Foremost traditional ruler Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the Ooni of Ife, is dead. He was 85.
The royal father passed on at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, United Kingdom (U.K), where he was being treated.
Sources close to the palace at Enuwa, Ile-Ife, Osun State, confirmed his demise last night.
He was reportedly flown out on Friday in an air ambulance for treatment at the Lodon hospital when his health reportedly suffered a relapse.
It was not immediately clear last night what may have caused Oba Sijuwade’s death.
Family members did not pick their telephone calls.
Sources close to the state government said the palace was yet to inform Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the development.
St. Mary’s is a general acute hospital that diagnoses and treats a range of adult and paediatric conditions.
The hospital is one of the four Major Trauma Centres (MTCs) in London, acting as the hub for the northwest London trauma network and a vital part of the London-wide trauma system which connects a series of trauma units and rehabilitation facilities.
It pioneered the use of robotic surgery, including the UK’s first da Vinci robot for keyhole surgery.
One of the late Ooni’s sons, Adegbite, is set for his traditional marriage 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 late monarch mounted the throne as the 50th Oba in the ancient city in 1980, taking the regal name Olubuse II.
But he was crowned on December 6, 1980 at a ceremony that was graced by notable personalities, including the former Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, the late Oba of Benin, Omon’oba Nedo Uku Akpolopolo, the Amayanabo of Opobo and the Olu of Warri.
The Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth, sent representatives.
The late Ooni was born on January 1, 1930 in Ile-Ife to the Ogboru Ruling House. He was the grandson of Ooni Sijuwade Adelekan Olubuse I.
He studied at Abeokuta Grammar School, Ogun State and Oduduwa College in Ile-Ife.
After working for three years in his father’s business and another two-year stint with the Nigerian Tribune, the late Ooni enrolled at the Northampton College in the UK to study Business Management.
At 30, he was already a manager in Leventis, a Greek-Nigerian conglomerate and by 1963, he had become Sales Director of the state-owned National Motor in Lagos.
After spotting a business opportunity during a 1964 visit to the Soviet Union, he formed a company to distribute Soviet-built vehicles and equipment in Nigeria, which became the nucleus of a widespread business empire.
He also invested in real estate in his Ile-Ife country home. By the time Sijuwade was crowned Ooni in 1980, he had become a wealthy man.
The late Sijuwade, a Christian, attended the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Foursquare Gospel Church, where he declared himself a “full member” of the church in November 2009.
He was accompanied by 17 other traditional rulers.
Sijuwade conferred chieftainship titles on a number of politicians and their wives. The recipients include: former governors Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Theodore Orji (Abia).
Others are: Senators Jubril Aminu and Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello as well as erstwhile military governor of the Old Western Region, Gen Adeyinka Adebayo.