Daily Champion (Lagos)

30 December 2009

Nigeria: Awolowo, Akintola's Rift Disunited Yoruba Monarchs - Ooni of Ife

Osogbo — The Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade has attributed the current crisis rocking some traditional rulers in the South West to the political crisis that erupted during the First Republic.

Sijuwade said the differences between the traditional rulers would soon be resolved, adding that the crisis between the late Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Ladoke Akintola in the 60s led to division among some traditional rulers in the region.

Speaking with newsmen in Ile-Ife as part of activities to mark his 80th birthday holding on January 1, 2010, Oba Sijuwade said political lineation caused the division.

He, however, said the rift between him and the Awujale of Ijebuland and the Alake of Egbaland was over for good.

Sijuwade said the Awujale and the Alake, recently visited him in his palace where "we discussed for two hours discussing the progress and development of Yorubaland."

He said: "On October 5, the Awujale paid me a visit and we discussed on the progress of Yorubaland. We will also pay him a return visit soon. Alake was here too. we are getting together and moving towards the development of this region and the country at large."

Oba Sijuwade hailed the efforts of some Yoruba leaders like Ayo Adebanjo and Olanihun Ajayi, who he said, were irrevocably committed to working towards resolution of the crisis.

The Ooni who said politicians should allow the wisdom of elders to guide them on whether the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan should be acting president while Yar'Adua is still on a sick bed or not.

Oba Sijuwade who said traditional rulers were the only unifying factor in the country said the traditional rulers across the country were working for the unity of the country.

"Although the president is sick and is in the hospital, there is constitutional crisis. We should allow the counsel of the elders to guide us. They have the best experience. We should not neglect them," he said.

Answering questions on efforts to promote Yoruba language, the Ooni who said the 246million Yoruba race could not be extinguished, stated that all traditional rulers have resolved that Yoruba language should be taught in schools from kindergarten to the University level.

He said he came to the throne to serve the people, adding that before he ascended the throne, he was comfortable, adding: "You cannot be in affluence while majority of your people are wallowing in abject poverty."

"I was in London when our revered father, Sir Adesoji Aderemi, joined his ancestors, it was Chief Obafemi Awolowo who said I should proceed to Nigeria to serve my people," he said.

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