What former Ooni of Ife’s media aide, Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola told Asabeafrika before his death + His grouse with Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar

High Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola, The Obarisa of Odogbo Ijesa

IN one of the books authored by Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola, “From the tube to Royalty” late Oba Okunade Sijuade (Olubuse II) the
former Ooni of Ife who died towards the end of year 2015 described Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola who died
last Tuesday December 20th, 2016 in his Ile-Ife (Osun State)
residence as a man of great inspiration. The Olubuse II said “I see Funmilola as a thorough professional. At
close quarters, I saw the evolution of a man born to do what he loves to do and
the story of his life and calling will surely serve as a great source of
inspiration for the present and the future media practitioners and P.R.
managers and for those who want to learn the tricks of professional excellence
without putting their private and family life in jeopardy. This man’s story is
a veritable repository of knowledge for the youth looking for mentor and
direction in life, my own story is recommended, this is really an adventure
worth exploring, a story well told. I recommend it without reservation”.
 Chief
Funmilola Olorunnisola
was indeed one of the influential personalities that
dotted the royal courts of Ile-Ife during the life time of Oba Okunade Sijuade (Olubuse II) As Director of Public Affairs to
the late Ooni, Chief Olorunnisola, a
former broadcaster turned Image Maker paid his dues in the royal court with a
straight 26 years service after his 11 years stint in professional broadcasting.
Sometimes ago, the highly revered
traditional prime minister and Obarisa
of Odogbo Ijesa opened his Enuwa
square, Mayfair road, Ile-Ife office
to your soar away Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika and gave us the interesting
story of his 26 years service to the palace of Oba Okunade Sijuade
(Olubuse II).
Chief Funmilola  Olorunnisola was born in 1950 to the family of Chief
Samuel Onifade
Olorunnisola of Odogbo,
Ijebu-Jesa and spent 11 years at Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS)
Ibadan. He rose to the position of Controller of News before he was appointed
in 1983 as the Chief Press Secretary to the then Governor of Kwara State, Chief Cornelius O. Adebayo. He joined
the Palace of the Ooni of Ife few
years later and rose in rank to become one of the most respected Palace Chiefs.
The Late Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola
 He told Asabeafrika
the story of his life and how he became the image manager of Oba Okunade Sijuade (Olubuse II).
Before his death, he was appointed Special Adviser on tourism affairs to new Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II).  We represent the interview today in loving
memory of the Ijebu-Jesa born icon.  Enjoy
the excerpts only on Asabeafrika

How would you describe your
experience working with the Ooni of Ile-Ife?


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Well I will
ordinarily say it is a thing of pride that I have been here for quite some
time, working for the Ooni of Ife,
the ruler of Ile-Ife, the Source, the
cradle and the natural capital of the Yoruba
people. So, I feel particularly proud. In respect of that, I am saying that you
should take note of the fact that I have been here for twenty-six years. When
you earlier told me that you worked in a place for eight years, I laughed a
little because I have been here for twenty-six years.

Late Ooni Oba Sijuade Olubuse II

And in any case, if I
could manage the press and the public relations apparatus of such a great man,
and this has been going on for twenty six years now, it only means there is a
common chemistry. The chemistry is alright between the two of us. I thank God
that He gave me the opportunity to work for him and in all honesty, I couldn’t
have wished for a better place. I have all the contentment in the world and I
have the reasonable comfort that makes me believe that it has been a thing of
joy for twenty six years to have been working for the royal court of Ife.

You left the academic sector to come
and work in the royal court. Why did you take this decision?

Chief Olorunnisola’s boss, Ooni Sijuade with Elerin of Erin Osun, Oba Yusuf Omoleye Oyagbade

No, I didn’t
leave the academic sector. I was a broadcaster. I was in broadcasting for an
unbroken period of eleven years. I was on television, I was on radio and I was
even one time Chief Press Secretary to a serving Governor. The Governor of Kwara state at the time who was in the
saddle for only three month before the General Muhammadu Buhari regime
toppled him
Who was that?
Cornelius Adebayo. I was his chief press secretary for
three months because it was (Gen.) Buhari that booted all of us out. It
has been a very thorough career but in every field relevant to mass
communication because that is my core discipline. That is where I have a focus
on. Since I started my working career in life, everywhere I have worked would be
traced to mass communication, there is no doubt about that because here we are
talking of press relations and public relations. So, I have been running the
press and public relations apparatus of the royal palace for twenty six years.

Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola

How would you define the pressure
that comes with your office as the image manager of a man described as the
epitome of Yoruba royalty in the world and whose image draws large patronage
from all over?
It is
alright. All the moments are really very good to really experience. But you
will not really stay at the level of visitors coming or the invitations being
received from all over the world. You will take note of the fact that often times;
we even have controversies here and there. But you got to manage all these
things.

The Late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade with GDA interviewing him while Chief Dele Momodu, Chief Olabode George and others look on

He (The Ooni) by all standard,
is one of the greatest men in this country and the moment you are great, you
will think of successes all the time but there must always be times when you
ruminate on the contingencies of possible failure, so, there are times like
that, you know it is a peculiar profession with its own challenges. If you
divide the whole world into three, there are those in category one, category
two and category three. The category one is those people who actually know you
and like you. Category two are those who know you and do not like you. And
category three are those who are even indifferent to your status, they don’t
care. They don’t want to know who you are; they are not perturbed by your
existence. Either you are a success or not, it doesn’t matter to them. But it
is the responsibility of an image maker or public relations practitioner to
make sure that those in category one, those who know you and like you maintains
that perception, by whatever strategy you can really invoke.

The late Ooni of Ife with ex-Lagos MILAD, Raji Alagbe Rasaki (Paying homage)

Category two,
those who know you and do not like you, you must work on them too, so that they
will be able to probably change their perceptional status to that of category
one or you try to reduce them to a very reasonable minimum. Then category
three, those who know you and feel indifferent, ah! They cannot sit on the
fence. Work on them too, let them try and take a position. Let them like you,
we need them to join category one. If they want to take a position of not
liking you, let them take it. You know you are already working on category two
so that those who do not like you will come to category one. It doesn’t matter
if those people who are indifference come to category two; something is already
working on them there. So, that is the whole essence of public relations
practice itself or image making generally.

The Late Ooni of Ife with Senator Iyiola Omisore (Greeting him)

Using your metaphoric analysis of the
category two brand of people, it would seem these brand of people, who are in
the haters’ club had a field day under the military regime labeling your
principal a military apologist. How were you able to handle those issues around
him?
No, I don’t
think you are totally right in your assumption of his personality in relation
to political situation of that time because I was here and I witnessed most of
the happenings. Those people who would always be carried away by some other
attributes like envy, jealousy and so on will form their own opinion. You cannot
blame them; I mean God created everybody with certain idiosyncrasies. So, if
that is exactly what some people chose, you cannot blame them, you can only
pray for them. You see the only way to obliterate an untruth constantly told;
or rubbish an untruth constantly bandied is to hammer the truth on the head
even more constantly. You don’t have to abuse them, if they tell a lie, if you
know it is a lie, it only means the truth must be hiding somewhere. Your job is
to bring the truth out and hammer the truth on the head more constantly than
the untruth is being hammered on the head. You understand? That is the only
way, for instance if a governor is being accused of non performance and so on,
you don’t have to abuse the people accusing you of non performance, you too go
ahead and begin to propagate every single thing that you consider as your own
achievement in office. Continue to hammer on this, shout it to the north, shout
it to the west, shout it to the south, and shout it to the east. That is the
only way you can win, don’t abuse anybody. Anybody who says you have done
nothing, leave him to his own opinion. But you too must prove that you have
done certain things. That is if you have done those things and the only way to
do it is to propagate your achievements and let them know that these are the
things you have been doing in the last couple of years or thereabout.
Is that why your principal has
refused to react to allegations made by the Awujale of Ijebu land, Oba Sikiru
Adetona that he got six hundred million dollars to trade off Chief MKO Abiola
and the June 12 struggle?

The Awujale of Ijebu land, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Adetona

No. you know
what? The position traditional rulers actually hold, is suppose to be a
particularly elevated position and if you see a traditional ruler playing to
the gallery, may be for cheap publicity or cheap recognition if you join in
that type of rubble-rousing, then you will be part and parcel of the noise
making crowd and what the generality of the people on the street call “roger”.

