Several questions have continued to trail the appointment of the National Coordinator, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams as the Aare Ona Kankanfo, one of the highest political/traditional ranking officers in the Yoruba culture.
One of the questions bothered on how well he can use the office to forge unity and peaceful coexistence irrespective of political differences among Yoruba political elite and stakeholders.
The second concern about the appointment bothers on Adams ability and readiness to use the office effectively like his immediate two predecessors, former Premier of the Old Western Region, Chief Ladoke Akintola and Chief M.K.O Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12 1993, presidential election.
Whenever the political history of Yoruba nation or that of Nigeria is mentioned, the significant roles of the duo of Akintola and Abiola could not be overemphasized because of their contributions and impact.
One significant challenge facing Southwest politics since the collapse of the First Republic and the demise of Abiola during the short-lived Third Republic, is that the area has since been in search of unity for political stakeholders, peaceful coexistence and socio-economic pathway within the larger Nigerian context.
Till date, the Yoruba nation could not boast of the ability to speak with one voice and the onus is now on Adams, if he could harmonize the strength of his new office to forge a common front to the interest of the Southwest, like Abiola briefly did before his death in 1998.
The main tone of all the congratulatory messages to Adams over the appointment is that he should use his new office to help unite the political differences among the Yoruba political stakeholders irrespective of party affiliation. One of the tasks placed before him is to ensure that the issue that bothers on the growth, development and the defense of the cultural value of the Southwest must not be compromised and should not be politicised whatever the circumstances.
As one of the leaders of the region, who craved anonymity asked, “Can Adams help in using his new appointment to encourage the ongoing attempt by the Southwest governors to ensure regional integration agenda?
“If this is what he (Adams) could achieve without necessarily going into full politics like his predecessors, it is enough to help the Yoruba nation out of the present situation.”
Describing Adams as a true son of Yoruba, one of the leaders of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said the title holder should be the pivot of unity for the race.
Adebanjo emphasized on Southwest unity, saying, “This could be used as a step to achieve it if we all support Adams. It is time for the Yoruba nation to be united and support Adams.
“Adams should bring the Yoruba nation together. The people of Yorubaland need to be united now more than ever. People who are not on our level of civilization should not be allowed to dominate us.”
In another congratulatory message, former governor of Lagos and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said Adams richly deserved the appointment.
He said Adams had never left anyone in doubt over his resolve to fight for the interest of Yoruba race. “I congratulate you on your appointment as the next Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland. With this, you have joined the elite rank of generalissimos in Yorubaland.”
He, however, charged him on the need to be ready to fight for and defend the interest of Yoruba race, saying, “In Yorubaland, particularly in the old Oyo Empire, the position of Aare Ona Kakanfo was always a significant one. Tinubu said that as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo and going through the list of those who had occupied the position, Adams “comes with an extra youth, vigour, and vitality, which would be an added advantage.”
Reacting on his appointment and the sentiments regarding his age, Adams told The Guardian he would use the new position for the utmost interest of the Southwest.
He also promised to meet the likes of Tinubu and former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo among others to discuss the interest of the region.
Correcting the negative impression that he is too young for the title, Adams said: “Most of the people who have been Are Ona Kakanfo were not up to 50. Apart from the two I mentioned, others who attained the position earlier were younger. According to the history of the Yoruba, the custodians of the title always look for courageous young blood that can face external aggressions.”
The OPC stalwart said it was not about the age but charisma, determination, and loyalty to the Alafin of Oyo, focus and unflinching interest in the course of Yoruba race. These are the factors that are usually considered.”
The Guardian Newspaper.