For the second day, commercial activities were grounded to a halt as all shops, stalls, banks and markets were closed down in honour of the highly revered monarch.
At the venue of the inter religious service organised for the monarch, notable people started trooping in as early as 8am.
Aides of Osinbajo, Aregbesola fight over sitting arrangements
Before the commencement of the programme, there was a little misunderstanding between aides of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, over sitting arrangement.
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Though, all the seats had been labelled according to those invited, there was a heated argument between supporters of the two political leaders.
The organisers of the programme said the front row in the middle had been reserved for Governor Aregbesola and that any other person who comes should take the back seat.
These comments did not go down well with the VP’s aides who said the sitting arrangements were not in order and insisted that the VP, because of his position, would not sit at the back of the governor.
This exchange of words continued and was about boiling over when some elders from Ife moved in and settled the matter. But eventually, Aregbesola did not attend. He sent his Secretary to State Government.
Wives, children must not see corpse
This came as some Ifa priests in the ancient city revealed that wives and children of the monarch must not set their eyes on his corpse before interment.
If this is not adhered to, they said such children and wives could die prematurely.
“As the corpse will be brought, it must be brought straight to us. Not all people can see it. As we are, we are not the ones to bury the remains , but they must bring the corpse to us so that all necessary rites would be done. Even, no child or wife of the monarch must see the corpse. Any child that sets his eyes on the remains could die suddenly. Only Lokore can see the corpse. It is not their property, it is the property of Ife people. If they do not bring the corpse to us, the corpse will not be buried.”
These were the comments of the leader of the priests, Chief Apena Ogboni, Iledi Ooni, at the palace of the monarch immediately after an inter religious service was held in honour of the monarch.
The priests add ed that as part of the burial rites, all children and queens of the monarch had left the palace.
The inter religious service started a little behind schedule.
Leaders of the three religions, Christianity, Islam and traditionalists were in attendance. Both Christians and Muslim clerics offered special prayers for the families of the departed monarch, Ile Ife town, Osun State and Nigeria. Each of them was given 30 minutes.
Christianity was the first. In his sermon entitled, “How are the mighty fallen,” the cleric, Right Revd. Oluranti Odubogun took the Bible reading from II Sam. 1:19 and said the late Ooni brought fame and popularity during his days.
His words: “The message is not for this monarch who has gone to have a peaceful sleep. It is for us who are still living. The monarch brought fame and popularity to Ile-Ife and made the town the centre of attraction to the outside world. But see how the mighty fell. We, as mortals, should know that the body would decay someday.
“Whatever has a beginning must have an end. Our lives had a beginning and must also have an end. Our father, in spite of his wealth and fame, still died. We are not God. Only God is immortal. In Ephesians 2:20, he said mankind is a tool in the hands of God.’’
Odubogun hinged his sermon on six major points that are inevitable in the life of a man, namely: whatever has a beginning has an end; there is time for everything, time to be born and a time to die; we are not God, only God is omnipotent; there is judgement at end of man’s journey on this planet earth; there is a better place after this world; and after this world, we shall reign with Christ.’’
The cleric said to show the level of vanity in the world, some people are already jostling to become the next king even before the late monarch is buried and mourned.
In his exaltation, Alhaji Mufutau Yussuf, Mufashir of Ibadanland, highlighted the immeasurable contributions of the monarch to Islam and Ife land.
He said: “Our father dominated and acted like a great giant . Our father was not vindictive. Some people would come to this world without leaving any traces of their existence. Our father excelled”.
“Just like Christianity, it was during the reign of his father, the first Olubuse that Islam was brought to Ife land. When we were reconstructing the central mosque in Ife, Oba Sijuwade donated handsomely to ensure speedy completion of the project.”
Before, Ifaloba, the representative of traditionalists mounted the podium, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who came with a retinue of his aides at exactly 11:12am, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, all Christian and Islamic clerics left the venue in large number leaving families and friends behind.
Before he left the hall, Prof. Osinbajo said, “Ooni as a title does not die. We are celebrating a happy end. Our Papa lived a wealthy life. If our father could steer the ship of Yoruba race successfully, he did well.
