By Chioma Gabriel & Gbenga Olarinoye
Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi has reaffirmed his position on the family ties between Yoruba and Igbo nations, that the Igbos are from Ile-Ife, saying the two major ethnic groups in Nigeria are inseparable members of the same family.
Ooni Ogunwusi stated this, weekend at his Ile-Oodua palace in Ile-Ife, while receiving the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos State, Chief Solomon Ogbonna who accompanied the delegation of African Farmers And Cultural Organization on a courtesy visit to the palace.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Moses Olafare, Oba Ogunwusi said: “I am so happy to have the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos State here as part of this empowerment initiative.”
The monarch said: “Lagos is part of Yoruba land, we are all one, we are all the same, the history is there, the facts are there and we should actually put these facts out. Why are we fighting?
“This is your root. I said it recently, some of our Yoruba kinsmen with ignorance of our history came out to berate my position on the family ties between Yoruba and Igbo people.
“We have to say the truth and the truth must set us all free, we are blood brothers. We should be inseparable. Please feel at home in Yorubaland and respect your Yoruba brothers and sisters too.
“We still have House of Igbo right in this palace till date. We call it Ile Igbo up till now. Our ancestors are buried and transfigured there. That is where kolanut was first discovered and nurtured.
The Igbo are still the biggest consumers and users of kolanut which is only planted in Yorubaland till date. Can the Igbos do without kolanut?
“The ancient Igbo house is one of the most sacred places in the palace till date. One of my brother kings – Aka Arogundabi from Iremo quarters saw the mysteries of house of Igbo (Aka-ri-Igbo). Till date, Akarigbo of Remoland still sees house of Igbo as a common heritage of his forebears.
“He also maintained that he is a reincarnated spirit of his ancestors, asking Olugbo of Ugbo in Ondo State, Oba Fredrick Akinrutan Obateru to visit the Ile Oodua in Ile-Ife for proofs and evidences on the Igbo/Yoruba ties and also various tribes of Igbo ancestory in Ife.
“We have a lot of discoveries that the Igbo and Yoruba people once lived together as one family and this will be revealed to the public. We should look at things that connect us together, not those that separate us.
“I am a reincarnated spirit of our ancestors; my name is Enitan which means a child of stories and mysteries. I had come to this world before, that’s why I am Babatunde also and I am back again to establish the truth and nothing but the truth and the truth will set us all free.
“Let us all reconcile our differences and look at things that connect us rather than things that divide us”, Ooni added.
In his remarks, the President of Ohanaeze in Lagos State assured Ooni Ogunwusi that the Igbo people hold him in high esteem and will always appreciate his efforts in unifying all the races in Nigeria to peacefully coexist as one inseparable family, calling him an uncommon bridge builder who is well loved and respected across Africa.
However, reacting to the statement from Ooni’s palace yesterday, National Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chuks Ibegbu said Igbo people were the original occupants and owners of Ile-Ife before the arrival of the Yoruba.
The reaction by Ohanaeze read: “Odudunwa (Last born), later called Oduduwa was an Igbo Prince who occupied Ile-Ife, but the Yoruba saw him as a god because he was very powerful and had magical powers.
“The Yorubas learnt and spoke Igbo language then and that is the reason for the similarity between Igbo and Yoruba language.”