Acceptance speech of the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, after his confirmation by the Executive Governor of State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
I have a story to tell the world and most importantly the people of Ile-Ife. About 40 years ago, I was born into the Giesi Ruling House, Ojaja Royal Compound in the ancient city of Ile-Ife.
From birth, my life has been a journey; one that I embarked on, saddled with great conscientiousness when I became a responsible father at the age of 19, which shaped and groomed me for greater challenges ahead.
To cater for my family as a young father, I became very enterprising with the knack of building something out of nothing. This certainly increased my temperament for being successful in all my endeavours, as well as towing the right path as a responsible father. Thus, in the following years, I was able to build a consortia of companies with a team of well-versed, highly skilled and unskilled professionals from scratch and with hard work and God’s providence. This has made me a huge employer of labour and a captain of industries.
The story of Ile-Ife begins as the cradle of civilization and has spread its tentacles beyond Black Africa. The Ooni stool is highly revered and exalted and as the world looks on; our strength and emphasis need to be injected into the development of Ile-Ife as a beacon of hope and enviable city.
Spiritual home of all Yoruba
Suffices to say that Ile-Ife is the ancestral and spiritual home of all Yorubas, bona fide, in Nigeria and the Diaspora, and the World Headquarters of the House of Oduduwa, which comprises people resident in nearly all the continents of the world. Thus, the Ooni, as the head of the vast Oduduwa family, must be no less versatile and resourceful. Available evidences from the curatorial community and archaeological discoveries have put the origin of Ile-Ife around 2000 years BC.
Around this time, the people of Ile-Ife have distinguished themselves in technology and cultural advancement. A notable fact in this direction is Ori-Olokun: though purportedly ‘discovered’ by the famous German archaeologist Leo Frobenius in 1910, but had been in existence for thousands of years.
Discovery: The pure-copper sculpture took the entire arts world by storm at the time of its discovery that experts from the West argued that the artefact was a mystery that was too sophisticated to have been created by African hands. However, after careful examinations of other works, profusely located in and around the city and bearing striking resemblance, the world accepted the truth that the advanced people of Ile-Ife had, not only wielded the technology to turn iron to alloy but also of moulding abstract artworks out of the product.
Consequently, it is now accepted by the curatorial community that the advanced artistic techniques used to create the sculpture were more advanced than those of Renaissance Italy, and comparable to those of [the artist] Donatello.
Yet, Ile-Ife has not taken its rightful position as the ‘source’ of civilization despite her wealth of history, culture and tradition. Having found ourselves in such state of affairs where the potential of the land remains untapped and its people lacking economic and social emancipation, we should all take it upon ourselves to redress this situation.
Redressing the situation
The Ile-Ife of ‘my dream’ will be strategically positioned to empower its people socially, economically and culturally to bring about the desired developments.
Now, with our resolve to transform Ile-Ife we are ‘SET’ to leave no stone unturned, in the drive to put Ile-Ife on the map of the world. Our ultimate goal is to reposition the House of Oduduwa as a worthy example of successful inward-looking community.
At this juncture, I consider it pertinent to share with everyone the account of how Nigeria as a nation came to be. The Royal Niger Company was a mercantile company charter by the British government in the nineteenth century. It was formed in 1879 as the United African Company and became the Royal Niger Company in 1886. By 1900 it went through several name changes and in 1914 a merger occurred between the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and the Northern Nigeria Protectorate to become the independent Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1960. It suffices to say our beloved nation developed through a corporation of technocrats and quality mind input. Arguably, this is one of the several ways cities and communities are built; through large corporations.
The ethos of this account goes to prove that any geographic setting can undergo boundless growth through clusters of companies which invariably can lead to the creation of settlements and human capital development.
Consequently, there is a huge possibility for Ile-Ife to experience tremendous growth through industrialization and developmental projects like a company managed by dedicated sons and daughters of Ife and all Ife enthusiasts. I have no doubt, Ife will be great again due to its economic dexterity. Ife has one of the largest land mass in the South-west beaming with natural resources including three out of the four factors of production; ‘land’, ‘labour’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ and with our great resolve we shall work towards ‘capital’ creation.
