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Osinbajo, Aregbesola, Others Eulogise Ooni

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Top: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; representative of Senate President, Senator Jide Omoworare; eldest son of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Prince Tokunbo Sijuwade; and elder brother of the late Ooni, Prince Kunle Sijuwade at the Inter- religious Farewell Service in honour of the late monarch held at his palace in Ile-Ife Osun State… yesterday. Below: Children of the late Ooni: Adejuwon; Ademitope; Ademola Adedamola and Aderemi at the service. PHOTOS: NAJEEM RAHEEM

• At Inter-Denominational Commendation Service 

HIS Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse 11, who joined his ancestors on July 27, proved yesterday that he was truly great in life and death as eminent Nigerians from far and near gathered in Ile- Ife, Osun State and poured tributes on him at an inter-religious commendation service held to bid him farewell.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo led the pack of dignitaries who attended the ceremony for the departed monarch. He described the foremost monarch as a great Nigerian who played a significant role to elevate his immediate environment and contribute immensely to the  development of the country.

Osinbajo could not hide his feeling about the late monarch when he mounted the podium, saying that the late Ooni lived a good life and deserved to be honoured.

He urged members of the royal family, the people of Ile-Ife and the Yoruba ethnic nationality in particular home and abroad not to mourn, but to take solace in the fact that Baba (father) not only lived an enviable life, but also used his resources to touch many lives.

Osinbajo, who also relayed the message of President Muhammadu Buhari to the royal family before his departure, said the occasion called for joy and celebration, stressing that the flamboyant monarch had left footprints in the sands of time.

He said: “We are celebrating because the life the Ooni lived was full of achievements and we should remember him for that. “There is no Yoruba person that would disagree with the fact that Baba did well when he was alive.

We thank God because Ooni lived a good life and lived long.” Speaking in the same vein, Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola described the 85-year-old monarch as a pacesetter and astute monarch, who presided over the affairs of Ife with fear of God.

The governor, who was not present at the burial service but was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, said he received with rude shock the demise of the late monarch.

According to Aregbesola, the late Ooni was a great business mogul and notable industrialist, adding: “The revered monarch will be remembered for his giant strides.”

Through a condolence letter, the governor commiserated with members of the royal family, the people of Ile-Ife and Yoruba nation at large. In a brief, but pointed homily, the Bishop of the Anglican Communion in Ife, Rt. Rev. Oluranti Odubogun, eulogised the late monarch, saying he brought fame and popularity to Ile-Ife.

The Bishop, who was represented by Pastor Olusola Akanbi, said: “Everything that has a beginning must have an end. Sijuwade had wealth, but could not escape death.

There is time for everything; a time to be born and a time to die. “The Oba has died and will face judgment in heaven. It is now left for those of us that are still alive to watch the way we live our lives.”

The preacher, who drew inspiration from 1 Thessalonians 4: 12-18, urged those at the service held at the frontage of the palace in Ile-Ife to turn to God and live a good life before it becomes too late.

Also preaching during the Muslim aspect of the service, a Muslim cleric, Muftaudeen Yusuf, paid glowing tributes to the late monarch, describing him as a philanthropist who contributed immensely to the lives of the less privileged in society.

Describing the monarch as a detribalised personality, he noted that the Olubuse family played a significant role in the coming of Islam to Ile-Ife, while the late Oba Sijuwade contributed substantially to the rebuilding of the central mosque in the ancient town.

According to him, the Ooni acted as father to all, displaying his generosity, kindness and large-heartedness to those who came in contact with him.

He observed that the monarch lived life like an elephant and still remained humble, despite the huge wealth God place at his disposal. He urged the people to learn from the Ooni’s experience, adding that no matter how long people live and the amount of wealth in their control, they would pay the supreme sacrifice at the appointed time.

Yusuf urged the people to learn from the life of the monarch, who not only ruled well during his time, but also placed the fear of God in whatever he did.

Traditional religious worshippers also gave dirges to the monarch, describing his life on earth as fruitful and productive. Leading the group to perform Iwure (chanting of various aspects of Ifa corpus) in memory of the late monarch, the Ifa Priest, Ifaloba Ifagbenro of the Tedimole Awo Ilare, offered prayers for the repose of the soul of the monarch.

He noted that the Yoruba don’t regret the death of Oba Sijuwade because he lived a good life and served as good ambassador of Eledumare and Oduduwa.

The cleric prayed that Ife would know peace, prosperity, progress and rapid development even after the transition of the monarch. Dignitaries at the service included Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko; Yeye Oba of Ife, Chief H.I.D. Awolowo, represented by her daughter, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu; Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo; Gen. Alani Akinrinade; Rear Admiral Akin Aduwo; Senators Iyiola Omisore; Jide Omoworare; Soko Adewoyin; Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof Tade Omole; and Registrar, Mr. Dotun Awoyemi; Others were Adeoti; Prof Taiwo Ashaolu; Chairman of Ife Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Apostle Julius Aluko; Chief of Staff to Aregbesola, Gboyega Oyetola; and  traditional rulers, among other prominent personalities.

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