The Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on Tuesday waded into the controversy surrounding the hierarchy of monarchs in Yoruba land, saying Benin Kingdom in Edo State remained part of the expansive Yoruba race.
Oba Ogunwusi made the comment in reaction to a statement credited to the palace of the Oba of Benin challenging the claim by the Alake of Egbaland, Adedotun Gbadebo, that the Ooni of Ife remained the pre-eminent spiritual leader in Yorubaland and environs.
The Benin palace in its reaction said the Oba of Benin could and should not be equated to any Yoruba monarch as his stool was superior. It also said the Ooni is a son of the Oba of Benin and his stool, an appendage of the Benin palace.
Oba Ogunwusi, via a statement by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Moses Olafare, said he was not interested in any supremacy battle with anyone but that he would continue to put the records straight and avoid distortion of history from any quarters.
The Ooni said going by historical evidence detailing the Oduduwa lineage, Benin Kingdom remained part and parcel of Oduduwa House.
“We in Oduduwa land have always seen and regarded our people in Benin kingdom as part and parcel of Oduduwa House. They are our brothers and sisters, coupled with historical facts to back up this position”, Ooni Ogunwusi said.
“The statement credited to the Alake of Egbaland, did not emanate from us but the reality is that as a highly experienced and well informed monarch, Kabiyesi Alake, who is a bonafide Oodua descendant is entitled to his opinion based on his knowledge and understanding of history,” the Ooni said.
“Let me emphasize for the umpteenth time that Kabiyesi Ooni is less concerned over any supremacy hullabaloo. He is only interest for now in how the sacred throne of Oduduwa can explore measures through which the collective interest and genuine unity among Yoruba and other tribes within the larger House of Oduduwa can be enhanced.
“This informed his resolve to build bridges of harmony among Yourba Obas. I am resolutely committed to how Yoruba ethnic group can restore its glory and pride of position among other ethnic inclinations in Nigeria and don’t want to be dragged into supremacy contest or join issues with anybody”.
The monarch said he recalled that about six years ago, attempt was made by some people to upturn history during the launch of a book titled: I REMAIN SIR, YOUR OBEDIENT SERVANT, which he said stood historical facts on its head.
He stated that If the position espoused by the Oba of Benin Palace in the media “is aimed at distancing our people in Benin from the South West and Yoruba, so be it”.
He, however, added: “We still identify with them as our kinsmen, regardless of the attempt to change the course of history”.