The Akui family of the Osinkola Ruling House of Ife, has denounced the rotation approach to the ascendancy to the stool of the Ooni of Ife which became vacant following the demise of the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade on July 28.
The family, whose speech was read by Prince Adetowo Aderemi, at a press conference in Osogbo on Friday, described the rotation order as unconstitutional.
The family rejected the order which they said was at variance with the customs and tradition of Ife Kingdom and the Yoruba race.
The family said an open contest to select the most credible prince to ascend the throne would be fair and beneficial to all the ruling houses.
Aderemi said, “There is no rotation in the selection of an Ooni. There has never been and there should never be. Even the chieftaincy legislation implicitly recognises this when dealing with one ruling house; no rotation is required in respect of such a ruling house. This is historically important because of the symbolic position of Ile-Ife to the Yoruba people.
“The best candidate from all the eligible princes has always been chosen. To unlawfully deprive candidates from three ruling houses/branches on the basis of an illegal policy of rotation would be to desecrate the primacy of the Ooni stool.
“Rotation does not exist in Benin or in Ibadan. It does not exist in Sokoto, neither does it exist in Kano. Why should our own paramount ruler be different? Rotation, according to the relevant legislation can only exists in circumstances where there is more than one ruling house. There is in reality only one ruling house in Ile Ife. The late Ooni Aderemi’s letter of July 28, 1930 conclusively proves this.”
While Osinkola rejected the rotation order, the Lafogido Ruling House said that other ruling houses in the town had consistently marginalised the family in producing occupants to the Ooni’s stool.
A former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Prince Adeleke Adewoyin, who is also the head of the Lafogido Ruling House, said this at a separate press conference in Osogbo on Friday.
Adewoyin said it was now the turn of the Lafogido Ruling House to produce the successor of the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade, who died in London on July 28.
Adewoyin, who said Ife originally had two ruling houses: Lafogido and Lajodogun who were the two children of Lajamisan, added that while Osinkola, Ogboru and Giesi belonged to the Lajodogun Ruling House, Lafogido was not split.
He said that Lajodogun produced four Ooni in a space of 121 years while Lafogido produced just one.
According to him, the Ooni Olubuse 1 who reigned from 1894-1910 was produced by Ogboru/Lajodogun; Ooni- elect Adekola; from 1910-1910 was produced by Osinkola/ Lajodogun); Ooni Ademiluyi Ajagun, 1910-1930 was from Lafogido; Ooni Aderemi from 1930-1980 was from Osinkola/Lajodogun while the late Sijuwade was produced by Ogboru/ Lajodogun.
He said, “ From the above expatiations on the rulership of Ife Kingdom from the modern Ife which commenced from Ooni Lajamisan, it is evident and axiomatic that the preponderance of reigning Ooni’ had come largely from Lajodogun Ruling House at the disadvantage of Lafogido Ruling House.
“Consequently, the anomaly should be seriously looked into and corrected by the appropriate authorities and therefore in our opinion, Lafogido Ruling House should produce the next Ooni of Ife.”
Meanwhile, a group, The Cradle Youths, has warned Ife king makers not to make anyone already conferred with a chieftaincy title the successor of the late Sijuwade
The coordinator of the Ile-Ife based group, Mr. Kunle Elusayo, in a statement issued at Ile-Ife on Sunday also said that it was an abomination for princes to be conferred with chieftaincy title in Ile-Ife and Yoruba land.
He emphasised that any princes who had accepted chieftaincy title had forfeited his chance of becoming an Ooni.
Elusayo said, “Princes are never conferred with Chieftaincy title, once a prince is always a prince. This is a popular Yoruba custom and adage. It is therefore odd to see chiefs coming out to say they want to be Ooni, which is impossible. Their declaration of intention is in the first place an embarrassment of our tradition. It is an abuse on our collective intelligence and indigence.
“We fully trust the King makers but we sincerely call their attention to the above stated facts. In most cases, Chieftaincy tittles were conferred on people of integrity, prominence and charismatic to honour them, if they are not princes of the town in Ife. This is the singular reason why no prince is a chief. If not for this, a king would have also given all his children (son) chiefs.”