Governor Aregbesola was represent by the Secretary to the state Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti.
Aregbesola described the monarch as a man that distinguished himself in all walks of life, saying, “he excelled in social life, commerce, royalty and industry. He was a successful businessman. His life is worthy of celebration for the service to his community, the state and the nation at large in the last three decades”.
Meanwhile, there was a mild drama shortly before the commencement of the prayers.
An elegantly dressed woman who identified herself as Olori Adedolapo Sijuwade was asked to leave the seat where she was sitting among other queens (Olori).
When asked to stand up, she introduced herself as one of the Olori. She was forced to leave the seat by one of the Olori and she later sat among members of the Ife Dev elopment Board.
Those who attended the ceremony included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; Secretary to Osun State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti; former Military Governor of the defunct Western Region, General Adeyinka Adebayo (rtd); former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Alani Akinrinade (ertd); Rear Admiral Akin Aduwo (rtd); former Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Bashir Awotorebo; President, IDB, Prof. Muheeb Opeloye; Senator Baju Bamgbetan; Prince Rasaki Adele Adewole; Prince Adegoke Sijuwade; Prince Adebayo Sijuwade; Prince Adedamola Aderemi; Revd. Mrs Omotola Oyediran; Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo Dosunmu; former Deputy Governor of the state Senator Iyiola Omisore: Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi; Chief Dele Momodu; Mr. Yemi Omisore; Mr. Akintunde Adegboye; Mr. Olatunbosun Oyintiloye; General Manager (Publications)/Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye ; and Prof. Tale Omole.
The traditional chiefs at the ceremony were Lowa of Ife, Chief Joseph Ijaodola; Adagba of Iyanfowo rogi, Oba Adegbola Fatunluse; Oluwaro of Iwaro, Oba Daniel Akindele; Eyenla of Amula Ife and Oba Adesiyan Mayowa, Elemure of Emure Ekiti and Oba Emmanuel Adebayo.
Wives of the late monarch at the event were Olori Mori Sijuwade, Olori Ladun Sijuwade, Olori Linda Sijuwade, Olori Odun Sijuwade, Olori Nike Sijuwade, and Yeye Oba, Mrs. Ladun Lawal.
High priests annoyed over sermons
Meanwhile, Ife high priests were displeased with the sermons, which they said were against the tradition. Speaking with Saturday Vanguard in the premises of the palace, the priests who said they were 30 complained seriously about the inter religious service saying it ran foul of the tradition.
To them, the way the ceremony was held in the open was not in tandem with the norm.
Asked what impact modernity made on tradition, he said: “Part of what modernity has done to tradition is what they did outside there. It was not like that in the past. Nothing must be done until the remains were interred. No ceremony under whatever guise must be held. After the whole thing, ‘if Eru Ife’ is not received from them, their lineage will not be entitled to the kingship title again.
“Look at the way the news of the whole Ooni was broken. It must not be heard that the monarch is dead just like that. So, when they broke it, it was not for us. To us, our monarch was not yet dead. Only those abroad heard it. The news was not for us,” he said.
He added that the role they play in the town was basically on reformation.
Lineage to produce next king
Speaking earlier with Saturday Vanguard, the Secretary to the next lineage to produce the king, Soko Adebisi Adedigba said since the kingship is rotational, it is the turn of Agiesi to produce the next monarch.
He described the late monarch as a very great king.
“Ife has lost a very great king. We pray that we will get somebody of his personality to succeed him. Oba Sijuwade was born to reign. He was a very great custodian of Yoruba culture and he was recognised worldwide,” Adedigba said.
The priests on new king
Speaking on how the next king will emerge, the priests said, ‘’we are not the ones to select the next king. It is the Ifa Oracle that selects whoever is fit. We are the ones who lead a new king to ‘Ilofi’ (house where the king stays till all rites are performed).
As at the time of filing this report, the remains, according to the priests, had not been brought into the palace.
Warning to journalists
While newsmen were filing their reports, Ifa priests had started another series of rites and indigenes of the town told them to leave before 4pm. All residents of the area were seen packing their wares hurriedly.