On Saturday January 13 2018, all roads led to the ancient town of Oyo as eminent Nigerians gathered at Durbar Stadium, Oyo, venue of the installation of the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111.
The occasion which was witnessed by a mammoth crowd was the first of its kind in recent times as many of those would have loved to witness the event were asked to go to adjourning venues installed with viewing screens. Despite heavy security presence, pick pockets had a field day as many people lost valuables like phones, ipads and other items.
Trdaitional rulers and chiefs, numbering over 200, witnessed the historic event. However, the Ooni of Ife, and some other notable monarchs in the South West were conspicoulsy abscent. Among the traditional rulers in attendance were: Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogungunniso 1, who led the Olubadan-in-Council, His Highness Oba Rilwan Akiolu, who was represented by a delegate of high chiefs in Lagos led by Chief Adesoji Ajao, the Oyo Mesi, and some of the twenty-one Ibadan Obas newly installed by the Oyo State Government, Oba Arigidi, Dr. Yisa Olanipekun, Olofa of Ofa, Oba Mufutau Muhammed Oloyede Gbadamosi, Elese of Igbaja, Oba Ahmed Awuni Arepo, the Olubaka of Okaland,Oba Yusuf Adebori Adeleye, and the Ahaba of Ajagba, Oba Thomas Oluwole Adesayo.
Also in attendance was the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who arrived at the event at exactly 1:50pm, Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Mr Agboola Ajayi, representing Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, Hon. Suraj Adekunbi, representing Governor Ibikunle Amosunm
Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan representing Governor Akinwunmi Ambode,and Osun State Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti representing Governor Rauf Aregbesola, former governors of Oyo, Ondo and Delta States; Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, and Mr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Senator Monsura Sumonu representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN, Elder Stateman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, activist and spokesperson of the Pan Yoruba Socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Mr.Yinka Odumakin, Chief Yemi Elebunbo, and Yeye Oge of Kwara and Osun States.
Others were: Chairperson of Nigerian Tribune and former Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dr. Tokunbo Dosunmu-Awolowo, former Oyo State Chief of Staff, Professor Adeolu Akande, a spiritual leader, Sat Guru Maharaji, President of the National Union of Road Transport Workers,NURTW, Alhaji Gidado Hamman, religious traditional organizations including Osugbo, members of Nollywood including Lere Paimo popularly known as Eda Onileola, and Segun Akinremi, alias Chief Kanran. Adding colour to the event were: cultural troupes from Oyo, Ondo, and Osun States, juju and fuji maestros including Pasuma, Sir Shina Peters and Adewale Ayuba.
In his welcome address, Chairman, Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland Central Installation Committee, His Grace, Most Reverend Ayo Ladigbolu said, “the modern Kakanfo does not need bows and arrows, guns and daggers, but he requires courage, boldness, bravery, focus, application of native intelligence to international issues, and the brilliance and adaptability to response to the myriads of challenges facing our nation and our world today. He requires the agility of youth, and the stamina of a long distance runner, as well as the wisdom of Solomon to be all things to all people both in season and out of season. While it is true that the times have changed, but human beings and their basic needs and aspirations remain basically the same. No wonder, therefore, that the mystique of the office of Aare Ona Kakanfo and his installation rites needs to be preserved. The Aare does not need all the immunisation of the 17th Century to perform his task, in these frightened and most challenging days. But apart from the visible and tangible paraphernalia of office, he has been given the cultural, traditional, customary and contemporary tools essential for his effective performance in the field of service”.
He added, “His seclusion, retreat, and induction have been completed. Once he is installed, any one who deals too familiar with a corpse may find himself stripped naked by a ghost. The fact not withstanding, the 19th Century Aare Onakakanfo chieftaincy metamorphosed to peace making…. I will conclude this welcome speech by re-stating Iku Baba Yeye’s statement about the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland: “I picked him because he loves the Yoruba Race and all the culture and tradition of our people. He contributed immensely to upholding them. He has shown enough charisma to deserve the honour. He may be young but he is also very bold and courageous. These are traits synonymous with Aare Onakakafo. Gani Adams is a cultural enthusiast. He projects and defends our race wherever he goes”.
