A new Ooni of Ife will emerge within the next 40 days in line with the customs and tradition of the ancient town, the 16 kingmakers of the ancient town said yesterday. The kingmakers, at a press conference at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, also unanimously affirmed the right of Giesi Ruling House to present a candidate for the stool, which became vacant on July 28 when the then Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade joined his ancestors in a London hospital. The kingmakers stated that the choice of Giesi ruling house was arrived at in line with Ife traditional rules and customs and section 19, subsections A (3).
Among the kingmakers present at the press conference were Oba Joseph Ijaodola, Lowa Adimula of Ife; Oba Yaya Elugbaju, Obajio of Moore quarters; Oba Adekola Adeyeye, Jaran of Ife; Oba Sarakiya Olawusi, Obaloran of Ilode quarters; and Oba J.A Awe, Arode of Ife. Speaking on behalf of the kingmakers, the Obalufe of Ife and prime minister of the ancient town, Oba Folorunso Omisakin, appealed to the other three ruling houses – Osinkola, Ogboru and Lafogido – to wait for their turns.
Omisakin said: “We, the 16 traditional rulers making up kingmakers by Ife traditional rules and customs, hereby unanimously declare and affirm and confirm that the 1980 Ife Chieftaincy Declaration is the one in existence now and we affirm as follows: “Section 19 subsection A (3) that is the turn of Giesi Ruling House to present a candidate/candidates for the vacant stool of Ooni of Ife chieftaincy.
“Other three ruling houses, that is, Osinkola, Ogboru, and Lafogido should wait for their turns. No ruling house should be restricted to a particular quarter or areas of the town because members of the ruling houses live in different parts of the town. “Finally, we hereby enjoin members of the four ruling houses, people of the town, religious bodies, men and women of Ife environs, to please maintain absolute peace.
“By doing this, the kingmakers would be able to select the best candidate for the vacant stool of Ooni of Ife.” In addition, another kingmaker, Ijaodola, enjoined members of the four ruling houses and Ife residents to live in peace. Ijaodola gave an assurance that the kingmakers would ensure transparency in the selection of the best candidate for the vacant stool.
The traditional ruler, however, said the next Ooni must have good character and wide experience.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman of Ife East Local Government, where the palace is situated, Alhaji Tajudeen Lawal, stated that a letter of invitation would be sent to the Giesi Ruling House to nominate the next Ooni. Lawal said traditional rulers had initially been guided by the 1957 chieftaincy declaration, which was later cancelled. He said the 1980 Ife Chieftaincy Declaration was used to enthrone the late Sijuwade, adding that the status quo would be sustained.
He said: “It is the turn of the Giesi. We will write them very soon. The declaration had stated the ascendancy order. It is very clear. “The process will be 14 days and the Giesi family will respond to the letter appropriately within the time frame.
“After this, the name(s) will be sent to the kingmakers for another 14 days for scrutiny, after which it will be returned to the local government that will send it to the state government for final ratification.” Chairman of Ife Central Local Government Area, Mr. Taiwo Olaiya, justified the use of the 1980 declaration for the selection of the Ooni.
He said: “The 1980 declaration was used to enthrone Oba Okunade Sijuwade. The declaration is so clear. It stated that the 1957 declaration had been cancelled. “Whoever will emerge should just have relative ability and character. The kingmakers will determine who has the relative ability.
They are the ones the law allows to determine who has relative ability.” But one of the ruling houses, Osinkola, has vowed to challenge the decision of the kingmakers in court. Chairman, Publicity Committee of Osinkola Ruling House, Prince Olakunle Aderemi,, yesterday said the family would challenge the action in court this week. He described the selection as a palace coup, which would never stand the test of time.
Aderemi, who accused the kingmakers of being biased and unfair in their decision in picking Giesi Ruling House for the vacant stool, described the selection as subjective and partial. He added that the position of Ooni Ife is now the turn of Osinkola ruling house.
“We will challenge the decision of the kingmakers in court unfailingly this week. The basis of their decision is faulty. That instrument can’t stand the test of law,” Aderemi stated. Just on Sunday, the Lafogido Ruling House rejected the 1977 Ife Chieftaincy Declaration, describing it as harsh and unfair to the family. “We regard the 1977 gazette as harsh and unfair to the Lafogido Ruling House.
The clear-cut preponderance of 14 Oonis have been enthroned from Lajodogun and only eight from Lafogido ruling house,” Prince Adeleke Adewoyin, Sooko Walomo of Ile Ife, stated on behalf of the Lafogido Ruling House.