FOLLOWING the official announcement on Wednesday of the passing away of the Ooni, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse11, the Ife Traditional Rulers Council has ordered the closure of all markets and shops in the ancient town with immediate effect, which would last for seven days as a mark of honour to the departed monarch.
As early as 8.30 a.m. yesterday, town criers were seen at various markets and other places in the town delivering the message of closure of markets to traders and residents. Besides, trees in and around the palace, markets and other traditional locations in the ancient town have been cut.
The town criers, who spoke in Yoruba, warned would-be defaulters to be prepared to bear the consequences of non-compliance with the order. As part of measures to ensure sympathisers have smooth journey to the town, the state government has ordered clearing of bushes on the road-sides along the Ife-Ibadan Expressway to the Obafemi Awolowo University area.
In another development, the Senate yesterday resolved to send a delegation to commiserate and condole with the family of the late Ooni. Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Babajide Omoworare (APC, Osun East), the Senate also held a minute’s silence for the late first class traditional ruler.
In a remark while presenting his motion, Omoworare recalled that Sijuwade ascended the throne on December 6, 1980 and had been a worthy ambassador of Nigeria and a symbol of pride for the Yoruba race.
The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, described the passing on of Oba Sijuwade as the end of an era in Yorubaland. Saraki, in a statement, said he was particularly saddened by the fact that the Ooni departed at a time when the country is in dire need of his wise counsel, respected interventions and patriotic stand on issues of national significance.
While describing the transition of Oba Sijuwade as a “national loss,” the Senate President commiserated with members of the Olubuse Royal Family, people of Ile-Ife, government and people of Osun State and the entire Yorubaland over the demise of a “king who represents the best of Yoruba traditions and customs.”
He said: “On behalf of my family and the National Assembly, I convey my most heartfelt and sincere condolences to the royal family, people and Government of Osun State, the entire Yoruba race and Nigerians as a whole on the departure of the foremost traditional ruler, the Arole Oodua.”
Meanwhile, eminent Nigerians have continued to pay tribute to the late monarch. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun, his Kwara State counterpart Abdulfatah Ahmed, former Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, former Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel and groups like Afenifere and Odu’a Peoples Congress among others make the list. Also, the Lagos State House of Assembly has sent a message of condolence to the government and people of Osun State over the death of the Ooni .
The Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa described the late Oba as a monarch who always desired the best not only for his people but also for Nigerians in general. “He was a bridge-builder who always wanted the best for his people and Nigerians in general,” he said.
Among early callers at the palace yesterday were leaders of the Oodua People Congress (OPC), Dr, Frederick Fasehun and Chief Gani Adams. Adams described the Ooni Stool as “the stool of the entire Yoruba people.” Fasehun expressed shock at the passage of the foremost monarch, describing him as “one among millions.”
Fasehun urged all sons and daughters of the Yoruba race not to allow his demise to cause disunity among them but to use his transition to engender unity, peace and harmony among themselves. A former governor of the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who described Oba Sijuwade as a father, confidant, mentor, nationalist and a rare patriot, prayed for the repose of his soul. The remains of the monarch will be buried today as was announced by his eldest son, Prince Adetokunbo Sijuwade on Wednesday.