“Don’t direct Yoruba people to support any aspirant, as we don’t all go to in the same direction, which is part of our strength in Yoruba land. Obasanjo told the Ooni: “All the sons and daughters of Yoruba land, no matter where they are or their standpoint, will come to meet you. This is expected because you are the father of all.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday advised Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi to strike a balance between his role as a royal father and politics in Yoruba land.
Obasanjo gave the advise to the foremost Yoruba monarch while speaking during conferment of chieftaincy title on the Director-General of International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga and his wife, Mrs Charlotte by the Ooni at his palace in Ile-Ife, Osun State.
The former Nigeria president obviously spoke in reaction to stories published in some blogs that Ooni has endorsed the 2023 presidential ambition of the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Ooni was quoted by the blogs to have said at an undisclosed occasion that the the South West must speak with one voice in 2023 by supporting the presidential ambition of Tinubu.
The traditional ruler was also quoted to have said Obasanjo had agreed with him on the need for the people of the Southwest to back the former Lagos governor to emerge Nigeria’s president in 2023
The Ooni Palace has not denied the statements on the Tinubu’s 2023 presidential attributed to the monarch which has been circulating on social media since early in the week.
But Obasanjo pointedly advised the Ooni not to be partisan or direct the Yoruba people to support any presidential aspirant during the chieftaincy ceremony in Ile Ife on Saturday.
He reminded Ooni that as far as politics was concerned, even in the pre-independence era, the Yoruba usually had two strong sides, adding: “Please, don’t let politicians add to your burden.
Obasanjo told the Ooni: “All the sons and daughters of Yoruba land, no matter where they are or their standpoint, will come to meet you. This is expected because you are the father of all.
“Any one of them who says that he is interested in politics, just pray for him and let them go. Anyone who approaches you and says that he wants to be president or governor, just pray for such a person and let him go.
“Don’t direct Yoruba people to support any aspirant, as we don’t all go to in the same direction, which is part of our strength in Yoruba land,” he said.
The former President also commended the dedication of Sanginga, a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) national to agriculture, food and nutrition security in Africa.
The IITA DG and his wife were honoured with Aare and Yeye Aare Afurugbin-Ola of the Source respectively.
The former president, who said that the chieftaincy conferment was in recognition of the director-general’s passion for the development of agriculture in Africa, urged Sanginga to see the honour as a challenge to do more for the continent.
Obasanjo, who is the IITA Ambassador, commended Oba Ogunwusi for the choice of Sanginga and his wife for the chieftaincy titles, saying that they were both worthy of the honour.
“I commend Your Imperial Majesty for the bold step taken to honour this distinguished African who has dedicated his life to agriculture, food security and nutrition in Africa.
“I want to assure you these new chiefs will not disappoint you; that they will not disappoint Ife indigenes and the entire Yoruba race.
“I know and I am sure that they will live up to the honour that you have bestowed on them,” he said.
Speaking at the occasion, Oba Ogunwusi appreciated the IITA director-general’s passion for agricultural development in Africa.
According to him, in spite of the balkanisation of Africa by the Europeans, Africans will continue to remain one and indivisible.
“I’m impressed with your modest achievements as a true son of Africa. You have been doing all within your capacity to ensure food sufficiency in the continent.
“All through the years, you have developed passion for agriculture and the results are feasible everywhere,” the traditional ruler said.
In his acceptance speech, Sanginga applauded Ooni for the fatherly role he had been playing, not only in Yoruba land, but all over the country.
He also commended Oba Ogunwusi for counting his and his wife worthy of the honour, pledging that his would continue to support him in all ways.
Dignitaries present at the occasion included the Deputy Governor of Osun, Mr Benedict Alabi, former Gov. Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State and Secretary to Osun Government, , Prince Wole Oyebamiji.
Others were the Iyalaje Oodua, Princess Toyin Kolade, members of staff of IITA and a host of other prominent individuals. (NAN