Prince Ogunwusi, seems to be the most likely candidate to mount the throne after the late Ooni Sijuwade.
Since the mortal plague, death, afflicted the imperial kingdom of Ile-Ife, Osun State, to claim the pride and power of the people, His Imperial Majesty Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, the 50th Ooni of Ife, the ancient city has been cast in a bind of sort. Besides having to duel with an increasingly meddlesome and fast domineering new media, the Royal Traditional Council (RTC) has had to contend with the intrigues, subtle and wild machinations of contenders to the crown.
No sooner did Ile-Ife commit the remains of Oba Sijuwade to mother earth than princes from the eligible ruling families began to indicate interest in the royal stool, with each candidate making a strong case for himself.
As the race to succeed the late Ooni intensifies, all the eligible princes in the ancient town have disclosed their intentions to succeed the late Ooni of Ife. However, from all indications, of all the contenders, Prince Adetunji Adeyemi Ogunwusi, 48, seems to be the most likely candidate to mount the throne after the late Ooni Sijuwade.
While many pundits attribute the likelihood of his emergence as the next Ooni to his established renown, business savvy and depth of character, many more argue that the Ogunwusi scion is favoured by historical and royal provisions.
Notwithstanding the claims, counter-claims and permutations concerning his candidacy for the crown, Prince Ogunwusi exudes unusual candour and character absent in several contenders to the throne. For instance, while his rivals lust and fixate on the likely benefits to be enjoyed from mounting the coveted throne, Prince Ogunwusi sees royalty as ‘Service to Humanity.’ The Prince believes that royalty is both spiritual and physical empowerment of monarchs authorised to ensure provision of adequate welfare for their people and protection of their Socio-cultural heritage and not a position of exploitation or self-enrichment whatsoever.
The respect and dignity that comes with royalty, according to him, should be earned. “Kingship is power and ability to serve the community at large. A monarch’s ability to rule is not based only on one’s divine right of succession, but also on one’s ability to shoulder the responsibility that comes with being divinely appointed. A monarch should possess the ability to lead his subjects wisely, placing the welfare of his kingdom above his personal desire. It is also paramount that one appreciates the collective guide of the kingmakers and other stakeholders in upholding the cultural beliefs of his kingdom,” he said.
The Prince’s socio-economic and cultural development blueprint for Ile-Ife
While his rivals engage in wanton popularity contest and bicker over their right to the throne, Prince Ogunwusi charts a purposeful developmental agenda for Ile-Ife. “My main thrust of returning Ile-Ife to its pre-eminence is based on my desire to redevelop the historic city into becoming the regional centre for commerce and promote its cultural heritage. Ile-Ife in the past accommodated and welcome visitors and traders alike with warmth and open arms for the economic benefit of the indigenes. So, this would be the driving ideology for all my infrastructural, economic policy and developmental strategies,” he said.
According to the Prince, his decision to vie for the throne of his forebears is premised on his ambition to further re-unite the Yoruba and promote the race’s cultural heritage. “My desire is to re-ignite the interest of our youths in the development of Yoruba land and redefine the richness in our cultural beliefs. Taking a cue from what I have done all my life which is wealth creation, my six-point agenda derived from the letters of the word “WEALTH” include: W = Wealth creation; E = Education; A = Agricultural Development; L = Leveraging ; T = Tourism and Trade and H = Human Capital Development,” he said.
Prince Ogunwusi seeks to work with organisations like Ife Indigenes in Diaspora organisation (IIDORG) to strengthen business, travel and investment opportunities in the kingdom. “This will be achieved by harnessing and developing local content and talents for business growth and development of the land. Our people are known for art and craft, pottery, and artifact development. We intend to promote indigenous industries by sourcing and developing markets for the products. Our overall wealth creation ideals shall be achieved by vigorously pursuing other agendas,” he disclosed.
