With the burial formalities of the immediate past Ooni of Ife, Okunade Sijuwade, now completed, a titanic succession battle has kicked off in Ile-Ife.
An insider in the Ife ruling house expected to fill the vacant stool told PREMIUM TIMES a selection progress was already underway and that those desirous of the revered position have been asked to formally indicate interest.
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 next Ooni will most likely emerge from the Giesi ruling house which 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.
Believing that it is their right to produce the next Ooni, members of the Giesi ruling house have begun a flurry of activities they expect would culminate in one of them succeeding Mr. Sijuwade.
They met Saturday, August 15 at the Akodi Agbedegbede family house in Ile-Ife, a source said.
An insider told PREMIUM TIMES the meeting, presided over by Pa Aderibigbe, a 91-year old elder in the ruling family, was well attended by hundreds of princes, princesses and elders of the royal lineage.
“The meeting, called only after the formal announcements by the Ife chiefs, was in respect to the laws and tradition of the royal families, our source said.
“Tributes were paid to the long and happy reign of Oba Alayeluwa Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II and prayers were said for the repose of his soul with his fore fathers.”
He said at the meeting, the elders of the Giesi ruling house “announced and affirmed that the time is now for the process of filling the gap created in the Kingship of Ile-Ife to commence”.
The legal process and content of the law that guides the selection of the Ooni was publicly presented to all the princes and princesses present, he said.
He added, “First it was established that Giesi ruling house is set and in-turn to produce the next Ooni of Ile-Ife. Secondly, it was communicated as stated in the law, that 14 days from when the vacancy occurred, the ruling house is obliged to make a presentation of candidate(s) to the local government.
“Thereafter it was communicated that the basis of the selection will be from male children who are offspring of both male and female children of Giesi ruling house.
“An invitation was given to all interested princes of Giesi ruling house to obtain and complete the prescribed form, return the form to the family within the next couple of days after which they will be screened. Elders then screen and select as many as they feel comfortable with.
“Post screening, the names will be submitted to the kingmakers within a period of 14 days from the vacancy of the stool. The kingmakers make consultations with the oracle before forwarding their approved list to the local government.
“The emergence of the Ooni will depend on how quickly the oracle selects the appropriate occupier to the throne of Ife.
“This is the correct process and procedure and nobody is precluded.”
Our source said one of those interested in the position is Oba Bankole Adewale Ojutalayo, the Laroka of Wankin, and a great grandson of Ooni Derin Ologbenla.
Mr. Ojutalayo is said to have, in the last five years, worked in Ile-Ife to maintain peace, develop townships and was instrumental in the installation of a number of Obas within the Ife kingdom.
He is also said to be prominent in the council of Sookos, contributing to the progress and development of that council.