A former President of Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, have declared their support for the moves to unite traditional rulers in Yorubaland by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II.
They spoke at the one year anniversary of the ascension of throne by the Ooni and launching of a book – ‘Venerated’ – detailing his background and emergence.
Both Obasanjo and Soyinka asked the Ooni to ignore comments or moves that could spur disunity among people of Yoruba race.
Obasanjo said he had been monitoring the activities of the Ooni since his ascension to the throne, urging the monarch to take the unification agenda as a key factor for the development of the Yoruba nation.
“I have paid keen interest in the unification move of the Ooni since his ascension to the throne. It is commendable. We need someone like the Ooni to ensure that the Yoruba nation remained undivided,” he said.
“We Know What We Know”
Professor Soyinka, who also identified the need for people of Yoruba race to unite, maintained that one of the controversial matters among the Yoruba leaders remained the origin of Ile-Ife.
He also argued that anyone who considered Moremi as a traitor was not saying the “reality”, referring to a statement by another monarch, the Olugbo of Ugbo, few days ago.
He said, “There is controversy about the origin of someone whom we know as the origin of Yoruba race, kingdom, black race and humanity. The controversy may continue for long but the reality is that Kabiesi, the Ooni of Ife above all Ile-Ife is the cradle of humanity.
“We know what we know. We know what we accept and believe and that remains the fact. I have just gone to see the statue of Moremi and the controversy on Moremi, I have heard and learnt that some people said that Moremi, the heroine, is a traitor. That does not touch any part of reality of what Moremi is or was. And I don’t want you (Ooni) to spend any time or energy at all responding to counter or alternative theories. It is not necessary,” the Nobel Laureate told the Ooni.
According to him, the influence of Ile-Ife transcends Nigeria and Africa.
“If you walk on the street of Cuba or Brazil, somebody will tap you on your shoulder because they know you are black, they say ‘who are you?’ And you say ‘I am Osun, Ogun, Sango’. At the end, they will ask you how is the Ooni? It means the Yoruba race, culture is beyond this environment,” he added.
He, however, assured the Ooni of his support, saying, “I can see that you are sent on a mission of the unity of the Yoruba people wherever they are in any part of the world. We promise to work with you to bring that dream to reality.”
While emphasising the importance of peace and unity, the Ooni vowed not to stop his moves to make the Yoruba nation one.
He explained that his one-year of ascension to the throne was focused on tourism, agriculture and youth emancipation.
He said: “There must be peace in Yoruba nation and entire country. It is when there is peace among Yoruba leaders that we will progress and develop. Our peaceful co-existence is non-negotiable that is why we are preaching peace and I will continue to preach it.
“We won’t stop working and we will continue to seek partnership with the three tiers of government,” he added.