Yoruba Nation the more and deny it of development. Under the belly of the six States of the Yoruba Nation are rich human and material resources the age-old tussle among the Obas has only allowed to emerge in piecemeal. The torrential manifestation of these huge endowments will soon convince the worst doubters that the Ooni’s ongoing Unity Move is all the Yoruba require to move forward.
The Unity Move portrays the Ooni as a peace icon and a man of the people. Finding the right strategy to fight and win a war is the responsibility of a general in the armed forces in a moment of war. As a revered general and military tactician, former President Olusegun Obasanjo understands this war secret and has put Ooni’s Unity Move in a better perspective when he visited the Ooni recently and said, “I commend the role of Ooni in ensuring peace in Yorubaland. Continue what you are doing, especially your unity course. I am happy with the moves so far. It is only a sign of honour for the Ooni to visit anyone. That does not deny Ile-Ife of its position in the history of Yorubaland.”
As traditional leaders of honour, the other Obas should collect and bear the Unity Torch and beam it across the length and breath of Yorubaland as true sons of Oduduwa.