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The relevance of Oranmiyan staff and Ife’s unmovable heritage resource



By Yekeen Olawale Wakeel

Oranmiyan is an important character in Yoruba and Benin mythology. Though, the youngest of Oduduwa grandchildren according to Ife oral tradition, eventually became the most powerful and famous of them all. According to Ife’s list of traditional rulers as catalogued in Oonis Palace, Oranmiyan, the sixth Ooni of Ife had the singular honour of founding two existing dynasties of Oyo and Benin through two of his sons: Ajaka and Eweka.

Oranmiyan staff, located at Mopa along Arubidi Road, Ile-Ife is dedicated to Oranmiyan. On the global positioning system, it is situated on an elevation of about 28 meters above sea level. The staff is the most spectacular antiquity in Ile-Ife and is believed to be one of the tallest stone sculptures in the south of the Sahara.

It is a granite column of about 18 feet (5.5cm) in height and about 4 feet square in width at the base. Several iron studs were driven into it. The belief is that it was erected on the spot where Oranmiyan was originally buried. But, an archaeological investigation has proven otherwise.

The iron studs on Oranmiyan staff had been interpreted at various times as a diary of events in the life of Oranmiyan as a warrior. Some believed it represents a record of festivals in Ile-Ife. The Eredumi of Ife, Chief Odeyele Omiwenu, Priest of Oranmiyan, believes that the iron studs represent the number of bullets fired at Oranmiyan during the war of expansion.

According to Johnson (1921:146), the iron studs are suggestive to represent Hebrew letters Resh and Yod. Johnson further interpreted the 62 iron studs in the middle of the stone monolith to mean the number of years Oranmiyan spent to fight war of expansion, while the 31 iron studs on either side of the staff represent the number of years he stayed in Oyo and Benin respectively. However, a cursory look at the topmost part of the staff actually depicts a vivid picture of the sacred Aare crown.

The written character on the staff actually gave a clue to the fact that Yoruba at a point in history had developed some forms of ancient writing that is evident in Ifa corpus (signatures) walls of Oluorogbo, Akire and Obalejugbe Shrines in Ile-Ife.

Oranmiyan staff equally suggests that carving in stone is part of the artistic tradition in Ile-Ife. The concept and quality of the art demonstrates the richness and sophistication of Ife cultural tradition. The style and technique also reveal that Ife must have had knowledge of iron working long before the advent of Europeans.

The cultural relevance of Oranmiyan staff lies in the fact that it is connected to the installation rites for Ooni of Ife and Alaafin of Oyo. In the past, before an Alaafin was enthroned or crowned, part of his installation rites required that he must come physically to Oranmiyan grove for a very important rite and the ceremony of receiving the sword of authority before he could be crowned as Alaafin. So, the rites symbolised his authority and legitimacy on the throne.

According to Ife oral tradition, corroborated by Chief Odeyele Omiwenu, Apata and Akogun, Yoruba Obas and Are Ona Kakanfo (Yoruba generalissimo) before going to war in the time past, usually come to Ife and offer sacrifices to the deity of Oranmiyan and the staff to ensure victory.

Presently, people still come to pray before the staff. According to Chief Odeyele it is believed that whatever prayer that is offered before the staff would be answered. The healing power inherent in the staff is what had been attracting visitors to the grove and this explains ritual items found in the vicinity of the staff. The associated festival to Oranmiyan staff is Olukere-mude celebrated in the month of April and Olojo festival celebrated in October.

However, it’s obvious that a Museum, especially in Africa is a cultural establishment, whose primary responsibility is concerned with the collection, preservation and exhibition of both natural and cultural objects for the purpose of knowledge and education.

The Museum should continue to play a role in the preservation and relevance of the Oranmiyan staff to further boost Ile-Ife and Nigeria cultural heritage with a view to enrich its richness in the world map.

Museum is a custodian of man’s natural and historic objects, and has equally become the custodian of man’s cultural heritage, of which Oranmiyan staff is significant. Of the economic importance of the Oranmiyan staff, the Museum should play a role in this regard. It should be a veritable source of information on research and reference on Oranmiyan staff to enable local and international tourists access it.

