FLASHBACK: Coronation Speech Of Ooni Of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade In 1980
It is with the greatest pleasure that I and my people welcome you to this occasion in the an¬cient city of Ife, the place from where the sun rises, the place where history began. Half a century ago. Ife witnessed an occasion of this kind when my immediate and revered predecessor, late Sir Adesoji Aderemi was crowned. May I at this juncture pay tribute to his illustrious memory. His long reign was peaceful and full of solid achievements for Ife and the Yoruba race in particular, and Nigeria as a whole. A giant among the traditional rulers of this country, a veteran nation builder, late Sir Adesoji Aderemi was a source of pride to, and a fountain of inspiration for all Ifes and most especially to myself and indeed the entire people of Nigeria. May God grant him eternal life.
It is of some importance to point out that ascension to the throne of Ife should not be controversial as it is of the most central significance for the entire Yoruba people at home and abroad.
I like therefore, to salute the kingmakers of Ife, who were unanimous in their decision to select me to sit on this great and most ancient throne. More importantly, I warmly salute His Excellency, Chief Bola Ige, the Governor ofOyo State and his executive council for their prompt decision in accordance with the Chieftancy Laws ofOyo State.
I wish to seize this opportunity to thank my well-wishers all over the world and above all, I thank the entire people of Ife for their love and support. This new life is for me a call to duty, a call to the service of our people. Whatever personal sacrifices may be involved cannot be nearly as great as the tremendous challenge ahead.
Nobody anywhere doubts the central importance of Ile-Ife in the history of the West African sub-region. Ife is the cradle of the Yoruba-speaking people throughout the world; indeed the origin of homo sapiens. The great Oduduwa lived here. We today are treading on the grounds upon which he treaded. The dynastic ramifications of Oduduwa’s descendants both within and outside Yorubaland are very well-known.
Eighty¬eight years ago (in 1892), my grandfather Ooni Olubuse I ascended this throne and reigned till 1910. He championed the struggle that welded together the warring factions here and re-established Ife unity. The point here is that each age, indeed each reign, is confronted with its own peculiar problems which it tackles using the materials and methods of its times.
My grandfather lived up to the challenges of his times. Bearing the brunt of warfare , he decidely destroyed strife and established the basis of an enduring peace in its place. He was succeeded by Ooni Ademiluyi who perfected the peace building in a way which he believed it should be.
Late Sir Adesoji Aderemi once told me in England on his way to the United States of America that my grandfather was a great inspiration for him and that was part of why he decided to become Ooni of Ife.
The late Sir Adesoji Aderemi contributed enormously to the progress of this town and you can see many of the good things he has done in Ife among which was the establishment of the great University of Ife.
Today our challenge is not less nor can our determination and dedication be less than the highest, just because we have no internal warfare or human aggressive forces against which to contend.
I am very much aware of the importance of the sacred position which all traditional rulers of the nation hold. We are hearing whispers from certain quarters to the effect that traditional offices should be abolished. People cannot live meaningfully, in dignity and in pride, without a clear identity; a recognisable heritage, all of which attributes derive from a coherent past which is symbolised by the traditional offices
Among the leading and modern nations of the world, Britain and Japan among several others have seen it fit to preserve their royal families while accommodating the needs and demands of an unprecedented technological age, and as a matter of fact, even in a country like Thailand where you have the military in power, they still maintain their King as head of the entire nation.
I am happy and all lovers of their cultural heritage join me in acclaiming the governments of Nigeria and the government of Oyo State for the growing policy of restoring high respect for traditional office holders as an essential part of our national ethos.
Traditional rulers know very well that, in socio-political environmental terms,’ and indeed, even in physical terms they live in a very much changed world from that of our ancestors. Recognising the changed and still rapidly chang¬ing societies we live in, it is pertinent to note that there is no group at a very esteemed level of society and who are to be found nation-wide who by their office ought to and can be above partisan politics other than the traditional rulers. I like to warn that a society in transition like ours is a very delicate society which will always stand to benefit from the role which traditional rulers are so fitted to playas” impartial. non partisan mediators of rapid change in such a way as to preserve the soul of our society and minimise inter-group frictions.
Coming back home to Ife, I wish to say a few words about the all important task ahead of us in all aspects of human endeavour. The fame of Ife through the centuries has been built, all other things apart on the fact that in times of great antiquity. Ife developed as a great urban civilisation towering above others in these parts of the world. It was the focal point of political, social and economic success, the centre of a flowering of ideas and artistic expression.
The challenge to all Ifes at home and abroad today is the challenge of history. The struggle today must be on the social and economic fronts. It calls for vigorous action. To that action, I completely dedicate myself. My call to all Ifes is a call to action, a call to revolution in the social and economic transformation of this ancient city.
Having retired from private business, my vocation and duty henceforth is to see that we all do good business together for this city for this State and for our nation. Charity begins at home. The best help is self-help. There is nothing I can do without the active support and co-operation of all of you. I want to assure this distinguished assembly that the Ife people will rise to the challenge like one man.
We are merely at the threshold of realising our potentials and we have not attempted to exploit our available resources of cocoa, timber, gold and if possible oil. In addition to promoting industries, we in Ife must solve the problem of urban sprawl, decay and blighted state of our city – a problem which is universal all over our country and which must be faced in this decade to raise the living stand¬ard of our people.
We count on all our friends and well-wishers to rally round us in our endeavours. Ife is HOME for you all. We count on the support of the state and federal governments. By their .attendance or this occasion and the warm reception given to my appointment, our friends throughout the world and the governments of our great country have demonstrated their love for, and confidence in the success of this city.
The time for action has arrived; very soon, we shall produce a development programme and we confidently look forward to all of you to play your parts well.
Now, to my brothers, the Emirs, Obis, Obas, etc. from all over the federation, I extend very fraternal greetings of welcome. Our task is enormous and cannot all be adequately accomplished working in mutual isolation. We have many problems in common. Modernity does not in any way imply abandonment of our heritage, so we all have a lot of work to do
To the people of Nigeria, young and old, I appeal for a rededication of ourselves to preserving the unity of the country. In saying so I wish us to remind ourselves that this is a young nation.
It stands in need of builders with a sense of commitment, builders with a vision of nationhood and a sense of history. I must stress that this country must pull together, utilising our diversified resources. Our nation cannot be great if any part or any group is built at a glaring expense of the others. May God help us all to help our country.
Finally, I wish to honour the memory of our ancestors on whose inspiration we have returned to the throne. I declare that the era that ended in 1910 will resume in Ife. In that year, Olubuse I departed to join his ancestors. On 17th September 1980, he was being reincarnated to continue his reign and fulfill further aspects of his mission.
In concordance with this wish, I will be known and addressed henceforth as OBA ALAlYELUWA OKUNADE SIJUWADE, OLUBUSE II, OONI OF IFE.
With this declaration, I re-dedicate my life to the service of lfe, of Oyo State, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and of all Yoruba speaking people all over the world. This torch is handed on to me by a Hand That I Know. I shall hold it high in service to the people. I shall not let it fall. Its light shall not fail. May the gods of our fathers bless you all.