Since death afflicted the imperial kingdom of Ile-Ife, Osun State, to claim the pride and power of the people, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuade, Olubuse II, the 50th Ooni of Ife, the ancient city has been cast in a bind of sort. Besides having to duel with an increasingly meddlesome and fast domineering news media, the Royal Traditional Council (RTC), has to contend with the intrigues, subtle and wild machinations of contenders to the crown.
As soon as Ile-Ife committed the remains of Oba Sijuade to mother earth, princes from the eligible ruling families began to indicate interest in the royal stool, with each candidate making a strong case for themself. As the race to succeed the late Ooni of Ife intensifies, all the eligible princes in the ancient town have disclosed their intentions.
However, from all indications, of all the contenders, Prince Adetunji Adeyemi Ogunwusi, 48, seems to be the most likely candidate to mount the throne after the late Oba Sijuade.
While many pundits attribute the likelihood of his emergence as the next Ooni to his established renown, business savvy and depth of character, many more argue that the Ogunwusi scion is favoured by historical and royal provisions. Notwithstanding, the claims, counter-claims and permutations concerning his candidacy for the crown, Prince Ogunwusi exudes unusual candour and character absent in several contenders to the throne. For instance, while his rivals lust and fixate on the likely benefits to be enjoyed from mounting the coveted throne, Prince Ogunwusi sees royalty as ‘Service to Humanity.’ The Prince believes that royalty is both spiritual and physical empowerment of monarchs authorized to ensure provision of adequate welfare for their people and protection of their socio-cultural heritage and not a position of exploitation or self-enrichment whatsoever.
The respect and dignity that comes with royalty, according to him, should be earned. “Kingship is power and ability to serve the community at large. A monarch’s ability to rule is not based only on one’s divine right of succession, but also on one’s ability to shoulder the responsibility that comes with being divinely appointed. A monarch should possess the ability to lead his subjects wisely, placing the welfare of his kingdom above his personal desires. It is also paramount that one appreciates the collective guide of the kingmakers and other stakeholders in upholding the cultural beliefs of his kingdom,” he said.
The Prince’s socio-economic and cultural development blueprint for Ile-Ife
While his rivals engage in wanton popularity contest and bicker over their right to the throne, Prince Ogunwusi charts a purposeful developmental agenda for Ile-Ife. “My main thrust of returning Ile-Ife to its pre-eminence is based on my desire to redevelop the historic city into becoming the regional centre for commerce and promote its cultural heritage. Ile-Ife, in the past, accommodated and welcomes visitors and traders alike with warmth and open arms for the economic benefit of the indigenes. So, this would be the driving ideology for all my infrastructural, economic policy and developmental strategies,” he said.
According to the Prince, his decision to vie for the throne of his forebears is premised on his ambition to further re-unite the Yoruba and promote the race’s cultural heritage. “My desire is to re-ignite the interest of our youths in the development of Yoruba land and redefine the richness in our cultural beliefs. Taking a cue from what I have done all my life which is wealth creation, my six-point agenda derived from the letters of the word “WEALTH” include:
W = Wealth creation; E = Education; A = Agricultural Development; L = Leveraging ; T = Tourism and Trade and H = Human Capital Development,” he said.
Prince Ogunwusi seeks to work with organizations like Ife Indigenes in Diaspora Organization (IIDORG) to strengthen business, travel and investment opportunities in the kingdom. “This will be achieved by harnessing and developing local content and talents for business growth and development of the land. Our people are known for art and craft, pottery, and artifact development. We intend to promote indigenous industries by sourcing and developing markets for the products. Our overall wealth creation ideals shall be achieved by vigorously pursuing other agendas,” he disclosed.
Citing technical education as a major focus of his educational plan for the township, the Prince stated thus: “I will work hand in hand with the Osun Sate Government to ensure that technical and vocational education and training especially with respect to my wealth creation directions are re-evaluated and developed for the benefit of our youths who are perpetually drifting to Lagos and Ibadan for greener pastures. I shall set up new vocational training centres and renovate existing centres and ensure that our youths are trained and are subsequently set up after their trainings. ”
Being an agrarian community, Prince Ogunwusi also revealed his intention to boost Ile-Ife’s agricultural production and proceeds. “The development of farm settlements which contain farmers and processors combined with the development of agricultural extension programmes for local farmers and processors are very crucial to agricultural development. I shall work with NGOs and agricultural development centres both local and international to understand and develop the agricultural value chain for Ile-Ife. The Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, will be consulted and engaged with respect to our plans,” he said.
Moved by his unapologetic forthrightness and historical provisions, political pundits and sources within the ancient kingdom speculate that if the RTC follows due process, Prince Ogunwusi would undoubtedly emerge the next Ooni of Ife.
On insinuations in certain quarters that the principle of rotation in succession to the Ooni’s stool may have been jettisoned, majority of the people of Ile-Ife believe that it is a sign of desperation by some of those jostling to succeed the late Oba Sijuade by all means. They opined that Ife, as the home of civilization cannot afford to be disorderly in any form in the conduct of the people especially in areas where culture and tradition is supreme. There is no gainsaying Ile Ife has four ruling houses, namely: Giesi, Lafogido, Osinkola and Ogboru. The late Oba Sijuwade emerged from the Ogboru ruling house. Currently, the Ogboru ruling house appears to be out of the race for succession because there is a principle of rotation in place in the ancient town. In that case, it means that the other three ruling houses are the ones in contention for the vacant stool. They are: Giesi, Lafogido and Osinkola ruling houses. In spite of the on-going scheming and wild speculations about the likely successor to Oba Sijuade, it is quite obvious that it is the turn of the Giesi ruling house to nominate a candidate or candidates to occupy the vacant stool.
The competition is always very keen for a throne and crown of the Ooni’s status. And while the kingdom of Ife boasts of very capable and qualified princes who could readily assume the mantle of leadership of the town, it faces the herculean task of separating the men from the boys in determining the next Ooni of Ife. But despite the seeming suitability of several of the contenders to the throne, the royal stool requires a candidate whose innate constitution, personal and work ethic echoes a rousing streak to trigger the kingdom’s much clamoured socioeconomic and technological progress. Ife’s urgent need for rapid development no doubt requires the ascension to the throne of a young, vibrant and energetic monarch in the mould of Prince Ogunwusi.