Citing technical education as a major focus of his educational plan for the township, the Prince stated thus: “I will work hand in hand with the Osun Sate Government to ensure that technical and vocational education and training especially with respect to my wealth creation directions are re-evaluated and developed for the benefit of our youths who are perpetually drifting to Lagos and Ibadan for greener pastures. I shall set up new vocational training centres and renovate existing centres and ensure that our youths are trained and are subsequently set up after their trainings. ”
Being an agrarian community, Prince Ogunwusi also revealed his intention to boost Ile-Ife’s agricultural production and proceeds. “The development of farm settlements which contain farmers and processors combined with the development of agricultural extension programmes for local farmers and processors are very crucial to agricultural development. I shall work with NGOs and agricultural development centres, both local and international, to understand and develop the agricultural value chain for Ile-Ife. The Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, will be consulted and engaged with respect to our plans,” he said.
Moved by his unapologetic forthrightness and historical provisions, political pundits and sources within the ancient kingdom speculate that if the RTC follows due process, Prince Ogunwusi would undoubtedly emerge as the next Ooni of Ife.
On insinuations in certain quarters that the principle of rotation in succession to the Ooni’s stool may have been jettisoned, majority of the people of Ile-Ife believe that it is a sign of desperation by some of those jostling to succeed the late Oba Sijuade by all means. They opined that Ife as the home of civilisation cannot afford to be disorderly in any form in the conduct of the people especially in areas where culture and tradition is supreme. There is no gainsaying Ile Ife has four ruling houses, namely: Giesi, Lafogido, Osinkola and Ogboru. The late Oba Sijuwade emerged from the Ogboru ruling house.
Currently, the Ogboru ruling house appears to be out of the race for succession because there is a principle of rotation in place in the ancient town. In that case, it means that the other three ruling houses are the ones in contention for the vacant stool. They are: Giesi, Lafogido and Osinkola ruling houses. In spite of the on-going scheming and wild speculations about the likely successor to Oba Sijuade, it is quite obvious that it is the turn of the Giesi ruling house to nominate a candidate or candidates to occupy the vacant stool.
The competition is always very keen for a throne and crown of the Ooni’s status. And while the kingdom of Ife boasts of very capable and qualified Princes who could readily assume the mantle of leadership of the town, it faces the Herculean task of separating the men from the boys in determining the next Ooni of Ife. But despite the seeming suitability of several of the contenders to the throne, the royal stool requires a candidate whose innate constitution, personal and work ethic echoes a rousing streak to trigger the kingdom’s much clamoured socioeconomic and technological progress. Ife’s urgent need for rapid development no doubt requires the ascension to the throne of a young, vibrant and energetic monarch in the mould of Prince Ogunwusi.
From obscurity to eminence
Born on December 8, 1967 into the family of John Oluropo Ogunwusi from the famous Ojaja Lineage of the Giesi ruling house of the Agbedegbede Quarters in Ile-Ife, Prince Ogunwusi’s mother, Margaret Wuraola Sidikatu Abegbe Ogunwusi was born into the family of Soji-Opa, a prominent Cocoa merchant in Ile-Ife. He attended Subuola Memorial Nursery and Primary GRA Agodi Ibadan between 1971 and 1977, Saint Patricks Grammar School, Orita Bashorun, Ibadan, from 1978 to 1983. He had his A-Levels education at the Oyo State College of Arts and Science, Ile-Ife from 1984 to 1986 and afterwards proceeded to the University of Ibadan where he studied Agricultiural Economics between 1986 and 1990.
Having completed his education, Prince Ogunwusi joined the then Nigeria Intercontinental Merchant Bank in 1991, where he distinguished himself in loan packaging and investment arrangement for four years. In 1995, he assumed the position of Head of Credit and Marketing at Hillcrest Merchant Bank which later became Intercontinental Bank Plc and now Access Bank Plc. He became a managing partner at New Africa Investment Limited between 2001 and 2007 after 10 years of meritorious service in the banking sector.
His exploits in the financial sector imbued him with 17 years of valuable insight into certain crucial fields of commerce and development finance including: structured and product financing, investment arrangement, large scale procurement, product development, business creation and marketing in the Nigerian economic terrain, while also utilising the efforts of both local entrepreneurs and strategic partnership from overseas especially where foreign expertise were required. Prince Ogunwusi combined his experience in the Nigerian business terrain with a ‘never say die’ attitude because he realised from the onset that to survive in life, you cannot afford the luxury of giving up your dreams.
