Listen to article
It is an incontrovertible fact that good and purposeful political leadership is the precursor and prerequisite for development in any group or tribe which is why the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams has shown with good, honest leadership comes swift development of the people.
Two years after being installed as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland which came twenty years after the demise of the former holder of the title, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale, he has completely revamped and rejuvenated the socio-political structure of Yoruba land while introducing new leadership strategies and notions.
The positon was very well deserved of him because of his inputs and based on his antecedents in the promotion of Yoruba culture. Otunba Gani Adams is unarguably a leading promoter of Yoruba interest worldwide and he has demonstrated this in so many ways right from his days as the National Coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, in 1999. It has been a journey that saw him transforming from a militant youth leader to a socio-political activist of national and global repute.
Born April 30, 1970 in Akoko North-West, Ondo State, Gani Adams’ entrance into limelight began immediately after his secondary education at the popular Ansarudeen Secondary School in Isolo, Lagos. His foray into the struggle for a return to democratic rule began in 1993 after the annulment of the June 12 presidential elections.
Sensing the urgent need to stand against the injustice meted out to the late MKO Abiola, a Yoruba man, Otunba Gani Adams founded the Oodua Youth Movement to champion this cause. In a move aimed at advancing the cause of the Yoruba, he was among the nine people that founded the OPC on August 25, 1994 at 110, Palm Avenue, Lagos.
The OPC, however, became a force to reckon with and a thorn in the flesh of the military government of the day. As a way of reducing the growing popularity of June 12 activists, the military government clamped down on, among others, the founder of the group, Dr. Frederick Fasehun. While Fasehun was incarcerated by the military regime, Gani Adams soon took up the mantle of the OPC leadership.
Adams admitted he started under Fasehun, noting; ‘He was my leader from the beginning.’ He was also quick to add that he was mentored by the late fiery human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti.
‘As activists, when some of us had problems, we usually went to the chambers of Chief Gani Fawehinmi. He (Fawehinmi) discovered my determination and that was one of the reasons we were close,’ he said.
While sensing the need to remove the negative toga critics associated with the OPC, Adams veered into advancing the rich culture of Yoruba land. He was once quoted saying:
‘The OPC has done a lot of good in Yorubaland; most of the cities in Yorubaland are secured by the private security of the OPC.’
‘I can tell you authoritatively that 75 per cent of members are artisans or technicians. Out of the 150 National Coordinating Council members, we have about 33 graduates in various disciplines.’
‘The elite are fond of disparaging the good side of any group without letting the people get to know of them. Some ignorant elite know how to portray any group, not in their good books, in a bad light,’ he explained.
In 2002, Otunba Gani Adams set up the Olokun festival Foundation with the view to promoting the rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba race. Interestingly, the annual Olokun festival has become an important tourist and local attraction throughout Yorubaland by various Yoruba people and groups.
Aside the Olokun festival, he also established the Oodua Progressives Union, OPU, a social political group which seeks to sustain Yoruba identity. He said Yoruba people all over the world must have a sense of belonging and identify with their roots all the time. It is instructive to note here that as of today, the Oodua Progressives Union is now regarded as an international organisation which has a sturdy presence in 88 countries of the world.
As the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams has also played a very vital role in many matters concerning Yoruba land such as settling political and socio-political squabbles amongst Yorubas and even amongst Yorubas and other ethnic groups. He has also gone on to influence major nationwide decisions such as the establishment and reformation of the state-wide security network, Amotekun Corps.
He has also lent his voice to major political issues some of which have turned controversial over time. An example of this is his falling out with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Jagaban of Lagos. Gani Adams who was once in alliance with Tinubu had allegedly parted ways with his former benefactor because of some of the decisions which the latter took as regards Yorubaland. He allegedly claimed Tinubu who is regarded as a prominent Yoruba leader alongside General Olusegun Obasanjo and other chiefs is using the Yoruba race for selfish interests.
‘How can you claim to be a Yoruba leader or love Yoruba when you have never been part of any socio-cultural organisation?’ Mr. Adams asked.
‘(Mr. Tinubu) became governor with the support of Afenifere but immediately he was elected he divided the group. He wants to use the Yoruba to negotiate for his selfish interests.’
While some individuals voiced their criticisms to these statements, others fully supported the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland while declaring that Tinubu was not a man to be trusted when it comes to alliances and group strategies.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is currently the national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) has been known to be very unpredictable when it comes to collective matters of Yorubaland and this is due to his political position, his huge, overbearing influence on the South-west region and his political aspirations to lead Nigeria one day. It is known for a fact that he is a ruthless politician who doesn’t spare anyone when it involves personal issues relating to him. This attitude of his was what cost him his swift decline in the All Progressives Congress (APC), a party he helped to create and in Yorubaland in general. He is no longer trusted and everyone is aware of his ‘Sword of Damocles’ burden which comes in form of the leading Fulani oligarchy who he recently fell out with.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is now regarded as a king without a people in some parts of Yourbaland and this is due to his cunning, scheming nature.
Yorubas are known to be straightforward people which is why they desire a straightforward leader without skeletons in his cupboard. This is where the esteemed Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams comes into retrospect. There is no doubt that Gani Adams has paid his dues over time and has endeared himself to those who see him as champion of the Yoruba race.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK