• I am coming to the throne to set a good example
• Predictions on my son have come true, says father
FOLLOWING his emergence as the Ooni-elect, only coronation-rites away from occupying the pre-eminent monarchical stool among an estimated 60 million Yoruba worldwide, Prince Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, yesterday said his ascension to the throne was a divine call, as “only God chooses kings.”
The Ooni-elect who spoke to The Guardian in an exclusive interview yesterday, expressed his appreciation to God, who made his emergence so peaceful.
He spoke against the backdrop of several efforts to thwart the process that led to his emergence which had led to uncertainty in the ancient town since the passage of the last Ooni, Oba Okunade Sijuade Olubuse II, on July 28 this year at Saint Mary Hospital London at the age of 85.
Kingmakers who had thought the new Ooni would be announced 42 days after the death of Sijuade were wrong as several interest groups raised allegations against either the families due to produce a new Ooni or Prince Adeyeye Ogunwusi himself when, they somehow found out he was the candidate to beat.
Before his selection was announced, Prince Ogunwusi had told The Guardian of his shock at the allegations, saying he was never involved in any sharp practices, stressing that he believes “it is God that actually appoints kings.
“My brother, can people be this bad?! How can they be maligning my character with all these spurious allegations, which I am not aware of or connected with? Well, I believe that in a matter of days, everything would be over and that the will of God will be done,” he had said emphatically.
Two months before, when some friends expressed concern over his bid for the throne, he simply thanked them but said: “This is beyond me; it is a divine call and I cannot do otherwise. This is the biggest challenge I have ever faced in my life.”
Through it all, the Ooni-elect even as a candidate never failed to express his confidence in God, in the integrity of the kingmakers and the government of Osun State.
‘Predictions have come true’
The Ooni-elect’s father, Prince Ropo Ogunwusi, who suddenly finds himself, socially and culturally lower than his offspring, expressed happiness at the fulfillment of predictions long ago that his son would one day wear the crown.
He called on others who contested with the new monarch to forget the past and begin a new fiesta by joining hands with the Ooni-in-waiting in building new Ife to the joy and satisfaction of all.
A few hours after his emergence, Ogunwusi said he was very happy that the process turned out peaceful, despite several challenges.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, he said: “I thank God that it was peaceful all the way. This is dedicated to God and Nigerian youths, particularly, our youths in Ife. With my emergence, our young people now have a voice in nation building and development.
“In the course of my aspiration to be the Ooni stool, I faced stiff opposition, but I thank God that at the end of the day, it has turned out this way and I give glory to God.”
Prince Ogunwusi, who as of yesterday was in Ibadan, would be entering Ife triumphantly today or tomorrow.
In his acceptance speech, the Ooni-elect said: “I am not coming to the throne to pass judgment on those that have maliciously wronged me. I am coming to the throne to set a good example and show the world that I am truly called by God to lead Ile-Ife into a state of tranquility, conscientiousness and prosperity.
“It is my ardent prayer that the Lord will continue to guide us all and bestow us with great wisdom to carry out our incumbent tasks. I use this opportunity to call upon all the sons of Ile-Ife that were alongside with me in the race for the stool to heed to my call that we work harmoniously to align our goals for the sake of posterity and Ile-Ife. Together we shall not lose sight of the values and tradition that have made us the greatest nation of black people on earth.”
Goodwill for the Ooni-elect
Meanwhile, Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, yesterday congratulated Prince Ogunwusi and advised him to concentrate on further solidifying the role of the Yoruba people in national unity.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, wished the Ooni-elect a long and peaceful reign, sound health and many years of service to his people.
Saraki assured the new monarch that the Senate, under his leadership, would continue to hold the traditional institution in high esteem, considering the role they play in ensuring peaceful coexistence among the people, promotion of worthy cultural values in the society and sustenance of national traditions.
Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has congratulated the new Ooni-elect.
In a congratulatory statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, Dogara said the role of traditional rulers in nation building could not be over-emphasised and that such institutions must be restored to their former dignity if Nigeria was to make any meaningful progress.
The Speaker urged the Ooni-elect to emulate the works of the late Oba Sijuade whom he said left an indelible mark in the history of Nigeria as a peacemaker and a bridge between different peoples of the country.
While assuring of the cooperation of the House of Representatives, Dogara said the legislature was open to the wise counsel and invaluable support of the Ooni-elect in its quest to effect change and reposition Nigeria for enduring peace, security, accelerated growth and development.
The Speaker also appealed to the ruling houses in Ife and citizens of Kingdom to unite behind the new Ooni and give him the much-needed support.
Also, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday, urged the new Ooni of Ife to prioritise unity of the Yoruba.
Ambode, in his congratulatory message, said the stool remains the rallying point of the ethnic nationality and should among others be used to strengthen the bond among all its people.
Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko spoke in a similar vein in a congratulatory message.
Addressing reporters over the appointment, the Laadin of Ife and Secretary of Ife Traditional Council, Chief Adetoye Adewole, affirmed that, the choice of Ogunwusi was ordained by the gods of the land.
Adewole described the Ooni-in-waiting as a man of dignity with impeccable character, stressing that he was single-handedly fished out by Ifa oracles and gods through divination.
Also, the Lowa Adimula of Ifel, who is the chairman of kingmakers, Oba Joseph Ijaodola, said due process was religiously followed before the selection and recommendation of the newly appointed monarch was made to the state government for its official endorsement.
