•2 Hrs With Otunba GANI ADAMS
Otunba Ganiyu Adams, popularly known as Gani Adams celebrated his one year as Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland last week. It was a big celebration which went on for about 5 days. Few days before the D-day, City People Magazine Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, led a team of senior staff, made up of Deputy MD, FRANCIS OWOJORI, Head of our Real Estate desk ISAAC ABIMBADE and Senior Photographer, JIMMY ABDULRASHEED to his Lagos home.
City People spent more than 3 hours with him during which he spoke about the challenges he has faced in the last one year as Aare Onakakanfo. He also told us how he combines his role as National Co-ordinator of the OPC with that of Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland which is a very big title. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Let’s have you share with us how you plan to celebrate the first year coronation of your position as Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland?
We started last week Thursday with a Press Conference at NUJ Secretariat. On Wednesday at Sheraton Hotel, we will launch 2 books: The Iba Gani Adams And The Media. The Voice Of The People. Those are the 2 contents of the books that will be launched.
We have started football competition tagged Annual Aare Onakakanfo Cup. This is the maiden edition. The final will be played at the National Stadium in Surulere, on Thursday. On Friday at TTC Hall in Oregun, we will have a compendium of 1,000 proverbs as a book that will be presented to the public. The content will be recommended to the Ministry of Education for use. We want our children to know the importance of Yoruba proverbs. And there will be a Quiz competition on that day as well. It will be a 2-in-1 programme.
On the 12th, which happens to be Saturday, we will confer about 20 people with chieftaincy titles. 2 out of 14 previous Aare Onakakanfos didn’t form councils. You know Akintola didn’t form a council and Abiola also didn’t form a council. But the first Aare Onakakanfo, Kokoro Gangan of Iwoye, had a council; council of decision making body who are chiefs. You know Aare Onakakanfo Chiefaincy spreads across Yorubaland and if you want to run it the way it should be run, you must go down memory lane of how it started.
We must do it as it used to be done by having its councils of chiefs; Yoruba will call it Oloye (Chiefs). Those are Chiefs that will take a decision on what will affect or what will bring the progress to Yoruba race. So I can’t do it all alone. Within one year in office, I have passed through a lot of stress, pressure from different communities in Yorubaland; calling me to report about Fulani herdsmen have attacked them here and there. Charity organisations are after me. Although, all these are normal because that is one of the conditions the Oyomesi gave me and also those who brushed me up through the time I was at ‘Ipebi’ for 4 days. Even Kabiesi, Alaafin of Oyo, asked me: would you run this title the way it was being run from the beginning of its establishment since 1830 and I said Yes. I would.
They also said that we are not giving you the title so that you will be using it on the basis of personality alone; you have to run it the way it used to be run.
So, I have been pressured to form the council. 3 months after I was given the title. But I said I won’t do that until I clock one year on the throne so that I can search for reputable people that will represent the interest of Yoruba; those who have the interest of Yorubas at heart; those who
I was at a party on Saturday, the Groom’s men put on Hausa caps at a Yoruba party and both bride and groom are Yoruba. I am not against any tribe but this is our identity. I am not being tribalistic but when you try to ignore certain things like this, people will start seeing it as a fashion trend and some people even say it is in vogue. Would they put on Yoruba caps when for a wedding in Sokoto? It’s not possible. That’s why I am interested in this one thousand Yoruba proverbs. How many sons and daughters of Yoruba understand Yoruba language anymore.? We plan to celebrate it this week.
The 1st year anniversary of my installation as Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland is a 5-day celebration which starts on Wednesday 9th January, 2019 with the launch and public presentation of 2 books on Aare Onakakanfo and another one, which is a collection of Yoruba proverbs. Venue is The Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. On Thursday, January 10th 2019, there will be a Final Match of the Ist Annual Aare Onakankanfo Football Competition, at the Legacy Football Field, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
On Friday, January 11th 2019, there will be a Yoruba Quiz Competition, compilation and presentation of 1000 question and answers on Yoruba culture and tradition, at TCC Event Centre, Opposite Polaris Bank, Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.
