Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II was born to the Ogboru ruling house, January 1, 1930. Ogboru ruling house is one of the ruling houses in an ancient historical city in the South western region of Nigeria. Ile-Ife is generally believed to be the traditional home of the Yoruba, the cradle of life.
Prince Okunade Sijuwade as he was then called, started his elementary education at Igbein school, Abeokuta, an institution owned by the CMS mission. He lived with his other brother under the care of their father’s good friend Chief G. A. Adedayo and his family. Chief Adebayo was the secretary to the Egba council, under the Asoju Oba. After his elementary school education he proceeded to Abeokuta Grammar school, under the well-known educationist, The Rev. I. O. Ransome Kuti who was the principal of the school.
Early in life, Prince Okunade Sijuwade was conscious of his royal birth, and his carriage, even in school, was of one who was destined to wear the crown. Once, at Abeokuta Grammar school, the Reverend Ransome Kuti wanted to flog the young Sijuwade for some misdemeanour. As the principal raised his whip, the young prince dared the famous disciplinarian to hit a ‘king’. This did not of course stop Reverend Kuti from meting out what he considered appropriate punishment to the erring young prince.
He studied at the Abeokuta Grammar School and Oduduwa College in Ile-Ife. He worked for three years in his father’s business and briefly with the Nigerian Tribune, before attending the Northampton College in the United Kingdom to study Business Management.
At the young age of 30 and return he became a manager in Leventis, a Greek-Nigerian conglomerate. In 1963, he became the Sales Director of the state-owned National Motors in Lagos. He subsequently headed the management of the company with numerous Nigerian and expatriate staff under him .
In 1964 , he undertook an extensive international tour to look into the possibilities of acquiring better products for National Motors. One of the places he visited was the Soviet Union whose cars he believed would sell well in Nigeria, because they were relatively cheap and appeared durable.
When he returned to Nigeria and reported to his employers, they were not as enthusiastic about the business proposal, because the government was not at this time well disposed to trade with the Russians. Rather than feel disappointed Prince Sijuwade, immediately saw a business opportunity and seized it.
He formed a company along with three friends; the company, WAATECO, was to become in a few years the sole distributor of soviet-made vehicles, tractors and engineering equipment in Nigeria with at least fifty Russians on its staff and a dozen branches all over Nigeria.
This small beginning marked the start of trade with the Soviet Union in Nigeria, and for Prince Sijuwade the birth of a business empire that was to include at least fifty companies.
He also invested in real estate in his home town of Ile-Ife, He built the famous Guest house in Ife, Motel Royal and several residential and commercial properties.
In 1975, he founded Sijuwade Group, a Nigerian conglomerate with interests in oil & gas, construction, property development and hospitality.
After the demise of Adesoji Tadeniawo Aderemi I, Oba Okunade Sijuwade was crowned the fiftieth ruler of the ancient kingdom of Ife, in December 6, 1980 in a colourful ceremony attended by prominent traditional rulers the Emir of Kano, Oba of Benin, Amayanabo of Opobo and the Olu of Warri as well as the representatives of the Queen of England.
Historically, the Oòni of Ife claims direct descent from Oduduwa, the mythical son of Olodumare – the supreme God – and is counted first among the Yoruba kings.
He is traditionally considered the 401st deity (Orisha), the only one that speaks.
He inherited supremacy and political disputes; the famous supremacy between the old Oyo Empire and Ife, the cradle of life- whose kingdom was supreme. Another was the land and community dispute between Ife and Modakeke; their neighbour.
Olubuse Eri ogun as hailed was royalty personified, flambouyant and very conspicuous, he had impeccable taste for the good things of life and was a livid description of affluence as a thorough businessman and first class African King. Urban, relaxed and self confident, Oba Sijuwade had a wealth of experience from which to draw and was at home in boardrooms both in Nigeria and the world at large. He had a large international circle of friends, contacts and business associates.
He was estimated to have worth at least $75 million
Oba Okunade Sijuwade the Olubuse of Ife died on July 28, 2015 at the age of 85 in a London, England hospital.
Traditionally, Yoruba kings are never said to die- they transit to join their ancestors