Despite the embargo placed on declaration of interest for the royal stool of the Ooni of Ile-Ife by the Ife Traditional Council, prominent princes from various ruling houses are still expressing interest in occupying the vacant stool.
Following the public announcement of the demise of Oba Okunade Sijuwade on Wednesday, August 19, 2015, a seven-day mourning period was declared by the Ife Traditional Council during which all markets were closed for business activities.
Oba Folorunso Elusakin, the Obalufe of Iremo Quarters, had noted that it was forbidden for anybody to declare his intention to occupy the stool of the departed monarch until the mourning period is over.
However, in an attempt to outsmart other contenders, some prominent princes in Ile-Ife have declared their interest to occupy the revered stool.
Prominent among those who have declared their interest in the race is a former commissioner for Information and Tourism in the first tenure of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Prince Sikiru Ayedun, a brilliant politician from Geesi Ruling House.
Ayedun is conversant with tradition and culture. Besides, as a frontline politician in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and his outstanding performance as commissioner in the cabinet of Aregbesola, he stands a chance of ascending the throne of his forefathers.
Another major contender who has declared his intention to go for the stool is the visitor and proprietor of Oodua University, Prince Abdulraheem Adedoyin, also from Geesi ruling house.
Adedoyin, a business mogul who is also the proprietor of The Polytechnic, Ile-ife, is said to have claimed that he was the anointed prince to the throne by the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade.
Prince Adedoyin is home-based and was very close to the palace when the late Oba Sijuwade held sway in the palace.
Some other prominent princes from Lafogido ruling house, which comprises Ademiluyi and Oladele families, have equally shown interest in the race for the exalted throne.
Prominent among them are Prince Ademola Ademiluyi, an octogenarian lawyer and a very good business associate of Chief Rasaq Okoya; Prince Adeyinka Ademiluyi, a septuagenarian; Prince Adegboyega Ademiluyi, an oil magnate in his late sixties; Prince Adebambo Ademiluyi, Prince Kanmi Ademiluyi and Prince Adetayo Oladele.
Prince Kanmi Ademiluyi who is rumoured to be pro-APC and a confidant of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of the APC, is also said to be a very close friend of Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
Prince Kanmi Ademiluyi is a former editor of the Punch. His affinity with the ruling APC, influence garnered by virtue of his position as former editor and age may work for him as he is said to be at the golden age of 50.
Also in the race is Prince Ademola Ademiluyi. Though an octogenarian, he is very wealthy and close to lots of Nigerian billionaires. He was once the legal secretary of the defunct power outfit, NEPA, and belongs to many social clubs within and outside Nigeria.
Prince Gboyega Ademiluyi, who is into oil and gas business, is also a major contender who cannot be ignored owing to his business and political influence in the country.
Another hopeful, Prince Yinka Ademiluyi, a septuagenarian, is a Lagos socialite, a product of the famous Ibadan Grammar School and a prominent member of the Island Club.
Prince Gboyega Ademiluyi, who is also said to be nursing the ambition to become the next Ooni, said to be in his late 60s, is a highly successful businessman, an ex-member of the management teams of major oil companies and a member of the Yoruba Tennis Club.
Prince Adebambo Ademiluyi is also in his mid-60s. He attended Kings College, Lagos, and he is also a member of the Yoruba Tennis Club.
Also, in the contest is Prince Rasheed Adetayo Oladele, a Columbus-based businessman who is from Adagba Compound of Lafogido ruling house.
Prince Oladele was born on March 3, 1963. He attended Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, and The Polytechnic, Ibadan, where he bagged a HND in Marketing in 1989.
He worked as an account clerk at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital from 1980-84 and worked as a sales executive at Daily Times from 1990-96. He later migrated to the United States of America in 1996 with his family.
Prince Oladele is currently an entrepreneur playing in the U.S. real estate market. He is a licensed real estate broker operating under his firm, Royal Executive Realty LLC in Columbus, Ohio. He is the current president of Ife Descendants Union, Columbus, Ohio branch.
Also from the Lafogido ruling house is Prince Adebode Oluwafemi.
The Ife Traditional Council has not made any official pronouncement on the ruling house that should occupy the stool, contrary to the traditional way of choosing who becomes the next Ooni. But it is obvious that money and political affiliation will play a prominent role in who eventually emerges the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade’s successor.