The elaborate ceremony witnessed by people from all walks of life,including, Vice president Prof Osinbanjo,who described the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, as an epitome of humility and honesty.
Osinbajo made this statement at the Inter-religious farewell service in honour of Ooni at his palace in Ile-Ife, Osun, on Friday.
The vice president also described Sijuwade as an exemplary ruler, who did so much to uphold the high traditions and culture of Yoruba people.
Osinbajo said, “all over the world, places where the Yoruba culture is celebrated, the Ooni was very well recognised.”
He said that the achievements of Sijuwade were worth celebrating and that the monarch would live on with his legacy enshrined in Yoruba history.
Similarly, Gov. Rauf Aregbesola lauded the late Ooni for a life well lived and for being a good role model to other “Obas` ’(traditional rulers).
The governor, who was represented by Mr Moshood Adeoti, the Secretary to the State Government, said in a speech that he received news of the death of Oba Sijuwade with shock.
He said the Ooni was a pacesetter who led the Osun Council of Obas with sincerity and honesty and that he would always be celebrated.
He said the Ooni was the chief custodian of Yoruba culture who would greatly be missed.
Aregbesola prayed for the repose of the soul of the Ooni and that God grant his family the fortitude to bear the loss.
The Interdenominational service was earlier heralded by sermons and prayers from Rev. Olusola Akanbi (Christian), Mufutaudeen Yusuf (Muslim) and Ifaloba Ifagbenro (traditional priest).
Paying tribute to the late monarch, Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, described the death of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, as the end of another era in Yoruba history.
Governor Ajimobi, in a statement issued by the state government, said the death of the revered monarch was very unfortunate and disheartening.
“The death of our revered monarch came to me as a rude shock. He will forever be remembered as a monarch who rewrote the history of the Yoruba race for the good.
“He was an advocate of peaceful co-existence irrespective of religious and ethnic colorations. How I wish he lived longer with us. His opinions were always sought for and could not be discountenanced by the stakeholders.”
In the same vein, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade 1, in a statement issued yesterday by his Personal Assistant, Chief Isiaka Akinpelu, said: “The 35 years reign of Oba Sijuwade was highly remarkable for its contribution to the peace, progress and development of Yorubaland in particular and the country as a whole.
“The late Ooni of Ife’s wise counsel and timely personal interventions, which contributed in no small measure towards resolving national issues and questions at critical periods in the nation’s history would be sorely missed.”
Olubadan noted that Oba Sijuwade’s promoted unity between the Yoruba in Nigeria and the Yoruba in the diaspora, especially in West Africa, Brazil and the Carribean.
Oba Odulana recollected the honour accorded him by the late monarch’s personal presence at his coronation as the 40th Olubadan of Ibadanland in 2007.
Former governor of Oyo State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, described Oba Sijuwade as a citadel of Yoruba tradition. Alao-Akala also said the monarch was an epitome of remarkable virtues, who lived a life worthy of emulation.
The late monarch, he said, was known for his conviviality, camaraderie, sense of judgement and magnificence around the world. Oba Sijuwade left behind an enviable legacy that would outlive this generation.
Alao Akala who recalled his recognition by the Ooni as Atunluse of Ife Odan by the late Ooni, added that Oba Sijuwade at several fora, cautioned against distortion of the history of the Yoruba race.
Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayo Fayose, also stated that the place of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, in the history of the Yoruba race is guaranteed for posterity by his enormous contributions to the uplift of the Yoruba people in the global stage.
Fayose, in a tribute to the departed monarch in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday, said Oba Sijuwade’s life was a great lesson for all, as he strived to achieve greatness despite the fact that he was born into royalty.
While commiserating with the people of Ife, Osun State and Yoruba people all over the world on the passing on of the monarch, Fayose noted that the deceased’s business acumen was worthy of emulation.
“Oba Okunade Sijuwade though born into royalty, did not allow that to get into his head as he carved a niche for himself in the business world. While not forgetting his affluent background, he delved into the business world early in life.”
Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole called the late royal father a national icon.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Peter Okhiria, the governor said, “the transition of the Ooni, the custodian of the rich history and tradition of the Yoruba people, is a colossal loss not only to the people of Ile Ife, but also the people of Osun State, the Yoruba race and the entire nation.
“The Ooni was indeed one of Nigeria’s most cerebral royal fathers who carved a niche for himself as an enterprising young Prince before ascending the exalted throne of his forbears, and his reign was remarkable as it brought unprecedented development to Osun State , which was carved out of the old Oyo State under his reign.”
Renowned Christian Cleric, Evangelist Toluwase Akeredolu has said that the late Ooni died a born again Christian, having confessed his sins shortly before his demise.
Evangelist Akeredolu said he was privileged to minister to the deceased monarch few weeks before his death and he confessed all his sins to God after the ministration.
The Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) evangelist who hails from Ido-Ani in Ondo State said he lived his youthful life in Ile-Ife Osun State and got familiar with late Oba Sijuwade during a revival programme he organised in the ancient town.
He recalled that the late monarch at one of the last crusades he attended before his demise publicly announced his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.
Meanwhile the seven days rites have commenced with motorists seen rushing back home from work. A seven-day curfew has been imposed on Ile-Ife region. It started yesterday from 4PM. All the rites will be completed within this period, anybody seen from 7PM risks his or her life. -The Sun