Oba Ijaodola noted the choice of Ogunwusi came after a painstaking and rigorous exercise taking into consideration the enormous task before the kingmakers. He said Ogunwusi was the best among other candidate, saying the Ooni –elect possesses the qualities expected of a personality to occupy the throne.
Also, former Special Adviser to Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Youths and Special Needs, Mr. Biyi Odunlade, an indigene of Ife, described Ogunwusi as an intelligentsia of note with outstanding achievements.
Odunlade urged those who contested with Prince Ogunwusi to see his emergence as divine, saying all of them should join hands with him in taking Ife to greater heights.
Omo Oba Sikiru Adetona Ayedun of Giesi Ruling Family (Moniki –Lugba} who is one of the contestants congratulated the Kabiyesi-elect, saying as the 51st Ooni, Ife people would rally round him to enhance rapid development of the town.
‘‘I equally wish you a memorable and eventful coronation in advance. Igba re atuwa lara. (Meaning your tenure would bring peace, comfort and development)
‘Goldfish have no hiding place’
True to the proverb: “Gold fish have no hiding place” young Ogunwusi’s penchant for excellence could not be hidden from the world.
Often described as ‘an astute entrepreneur’ driven by turning ‘impossibilities to possibilities,’ his powerful imagination had somehow, set him on the throne of his fathers, long before yesterday.
Nuggets about the Ooni-elect
*The 40-year old prince is of the Ojaja Royal compound of Agbedegbede in the Giesi Ruling House. He is a prince in the Ojaja Royal compound of Agbedegbede in the Giesi Ruling House and the 5th direct descendant of the Giesi family.
*The Ooni-elect attended The Polytechnic, Ibadan, where he obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Accountancy.
* He led the Federal Government delegation to Canada in 2002 for strategic alliances and partnership with Ondo State Government on solid mineral potentials of the state. This would lead to the formation of Amalgamated Mining and Exploration Company Limited, owned by the state government.
* The newly appointed monarch facilitated the biggest Lead and Aluminum recycling plant set up in Nigeria by National Steel Company of India in Ota, Ogun State.
* Prince Ogunwusi is the founder of Essential Homes, a real estate project that delivers affordable upscale homes to middle and low income earners.
* The Ooni-elect employs over 300 youth at the Inagbe Cocowood Factory and has over 450 direct employees in his various companies.
* Prince Ogunwusi is on the Board of Imperial Homes Mortgage Bank Limited, (formerly GTHomes), GTBank Plc and FinaTrust Microfinance Bank Limited.
* He is a member of several professional bodies, which include; Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), an Associate Accounting Technician and a certified member of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria as well as Global Real Estate Institute (GRI).
* Prince Ogunwusi has carried out real estate developments for several monarchs, which include: HRM, Oba Saheed Elegushi, Kusenla III, Elegushi of Ikate Land, his predecessor, the late Oba Sijuade, HRM, Oba Oyekan, Onilado, of Ilado Inagbe Island, Lagos, HRM, Oba Adedapo Tejuoso, The Oranmiyan Osile Oke Ona of Egba Land, Abeokuta, HRM, Oba Oloruntoyin Saliu, the Oloworo of Oworonsoki, Lagos, HRM Oba Akinloye, Ojomu of Ajiran Land, Lekki,
HRM, The Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Muhammed Gbadamosi, among others.
* He is also actively involved in the development of over 2,500 housing units with various consortia of developers within the last eight years.
* In Nigeria, he set up and fostered strong trade relationships through the Association for International Business (AIB) with presence in over 200 member countries across the globe. One of the achievements of this body includes the trade facilitation between the United Arab Emirates (Jebel Ali free Trade Zone development) and the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
The first phase of the product (The Southpointe Estate, Lafiaji Road, Lekki, Lagos State) started in February 2014 and has been successfully delivered within a year with approximately 60 per cent occupancy recorded.
*The new monarch has a clear track record of community development starting with his hometown.
Four years ago during his mother’s funeral, the community was without electricity but he embarked on a ‘Power Project’ to install transformers and light poles that generated electricity, which till date is serving people of that community. This power project is also being extended to other parts of the town.
*To actualise his dream of developing one of the best resorts in Nigeria, he, within a year, led a team that opened up a remote jungle called Inagbe Island in Amuwo Odofin, Lagos as a result of which Inagbe Island has been turned into a whole new community offering spectacular world-class relaxation and recreational facilities.
Earlier this year, Prince Ogunwusi disclosed his plans to take Ile-Ife to greater heights by rebranding the ancient town and replicating the grand resort in Ile-Ife.
*Alongside his vibrant personality, he is very down to earth and enjoys being in the midst of his workers with whom he interacts very closely.
Prince Ogunwusi, the philanthropist
As a philanthropist, Ogunwusi has sponsored less privileged children and youths in his hometown of Ile-Ife and in Lagos where he lives. He at present, employs of over 300 indigenous youths at the Inagbe Cocowood Factory – Essential Homes Furniture brand, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria using 100% indigenous raw materials for production. He has over 450 direct employees across his various companies, and over 3000 indirect employees.
Ogunwusi is a Director on the Board of Directors of Imperial Homes Mortgage Bank Limited, (formerly GTHomes), which is a leading National Mortgage Bank and former subsidiary of one of the biggest banks in Africa; GTBank Plc. He is also a Director at FinaTrust Microfinance Bank Limited; one of Nigeria’s foremost Microfinance Banks focusing on SMEs and micro credit facilities. He is the Founder, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Gran Imperio Group, which is the holding company of the real estate and construction, manufacturing, facilities management, leisure and tourism companies in Nigeria.
read more at The Guardian Nigeria