Ife Kingmakers have finally announced a new Ooni for the ancient town in Osun State newly three months after the demise of legendary Oba Okunade Sijuwade, who died on July 28, 2015 in a London hospital.
The new Ooni is Prince Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi of the Giesi ruling house.
He was declared the 51st Ooni of Ile-Ife via a statement by the state governor, Ogbeni Fauf Aregbesola.
The statement titled; “Appointment of a New Ooni,”announced that the kingmakers of Ife had completed the required process and communicated the choice of Prince Ogunwusi to his office for approval.
The process to select a new monarch came to a head in August following the rejection by a clan in the Ogboru Ruling House, of plans by the Ile-Ife kingmakers to restrict their selection to the Giesi family.
Also, the Adetipe family from the Amodo clan of the Ogboru ruling house expressed its own as they formally submitted an expression of interest for the Ooni stool, saying Oba Sijuwade’s time on the throne should not be counted for the Ogboru ruling house.
Although it hitherto appeared settled that the Giesi house would produce the next Ooni, being next to the Ogboru ruling house in the succession order established by a Government Declaration on the Ooni Chieftaincy title of 1977, a clan in the Ogboru royal family also joined in the race.
The Ogboru family contended that the Giesi ruling lineage should blame itself for conceding its turn to produce an Ooni to the late Oba Sijuwade, saying the concession to the late monarch was to him as an individual and not to the Ogboru clan as a whole.
There are four ruling houses in Ile-Ife – Lafogido, Giesi, Ogboru, and Oshikola.
Oba Sijuwade, who reigned between 1980 and 2015, is of the Ogboru royal lineage.
The Giesi ruling house last produced an occupant to the position – Ooni Derin Ologbenla – between 1880 and 1894.
The other royal houses have also taken turns to produce Obas for the ancient town at various times.
The Ogboru lineage produced Oba Adelekan Olubuse I, who reigned between 1894 and 1910, with the Lafogido ruling house producing his successor, Oba Ademuluyi Ajagu (1910-1930).
Oba Sijuwade’s predecessor, Adesoji Aderemi, who reigned between 1930 and 1980, came from the Oshikola ruling house.
However, the Adetipe family from the Amodo clan of the Ogboru ruling house maintained that the late Oba Sijuwade’s time on the throne should not be counted for the Ogboru ruling house, adding that it has already submitted an expression of interest for the Ooni stool.
The development subsequently raised the tempo of the contest for the traditional stool, with fears that getting a new traditional ruler for the ancient town may not be tension and crisis-free after all.
The Giesi Ruling House was however insisting that it is its turn to produce the next Ooni to succeed Sijuwade, who died July 28 in a London hospital.
At a press conference, the princes of the Giesi ruling house, namely, Adelowo Ogunleye, Ropo Ogunwusi and Moses Awogbade insisted that it was their clan’s turn to produce the next Ooni.
Ogunleye, who spoke on behalf of the family, said it was the turn of the ruling house based on the government declaration on the Ooni chieftaincy title in 1977.
He said another memorandum issued by the old Oyo State Government dated September 16, 1980 on the appointment of the Ooni provided for four ruling houses: Osinkola, Ogboru, Giesi and Lafogido in that order.
“We want to seize this opportunity to tell the whole world especially the people of Ile-Ife and government of the State of Osun, ably headed by our amiable and indefatigable governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, that the normal rotation to the succession to the throne of Ooni which is in vogue in Ile-Ife presently, has ascertained the fact that it is now the turn of Giesi Ruling House Moore Ile Ife to produce the next Ooni of Ife by the special grace of God almighty,” Mr. Ogunleye said.
“It is on record as indicated by the government declaration captioned ‘ The Ooni of Ife Chieftaincy Declaration’ reference no CB141/7/1/540 dated 22nd August, 1977 addressed to the then Executive Secretary of Oranmiyan Local Government Ile-Ife from the office of Military Governor of Oyo State of Nigeria and duly signed by the then Secretary to the Military Government and Head of Service.”
He further stated that Paragraph A of the letter stated that the order of rotation among the ruling houses should be as follows: “(1) Osinkola (2) Ogboru (3) Giesi (4) Lafogido.”
“We want all and sundry to please note that the Osinkola House produced our father Oba Adesoji Aderemi who ruled for 50 years in Ile-Ife and was immediately succeeded by Oba Okunade Sijuwade from Ogboru House who has just transited,” he said.
“It then follows that the next ruling house to produce the next Ooni of Ife should automatically and normally come from Giesi Ruling House as the government approved rotational arrangements.”
However, a section of the Ogboru ruling house raised questions about the order in which the families produce the Ooni.
While calling on the kingmakers to respect traditions and imbibe fairness in their appointment of a new Ooni, a prince of the Ogboru extraction, Adeniran Adetipe, said the Adetipe family from Amodo had submitted an expression of interest for the stool.
He explained that the Ogboru family, which produced the last Ooni, has seven clans, which are Molodo, Amodo, Alaka, Adejokun, Odogbon, Ooni/Ilare and Olubuse/Olodo.
He suggested that his family’s arm of the Ogboru ruling house was not part of the arrangement that saw the late Oba Sijuwade taking the turn that should have been that of the Giesi ruling house.
According to him, the family has put forward a generally accepted candidate to fill the vacant position of the Ooni of Ife.
He said the immediate past Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade in 1980 had an agreement with the Giesi ruling house to trade their turn for the throne, (and not on behalf of the entire Ogboru ruling house) adding that Oba Sijuade’s predecessor- Oba Adesoji Aderemi – was from the Osinkola ruling house.
Adetipe also called on the Osun State Government to assist the traditional institution in the state to ensure that the right person and ruling house produced the 51st Ooni of Ife.