In a statement signed by Oba Adeyemi titled, “The Making of New Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland”, the monarch noted that since the demise of Aare Moshood Olawale Kasimawo Abiola, there have been numerous pressure from different quarters to install another Aare. He said that he took his time to look for another war hero known in Yoruba language as ‘Akinkanju’ pointing out, “After years of searching and consulting, it gives me great pleasure today to announce that we have finally zeroed our dragnet on a distinguished son of Oduduwa, a Yoruba in whom there is no guile. He is equipped by God with the vitality of youth, and the agility of the long distance runner, unblemished patriotism, and the wisdom of Solomon. His antecedents in the promotion of Yoruba culture are unquestionable, and he has a clear vision of where the nation should be in its cultural reawakening both at home and overseas. The Aare Onakakanfo is Otunba Gani Adams, National Coordinator, Oodua Progressive Congress, OPC, Founder and Promoter of Olokun Festival Organisation, and Founder of Odua Progressive Union with active branches in Africa and about 80 other countries of the world”.
Alaafin, who prayed never to witness the successor of Gani Adams, urged for the unity among the people of the South West said, “Today, Gani Adams has been rechristened and henceforth, he shall be known as, “Aare Ona Kakanfo”.
In his acceptance speech after completing all the rites and his installation, Adams, who noted that there could not be a more humbling occasion for him than his installation as Aare Ona Kakanfo said, “my installation as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo is a challenge that has made all past challenges seem like a child’s play”.
“Though I am just stepping into the office, past occupants of the seat, especially the 13th and 14th occupants – Aare Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Aare Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola – brought so much power and glamour to the office that it is obvious I have a lot of work to do. As astute businessmen and politicians of note, they raised the profile of the office.There is no doubt from the reactions that followed my pronouncement by the Alaafin of Oyo as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo that the power and prestige of the office has not waned since it was created centuries ago by Alaafin Ajagbo. In fact, the epoch-making event of today is symbolic as 2018 marks the 558th anniversary of the installation of the first Aare Ona Kakanfo – Kokoro Gangan of Iwoye. It is of interest to note that the military, political, traditional and cultural symbolism of the title to the Yoruba Empire, about 600 years ago, is still of strategic importance in the 21st Century. This attribute reveals the uniqueness of the Yoruba race and shows that so much is still expected of the occupant of the post, despite the fact that physical and armed wars are no longer the order of the day”.
He continued, “In fact, despite the fact that I am an holder of 52 traditional titles, none has drawn as much comments and commendation by way of letters and visits. The import of the Office still stands: protection of the interests of Yoruba race, both within the country and everywhere else people of the race exist. While it is estimated that there are 60 million Yorubas within Nigeria and about 200 million others scattered all over the world, as a starting point, the preservation of the culture of the race will occupy my attention. Pitiably, as a race, we are gradually losing our culture. In fact, from my travels around the world, it has become obvious that people of other races are taking more interest in our culture than we the owners of the culture, with Americans, Europeans and Asians now earning Degrees in the study of our culture, beliefs and what they have come to term Doctrine. We need to preserve our culture to fully realise the potential of the Yoruba. Though with an activist background, it is now clear that I have to do more as a bridge builder with this new responsibility”.
The new Aare Onakakanfo promised to work with Yoruba traditional rulers, grassroots leaders and have good rapport with all stakeholders, no matter the differences of the past, for the unity, progress and advancement of Yorubaland and Nigeria assuring, “The office of the Aare Ona Kakanfo will project the Yoruba culture and tradition by promoting and sustaining our identity globally. The office will equally ensure unity of all Yoruba sons and daughters all over the world. Also of strategic importance to me is research and documentary to sustain the ideals of our founding fathers. To ensure the continuation of the leadership role the Yoruba is known for educationally, I will give scholarships to our sons and daughters because education is light and power. Also, I will collaborate with security agencies and stakeholders to ensure that Yorubaland is effectively secured through our various organisations. I want to assure this August gathering that given the fact that the Oodua Progressives Union (OPU), which I am also the Convener, is now established in 79 countries, I will use this Union and other pan-Yoruba groups abroad to invite our sons and daughters with exceptional abilities, who have distinguished themselves in various fields, to come home and help in our quest to ensuring that our country takes its rightful place in the comity of nations”.
Adams appealed to Yorubas in Diaspora not to forget their home by investing in the Yorubaland and not to give the race a bad name. He reiterated, “I am not pleased with the level of Yoruba unity today and I am very concerned. Therefore, my greatest priority is the unity of the Yoruba race at home and in the Diaspora. I will, therefore, spare no effort in ensuring the unity of Yoruba race within the contemporary Nigeria body polity. I will, after this installation, launch the Aare Ona Kakanfo Foundation. This will further promote the culture of the people and document the history of the Aare Ona Kakanfo title. Since we are now in the era of Information Technology, we will be unveiling historical documents obtained from the Iku Baba Yeye on the Aare Ona Kakanfo title to a website”.
