BY DAMOLA EMMANUEL
It was the second week of the brand new year, 2019. And residents and citizens of Lagos, the acclaimed mega city that sprawls in aquatic splendour, were just settling down on their jobs, after the Christmas and New Year festivities. Then, came another explosion of celebration.
And for five solid days, starting on Wednesday, January 9, Iba Gani Adams, the 15th Aare Onakakanfo (the Generalissimo) of Yorubaland, shook the city with some epochal events that would linger for a long time in the memory of those who attended them.
Yes, it was the first anniversary celebration of Adams’ installation as the Aare Onakakanfo by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III. And true to his high office, the celebration came with a bang. It was a festival of the best of Yoruba music, dance, colours, cuisine and culture.
The anniversary took off in grand style at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, with the launch of two books on the Aare Onakakanfo, namely: Aare Gani Abiodun Adams: 15th Aare Onakakanfo, and Gani Adams: Voice of the Media, Voice of the people,
The books were written and published by the Lagos State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ.
During the public presentation of the books at Sheraton Hotel, the Lagos NUJ chairman, Dr. Quassim Akinreti, told the capacity audience that the efforts were aimed at shattering and putting in proper perspective certain myths about the office, character and content of the Aare Onakakanfo.
Beyond that, Akinreti also revealed that the books were the council’s contribution to the preservation of Yoruba history and cultural renaissance which, he stressed, had become more urgent than ever before, granting the rate at which foreign influences were eroding Yoruba culture and tradition.
On the subject of the two books, which is the Aare Onakakanfo, Akinreti said Iba Gani Adams copiously merited the efforts because of his enormous works at preserving Yoruba culture and tradition.
That’s not all. The two books, Akinreti further informed, “mirror the transformation of Aare Abiodun Adams from a freedom fighter to a cultural icon.” And that the council was motivated further by the need to “tell the story of the humble beginning of a young man from the backwoods of Nigeria who rose to become a notable figure across the world. He (Gani Adams) has been able to achieve this feat through a dint of hard work, focus, perseverance and courage.”
After the successful launch at Sheraton, on Wednesday, the train moved to the National Stadium on Thursday for a novelty football match organised in Adams’ honour.
On Saturday, January 12, 2019, all roads led to the 10 Degrees Event Centre, along Billings Way, Ikeja, where the who-is-who in Yorubaland gathered to witness the installation of 21 Chiefs by the Aare Onakakanfo. This was another first by Gani Adams as no one has ever installed 21 chiefs in one fell swoop; in a single day.
In his opening remarks, an elated Adams told the gathering that the new Chiefs, who constitute the Aare Onakakanfo-in-Council, already had their job cut out for them.
First, he said Yorubaland being too vast for him or any individual to cover alone, he would need people to join hands with him in the onerous task of fostering unity among all Yoruba. Unity among the Yoruba, he reiterated, was paramount to him, and was, indeed, his most important assignment as the Aare Onakakanfo.
And the Aare Onakakanfo, being human, and not some mythical god, Adams said he needed quality advice and top of the range advisers to fulfil the mandate of his high office. Therefore, and since he is not omnipresent, he would be delegating people to handle responsibilities on his behalf across all the Yoruba-speaking states of the country.
That done, he dispelled the confusion, in some quarters, over the propriety or otherwise of an Aare Onakakanfo appointing Chiefs and constituting the Aare Onakakanfo-in-Council. Revealing that his action had the blessing of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, Adams said the appointment of Chiefs by him had precedence in history.
“I am not the first Aare to have appointed Chiefs,” he declared. “In fact, I am the 13th Aare to have done that. The only two (Aares) who did not appoint Chiefs were Aare (M.K.O) Abiola and (S.L.A.) Akintola, and that was because they were seriously engaged in politics and had limited time.
“I appointed these 21 Chiefs to help me to succeed. As the Aare Onakakanfo, my job covers the entire Yorubaland. But I cannot be everywhere at the same time. I appointed them because I need sound advice. I need quality people. They are accomplished Yorubas, and they are carefully chosen to represent all Yoruba-speaking states and zones in the country.
“The people I am installing today as Chiefs are drawn from everywhere we have indigenous Yoruba people, including Kogi and Kwara (States), and as far as Igbona and Ibolo. They will act for me in their respective domains and handle issues. They will interface with their local Obas and traditional Chiefs to ensure peace and development in Yorubaland.”
A Professor-turned-monarch, Oba Adekunle Okunoye from Osun State, threw his royal weight behind Adams, and knocked out any doubts about the day’s event. “The Alaafin is in solid support of this event,” he declared.
Announcing that he would soon appoint a 70-member advisory council, ostensibly to advise him and his chiefs on ways to further the interests of the Yoruba race, Adams implored the 21 Chiefs who, he said, were selected based on their pedigrees, to justify the confidence reposed in them, by serving the people diligently.
Yoruba, Restructuring and 2019 Elections
Though the installation of the 21 Chiefs was purely a cultural and traditional affair, Aare Adams still found time to re-echo the Yoruba position on the state of the union, declaring that restructuring was a sine qua non (necessary condition) in moving Nigeria truly forward.
To underscore how seriously the Yoruba nation takes the matter, Adams said the Yoruba would, in the fast approaching general elections, support and vote for only the candidates that genuinely support, and are staunchly committed to restructuring as the path to national stability and progress.
“The solution to the problems weighing Nigeria down is for the country to adopt restructuring,” he said. “We are living with these problems because we are reluctant to retrace our steps and adopt the system that suits us.”
Adams concluded by declaring that strengthening the federating units through fiscal federalism and its allied components would galvanise Nigeria to the path of positive growth and help the country to realise its development goals.
“As far as I’m concerned,” Aare Adams concluded, “we must restructure Nigeria for us to move forward as a country.”
Facing the dozens of royal fathers present, Adams charged them to “work on the unity of our paramount rulers in Yorubaland. I want to see the Ooni and Alaafin sitting together at all times. Our first job is to unite our traditional rulers. The second, we must move to our other socio-cultural organisations like Afenifere, and foster unity among them.”
And Gbenga Daniel concurs…
In his remarks, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former two-term Governor of Ogun State, now, Director-General of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign, praised Aare Adams for his resolute commitment to the advancement of the Yoruba race.
Urging the Yoruba nation to always speak with one voice, the former Governor canvassed unity among the race, regardless of creed, religion or tongue. Unity among Yoruba, he emphasised, was one of the prerequisites for the race’s success in 2029.
Daniel also spoke the minds of most people in the hall when he declared that “restructuring is important and dear to the Aare Onakakanfo; restructuring is key in solving the many problems confronting Nigeria.
“Unity is paramount,” Daniel concluded. “Peace in Yorubaland is paramount. And restructuring is key.”
Whom the cap fits…
Among the newly installed Chiefs are human rights activist/lawyer and a Labour Party chieftain, Dr. Kayode Ajulo (Maiyegun Aare), Mr. Shola Oshunkeye, former Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Ghana Limited, now, President, The Crest Publishing and Entertainment Company Limited (Baaroyin Aare), Prof. Taofeek Raheem (Parakoyi Aare), Rt. Hon. Femi Bamisile, former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly and Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, (Baareselu Aare), Hon. Akeem Ige (Bameto) and Mr. Ademola Ige (Baameto Aare).
Other eminent persons installed Chiefs by the Aare Onakakanfo are: Mr. Wale Abel (Balogun Aare), Akogun Gani Balogun (Osi Aare), Mrs. Yewande Green (Yeyeshewa Aare), Engr. Emmanuel Ajibero (Otun Aare), Barrister Kehinde Oluwole (Bamofin), Chief Kamorudeen Lamina (Borokini Aare), Alhaja Mudirakat Amore (Yeyeluwa Aare) and Otunba Kole Omololu (Odofin Aare), Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin (Asoju Aare), and Captain Micheal Adeshina (Baarejiroro).
Among the eminent Nigerians that graced the occasion are: Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Dr. Mrs. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, former Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands, member of the 2014 National Conference on the Review of the Nigerian Constitution; Mrs. Titi Atiku-Abubakar, wife of the presidential standard bearer of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Mrs. Abiola Agbaje, wife of Mr. Jimi Agbaje, the PDP Governorship Candidate in Lagos; Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly respectively;
Chief Kunle Aderounmu from Brazil; Dr. Reuben Abati, former Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity; many First Class Yoruba monarchs; the Clergy-both Christian and Muslim clerics; as well as traditional religionists, to mention just a few.
The first year coronation anniversary of Iba Gani Adams as the 15th Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland hit a befitting crescendo on Sunday, January 13, with a grand reception and public presentation of a documentary on the institution and office of the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland at the Grandior on Billings Way, Ikeja. The event attracted the crème de la crème of the society.