ATAOJA PASSES ON AT 75
Palpable gloom enveloped Osogbo, Osun State capital yesterday, as the news of the death of Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Iyiola Oyewale Matanmi 111, filtered in.
Aged 75, Oba Matanmi was the 17th Ataoja to reign in Osogbo. He was said to have joined his ancestors about 6p.m on Wednesday. Before his death, the first class monarch had been hospitalized at a private hospital in the city for an undisclosed ailment.
Daily Sun reliably gathered that the remains of the departed monarch was deposited at the morgue of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital (LAUTECTH), Osogbo in the early hours of yesterday, pending the burial arrangements by traditional high chiefs in the town.
His death came as a rude shock to the residents of the city and Osogbo natives as they trooped enmasse to the palace to mourn the demise of their beloved monarch. A trained accountant, Oba Matanmi ascended the throne of his forebears in 1976 after serving as personal assistant (PA) on Pplanning and budgeting to the then bursar, University of Lagos (UNILAG).
Between 1979 and 1983, Oba Matanmi was appointed commissioner without portfolio by the then administration of the late Chief Bola Ige in the old Oyo State to represent the Council of Obas.
The last social outing of Oba Matanmi, Daily Sun gathered, was on May 31 when he attended the thanksgiving service held at Osogbo City Stadium on the victory of Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola at the election tribunal.
Before then, the departed monarch was conferred with honorary degree in Business Administration by the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso. Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, was one of the first callers to the palace of Ataoja yesterday to commiserate with the bereaved family and people of Osogbo.
Accompanied by members of his executive council, Oyinlola, who breezed into the expansive palace about 12.30p.m, wore a mournful look and declined to talk to the journalists milling round the palace.
In the condolence register, placed in a corner of the palace, Oyinlola eulogized the late monarch for his fatherly role and prayed for the repose of his soul. 'Kabiyesi, to God be the glory for life of service to humanity. May the good Lord grant you eternal rest. We will surely miss your royal and fatherly love for the people of Osun State. Good night', the governor wrote in the condolence register.
In an e-mail message later sent in by the Special Adviser on Media and Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Mr. Lasisi Olagunju, the governor also described Oba Matanmi as 'one of the most progressive- minded Obas in Yoruba history.' He stressed that his demise had robbed the state, Yorubaland and indeed, the entire nation of a father figure.
Oyinlola pointed out that the reign of Oba Matanmi would for ever be regarded as the golden era in Osogbo noting that the town witnessed tremendous development during his time.
Other callers to the palace yesterday were; the Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, Mr. Adejare Bello; Chairman, Osun State chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), who is also the Chairman, Osogbo Local Government Council, Mr. Teslim Igbalaye; Chairman, Olorunda Local Government Area, Mr. Gani Ola-Oluwa; Commandant, Osun command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Mr. Chigozie Ejiofor; among others.
As at yesterday, the Council of High Chiefs in the city, popularly called 'Ilu' was still meeting behind closed doors on the burial arrangements for the departed monarch.
Speaker, House of Reps, Dimeji Bankole has expressed deep shock over the demise of the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Iyiola Oyewale Matanmi. Bankole regreted that the highly revered and respected royal father joined his ancestors at the time his presence was most needed by his people the entire Yoruba race.
In a statement issued in Abuja by his Special Adviser, media, Mr Ebomhiana Musa, the speaker said the Ataoja had been one of the stabilising factors in Osun State and the entire South-West. He prayed Allah in his infinite mercies to grant him eternal rest and the government and people of Osun State, especially Osogbo, the fortitude to bear the loss.