PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has expressed deep worry and concern about the last Tuesday's fire that gutted the palace of the foremost Yoruba monarch, His Imperial Majesty, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, and has promised to give a helping hand in rebuilding the burnt parts.
Disclosing President Jonathan's concern was Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom in Ilaje Local Government area of Ondo State, Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan, Okoro Ajiga 1, during his sympathy visit to the Oyo monarch at the weekend.
The fire disaster gutted 21 rooms including three apartments of the wives of the monarch (Oloris) Folasade (Iyaa Meta), Rukayat and Abibat, with each of the apartments consisting of five rooms. The valuables in them were also destroyed.
The Ugbo monarch, who led other Obas and his Chiefs to the ancient Oyo town on the sympathy visit, said he was at the palace in three capacities: as the fore-runner of the emissary by Mr. President, as the Chairman, Yoruba Conflict Resolution Committee, and as the chairman of Ilaje Local Government Traditional Council.
According to him, the President, who expressed sadness over the incident, specifically asked him to deliver his (President) message to Alaafin, with a promise that he would still send a powerful delegate to him to deliver his letter of sympathy, as well as the necessary assistance towards the reconstruction of the burnt parts of the palace.
Oba Akinruntan, who was later conducted round the razed apartments by the Alaafin, described the incident as a disaster, not only to the Alaafin and the people of Oyo, but to the entire Yoruba people.
He called for concerted efforts by every well-meaning son and daughter of Yorubaland to rise to the challenge of making the palace the pride of place for all.
In his response, Alaafin was full of praises for Oba Akinruntan, whose ancestors he traced to be the first original settlers of the ancient Ife town, recalling that the Olugbo's ancestors were the Ugbos that were giving the Ife people nightmare before they left for their present site in the riverine area of Ondo State.
Oba Adeyemi also commended Olugbo for his untiring efforts at ensuring that Yoruba Obas live in unity and oneness through the conflict resolution committee being chaired by him, stressing that he was ready to attend any meeting of the prominent Obas towards peaceful co-existence amongst themselves.
Alaafin however maintained that there had never been a time in the history of Yoruba that Oyo was under any other town in Yorubaland and this had also informed his position, which to some people made him controversial.
“I can give 100 empirical evidences, spanning over five centuries to defend my position without looking into any book. It is only a person that is having something to hide that will not want to hold meeting. I'm ready, for the sake of our people, because where two elephants fight, it is the grass there that suffers”, Alaafin assured.