Ooni of Ife Is Dead

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Okunade Sijuwade

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Oba Okunade Sijuwade, a traditional ruler and Ooni of Ife, dies in a London hospital at the age of 85

OKUNADE Sijuwade, a foremost traditional ruler and Ooni of Ife, is dead. He died at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, United Kingdom, UK, where he was receiving treatment for undisclosed ailment on Tuesday, July 28. He was 85.

Since the news about his death filtered into the public, there has been a flurry of activities in Ile-Ife, especially at the palace in Enuwa, Ile-Ife, Osun State. Markets in and around the ancient city were closed, even while official confirmation of his death was still being awaited. But the body language of chiefs and prominent indigenes of the state has shown the traditional leader is dead.

It was gathered that the Ife traditional council and the Osun State traditional council would meet later on Wednesday, July 29. At press time, sources close to the state government said that Governor Rauf Aregbesola was still expecting emissaries from the palace to break the news to the governor.

Sijuwade was reportedly flown out on Friday, July 24, in an air ambulance from Lagos for treatment at the London hospital when his health reportedly suffered a relapse.

The late monarch mounted the throne as the 50th Oba in the ancient city in 1980, taking the regal name Alayeluwa Olubuse II upon his installation. He later dropped “Alayeluwa” from his name, saying that only God is fit to be called “Alayeluwa.” Alayeluwa in Yoruba language means omniscience.

But he was crowned on December 6, 1980 at a ceremony that was graced by notable personalities, including Ado Bayero, the late Emir of Kano, Omon’oba Nedo Uku Akpolopolo, Oba of Benin, the Amayanabo of Opobo and the Olu of Warri. The Queen Elizabeth of England sent representatives.

Sijuwade was born on January 1, 1930 in Ile-Ife to the Ogboru Ruling House. He was the grandson of Ooni Sijuwade Adelekan Olubuse I.

He was educated at Abeokuta Grammar School, Ogun State and Oduduwa College in Ile-Ife.

After working for three years in his father’s business and another two-year stint with the Nigerian Tribune, the late Ooni enrolled at the Northampton College in the UK to study Business Management.

At 30, he was already a manager in Leventis, a Greek-Nigerian conglomerate and by 1963, he was sales director of National Motor, as state-owned company in Lagos.

After spotting a business opportunity during a 1964 visit to the Soviet Union, he formed a company to distribute Soviet-built vehicles and equipment in Nigeria, which became the nucleus of a widespread business empire.

He also invested in real estate in his Ile-Ife country home. By the time Sijuwade was crowned Ooni in 1980, he had become a wealthy man.

The late Sijuwade, a Christian, attended the Annual General Meeting, AGM, of the Foursquare Gospel Church, where he declared himself a “full member” of the church in November 2009.

—  Jul 29, 2015 @ 12:15 GMT

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