Friday, 31 July 2015

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

By on 12:08
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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”.
 Chief 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 Affairs 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 square, 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 Ife 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 years. 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 globe?
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.
 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 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 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.

“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 eventuality.
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?
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 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.

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog


  1. Thanks for this great interview. Well done! Well read!

  2. Thanks for this great interview. Well done! Well read!

    1. Why is ur blog different from all order blogs dat I ve seen,No gist,No gossip,No entertainment,No News from local news paper.Pls I need a feel back from u