You must have read or heard a lot of things about the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade. As someone who was close to him, what are those things that you think people ought to know about him but which are still left untold?
One thing that struck me about him was his love for the community. Oba Okunade loved Ile-Ife so much that I doubt if there is any other person that loves the town like he did. Unfortunately, there were distractions which did not allow him achieve most of his plans. For instance, the detractions from warmongers of Ile Ife were quite huge then. One of his dreams was the creation of Oduduwa state. But he couldn’t achieve it. Unfortunately, all these distractions were coming at the early period of his reign, just because some of our neighbours never wanted him.
What are those legacies of his that you would want retained in Yorubaland?
He wanted Ife to be a developed city, and at the same time wanted peaceful co-existence. I remember when he appointed me as a member of Ife-Modakeke Peace Committee; he told me that he was giving me the appointment because of my deep love for Ile Ife. At the meeting, I remember telling him and other members of the committee that I had an empirical formula to solving Ife-Modakeke crisis permanently. They all stood up and clapped and poured encomiums on me. When I told them what I considered the honest way to go in solving crisis, the Modakeke people, who were at the meeting stood up and left in annoyance, blaming themselves for attending the meeting. Oba Sijuwade then called me and said ‘who sent you on such errand? You are the most prominent son of Ife. You have all your businesses in Ile Ife. Why did you disorganise the meeting with your fake empirical formula?’ I told him, ‘Kabiyesi, I was only saying the truth sir.’ It was then he covered his face with a book. Then he started soliloquising that I was actually saying the bitter truth. Again he said to himself ‘I wanted to turn Ile Ife to London, brought plenty of my properties, plenty money, connections and others. But where are they now? Look at my Motel Royal. Look at my Sijuwade Estate.’ When he realised I was still standing in front of him, he quickly said, ‘go go go.’ This was the only time the late Sijuwade was annoyed with me.
Oba Sijuwade was a man of many parts. What was that attribute of his that you found most attractive?
He was a great man who brought connections, businesses and other amenities to the people of Ile Ife.
He was regarded generally in Yorubaland with reverence while alive. From your relationship with him what would you say are some of the traits made him stand out?
He dressed uniquely in the committee of Obas. His style of fashion stood him out in those days. No fraudulent thing was traceable to him.
While many have described the late Oba Okunade as a life changer, some have seen him as humility personified. What would be your own description of the traditional ruler?
He was an epitome of respect and an embodiment of humility. He was also a giver. He was an uncommon manager of Ife affairs, and that is why till date the Ife people still respect him.
What aspect of his life do you cherish most and what should he be remembered for?
He was always in Oduduwa University graduation ceremonies. Even when he took ill, he still came and asked his loving son, Prince Aderemi to address the public. We have missed him at OUI. He was our first Chancellor.
What are your goodwill messages to his family, especially his children?
I want to let them know that Oba Okunade Sijuwade is still very much around. He still lives. He’s still inside that palace. What he has done for me, I have not done it for any Ife indigene. The powers that he gave to me are still here. I have not abused them.
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