On Saturday, January 12th 2019, there will be the conferment of chieftaincy titles to prominent sons and daughters, at the 10 Degrees Event Centre, Billings Way, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.
On Sunday, January 13th 2019, there will be the Grand Finale and a Grand Reception for well wishers, including family and friends at the Grandeur Event Centre, Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja.
So, 20 Chiefs will be installed at 10 Degrees Event Centre. “I am appointing Chiefs to be Otun-Aare Onakakanfo, Osi-Aare Onakakanfo, Balogun-Aare Onakakanfo, Akogun-Aare Onakakanfo, Baare’Jiro, Ba’meto Aare, Bobagunwa and many other titles”.
We have zoned those chieftaincy to 8 Yoruba speaking states. We have 4 from Lagos. We have 3-4 from Ogun. Kogi has the highest number of 5. Ondo State is 2, Ekiti 2, Osun 2, Oyo is 2 and Kwara State is 1. So we made sure we have representatives drawn from the 8 states of Yorubaland. So if anything happens in any of those states, you don’t have to put pressure on me; I would just send the Chief closest to that community to investigate what is happening there and appropriate reactions can follow because I get about 50 invitations every week now. And I can’t humanly attend all.
And you know we (Yorubas) when we invite you to any occasion and you ignore us, they will tag you as being proud and arrogant.
So, the issued of representation is very important to me. All these Chiefs, they are the ones to represent me.
So, I want to use our one year anniversary, to start differentiating OPC and every group I am running, from the institution of the Aare Onakakanfo. Before this installation, I use to send the Publicity Secretary of OPC to represent me at most events. Before now, I also used to send my Special Adviser on Events and Strategy. But when he left, there was a vacuum. So I had to bring in the Publicity Secretary to be doing that. Now, I am giving the Publicity Secretary a title which is the Asoju Aare. So when he goes out there, he won’t present himself as a Publicity Secretary of OPC but as Asoju Aare. We have Iyalaje Aare, which is Iyaloja of Apongbon. We have Yeye Meto, the wife of Ba’meto. We have Ba’Selu, which is the former Honourable Speaker, Bamidele in Ekiti. Otunba Kole Omololu is the Odofin. Barrister Kayode Ajulo will be conferred Mayegun. We also have Ba’Mofin, his name is Barrister Kehinde Oluwole (My Lawyer). We also have Ba’Royin. We took one of you because we can’t joke with the media. We took Sola Oshunkeye. We looked at their reputation and integrity before we chose them. I made sure that only those who are more sound than me were selected into the council so that when we discuss we would have a robust discussion. We also have Parakoyi, which is Prof. Kolawole Raheem; he is an erudite scholar. We also have Otun, he is doing well in the Oil sector.
We also have Ajibare from Kogi State. We also have Osi, the former Akogun (Gani Balogun), is now the Osi, while Kamoru Lamina is the Borokini Aare Onakakanfo.
From time immemorial the Aare Onakakanfo had 16 traditional chiefs. They also had many other honourary chiefs. They also had key chiefs they call Eso. They were 71 in 41 cardinal points of Yorubaland.
That was when the population of Yoruba is not up to 2 millions.
When I was at an event someone was asking me why I bear Iba and I asked him if he knows what Aare Onakakanfo means. Aare Onakakanfo is ahead of many Obas in Yorubaland, but not all.
This is Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland title There is no community, village that its influence will not touch. But the problem we have in Yorubaland is that we don’t appreciate what we have; we don’t take some things serious until the respect of that thing diminishes. We like to discuss western issues and the western people will never toy with what belongs to them. If you want to fight Britain, abuse their queen. If you want to fight Saudi Arabia, fight their king.
If you want to fight Moroccans, abuse their king and if you want to see crisis in Ghana, abuse the Ashantis. Even the European who have lost their monarchs they are replacing it back. The Swedens has replaced their own 3 years ago. France is giving it a thought. The King in Spain is untouchable.
