Gani Adams and Bola Tinubu are not the best of friends,expectedly,many are wondering about the deep seated feud and the aare kakanfo title.Sometimes ago,Gani Adams said Tinubu was always plotting his downfall..He said, “We had some people who left our group because he was financing them to break it (OPC); they couldn’t break it, so they left. We continued to address the issue; even in the media, people were asking what I had with Tinubu, but they couldn’t find any reason. I decided that if I didn’t tell the whole world, my life and integrity would be at stake. “That was one of the reasons that I decided that if Tinubu goes to A, I will go to B. Somebody who has been working to block my progress for the past seven years; if I support him to be in power, he will do worse. Even though he is supporting the right candidate, I will go for the wrong candidate.”
He said, “When I asked around, people told me what he was hammering on was ‘he (Adams) attacked us during the election.’ Did I use thugs to attack him? Is there any report in any police station that the OPC attacked the APC because of the Peoples Democratic Party?
“I told them that anybody that would allow the APC to attack the OPC would not die well. I said, ‘Now, we are supporting Jonathan as our candidate. But that does not mean we are thugs of the PDP and that does not mean we are members of the PDP. Go to the polling booth, vote, and go back.’ “The late Gani Fawehinmi, stopped representing my group because of Tinubu. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo hates me with a passion because of Tinubu. The former National Vice Chairman, PDP, Bode George could not trust me because of Tinubu. The late former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, before he died, could not trust me because of Tinubu. At a point, Gbenga Daniel was skeptical about me because of Tinubu,” he said.
Some people have said if anybody should be considered for the title of Aare Ona Kakanfo, it should be Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. What do you think?
I know Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was consulted on the issue of the next generalissimo of Yorubaland. He was not interested in being the next Aare Ona Kakanfo. I know Asiwaju Tinubu is not against my interest in becoming the Aare Ona Kakanfo. But right now, history has once again been made in Yorubaland. We have to move forward and we must make deliberate efforts to avoid anything that can divide the Yoruba. You must understand that the Yoruba needs to have an individual as a rallying point for the unity and progress of the Yoruba race.
How do you intend to use your new status to champion the cause of the Yoruba race?
I will join Yoruba monarchs in canvassing the unity of the Yoruba nation. The ultimate thing we need in Yoruba land is unity. The Yoruba is a great race with high intelligence in the world. We don’t need oil to survive. We don’t need gold or other solid minerals to survive. God gave us the human resources – the intellect – to survive if not as a nation, as a region. It is imperative that we evaluate our situation and try to understand what our problem is as a race. To my mind, the greatest problem we have is disunity, nothing but disunity.
It is one of the reasons I warn people agitating for the restructuring of the country. I feel it is delicate to ask that powers from the central government should devolve to the states. So, if there should be devolution of powers to the states, there should be a coordinating structure in the region. Our unity will help us a great deal. Just imagine how buoyant and resourceful each state in the South-West region will be, coming together and harnessing their potential for the of the Yoruba people. Our great potential can only be attained through unity.
Fighting for the unity and cause of the Yoruba will be my focus. I have always been a fighter and promoter of the Yoruba heritage. I have the bounden duty to do more from now on. Being the Aare Ona Kakanfo is a call to service. It is not a political expedition.
You’re close to Governor Rauf Aregbesola and ex-governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel. What role did they play in your emergence as the new Yoruba generalissimo?
On the issue of Aare Ona Kakanfo, there was no time I met with Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Yes, I did speak with his Director, Bureau of Communication, Semiu Okanlawon; he was aware. But let me say that the Osun State governor is my friend and he will continue to be my brother. I believe that the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, could have consulted him and I have no doubt that Governor Aregbesola would have said positive things about my suitability for the title.
Similarly, Otunba Gbenga Daniel is a brother. I know if he was consulted, his view on my being qualified as the Aare Ona Kakanfo would also be positive. The truth is that I didn’t consult them. I was not desperate to be the Aare Ona Kakanfo. I have never in my life lobbied for any chieftaincy title – I have 52 chieftaincy titles before the Aare Ona Kakanfo honour was bestowed on me.
