One of the right hand chiefs of Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Ooni of Ife, Oba Joseph Ijaodola, Lowa of Ife, on Thursday further condemned the rumour that the monarch was dead.
He said that Ooni did not look like he was going to die at the time he travelled out of the country to seek medical attention abroad.
Oba Ijaodola spoke to journalists after a meeting behind closed-doors between the Royal Traditional Council of Ife and Governor Rauf Aregbesola at the Government House.
The Lowa, who led the delegation of chiefs to the meeting, expressed regret that the Ooni was always a target of negative publicity in the media.
He 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.
Oba Ijaodola said, “We were all shocked when we heard the rumour of Baba’s death. If at all such an incident had occurred, the Royal Traditional Council of Ife would be the first to know and equally break the news to the entire public.
“Sixteen of us are his chiefs and when he was travelling out, he didn’t look like he was going to die and should such a thing have happened to him, we would have been informed even before anyone would hear about it. We pray that Ooni Sijuade will live long in good health.”
Some prominent indigenes of Ife, who were members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, were present at the meeting. They included Senator Babajide Omoworare; the 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.
As at Thursday, the palace of the Ooni was deserted as there was no crowd within the vicinity.
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, were clearly absent.
Visitors to the palace, including journalists, were not allowed to go beyond the first court which houses the Press Centre, but at the Emese’s court and the police station, some chiefs who visited the palace were seen going inside the inner part of the palace.
The news of the Ooni’s death by the RTC was said to be in order.
Even if the monarch had passed away, the procedure for breaking such big news must be followed.
A source close to the palace said, “The Traditional Council did a good job. They tried as much as they can to ensure that things are done the way they should be done.
“Although they may not be able to do all those things the same way they were done about 100 years ago, there must be a semblance of it. He was not just an ordinary person, so the announcement of his death must follow the due process.
“The news quickly filtered out because it happened outside the country. Nobody would have known except some very few persons if he had died right inside the palace.
“You know that the same thing happened to one of the foremost Obas in the country (name withheld); it is almost two months now and they have not announced it officially. But the Ooni passed away outside the country; so it is difficult to manage the situation. But the chiefs did what was expected of them.”
By Patrick Aigbokhan