I am very passionate about my roots with the determination of bringing Ile-Ife to the forefront of economic and social affairs. In my private life, I have for a while been involved in many philanthropic gestures in Ile-Ife and its environs. The progressiveness of the youths of Ile-Ife is at the core of my philosophy and I have been instilling hope to thousands of youths through the various ongoing reciprocity Programmes I established a while ago.
It is within the dictates of our culture that the young shall provide for the old and for this reason our youths need to be nurtured and engaged positively hence they can attain financial independence and in return provide for their parents, families and dependants. This is not to say that the old and elderly will be left out. There will be various empowerment Programmes for the elderly and the widowed to learn new trades and acquire new skills that will help stamp out redundancy and at the same time be financially rewarding to them.
Many might argue that the tasks before me are incredibly monumental and impossible. However, I do not get easily swayed by the idea of impossibilities. In every challenging situation what I see is a speck of possibility which I build on till the task at hand is completed. I have done this time over time and I have defied the rules of men to follow my gut instincts. I have excelled where, people had predicted failure and I derived the most joy where others have said emphatically “it is not possible.”
A recent classic example of turning impossibilities to possibilities took place at ‘Parakin’ in Ile-Ife where I converted a sizeable piece of thick forest land into a beautiful castle within a month. The land hitherto, was a garbage dump and an escape route for men of the underworld in the vicinity which constituted a social menace to the inhabitants of ‘Parakin’.
In recent history one cannot mention Ile-Ife without acknowledging the Ife and Modakeke conflict. It’s unfortunate that lives were lost during the war between Ife and Modakeke; a war that had no economic value and displaced many lives. I paid a courtesy visit to the youths affected by the war and implored them to be proactive. Furthermore I urged them to be on the straight and narrow path and propagated the tenets of hard work as the only way to make it in life.
In the course of my life I have had many touching experiences. However, my most compelling experience till date involves two young boys namely Demola Adewole and Taye Fayemi. Demola and thousands of others energetic youths visit work sites on a daily basis to solicit for money. I took it upon myself to get to know these young boys and found that all they wanted was to earn a decent living. We got acquainted with Demola and found out he was a welder. Without hesitation, we helped to re-orientate him and got him involved in construction work in ‘Parakin’. Demola Adewole has turned out to be one of the best welders I have been privileged to work with till date.
Another set of energetic youths on one of the days I visited Ife chased after my car, many of them climbed onto the fast moving car and during the tussle to stay latched on to the car, one of them got injured. I got out of the car and addressed all of them and asked why they would want to hurt themselves and with no care in the world, Taye replied “death means nothing to me”; I shed tears, there is no hope for the youths and no one to rebuild their dashed hopes or future.
Taye Fayemi was simply desperate to make a living for himself and today, to the glory of God I personally supervise Taye’s rehabilitation, his personal development and wellbeing.
Destinies: Similar to the story of Demola and Taye, are thousands of youths with different expertise that need our help to find their feet, many whose destinies would have been cut short like the others lost the war. I cannot but emphasize that the development and well being of our youths is paramount to our future and one that is very close to my heart. This area needs to be properly addressed to ensure our youths are well engaged in various professional and vocational pursuits.
Today, and to the glory of God, I have been energized to rehabilitate and take off the streets several thousands of youths by providing them with gainful employment. Furthermore, we shall set up a foundation that will support post war effects and the rebuilding of war torn Ife and Modakeke.
Thereafter, there shall NEVER be war again. I stand firmly for peace and unity between Ife and Modakeke and I guarantee that this peace and unity will transcend into economic and social benefits for everyone.
Similarly, we shall use this stool to unify the entire Yoruba race; there shall be no division, no supremacy or animosity amongst us, we are all from the one and the same source-God Almighty.
Coming to the throne is a clarion call to heed my selfless desire to serve the people of Ile-Ife, the Yoruba race and all of humanity. We will use the stool to provide a lot of opportunities to invest in the youths through mentor-ship and empowerment programs that will further take thousands off the streets on a gradual basis. Youths all over the country will be eligible for the mentor-ship programme and Ife will be the pilot model. We will use the stool to transpose Ile-Ife into the twenty-first century and with the use and influence of social media we are ‘set’ for his transformation. Sons and daughters of Ife and Ife enthusiasts around the world will have an input in the building of the New Ife City, ‘NIC’ through constructive feedback.