At a point, I had to see the Alaafin of Oyo and told him I was interested in becoming the Aare Ona Kakanfo. This is a title everyone runs away from because of a negative myth surrounding it. But I told the kabiyesi that I was ready to be the next Yoruba generalissimo. He asked me if I was ready for the title and I told him I was. The Alaafin said, ‘Do you know that atari ajanaku ki n se eru omode (a child can’t carry the head of an elephant)?’ I told him I’m old enough to be the Aare Ona Kakanfo. He asked for my CV which I sent to him – he was impressed by what he saw, that I am a promoter of Yoruba culture and fighter for the Yoruba cause. Following that, the monarch consulted for six months to ascertain my suitability for the title. I learnt he made wide consultations. I know kabiyesi is very close to Aregbesola.
I recall back in the days of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, since 1998, anytime he saw me, what came out of his mouth always was ‘the Generalissimo!’ The truth is that I never considered him to be serious about that title. But whenever he made that statement, I would prostrate to greet him. I didn’t imagine myself being the Aare Ona Kakanfo back then. A lot of other prominent Yoruba leaders felt I was qualified for that position but I didn’t see myself in that light until January this year when a friend approached me to ask, ‘What do you think if the Alaafin confers on you the title of Aare Ona Kakanfo?’ I said, ‘No! No! No!’ I felt I already had enough chieftaincy titles – 49 by then. It’s now 52. I told him I didn’t want the Kakanfo title. But he managed to convince me – after three hours – about the need and importance of the title. It took me months to reach a definite decision on the matter as I consulted widely, physically and spiritually. I consulted many Yoruba leaders like Pa Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Olu Falae.
Those individuals are known to the Alaafin of Oyo and the Oyo Mesi. I learnt that there was a particular personality, who was interested in being conferred with the title; he had, for four years, tried to get the title but the Alaafin said he did not have the quality to be the generalissimo of Yoruba land. I’m not going to mention any name.
I also learnt that two other individuals ‘breezed in and breezed out’ in their quest to become the Yoruba generalissimo – I don’t know why they did. Thereafter, I came on the scene – I spoke with Kabiyesi and the Oyo Mesi. I related with all the chiefs and baales. I am a fighter from the beginning. Do you know how many times I have passed through the path of life and death in this country? It will be more than 60 times and I have come to realise that death is a product of God. That brings me to the myth surrounding the Kakanfo title: not all the past Aare Ona Kakanfo had a tragic end. It is a misconception. A lot of people do not know the history of the past 14 Aare Ona Kakanfos.
The story you often hear is that of Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Chief M. K. O. Abiola; and maybe that of Afonja. Do they know the story of Latosha? Do they know the story of Kurumi? Most of the Aare Ona Kakanfos were warriors often on the battlefields and always on the move, never in the main cities. They were always on standby to defend the territorial integrity of the Alaafin and the Yoruba. The focus of the first 12 Aare Ona Kakanfos was war-driven. The emergence of the 13th Yoruba generalissimo was based on political exigency and the 14th, borne out of philanthropy. The 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo (Adams) emerged as a cultural promoter and freedom fighter. As a matter of fact, I am also a philanthropist.
As some have wondered, do you think you have the financial capacity to justify your new status comparing you to Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Chief M. K. O. Abiola? Also, some don’t think you’re old enough to be the generalissimo of Yoruba land.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo is not a position for mere capitalists. The two men you mentioned were personalities of great repute. It is not wealth that defines the person of Aare Ona Kakanfo. The greatest resource anybody can have is people. I think I have the backing of many Yoruba at home and in the Diaspora. Having the intellectual capacity to lead people in the right direction and for the common good, be it in peace or war times, is more important than just being able to throw money around; no doubt money has its place in the scheme of human endeavours. Chief M. K. O. Abiola was not just wealthy; he used his money to galvanise development and unity in Yoruba land as much as he could. He used his stupendous riches for the common good.
At the age of 29, I began to build an organisation – the OPC – which now has at least six million members. I am ready to make friends and resolve any differences I have with every human being. As soon as possible, I will meet Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and I will meet Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. I am also going to reach out to Dr. Frederick Fasheun, among other people. You know when you’re fighting for a cause, sometimes you disagree with people; and, at other times, you agree with them. This position will moderate my radicalism but I will never compromise my principles.
But who says I am too young to lead the cause of the Yoruba race? At 47, I am not too young to be the Aare Ona Kakanfo. The likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Gen. Obasanjo, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, among others were young when they took up the mantle of leadership. Look at what is happening in the world: in Austria right now, the new chancellor is 31 years old. We shouldn’t be so quick to forget the French president too. Who will say I am too young to champion the Yoruba cause or hold any position of leadership in Nigeria?