Last Thursday, Iba Gani Adams the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland turned 50. But he does not look it one bit. He still looks his youthful self. Before the lockdown, a big celebration had been planned to mark the birthday and celebrate an exceptional leader of men. He is the leader of OPC. He is also the leader of the OPU, all having millions of members across the globe. Initially, there was a plan to have a big party in his honour and his wife’s friends had planned to celebrate it big with her. They had picked the Gele and the Aso Ebi to wear. But all that couldn’t happen because of Coronavirus lockdown.
He, however, marked it with his family members. He cut his cake in his living room. But he says there is still plans to celebrate the birthday on a later date. City People got him to be our Guest on the City People TV Instagram Live Chat. He lamented that both the Lagos State and Federal government did not carry him along in their ongoing fight against COVID-19. He added that no provision was made for his office, in terms of the distribution of palliatives, and necessary funding that goes with it, like was done to traditional rulers.
He was also shocked that no South-West Governor called to congratulate him on his birthday. It is a very interesting birthday interview. Read on.
Let me start by congratulating you on your 50th birthday. On behalf of the management and staff of City People, we wish you long life and prosperity. How did you celebrate your birthday yesterday?
We have a very big plan for my 50th birthday because it’s very symbolic and it’s a Golden Jubilee. But we plan and God proposes. The issue of Covid-19 forbade us to have an elaborate birthday party. We have several festivals lined up for my birthday but we have to cancel led them because of it. What we were able to do today is just to rejoice with just 5 people. We took pictures. I started celebrating my birthday from age 30 and I have never missed any year, but unfortunately, the Covid-19 does not allow us. So, we’ve planned again that after this Covid-19, we will just do appreciation and thanksgiving party just like 1 day in a motherless home, give them gifts, the 2nd day, we will go to church, then from there, we will dine & wine as the normal tradition.
How do you feel when you woke up on the morning of your 50th birthday?
I was in my Temple 1hr before 12 mid-night I was praying, giving thanks to God. I have my own temple in my bedroom. It is 7 candle temple and I have a mat that I used to pray in my room. I was praising God and giving thanks to God. I never knew what I got spiritually will happen before 50. I also got a message that certain things will happen before I clock 50 but I don’t know how God saw me through. So, I was thanking God 1hr to 12 mid-night. As at 2:00 am I started receiving congratulatory messages, calls and all that. I have to respond to some of the messages till 11 pm yesterday. I thank God.
How do you see the whole Covid-19 issue?
This Covid-19 is quite different from all the sicknesses or Viruses or some ailments that had been happening in the Global village. Covid-19 has affected almost all countries in the world. It’s so strange to the global village to have this kind of Vivus. The way most countries manage it, our country is very different about it. Because when we are talking of planning and structure, they are not there. When we called for restructuring, people were saying why were you calling for restructuring, you have to restructure your mind, but they forgot that if you build a house without a very good structure, no matter how much you spend on that house, you won’t enjoy it.
The structural planning is very important And you can see what is happening right now. It has exposed all our weaknesses especially in the Health sector and humanitarian affairs. I think the disadvantage of Covid-19 serves as a lesson for us. It is an eye-opener for us to prepare as a nation for any eventuality in future. I think we have a lot of lessons to learn from this Covid-19 in our country. I just read a headline that Lagos State did not have enough beds space for the victims. A whole almighty Lagos, so, you can see the level we are, a Lagos that has more than 1 trillion in their budget, shouting they can manage not up to 1,000 patients. It shows that we still have a long way to go in terms of the federal government, the palliative measure was so poor and their approach to it was hijacked especially from the representatives of that ministry.
Look at the woman that represented the Humanitarian Affairs, if not because God has a plan for Nigeria, what that woman said could ignite a civil war: She said there were no poor people in the South, that it’s only in the North we have poor people. That statement is too costly for any good government. The Executive had to ask her to resign immediately. I wonder at her calculation that said there was no poverty in the country. There is no village that we don’t have 70 to 80% of poor people even in Lagos that we can call the main commercial city. About 90% of people leaving in Lagos are averagely poor or are at object poverty level I think the government that is running on nepotism could never move forward. Most of the country that Covid-19 affected used the palliative measure to calm their people down, so that crisis would not happen because of the incident.
Unlike in the US giving every citizen 1,200 dollars and family $2,400. In France, the government gave each Citizen 1000 Euro, even in Greece, so I wonder at a country that has a budget of 11 trillion Naira and could not solve problems. Nigerians don’t need much. If you can give 40 million Nigerians who have BVN some of 40,000 Naira each, all the crises we are witnessing about 1 million boys in Lagos and other states would reduce.
At the same time, those who don’t have BVN could be reached through other channels to distribute foods and special commodities to them. We have local Governments where you can have food banks, give them numbers to call whenever they are hungry in most countries, apart from palliative measure and money they are giving their citizenry, they equally make sure anybody who needs foods were given. Even our religious organisations are not doing much about this issue because this is the time to pay devotes back.