He stated further, “2018 makes it the 30th year that the last holder of the title, Aare M.K.O. Abiola, stood before you for his installation. He died on July 7, 1998 and the post was vacant for almost 20 years. Same happened when the 13th holder of the title, Aare S.L. Akintola, died on January 15, 1966. It took more than 22 years before his successor took over. Why? There is the myth that holders of the title will always die a violent death. But, this is not so because many holders of the title lived to be more than 100 years. So, apart from setting aside the myth and projecting the image of the office, documenting the Aare Ona Kakanfo title will also let people know that a child born of humble beginning like me can make it. From the extreme North of Yorubaland, Arigidi-Akoko in Akoko North West Local Government the rural area of Ondo State, here I am emerging as the Aare Ona Kakanfo”.
The new Aare Onakakanfo appealed to the Federal Government to attend to some of the major roads in Yorubaland that are critical to its citizens including Lagos-Ibadan, Oyo-Ilorin, Lagos-Badagry, Sagamu-Benin, Badagry-Lusada-Sokoto, Ibadan-Iwo-Osogbo, Osogbo-Ilesa, Ilesa-Akure-Owo-Lokoja and Lagos-Abeokuta.
“It will also be a major plus if the government, as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari in his January 1, 2018 speech, attends to rail transportation as fast as possible. The issue of power is also critical. This will empower artisans more. Security is equally important. All these would aid the development of the tourism potential of the country. Several countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, UAE, Britain, Turkey, Singapore, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and Israel have diversified their economy to tourism. I want to assure you that I will work with various stakeholders to turn our land into a viable tourist destination. To our esteemed Governors in the South-West, I call for cooperation, no matter the party line. The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN, Commission, should be empowered. And I want you all to see me as a partner in progress”, he stated.
He concluded, “I offer myself for service once it is for the advancement of the Yoruba race. The various groups in the South-West should also resolve their crises. I will also persuade seven of our elders, who are not partisan, to work with me in uniting all Yoruba and resolve differences wherever they may arise. I want to assure all that as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo, I will use my position, God willing, to protect the interest of our land and our dear country Nigeria”.
Aare Ganiyu Adams was born on April 30, 1970 in Arigidi-Akoko in Ondo State. He attended many primary schools due to the nature of his father’s job. His education exploits started at the Army Children’s School, Oturkpo, Benue State, where he got as far as primary 3 before his father was transferred to Lagos, where he completed his primary School education at the Municipal Primary School, Surulere, Lagos in 1980.
He proceeded to Ansar-Ud-Deen Secondary School, Randle Avenue, Lagos, for his secondary education before picking interior decoration job at an Italian Construction Company, Visinoni Stabilini, Apapa, Lagos, from where he voluntarily resigned after some urge to establish his own interior decoration business, Gadson Interior. He became an active pro-democracy activist in 1992. He pitched his tent with the Campaign for Democracy in the struggle to end military rule in Nigeria and install participatory democratic governance. In 1993, he became the Public Relations Officer, PRO of Mushin Local Government Chapter of CLO and member of Oodua Youth Movement, OYM, a Pro-Yoruba self-determination group.
He was a foundation member of OPC when it was formed in 1994 where he rose to the position of the first Deputy National Coordinator and now the National Coordinator of the group.
Thirstying for self-improvement, Gani Adams returned to school to bag a diploma in Tourism Management from the International Aviation School, Tema, Ghana in 2003. He went further to obtain another diploma in International Relation and Strategic Studies from the Lagos State University, LASU, and capped it with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from the same university.
As a culturalist, he has carried his cultural crusade to different parts of the world including Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America. On October 14, 2017, Adams was declared as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland by Oba Adeyemi III, The Alaafin of Oyo. The title was last held by Moshood Abiola before his death in 1998.
The previous 14 Aare Ona Kakanfo were: Kokoro Gangan of Iwoye, Oyapote of Iwoye, Oyabi of Ajase, Adeta of Jabata, Oku of Jabata, Afonja of Ilorin, Toyeje of Ogbomoso, Edun of Gbogun, Amepo of Abemo, Kurumi of Ijaye, Ojo Aburumaku of Ogbomoso, Latoosa of Ibadan, Ladoke Akintola of Ogbomoso, and Moshood Kasimawo Abiola of Abeokuta