Entrepreneur per excellence
Prince Ogunwusi doesn’t believe that you have to follow the conventional way of doing things. An unconventional self-starter, he became fascinated with the real estate market while still at the helm of affairs at New Africa Investment Limited thus his foray into real estate with a revolutionary mind-set to do what private developers regarded as nearly impossible.
The Prince established Primewaterview Limited in 2005, although he became actively involved in the affairs of the company in 2007 after spending six years with New Africa Investment limited. He established the company with a lofty vision to become the best real estate company on the African continent. Prior to the advent of Primewaterview Limited in the Nigerian real estate industry, residential high-rise development was a no go area for indigenous private development companies. The completion of Gardens 1 Estate (107 units of high-rise development) within 14 months and the immediate commencement of Gardens 2 Estate another high-rise development of 348 units before Gardens 1 was delivered, was a record in Nigeria’s real estate industry.
Within nine years of operations, Primewaterview under his leadership, has been directly involved in the completion of over 700 units of various types of housing units on the Victoria Island Annex/Lekki Corridor. Most of his large-scale projects were either embarked upon or ongoing during the credit crunch and banking crises in 2009 giving credence to the fact that Adetunji never looks back when he sets his mind at a particular goal.
Currently, he sits as the Group Chairman of the Primewaterview Holdings comprising of Primewaterview Limited and PWV Management Services. A staunch believer in local content development, over 80 percent of his resources are sourced and developed locally. According to his aides, “It is better to be safe than to be sorry” is the Prince’s usual statement during project planning and throughout the lifecycle of a project, a testament to his meticulousness, integrity and scorn for cutting corners.
His insatiable drive to explore new horizons is remarkable for the inspiration it provides for both associates and underlings of the Ife Prince. Little wonder he was one of the first few Nigerians to explore the then budding Dubai real estate market where he facilitated good returns on investment for many indigenous businessmen and companies in the market.
Strategic partnering is another very important area where he excelled in business; the Prince has strategic partners in major countries of the world and has also facilitated same for many business concerns in Nigeria. Some of the countries where he has business interests and partners include: China, United States of America, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirate, Taiwan, Italy, Hong Kong, Spain and Australia.
His knack for wealth creation is manifest in his several investment portfolios ranging from real estate, oil and gas, power generation, construction, hospitality and tourism. Due to his real estate influence, Primewaterview Limited was invited by the government of Southern Sudan immediately after their independence to help develop the real estate market. The efforts put into Southern Sudan are however, yet to be fully appreciated because of the myriad of problems faced by the young nation.
Prince Ogunwusi is unarguably well travelled; in fact his resourcefulness in real estate business and his passion for playing the field successfully, are attributable to his quality exposure and experience garnered from many trips and business endeavours with the most shrewd yet daring game changers in foreign real estate markets. Some of his business role models include, Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, Elon Musk and their likes. The Prince revealed that he is continually inspired by their successes, management styles and leadership models.
More noteworthy however, is the Prince’s attractiveness to the country’s high society comprising past presidents and head of states, traditional rulers, notable politicians, business moguls and technocrats; this has been variously attributed to his infectious humility, brilliance, diplomacy and finesse.
A humanitarian and family man
Prince Ogunwusi believes that to be truly successful and build sustainable wealth, you must create wealth for others thus his relentless zeal to impact positively on the lives of others. He is regarded in many circles as a mentor per excellence; his entrepreneurial acclaim is founded on mentoring people who subsequently help to create additional value in the lives of others, in what has been severally applauded as a chain reaction of positive developmental culture.
Some of the notable real estate development companies on the Lekki axis, for instance, are offshoot from Primewaterview; their founders were directly mentored by Prince Ogunwusi and despite being responsible for the success of these business concerns, the Prince persistently shies from claiming credit for their breakthrough.