Yekeen Olawale Wakeel is the Chief Museum Education Officer, National Museum, Ile-Ife.

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Nigeria deploys troops for peace keeping in Gambia



The Armed Forces of Nigeria on Friday, announced the deployment of 197 personnel for the peace keeping mission in the Gambia.
The Chief of Operations Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen. Boniface Sinjen made the announcement in Jaji, Kaduna State, at the graduation of troops of Nigerian Company 9 Economic Community of West African States Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG).
The 197 troops began Pre-Deployment Training (PDT) on May 4, at Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre (MLAILPKC) Jaji Kaduna State.
According to him, the PDT is in line with the commitment of the Chief of Army Staff , Lt -Gen Taoreed Lagbaja and the Armed Forces of Nigeria in deploying quality peacekeepers in support of international peace and security.
He said that the training had equipped them with the necessary tactical skills and knowledge required for peace support operations.
“It  has prepared you for the protection of civilians and the accomplishment of assigned tasks under the ECOMIG mandate.
“You have learned the importance of teamwork, leadership and cultural sensitivity as well as other factors that would ensure your success in the mission area.
“You have been trained in the latest techniques and procedures for maintaining peace and stability in a complex environment and instilled with the values of discipline, respect for human rights and compassion for the people you are going out there to protect.
“Your mission comes at a critical time, as The Gambia faces a period of
uncertainty and instability, “he said.
According to him, the country’s political crisis has affected the lives of many innocent civilians and their presence will sustain the existing peace and stability to the region.
“Your role is crucial in maintaining peace, protecting lives and promoting sustainable development.”
Sinjen  charged  the troops to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, discipline and respect for human rights.
He advised them to adhere strictly to the ECOWAS’ mandate, which guides your mission and ensure that your actions align with the principles of peace, stability and human rights.
”Remember that your conduct will not only reflect on yourselves but also on your country, the ECOWAS region and the international community.
”Additionally, your training has exposed you to the culture and religious diversity of The Gambia.
 “You are, therefore, expected to approach all interactions with sensibility and respect. Be mindful of the local customs, traditions and socio-political dynamics of the mission area.
”You must remain vigilant in the face of potential security threats and   avoid any actions that may be perceived as insensitive,” he said.
He said that as peacekeepers in a sovereign nation, they must adhere strictly to the UN principles and guidelines for peacekeeping operations.
 “Respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of The Gambia and avoid any actions that may be perceived as interference in the country’s internal affairs.”
He said the Armed Forces of Nigeria had zero-tolerance on sexual exploitation and abuse in line with United Nations’ policies.
”Therefore, any form of sexual exploitation and abuse will be met with severe consequences.
“As ambassadors of the armed Forces of Nigeria and our great nation, you must uphold the esteemed values and enviable image of this country, “Sinjen said.
Earlier, the Commandant of MLAILPKC, Maj-Gen. Ademola Adedoja, said the six weeks training had been intense, comprehensive, and was conducted in line with the Standard UN Core Pre-Deployment Training Modules.
Adedoja said the PDT was to equip the earmarked unit with the requisite skills and knowledge to function effectively and efficiently in their deployment to the Gambia.

He said as  part of their training, the troops were taken through crosscutting issues like Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Conflict Related Sexual Violence, Conduct and Discipline as well as Protection of Civilians amongst others.

“This graduation is a testament to the capacity and capability of the MLAILPKC as a United Nations accredited Centre to conduct quality training of prospective peacekeepers for deployment to multidimensional Peace Support Operations in fulfillment of her mandate.

“The Centre has within the last six weeks been able to train, retrain and refresh the troops on requisite knowledge and expertise to succeed in a Peace Support Operation environment.

” It is my fervent belief that these men are better informed and equipped to perform their roles in the Gambia, “Adedoja said.

He said the graduation ceremony once more showed the commitment of Nigeria and the Nigerian Armed Forces to global peace and security.

