More aspirants emerge for Ooni of Ife stool

The palace gate in Ile-Ife

The palace gate in Ile-Ife

THE race for who becomes the next Ooni of Ife is becoming tighter with the emergence of yet another aspirant from Giesi Ruling House, Prince Iyiola Funso Adewole, even as one spokesman from the House in a recent statement claimed the names of six qualified persons had already been handed over to kingmakers.

Prince Adewole during his visit to The Guardian said: “I never intended to put myself forward. I was thinking of how to rally around my elder brothers.

A meeting, however, was held about a month ago where the elders of Wanikin Royal Compound sat, did a screening and I was chosen.” The 50-year-old Prince warned against giving out the throne to the highest bidder, saying this might not augur well for peace in the land. He, therefore, called on all stakeholders to give tradition the right of way.

As proof, he presented a document titled: “Approval and Endorsement of Prince Iyiola Funso Adewale.” Dated August 29, 2015, it reads: “The elders and the entire members of the above royal family have approved and endorsed Prince Iyiola Funso Adewole as our candidate to contest for the vacant stool of Ooni of Ife.

The whole compound has screened the candidate and it is well confirmed that he is a worthy son of Wanikin Compound, Giesi Ruling House Moore, Ile-Ife. We, therefore, present Prince Iyiola Funso Adewole to the Ife traditional kingmakers for further ratifications.”

Following the transition of late Oba Sijuwade in July, this year, several contestants across the Ruling Houses have indicated interest in ascending the throne, fueling indications that the Ooniship tussle could be fierce.

That notwithstanding, Prince Adewole said that being a prince and a member of the Giesi Family, “whose turn it is to produce the next Ooni”, alongside his plans to “transform Ile-Ife to a world-class modern city with massive employment opportunities for the youth,” he believes his aspiration will resonate with the people as well with the deities.

He added that with the support of chiefs, obas and well-meaning people of Ile-Ife, he would “work for peace, progress, understanding and industrialisation of Ile-Ife.”

A member of the Institute of Business Management with an H.N.D in Accountancy from the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Prince Adewole described himself as a successful businessman in Nigeria and overseas.

Adewole said he could conveniently step into the shoes of the late ruler and even surpass several of his achievements, deploying his vast connections, business experience and flair for philanthropy. Last week, the Giesi Ruling House came up with a shortlist of six persons vying for the royal position.

One Prince Adekunle, described as Secretary to the Giesi House, had mentioned Princes Aderemi Adeniran Adelowo, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Adegboyega Adewoyin Coker, Taiwo Ade Ogunleye, Adetunji Ogunwusi and Okinawa Ologbenla as the six qualified persons whose names have been handed over to kingmakers headed by the Obalufe of Ife, Oba Folorunso Omisakin, who is acting as Ooni. According to Adekunle, the six were picked from an initial list of 31 princes who had earlier submitted letters of intention.

He explained that the candidates emerged after several screenings conducted by the family to ensure that the best person becomes the next Ooni. Adekunle added: “To get to where we are now, we need to set some criteria.

The preferred candidate must be at least 50 years of age. The pedigree of the person is also very crucial. The person must have a good name among the people. The person must understand the Ife people; understand Ife as a major and spiritual head of the Yoruba.”

Another contestant, Omooba Adetunji Babatunde Aderin II has declared that he deserved the crown by right. Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, he informed that he had applied to the kingmakers officially as part of the processes towards claiming the exalted traditional position.

Aderin explained that he stepped up to the mantle due to the fact he was the great grandson of a warrior king and it would be a disservice to the legacy of Aderin Ologbenla if as his great grandson he refused to fight like a true warrior king. “What is mine is mine and it would be wrong not to fight for my right or allow the hard work of my forefathers to be wasted,” Aderin stated.

He described the role of king as a great sacrifice and service to the people of Ife and the Yoruba people at large, insisting, “I am willing to take up that sacrifice.”

Aderin is the great grandson and a direct descendant of Aderin Ologbenla, the warrior king of Ife from the Giesi ruling house. His great-grandfather, Oba Aderin Ologbenla reigned from 1880 to 1893 as the last Ooni of Ife from the Giesi ruling house.

His grandfather Adetunji Aderin I, whom he is named after, was the eldest son of Aderin Ologbenla and his eldest son Adeniran Aderin is father to Omooba Adetunji Aderin.

Born on August 27, 1975, Aderin is a graduate of Economics at the University of Ado-Ekiti and an associate member of the Association of Business Executives, United Kingdom.

He is a leading financial guru and businessman based in London. He sits on the board of several companies in the UK and in Nigeria. He is a devout Christian and a lover of tradition.

He has financed and single-handedly funded cultural and heritage projects to promote Yoruba culture in the United Kingdom and is also a campaigner for youth empowerment and development.

As the search for the new Ooni of Ife continues, an aspirant to the throne, Adetayo Oladele, yesterday appealed to the kingmakers to give utmost priority to the interest of the ancient city in all their considerations.

Oladele who hails from Adagba royal compound in the Lafogido Ruling House, said in a statement that the new Ooni of Ife should be committed to the cause of the people and how to ensure further development rather than the privileges such position attracts.

Specifically, the prince said the new Ooni should be a man who sees the throne in terms of responsibility and service rather than power, privilege and prestige.

According to Oladele: “Ile-Ife is a uniquely great town. It is not only symbolic in Yoruba land but in the whole world for its historical importance.

Our town has also been blessed with great kings in the past. But at this critical time in our history, Ile-Ife deserves only an Ooni that is truly dissatisfied with the town’s current state and has genuine interest in harnessing all its potentials to move it to its rightful place economically, traditionally and socially. “Ife is blessed with great potentials.

The new Ooni must be a man of vision with deep interest of the town in heart and who is ready to sacrifice personal gains for Ile-Ife’s overall well-being “All the past Oonis did their best to keep Ife on top.

The new Ooni must be a man of honour, integrity and strong-will who is determined to see Ife rise to a new level of prominence in development with positive impacts on local residents and the Yoruba at large.

This is my vision.” The United States (U.S.)-based aspirant maintained that it is the turn of the Lafogido Ruling House to produce the next Ooni having seen the larger Lajodoogun line produce the last two Oonis in persons of the late Obas Adesoji Aderemi and Okunade Sijuwade who hailed from Osinkola and Ogboru ruling houses respectively.

He said going by the 1957 gazette, Lafogido is the next house to produce the Ooni after Giesi conceded its turn to Ogboru in 1980. The Ooni hopeful said that the trio of Osinkola, Ogboru and Giesi belong to the Lajodoogun ruling line, leaving Lafogido, which is the second ruling house, deprived.

He appealed to kingmakers and other stakeholders to be fair and just in their decision as they make the overall interest of Ife the overriding guide in selecting the new Ooni.

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