Socially , we are ‘set’ to revive and promote Ile-Ife as a tourist destination. Economically, we are ‘set’ to increase our industrial footprints to give Ife the much desired facelift and ‘Traditionally’ we are ‘set’ to redefine the kingship system by blending modernity into our cultural values and practices and our tradition of thousands of years will stand.
Plans are well under-way to revitalize Ife in the areas of Sports, Mining, Agriculture, Real Estate, Tourism and rapid industrialization. To achieve this transformation, a brand new platform named ‘House Of Oduduwa Resources Limited’ has been established to stimulate the entire economy of Ile-Ife with a positive impact on the entire Yoruba race and our nation as a whole. ‘House Of Oduduwa Resources Limited’ will be tasked with rebuilding Ife into the ‘New Ife city’, NIC.
However, this is a herculean task which can only be achieved with the support of all well-meaning technocrats, sons and daughters of Ile-Ife in Nigeria and in the Diaspora and all lovers of Ife. My fervent desire is to grow ‘House Of Oduduwa Resources Limited’ into one of the biggest corporations out of Africa, likewise uniting all lovers of Ife with the people of Ife.
Earlier this year, I acquainted the youths of Ile-Ife of my plans to replicate the truly Nigerian project, Inagbe Grand Resorts Lagos, Nigeria (almost hundred percent of raw materials used are locally sourced) in Ile-Ife. Inagbe Grand Resorts is the first of its kind and will soon be the most sought after resort destination in all of West Africa. I have developed an incredible master plan for the proposed ‘Ife Grand Resorts’ which will be an off shoot of ‘Inagbe Grand Resorts Lagos’. The ‘Ife Grand Resort’ project and the ‘NIC’ initiative was conceived to attract young men and women, businesses, corporate organization, investors, holiday makers, lovers of Ife and Ife in Diaspora to a comfortable ambience to stay when they are away from home. This will continually put Ile-Ife, the cradle of black civilization on the map likewise showcasing many artefacts about the Yoruba race, hence creating a steady influx of people into Ile-Ife.
The time has come for us to embrace our true heritage as the progeny of Oduduwa and the task of modernizing Ile-Ife is yours and mine. I am highly honoured to have been chosen to fill the stool that great men once occupied; history and I will forever remember this day. I use this opportunity to pay tribute to Oba Adesoji Aderemi and Oba Okunade Sijuwade; these monarchs were colossus that redefined the monarchy with touch of diligence, elegance and gravitas that traversed so many cultural boundaries. They were great fathers to me and I will forever miss and honour them.
I am not coming to the throne to pass judgment on those that have maliciously wronged me. But then, I should think that a bid to be enthroned as the foremost Oba in Yoruba race should be healthy and ordained of God. There is also the Ifa divination that also synthesizes the process, just in case human beings are partial.
Rather, some people resorted to dangerous attacks, wicked lies, malicious insinuations and vigorous campaign of calumny. Why would I fail to forgive them when all came to nought and the good people and governments of Ife and State of Osun saw through these unfair games and chose me as the prestigious Ooni of Ife.
Therefore, I am coming to set a good example and show the world that I am truly called by God to lead Ile-Ife into a state of tranquillity, conscientiousness and prosperity. It is my fervent prayer that the Lord will continue to guide us all and bestow us with great wisdom to carry out our incumbent tasks.
I use this opportunity to call on all the sons of Ile-Ife that were alongside me in the race for the stool to heed to my call and let’s work harmoniously to align our goals for the sake of posterity and Ile-Ife. Together we shall not lose sight of the values and tradition that have made us the greatest nation of black people on earth.
I come before you all today as a man pledging his unwavering commitment to his Kingdom and his people that I cannot do this alone; without you all there is no me “I will serve you all with everything I have”.
Long live Ile-Ife; long live the Yoruba race, long live the House of Oduduwa, and God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.