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Tinubu calls for stronger collaboration with FBI to fight cybercrime, terrorism



President Bola Tinubu has called for stronger collaboration between Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the fight against cybercrime, terrorism, and other related crimes. 

The President made the call during a meeting with FBI Director, Christopher Asher Wray, at the State House on Friday in Abuja.

Tinubu described the presence of the FBI Director alongside his team in Nigeria as a recognition of the enduring partnership between Nigeria and the U.S. in the fight against financial crimes and terrorism. 

Security chiefs who attended the meeting included the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun and Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi.

Also in attendance were the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig.-Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd) and Chief of Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Undiandeye.

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Olanipekun Olukoyede; and the National Coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Maj.-Gen. Adamu Laka, were also present.

Tinubu said it was an honour for him to receive Wray, the leader of an organisation that had demonstrated consistent procedural sophistication and a reputation for excellence over several years.

“Your visit conveys the importance of Nigeria and Nigerian partnership in the work of America’s law enforcement institutions and vice-versa.

“For us, it is a recognition of what stage we are at, who we are, and the level of interest both countries share in eliminating crimes locally and globally.

“We cannot achieve this important feat of eliminating crimes without collaboration.

“Incidentally, as the Chairman of ECOWAS, Nigeria is also collaborating with other West African countries to fight economic and other related crimes,” the President said.

He told the FBI Director that his administration had prioritised education as a tool against poverty, which was generally believed to be a driver of criminal activities.

“We are working hard to eliminate terrorism, cybercrimes, sextortion, and I am glad that we have a good number of agencies that are involved in reducing these crimes to the barest minimum, and they are also well represented at this meeting,” said Tinubu.

Noting that no single country could combat financial crimes in isolation, he called on the U.S. to support developing countries with the requisite technology and knowledge transfer required to combat complex international crimes.

In his remarks, Wray said he was in the country to enhance the “outstanding partnership” that existed between the government of Nigeria and the government of the U.S. 

He lauded Tinubu for supporting the growing partnerships between various agencies of government and the FBI in order to protect the citizens of both countries. 

“We appreciate the President’s vision in countering terrorism in the region, which is a dangerous threat, not only to the countries in the region but also to the United States. 

“We appreciate your vision in re-engineering the role of the Office of the NSA to effectively coordinate efforts on counter-terrorism, and this has already started to bear fruits in terms of the success you are recording against ISIS in West Africa and other terrorist groups. 

“We appreciate your support and collaboration on cyber-enabled crimes and sextortion, which has unfortunately resulted in a few tragic deaths in the United States. 

“I want to assure you of our support whether it is on counter-terrorism, cyber-enabled crimes, kidnapping, joint investigations, and intelligence sharing. Our relationship with Nigeria is a very important one,” the FBI Director said. 

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Saudi Weather: NACHON urges pilgrims to avoid direct sunlight



The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has advised Nigerian pilgrims to use umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching sun.

The Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Malam Jalal Arabi, gave the advice in an interview with the newsmen, on Friday in Mina, a valley located eight kilometres South-East of the city of Mecca.

This year’s hajj is taking place in sweltering temperatures that test the endurance of worshipers during the mostly outdoor rituals.

He implored the pilgrims to always seek shade whenever possible to avoid direct sunlight.

Arabi said,” It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, even if they do not feel thirsty.

” Pilgrims are also advised to pay close attention to all health advisories and instructions provided by the medical team.

” To limit sun exposure, pilgrims should avoid going outside during peak heat. They should also stay cool by refraining from walking on or touching hot surfaces like rooftops.”

Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health has issued a heat advisory for the pilgrims in the wake of scorching surface temperatures, which pose a significant health risk.

The ministry highlighted the intense heat in Makkah as a major challenge for hajj, adding that prolonged sun exposure could be dangerous.

On Saturday morning, pilgrims will proceed from Mina to the plain of Arafat for the major ritual of standing.

Spanning approximately 33 square kilometers, Arafat hosts over two million pilgrims each year.

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