So, we now have the modern Aare Onakakanfo now, and not the traditional one that fought wars. The main job of Aare Onakakanfo is to settle disputes in Yorubaland, even beyond Yorubaland. He is also a bridge builder in our nation and Africa. And we are trying to use the platform to propagate and promote our culture. We also use it to foster unity within the entire Yorubaland.
Because when you don’t have representative in other states how would we talk to the kings? If Yoruba Obas are not united there is no way Yoruba can unite. That is why I respect the people in the North. They can’t undermine the influence of their Emirs, but because of our attitude we thought we can just let things go. Some people will take Oba to court but that doesn’t say mean an Oba should go beyond his boundary because there must be a check and balance. We are in a modern world.
So the last programme is the grand finale at the Grandeur Hall, on the 13th. That was the day of the installation and that was the day I clock one year on the throne of Aare Onakakanfo.
How have you been able to cope with the demands on you, in terms of attending events, in terms of running OPC, in terms of meetings with political leaders and every other thing? How do you create time?
We are trying to cope. But I must tell you that the last one year as Aare Onakakanfo has been highly strenous, and highly tedious. The demand to be at different places at different times can be stressful. Let me just tell you some of my routines. This month alone; after my programme on 13, on 17th I am going to Ondo State for Ondo Security Summit. On that day; in the evening time, Daily Independence is planning to give me an award. On the 18th, I am going to Delta State, in Warri for Yoruba Organisation Programme. On the 19th, one of our members will be given a Chieftaincy title by an Oba in Lagos (in Ijanikin to be precise). On the 20th, we are moving to Ife, Oodu’a Festival will be starting (20-23). By 25th OPU, there will be OPU World Congress in Akure, this will be the 5th edition, that is how I will be engaged till August. And all these involve money. If I am moving my team from here to Ibadan (for one day), and come back to Lagos, I will spend nothing less than 1 million naira on hotel, feedings, and other things. Sometimes, Aare may not even go out, not because he doesn’t want to go out because I know what it entails.
Our Governors haven’t done anything since I became Aare Ona Kakanfo. Some of our governors supported me only in the day of installation. Since then they have abandoned Aare. Aare only carries his cross. Even in the festive period they won’t send a bag of rice to Aare and when Fulani herdsmen are disturbing pressure lies on Aare to act, to help.
If anybody abuses our culture, I will be receiving calls asking, didn’t you see that video? If anything happens in politics they will call Aare but it’s not expected that Aare will get a salary and I am not expecting salary but I am expecting the patronage. This is a position that lives on the basis of patronage. Abiola had his own oil well. Abiola was rich but he got government patronage. He was a good contractor for Federal Government and he had 2 oil wells. Akintola was there as a premier, so he was leaving on the support of government.
Concerning the event: what would be the role of the invited Obas coming for your event?
Definitely, some of them are recipients of my chieftaincy titles. You know, when you are inviting an Oba, you have to have resources to cater for them; You don’t invite an Oba from Kwara or Kogi to come to Lagos, and you won’t give him good accommodation and when he is going you have to package him his fuel money. It is not that you are giving an Oba money.
On the day of my installation, 780 Obas were in attendance. It has never been in our history that over 500 Obas will attendance at any event. But we couldn’t package anything for them then because we knew that what they came for is to be part of history. We could not see 200 of them after the event because some of them left after the event.
Apart from this installation, we are thinking of creating the Aare Onakakanfo Advisory Group. We need an advisory team, which will be a group of intellectual; people that have sound reputation.
So people have suggested 70 but if we can start with 50. I personally suggested 16 but people said it is too small for the entire Yorubaland. So, if we can start with 50 in March, we will install them.
The essence of this team is for them to always advise Aare because this position is beyond what you can use only your intellectual background to run. We want to reposition the Yoruba race. That is my target because Yoruba’s have been swayed and caged by certain people. And we are not being caged by external but by internal forces because of selfish interest.