Prince Ogunwusi is a down to earth and very jovial character. A family man to the core, he is happily married to Ibilola and blessed with four children: Ayotoluwafunmi Adetomilola, Adelayo Oluwalonimi, Motunrayooluwa Iyunadeoluwa, and Adeyemi Adetunji. The Prince is a philanthropist who never cringes from lending a helping hand to struggling businesses, family and friends. He is a deeply religious man who believes in the unity and universality of one God that reigns in the affairs of men.
His journey to the top however, didn’t lay out in flat miles; the Prince experienced several ups and downs, most of them daunting experiences that would have caused the lily-livered to buckle and yield to defeat; but like the proverbial cat with nine lives, he kept picking himself up by the jockstraps, trudging through his crucible of challenges till he chanced on success and acclaim in common hours.
Testimonies about the Prince
Several beneficiaries of the Prince’s amazing generosity attest to his humaneness and capacity to inspire and improve the lives of others. Kehinde Oropo, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of PWV Management Services Limited described him as a kind, good hearted person who is indeed his “Brother’s Keeper.”
“He encourages the growth of others and is a mentor figure for so many people. His nature forgives and allows for mistakes in the process of growing. He has given a lot to the society, he has encouraged preservation of culture while embracing global development. He is of good humor, cheering people up when they are down, offering words of encouragement. He is a person of impeccable character that is worthy of emulation,” stated Oropo.
Tunde Adebisi, an ex-staff of Primewaterview Ltd said of the Prince: “I am still looking for a leader of Adetunji Ogunwusi’s status that eats in public canteens, opens his house to all during Christmas festivities, openly says he will never fire anybody irrespective of how redundant that worker could be, and the best trait I mostly admire him for is sitting next to his driver, this behaviour still baffles me till date, most leaders will cower behind public views by the “owners corner” and see it as demeaning their status to sit beside a “common driver.” Many can claim to be people’s person; few can display it so openly. An African king of Ooni’s status is expected to be close to his subjects, be a people’s person and never see anybody as a common man; all these traits are similar to all I have mentioned above that he displays regularly towards anyone that crosses his path. I need not wait for the “Afobajes” (Council of Elders) in Ile-Ife; I unknowingly met my Ooni in November 2009.”
Prince Adegboyega Aderemi in his estimation of Prince Ogunwusi’s personality, described him thus: “Prince Adetunji Ogunwusi, a scion of Giesi Ruling House of Ojaja quarters in Ile-Ife epitomises royalty in conduct and character. He is a humble, disciplined, steadfast, hardworking, visionary and a builder, whose leadership qualities have endeared him to many. He has a passion for building and will be bringing a wealth of experience in physical development as a foremost real estate developer, to Ile-Ife which is in urgent need of reconstruction. Adetunji Ogunwusi in summary is a good man.”
Corroborating him, Olumide Mayungbe, Asiwaju Omo Yoruba of Houston Texas, USA, identified Prince Ogunwusi as “an upright man to the utmost. He is a man of the people, very generous and promising. Give him a billion Dollars for a cooperative business agreement; you don’t have to look at your shoulders. He is a very astute business icon and a strategic builder. A very passionate humanitarian. To crown it all, Oba lola is a unique person that anyone can take his words to the bank”
On another note, Alhaji Sule Abiola, brother to the late businessman and politician, Chief Moshood Abiola, noted that: “To envisage what impact Prince Adetunji Ogunwusi, as Oni would have on the socio-economic development of Ife, one only needs to look at his achievements and their impacts on people both individually and as communities. His business focus and targets in diverse sectors of the economy are deliberate to achieve adding maximum values to people lives in specific unique ways.”
Prince Ogunwusi is no doubt an epitome of rugged determination whose confidence and modesty has inspired and still inspires appreciable exploits in material and human resource capacity development across business and sociopolitical divides. Friends, family and business associates alike consider him one of the nation’s unsung heroes doing the country proud at home and abroad. Of the contenders to the throne, hardly anyone presents such sterling resume as Prince Adetunji Adeyemi Ogunwusi of the Giesi clan.
Soji Bamidele writes from Ile-Ife.