One of Nigeria’s most important monarchs, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade has joined his ancestors. Death came knocking at a time the traditional ruler was still, despite his age, mediating in several civil issues in the country. The last was the labour crisis at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
Aggrieved members of the Non-Accademic Staff Union (NASU), OAU, had gone on strike over three weeks ago, to protest the alleged non-payment of their 64-month hazard allowance. However, after a mediation by the Ooni between the school management and the workers, the strike was called off.
“We have agreed to suspend the strike following the Ooni’s intervention. Our members will be resuming on Friday because we still need to put some things in place,” Chairman of NASU, OAU chapter, Wole Odewunmi was quoted to have said. Such is the influence the monarch wields. Former President Goodluck Jonathan along with other Yoruba Obas had visited him during the last electioneering process.
Counted first among the Yoruba kings, the Ooni is traditionally considered the 401st spirit (Orisha), the only one that speaks.
Days after he helped to end the NASU strike at OAU, he was flown abroad in an air ambulance for treatment at the Lodon hospital when his health reportedly suffered a relapse.
The monarch will miss the traditional marriage of one of his sons, Adegbite, with ace television presenter and actress Dolapo Oni on Sunday.
The intending couples had their wedding introduction a few days ago at the Oni’s family compound in Lagos. The ‘Moments with Mo’ co-host and media personality got engaged by Adegbite last December. With the death of the monarch and the activities expected to follow, it is uncertain whether the traditional wedding will still hold as scheduled.