The Ooni of Ife, Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade, dies at the age of 85

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The Ooni of Ife, Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade,  has died at the age of 85 in a London hospital.

The monarch was said to have died around 5pm on Tuesday (today).

Relevant officials, who spoke to our correspondent on Tuesday night, however, refused to confirm the monarch’s death, saying they did not want to be quoted on the death of the foremost traditional ruler, who was said to have passed away on Tuesday.

“I have heard but please,  I don’t want to be quoted on this. People have been calling but nothing has been made public. You see, another person is calling me from London,” the source said before  picking the other call.

Another source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to our correspondent, explained that Oba Sijuwade was flown out of the country from Ibadan about five days ago in an unconscious state.

“Kabiyesi was flown out of the country about five days ago in an air ambulance.  He was unconscious;  his situation was critical.

“As a matter of fact, some people have been weeping in the palace since the weekend because of his situation when he was flown out from Ibadan in that air ambulance,” he said.

Just last week, the Ooni resolved the industrial dispute between the management of the Obafemi Awolowo University and some staff of the institution,  who had embarked on an indefinite strike.

Oba Sijuwade was the 50th Ooni of Ife in 1980. He ascended the throne on December 6, 1980. As the Ooni of Ife, he presided over the Ife territory, in the South West Nigeria but his influence went far and beyond.

He came into office at the height of the supremacy fight amongst Yoruba Obas. The crisis pitched him against the Alaafin of Oyo. It festered on until Osun state was carved out of the old Oyo State.

Before he became an Oba, he studied at Abeokuta Grammar School and later at Northampton College in the United Kingdom before he became a manager at Leventis stores.

Oba Sijuwade’s term as Oba was characterised with political intrigue, as he was one of the traditional rulers that influenced politics. He was allegedly instrumental to the annulment of June 12, 1993, elections.

He survived by his wives and children.

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