Published On: Fri, Jul 31st, 2015

Ife residents stockpile food, anticipate mourning of Ooni



…as Aregbesola, Ife chiefs meet in Oshogbo




The apprehension over the news of the passing away of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, has thrown the ancient city into a frenzy of increasing purchase of food items ahead of an anticipated holiday.

Although relief came when the traditional chiefs announced on Wednesday that the Ooni was alive and well, shops and markets were immediately closed once the news filtered in at the early hours of the day that the monarch had passed on.

“As soon as the news came, the markets immediately closed down, business owners also closed their shops,” Akinwole Olaniran, a businessman, said at his shop in Ife yesterday.

“But when the news from the palace came that he is alive, there was relief and business started resuming.”

He said the “rumour” greatly affected businesses and lowered the flow of customers everywhere in the city as commercial motorcycles and many other people moved to the Monarch’s palace to ascertain the news.

He admitted that the period of traditional rites would result in loss of revenues and grounding commercial activities should the death be affirmed.

Traditionally, once the death of the Ooni is announced, the three major markets, namely Oja Tutun, Oja Ife and the Goat Market, would be closed for at least seven days.

Besides the markets, shops within the vicinity of the palace and all the areas within Enuwa, which is the area bordering the palace, will be closed for business.

A trader at Enuwa who identified himself as Fayemi, said his father was a traditional chief in Ife before his death and taught him all the traditional rites involved during the period of the passing away of any Ooni.

He said although markets would be closed and businesses would suffer, the importance of the Ooni of Ife removes any pain that might be suffered during the period of the traditional rites.

Fayemi also said the residents were prepared, though the news of his death remained a rumour.

He explained that it was because of such effects that brought about the shortening of the period for installing another Ooni.

Solomon Adebayo sells building materials right in front of the palace. He said that people have been buying out food stuff from the markets since information came that the markets may be closed for about seven days.

Odeladi Samson also trades in paints and other building wares said if the monarch was confirmed to have passed away, it would be bad for business.

Samson agreed that a monarch of the Ooni’s stature should be honoured, but he was worried about the fact that as a low income earner, he would have to burn out all his little savings without making any money within the period.

At the moment, the huge crowd that gathered around the palace on Wednesday did not return yesterday. The environment wore a sombre mood as recorded on the faces of those going in and out of the Ile Oodua.

While the chiefs’ denial of the passing away of the traditional ruler was still being maintained, the people would not want to be caught unawares and were preparing for a possible long draught.

Meanwhile, the Royal Traditional Council of Ife yesterday met Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State briefly behind closed-doors at the Government House, Osogbo.

The delegates first told the governor in the presence of some journalists that the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, was alive contrary to the news in the media.

The details of the brief meeting held behind closed-doors were not made available to journalists.

The chiefs, led by the Lowa of Ife, Oba Joseph Ijaodola, had earlier said it was regrettable that the Ooni was always a target of negative publicity in the media.

Some prominent indigenes of Ife, who are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), were present at the meeting. They are Senator Babajide Omoworare; immediate past Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Sikiru Ayedun; a former member of Osun State  House of Assembly, Mr. Adetilewa Sijuade and a former Special Adviser to the Governor on Youth and Sports, Mr. Biyi Odunlade.

Aregbesola thanked the chiefs for holding forth the monarch’s domain while he was away and he prayed God to give the monarch long life in good health.

Meanwhile, the palace of the Ooni looked deserted on Thursday when it was visited.

There was no crowd or the hordes of ‘okada’ riders who had gathered at the entrance of the palace on Wednesday when newspapers broke the news of the Ooni’s death.

A palace source said that the rebuttal of the news of the Ooni’s death by the RTC was in order. The source said although the monarch had passed away, the procedure for breaking such big news must be followed.


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