Historic visit of Ooni of Ife to Alaafin re-ignites unity of Yorubas

Yinka Salaam, Osogbo

It was a joyous occasion for all Yorubas as His Royal Majesty, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi paid an historic but unscheduled visit recently to the Alaafin Of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, at his palace to join him in celebrating his 45th coronation anniversary on the throne.

The visit, described by many as unprecedented in the recent history of the Yorubas is seen as a great achievement which signalled an end to the unhealthy rivalry that has characterised the relationship between the two paramount kings in Yoruba land.

Speaking at the thanksgiving service to commemorate the anniversary, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi said though, while he was not officially invited to the occasion, his visit was to pursue peace.

He emphasized that his topmost agenda since ascending the throne of his forefathers was to unify all Yoruba sons and daughters across the nation and the world.

“I am here today though not invited but as the Arole Oduduwa. The onus is on me to felicitate with all sons and daughters wherever they are and to show my solidarity for any of them.

I am ready to damn any consequences or insinuations from anywhere. My mission here is to preach peace among nations of Yoruba both home and abroad and I am ready to work with the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi to project the unity and love which we believe is existing in days of our forefathers,” Ooni said.

Ooni of Ife, who was accompanied to the 45th thanksgiving service of Alaafin by over 100 monarchs from across all Yoruba land, believe that with the support of all the Obas, there would be unity in Nigeria and by extension there will be unity and peace all over the world,

“Oduduwa is the father of all nations and his spirit abides by all us as the symbol of the progenitor,” he concluded

Alaafin responds

In his speech, Oba Olayiwola Adeyemi expressed joy with the presence of the Ooni and all Obas in Yorubaland, maintaining that if all Yoruba monarchs unite, there will be tremendous progress in Nigeria.

“This special visit was done last in March 1937; that was the first time the kings in Yorubaland met in Oyo town and today history was made with the visit of Arole Oodua, Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II and I feel delighted to host you and to reassure you that I will be ready to work with you.

I have a tight relationship with Ooni Adesoji Aderemi and I did not want to relent my bound with any Ooni of Ife that assumed the post, but everybody has his own little differences”.

Reverend Titus Ilori Omoniyi, the Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Methodist Church Nigeria emphasized that the unity of the Yoruba nation will bring progress and development.

“Ooni has made an unforgettable visit in the history of Yorubaland. I laud your 11 point-agenda which centred on youth empowerment programmes and cultural drive. I therefore implore all the Obas to emulate the Arole Oodua, Enitan and drive away poverty and crime.”

While wishing the Alaafin a more successful reign in Oyo town and the entire Yorubaland, Bishop Omoniyi appealed to all other Obas and their followers to embrace peace as the Lord Jesus Christ symbolizes peace and tranquillity.

Also speaking was Bishop Ayo Ladigbolu who expressed shock on the unscheduled viist of the Ooni of Ife.

“It is a great day for all Yoruba Obas and all Yoruba citizens. This phenomenon is indeed an epoch making one with the presence of all the royal dignitaries in attendance, for I have never seen any event where this large number of Obas were present at a time”.

 The event was later rounded up with a grand reception at the palace of Alaafin of Oyo while the two monarchs went in for a closed door meeting which lasted for about 20 minutes.

Impressed and overwhelmed by the visit and the large retinue of Obas, Alaafin reciprocated the kind gesture by the Ooni of Ife and his huge entourage by personally leading his guests to the major express road that links Ibadan and Oyo town before he returned to attend to other guests.

The royal fathers who accompanied Arole Oodua includes: Orangun of Ila, Ajero of Ijero, Timi Of Ede, Akirun of Ikirun, Olu of Yewa, Alara of Aramoko Ekiti, Oore of Otun, Alayemore of Efon Alaye among others.

Need for unity

It will be recalled that the Ooni of Ife had made a similar call for a more united Yoruba ethnic group.

The monarch said this while playing host to members of the Yoruba Unity Forum, YUF, led by its Vice Chairman, Reverend Emmanuel Bolanle Gbonigi, at his Ile Oodua palace.

Oba Ogunwusi said God was not happy because of disunity and supremacy battle within the people.

He added that there was a critical need for love and unity among the people of the race to enhance development, insisting that: “If there is unity in Yorubaland, there will be unity and peace in the whole world.

I am passionate about Yoruba’s interest. The work for Yoruba unity has commenced because it is ordained by God and our ancestors. Traditional rulers are closer to the people than government. With unity of purpose, we would record resounding success in all our activities.

I have been closer to the Yoruba Obas since my days as a prince and after becoming the king, I have extended hands of fellowship to them and we have been building bridges of unity across seeming barriers”.

Speaking earlier, the Vice Chairman of the YUF, Reverend Gbonigi said the group was conscious of the fact that one of the most sacred duties of the royal father is protection, preservation and sustenance of Yoruba unity and culture and see such as being in conformity with the objectives of the Yoruba Unity Forum.

Declaring Oba Ogunwusi as the Patron of YUF, the clergy recalled that his immediate past predecessor, Oba Okunade Sijuwade gave full backing and support to the group in realising its objectives, just as he also served as its patron.

He further observed that Yoruba unity would remain elusive as long as Yoruba Obas continued to harbour animosities against one another, prompted in part by the needless struggle for supremacy.

Eminent Nigerians and members of the YUF that accompanied Rev Gbonigi on the visit include; Professor Muibi Opeloye, Professor Opeoluwa Adekunle, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Chief (Mrs) Bola Doherty, Chief Toye Ogunsuyi, Hon Tunde Oladapo, Senator Anthony Adefuye, Chief (Mrs) Kofoworola Bucknor Akerele, Bishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Dr Kunle Olajide, among others.

UO