Late Chief MKO Abiola….Awujale of Ijebu Land, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Adetona alleged late Ooni of ife sold for a fortune during June 12

You are joining the ‘Rogers’. There is no point, it is like I fighting with a
younger one. (Points to his PA), look at this my boy now, it doesn’t mean
anything to him if I say he is stupid…’why
are you doing this, why are you doing that, you are a very stupid man’
. It
does not mean anything to him. But it means the whole world to me if he has to
say ‘Aah, don’t say it again o’, don’t
say it anymore o. I will say it back o’
and he has not even said it. But
even by saying he would say it back, it tells all. What else do I need? I have
been rubbished. It simply means I have been rubbished. So, what will the Ooni
gain by calling any Oba names? But if you believe that is what you should call
the Ooni,
there is no point. If the Ooni now begins to reply such,
people would say, ‘ah, ah, sebi he says
he is this, he is that?’
, so, there is no point for a reply to such issues.
Truth shall always prevail in the end.

Ex-President Ibrahim Babangida….A close friend of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade (Olubuse II)

Recently, your Principal brought some
traditional rulers from across the divide of the Niger to Ile-Ife, among them was the Sultan
of Sokoto
, Emir of Kano and Obi of Onitsha to mention a few. Do you see Oba
Okunade Sijuade playing the role of a unifier due to the political situation we
found ourselves today?
The idea is
that the old man has always been a nationalist. He has never allowed politics
to really dampen his enthusiasm at fighting for a strong united country. When
he became the Ooni of Ife, he deliberately
cultivated two other top traditional rulers- the Obi of Onitsha and the Emir
of Kano
. Even though the emir of Kano
has always been a friend before he became the Ooni of Ife, he deliberately cultivated them and they were moving
from the north to the south, from east to west.

Late Oba Okunade Sijuade (Olubuse II) Chief Olorunnisola said he was a Great Nationalist

They were always doing things
together-we call them three musketeers. And what the Ooni believe must obtain is a situation whereby any northerner will
be able to sleep with his two eyes closed anywhere in the south, anywhere in
the east. An easterner should also be able to sleep anywhere in the country
with his or her peace guaranteed. That is exactly what they have been doing for
about thirty years and because the Emir
of Kano
and he belong to the same age group, so they found it particularly
easier to do so, especially with the former Obi
of Onitsha
. And when Baba, the Emir
of Sokoto
, I mean Abubakar not Maccido, when he died because he was a
very old man, Dasuki came to the
saddle. Of course I knew exactly how they connect into one another to make sure
that they almost became four. You know they were initially three, but they
almost became four. And when the Sultan
was deposed, Maccido came in and they
became very tight. That is why it is the Sultan
of Sokoto
and the Ooni of Ife who
is representing the south that is co-chairman of the traditional ruler’s forum
in Nigeria. If at this trying times, these traditional rulers can show to the
public that ‘look, we are capable of dampening this raging sociopolitical/security
problem’, then, we have to accord them their own respect. The truth of the
matter is that we have a big challenge in our polity. But they (Traditional
rulers) are trying in all ramifications to demonstrate that they are capable of
sponsoring peace in the land. Then, come to think of it, it is even the
government that is not even reckoning with the traditional rulers. If you go
through the constitution of Nigeria, there is no place, not one page, I am
saying it with every sense of responsibility; it can be verified. Go from the
first to the last page; you won’t see where any mention of the role of Nigeria’s
traditional rulers is inserted just one mention, none. It has been like that
since 1999.

But why, have you ever
try to find out?     
It was the
government of Abdulsalami Abubakar that expunged everything that has to do
with traditional rulers.
And you see that as a political
sabotage?
Of course
the traditional rulers are the closest to the grass root and the people. They
know exactly who did what. There is hardly anybody that enters into this town
today who is a stranger that the Ooni of
Ife
would not know. And you want to say that of every other villages and
kingdoms. So, if these people are capable of knowing and planting peace within
their environment, it only means it can actually go round if all traditional
rulers are involved in political governance. They (government) don’t even hold
meetings with them; they don’t even bother about their input.
(Cuts in) I think this is the
position of the former Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki, in a recent interview
in TELL magazine, that means there is a problem. Can there a solution through
constitutional amendment?

Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola to Asabeafrika….’Abdulsalami Abubakar messed up the traditional institution in Nigeria’

You know
what? Some of the people who rule Nigeria today even said it is an archaic
establishment, they don’t want them. This is an era for the young ones, etc,
and you can see the young ones-the Iboris of this world, what they are
doing to Nigeria. All these so called young ones because you cannot be talking
of youth-youth-youth, and you see what the youths are doing to Nigeria.

Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clarke….Calls James Ibori a thief

If
there is anybody who has been particularly very loud against the excesses of James
Ibori
in the South-south, it is somebody who can be referred to as a
traditional chief or traditional ruler in his own right that is Chief
Edwin Clark
. He knows exactly what everybody is doing around him. So,
if traditional rulers are there, it doesn’t mean that they don’t know exactly
what to do to bring peace to the country. In fact, with the situation in the
country now, where the traditional rulers are not taken into consideration, it
makes the young governors to think that they can do whatever they like with
power which is quite wrong.

You are actually right, couple of
years ago, a governor in the south-west nearly sacked a traditional ruler for
daring to make his wife and first lady go through some embarrassment as a
result of her late coming to the oba’s daughter’s wedding in a church. The king
later apologized through a memo to the governor
.
You can
imagine that, that was quite unfortunate.
Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola to Asabeafrika…’Nigeria can never break’
So, you think the constitution should
be amended to fit in traditional rulers?
Certainly,
they must have a role to play. It would not happen if the Sultan believes that certain responsibilities has been assigned to
him to shoulder, it would not happen when the Ooni believes that certain responsibility has been assigned to him
to shoulder and it is like that in all traditional domains. You can imagine the
effrontery of this (BOKO HARAM) people by going to even throw bombs at the emir of kano’s palace. That is the
extent to which this disrespect has degenerated to. Whereas, if they knew that
the emir of Kano was still who he
was, they will never dare it. If it is not as if he has not been mentioned in
the constitution not even one line. Not one line (Voice Rises with anger
written all over his face) they didn’t even say a thing about the role of
traditional rulers in the constitution of Nigeria since 1999. Not one line.
That is the work of Abdusalami Abubakar; he expunged anything that has to do with
traditional rulers from the so called people’s constitution, which the military
enacted anyway.
Do you believe in sovereign national
conference?
 I am 62 and I think I have all the rights in
the world to hold unto an opinion. At least in this case, in this context I
want to really say what I want to say it as my own personal opinion. You see,
for as long as people believe that there should be no round table conference,
let me call it ‘round table conference’, Nigeria will not grow. Nigeria will
never grow. Because, somebody just joined us together without any condition.
There must be certain conditions that determines how and the way we live. There
must be certain conditions.
Do you nurse the fear that Nigeria
could break like the United States of America predicted?
That is not
my prayer. I do not pray that Nigeria disintegrate because I believe the more
united we are, the stronger we become. That is my personal opinion too but that
should not be at all cost. It must not be at all cost. It must not be at the
detriment of one section of the country to the other section of the country;
while others are perpetrating evil, some others are suffering the effect of the
recklessness of others who are perpetrating the whole evil. No, I think we must
sit down and tell ourselves that while we are perpetrating evil, while we are
hacking our own people to death, while we are burning places of worship, we
have posterity at our instance to judge us. We need to ask why? What really do
you want? If it has to do with the backwardness of certain section of the
country compared to other places, what exactly have the leaders of those other
section been doing to right the wrong?  They take money every month, what exactly have
they been doing? And in any case, even if we must go right down to memory lane,
I think when the Awolowos were planting tomorrow for a good number of us here,
what were their leaders doing? When they said they did not want independence,
they did not even bothered about free education or whatever and it is free
education that turned this area to what it is today. It is not as if there was
any extra-ordinary federation program anywhere, but the fact remains that
everybody who gained from the proceeds of free education knows the importance
of education. And you who actually gained from the free education service, you
will want to do everything even if you must sell your house to give your own
child quality education and that is what people are not doing over there. We
need to sit down and draw a line of convenience in order for us to be able to
live in peace.
Can you tell us a bit of your humble
beginning?

Baba’s Scion, Prince Sunmisola Olorunisola with ex-Presidential Aspirant, Chief (Dr.) Dele Momodu

I started
with WNTV
and later moved to NTA. I was a pioneer staff and
management staff at Television Service of Oyo State; we call it TSOS
at that time. It was right inside BCOS compound. I captured a lot of
things in there which cannot represent everything that I would have loved to
write (later showed this reporter a copy of the book). You can’t write
everything anyway. The book is available for library. It is a total package of
my experience on the television and as a perception manager in the palace. A
compendium of diverse views, opinions and activities in the two industry; I
think it also summarizes the totality of my experience in the media and the
palace. 
Thanks for talking to us

The Late Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola

Well, I
think I appreciate you because you come across as somebody who follows events
and very, very religiously too.
  

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