The money raised by our Industrialists, like Dangote, Otedola and others only hang in Central Bank and they are not using that money. So, I don’t know what is wrong with our country. The rice given to the South-West is contaminated. And you can imagine giving Lagos State of over 20 million population just 2000 bags of rice. I learnt they put the rice in the Lagoon, I don’t know if it’s true or false. You don’t behave as if you know it all. You need to sample the opinion of others, and that person could give you his opinion. By Monday they will ease out the lockdown. Most people will come out and we don’t know the persons who have been infected and if care is not taken, the number of the victims will skyrocket, and if you don’t ease the lockdown it will affect our economy. We are in a dicey situation. Nigeria is one of the big debtors in the whole world. We owed a lot of money. We can’t compare ourself with Western nations that have a solid economy. So, if we don’t relax the lockdown it would affect our economy.
Is there a way we can manage Covid-19 with herb?
Well, if we research very well, there is no sickness that herbs cannot cure. Madagascar as a nation as discovered a herb that they make as tea. If you drink that tea in a period of 7 days, it would cure Covid-19. I know there is a lot of Politics in WHO, they play politics with medication globally. You can continue locking people down and destroying your economy. If you have to look for vaccine or traditional medication to solve this problem. I commend Lagos State, they are trying in their own way, by making sure that we have a lot of people recovering but notwithstanding, we have to go beyond that. We have to ask most of the herbal medicine traditional, what could they do to assist to come out of this.
Many countries are getting their vaccines ready. We need to ask China how they came out of their problem, instead, we are condemning Chinese doctor, not to come to our country, I was just laughing. Do we have the capacity to tackle it the way this thing is moving? We have to investigate and ask how China solved their problem. But I’m of the opinion that herbal medicine can solve this problem if Government should invest in it and encourage herbal traditionalists. The only problem is that the Orthodox doctors will not agree because of influence. It’s better we swallow our pride to save a life, to save embarrassment and not to put our economy in danger because we can’t compare ourself with Western nations like US and European countries.
They have a better method of managing their economies. Don’t forget that before Covid-19 we were in a stage of recession in Nigeria. Now, there is Covid-19 the oil price has dropped drastically and we couldn’t diversify our economy. Even most of the farmers could not even go to the farm because of this lockdown. So, if we don’t look for an alternative, it may be disastrous.
How do you cope with managing the various organisations that you head?
We have to give glory to God and thank Him for His grace, and at the same time determination is one of the secrets behind it. When you want to lead a group in Yorubaland, if the strength of that group is 1000 if you are not careful, you’ll put yourself in trouble and within a period of 5 years, not talking of OPC with a strength of 6.5 million people, not talking of OPU abroad which is different from OPC homeland. We are in about 90 countries now. We have to thank God for His grace for chosen me worthy to be in this kind of struggle and being useful to the nation. It’s not easy. There are a lot of pressure from the group in Nigeria and globally. Even in this period of Covid-19, we always hold Online meetings from different groups. Even in OPU abroad, we have worldwide Executives. We have all the continent Executives whom I normally meet.
There is also a platform in OPU where we have all the leaders, all the country co-ordinators and the main executives, we are about 200 on that platform. So, I have to monitor all these platforms every 30minutes to make sure things are going on well. Because if there is any problem in any country, they have to report that problem and I must make sure I wave into it and solve the problem. God is helping me to manage so many other organisations and foundations under Aare Ona Kakanfo office. I also have a group that is saddled with the promotion of our culture. I have a committee knows that how long we can promote Yoruba culture. I have my Charity Organisation, which is Gani Adams Foundation that I will pay more attention to now that I’m 50, to reach out to more people. Because if I have the grace to be 50 years now, with what I’ve passed through in my life. I’ve passed through fire and death more than 6 times, so, I want to devote my time to assist people on charity and humanity that is my target for the rest of my life. Aare Ona Kakanfo also has its structure. We have Aare-in- council, the Chiefs under Aare, they are 36 now. I have to monitor that platform. We have Aare Onakakanfo Foundation which has been registered. Before I became Aare, I informed a committee of scholars to write about what I could do as Aare. There is a blueprint of what I can do as Aare, but the resources are not yet coming. We have a plan to have a scholarship scheme in different University and a lot of other things would be done. Arch Bishop Oladigbolu called me and said that “you appoint me as the Chairman of Aare-in-council, but you haven’t told us what we would do since January and I told him I will call him soon.
The only thing delaying all these structures are resources. The governors we have now are not ready to assist anybody especially if you don’t belong to their party. You can imagine, as Aare Onakakanfo, no Governor in the South West has greeted me on my 50th birthday. No advert from any Governor, you can imagine. So, what are we planting as a seed in Yorubaland and when there is a war now, you will see those people abusing me on Facebook. They would be the ones asking what Aare is doing. They forgot that Aare is not collecting salary like Obas. Let any Governor in South West tell me that they have given Aare any contract, even the people who accused us. But when you are a messenger of God, He will back you up. God will solve the problems for you sequently at His own time, you don’t need people to support you before you achieve things in life. It’s a shame on some of them that somebody you called a Generalism traditionally is 50th and you couldn’t do something. Although, we couldn’t write the letter because of Covid-19, but notwithstanding the promo and congratulatory messages are going on the media.
Some of the Yoruba leaders called me. Those who have our treasury because the treasury of every citizen is in the hand of Government. A certain thing must be done for people like us at the right time. But notwithstanding, I’m not being discouraged about that. I have the grace to cope with so many things.