The Ooni's Biography
Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade was born on the 1st of January, 1930 to a great royal family in the Ogboru house, Ilare, Ile-Ife. The last Ooni of Ife that the Ogboru ruling house presented (before the incumbent) reigned in Ife for many years as Sijuwade Adelekan Olubuse I. He was the first Ooni to venture out of his domain. At the invitation of the colonial Governor he visited Lagos in 1903 to give his ruling on whether the Oba Elepe of Epe was entitled to wear a crown which was earlier refused by Oba Akarigbo of Remo. Oba Adelekan was the father of the late “Omo-Oba“ Adereti Sijuwade, the father of Oba Sijuwade Olubuse II- the present Ooni of Ife. His mother was the late Yeyelori, Emilia Ifasesin Sijuwade.
Prince Okunade Sijuwade as he was then called, started his elementary education at Igbein school, Abeokuta, an institution owned by the CMS mission. He lived with his other brother under the care of their father’s good friend Chief G. A. Adedayo and his family. Chief Adebayo was the secretary to the Egba council, under the Asoju Oba. After his elementary school education he proceeded to Abeokuta Grammar school, under the well-known educationist, The Rev. I. O. Ransome Kuti who was the principal of the school.
Early in life, Prince Okunade Sijuwade was conscious of his royal birth, and his carriage, even in school, was of one who was destined to wear the crown.
Once, at Abeokuta Grammar school, the Reverend Ransome Kuti wanted to flog the young Sijuwade for some misdemeanour. As the principal raised his whip, the young prince dared the famous disciplinarian to hit a ‘king’.
This did not of course stop Reverend Kuti from meting out what he considered appropriate punishment to the erring young man who was nonetheless satisfied that he has made his point. He left Abeokuta Grammar school after five years and got transferred to Oduduwa college in Ile-Ife to complete his studies under the Reverend S. A. Adeyefa. On his first day at school, mistaken for one of the new teachers and in no hurry to correct the impression, young Sijuwade took over the class in which he was supposed to be a student. In spite of his royal posturing and youthful pranks, Prince Sijuwade is remembered by many of his classmates as a particularly diligent student and quite mature for his age . Because of his relative access to money the prince was able to acquire many good things of life, especially clothes. He was a trend setter in school. He was one of the few students in Oduduwa college, who were familiar with the life in Lagos at that time, as today, the centre of good life in Nigeria.
On leaving Oduduwa College, the young prince joined his father’s business for about three years after which the elder Sijuwade, convinced that his son had acquired sufficient on-the-job training, decided he should proceed for a course of study overseas. Before he left however, the young man on his own volition decided he needed to have journalistic training.
He joined The Nigerian Tribune where he spent two years, first as a reporter and later as a sales executive. Thereafter, he proceeded to the United Kingdom in the early fifties to undertake a course of training in Business Management.
His training was essentially in Northampton and with the Leventis Group in Manchester in 1957. He also participated in advanced business management training programmes with companies in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Scotland, West Germany and Israel. Armed with the immense experience he acquired in these places he returned to Nigeria a few years later to lunch a career in business.
Prince Sijuwade’s business career was marked by more than average fortune. Endowed with an agile mind, highly motivated and possessed of an iron-will, courage and prodigious industry, the prince was certainly destined for success. And so he drove himself to limits that would seriously test all but the most dogged. Early in his career he decided he could do with no more than four hours sleep and that distance would prevent him from accomplishing his goals. Even today, with the enormous demand on his time in several places, some of them several miles apart he maintains a travelling schedule that even the most peripatetic would consider punitive.
Shortly after Prince Sijuwade returned to Nigeria , he was appointed the Sales Manager of Leventis Motors in Western Nigeria with its headquarters in Ibadan. By 1960, with Nigerian Independence, he became an adviser to the Leventis Group.. . read on