Why I Protected Ooni of Ife for 30 years – Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola | …Ooni died 7 days after his 64th birthday

Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola to Asabeafrika….’Ooni has no business reponding to critics’

IN a book authored by him titled “From the tube to Royalty” his
principal, Late Oba Okunade Sijuade (Olubuse II) Ooni of the Source (Ile Ife) described Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola as a man
of great ideas and inspiration. The revered traditional ruler who passed away 7
days after Chief Olorunnisola’s 64th
birthday (July 21) wrote “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”.
Funmilola Olorunnisola
is indeed one of the influential personalities in
the inner recesses of the royal court of one of Nigeria’s and Africa’s imperial
royal fathers, Oba Okunade Sijuade
(Olubuse II). As the Director of Public
to the Ooni-Risa, Chief Olorunnisola, a former
broadcaster turned image maker for the now deceased Oba has paid his dues in the
royal court with a 30 years experience coupled with his eleven years stint in
the electronic broadcast world. The very revered man of integrity hosted
Africa’s number 1 Celebrity encounter blog Asabeafrika couple of years before
the demise of his principal inside his Enuwa
, Mayfair road, Ile-Ife office. Chief Olorunnisola who
was busy on his desk at the time of the visit created some time for us and told
us what makes his principal-the Ooni of
tick among legion of royal fathers in Nigeria and Africa. He also told
us about himself, his family and his ambition. The Director of Public Affairs
to the late Ooni said so many things
about his principal that we find interesting for reproduction today. Enjoy the
excerpts only on your Africa’s number 1 Celebrity encounter blog Asabeafrika.
The Ooni with one of his Oloris
How would you describe working with
HRM Oba Okunade Sijuade (Olubuse II) the Ooni of Ile-Ife?
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, you see why I am saying that you should take the 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
. 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. 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 world to come
and work for royalty. Why did you take such a huge decision?
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 that 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, and here we are talking of press relation 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 maker of a man described as the
epitome of Yoruba royalty in the world and whose image looms large across the

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. 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. Category one
is those people who actually knows 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, they don’t care. They don’t want to know who
you are; they are not perturbed by your existence, either you are success or
you are 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, who like you maintains their status and you must make it happen
by whatever strategy you, can apply.
, 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 status to that of category one
or you try and reduce them to a very reasonable minimum. Then category three, those who know you and
feel indifferent, ah! They can not sit on the fence. Work on them too, let them
try and take a position. Let them like you as well; 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 the category two so that those
who do not like you will come to category
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.

“Not one line (Voice Rises up
angrily) 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”.

High Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola

Following  your metaphoric analysis of the 3 categories
of people, it would seem  Category
Two  who are in the haters’ club had a
field day during the military era castigating your principal for his closeness
to the military and labeling him an apologist of the inglorious years of
military rule in Nigeria. How were you able to handle those interesting moments
of your career in the palace?

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 events. Those people who would always be carried away by some other
attributes like envy, jealousy and so on will form their own opinion. You can
not blame them; I mean God created everybody with certain idiosyncrasies. So,
if that is exactly what some people chose, you can not blame them, you can only
pray for them. You see the only way to obliterate a lie constantly told or
rubbish a lie 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 something wrong,
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 done or doing in the last couple of years.
Is that why your principal refused to
react to allegations by the
Awujale of ijebu land
HRM Oba Sikiru Adetona  that his royal
majesty,  Oba Okunade Sijuade got a
whooping  Six  hundred million dollars to sell off  the June 12 struggle and trade the capital,
MKO Abiola off for some political porridge?
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 game then you will be part and parcel of the noise
making and what the generality of the people on the street call “roger”. 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 talks,
people would say, ‘ah, ah, ‘sebi he says he is this, he is that?’, so, there is
no point for a reply to such issue. Truth shall always prevail in the
Ooni of Ife and the late Ado Bayero
Recently, your principal brought  together some elite 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 in
our national polity?
The old man
had 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. 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 well 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,
they found it particularly easier to work together 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 connected 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 representing the south and
north that are co-chairmen of the traditional ruler’s forum in Nigeria. If at
this trying times, these traditional rulers can not show to the public that
look, we are capable of dampening this raging socio-political/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.
So, why did that
happen, have you ever try to find out?           
It was the
government of Abdulsalami Abubakar
that expunged everything that has to do with traditional rulers.
Don’t you
think that is a political sabotage, because general belief is that the
traditional institution is the closest to the grass-root?
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. They (government)
don’t even hold meetings with them; they don’t even bother about their input.
Late Ado Bayero
(Cuts in) This seems the position of
the former sultan of Sokoto, Dasuki, in a recent interview in
tell magazine that means there is a problem. Do you think there can be a solution
through constitutional amendment?
You know
what? Some of the people who ruled 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 can not be talking of youth-youth-youth, and you see what the
youths are doing to Nigeria. 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.
In fact, two years ago a  serving governor in the south-west nearly
sacked a traditional ruler for daring to make his wife  go through some embarrassment as a result of
her late coming to the ruler’s daughter’s wedding ceremony. The king later
apologized through a memo and personal visit.
You can imagine
that, that was quite unfortunate.
So, you think the constitution should
be amended to fit in traditional rulers for roles?
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 up angrily) 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.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here