History was made on Saturday in the ancient town of Oyo Alaafin in Oyo state, as the state Governor Abiola Ajimobi, about 300 monarchs across Yoruba-land, Kogi, Delta, Edo states and Benin Republic converged to witness the installation of the new and 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo (Yoruba Generalissimo), Otunba Gani Adams by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III.
Adams, the National Coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress succeeds late business mogul, Chief M.K.O. Abiola who died in detention 20 years ago. Yesterday’s ceremony climaxed the three-day rites for the installation.
The Alaafin of Oyo land, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, also made history on the same day by becoming the first Alaafin to install two Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland. Oba Adeyemi installed the late Chief MKO Abiola as the 14th Aare Ona Kakanfo 30 years ago, a post the late business man held for about 10 years.
The title created by King Ajagbo in the 17th century, was conferred on the 47 yr old indigene of Arigidi Akoko in the Akoko North West Local government area of Ondo state.
The colourful event, garnished with rich Yoruba culture, was also witnessed by Yorubas from 79 countries around the world, most of who are members of the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) founded by Adams.
Adams, who wore a traditional jacket made of lion skin and presented with Sango (god of iron) staff of office after opening of 14 traditional calabashes of his predecessors, appealed to all Yoruba leaders irrespective of their religion and political affiliations to work together to foster unity in the land.
The new Aare Ona Kakanfo, who lamented the inability of the Yoruba leaders to work together, said his major preoccupation would be to unite all Yoruba leaders for the purpose of developing the race.
As the Generalissimo of Yoruba land, the activist turned traditionalist said he would work together with security agencies in Nigeria to ensure that the South-west region is properly secured for business to thrive.
He also appealed to the federal government to as a matter of urgency improve on the power supply and complete some roads in the South-west especially Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, Oyo/Oshogbo road, Badagry /Lusada /Sokoto road to help in boosting the tourism potential of the region.
He said the promotion of culture and core values of the Yoruba would be one of his major priorities as he promised to launch Aare Ona Kakanfo Foundation where all the documents relating to the office as presented to him by Alaafin would be made public through a website to be created.
He also promised to use his office to launch a scholarship scheme to promote education among the youth and encouraged them to be optimistic about life.
He said, “If somebody like me from a very humble beginning can make it, then our youths also have hope of making it in life”.
Also speaking at the event, chairman of the planning committee, Archbishop Emeritus Ayo Ladigbolu advised Adams to create the Kakanfo Directorate Council made up of eminent leaders to assist him to “tackle the issues of peaceful coexistence among diverse ethnic nationalities, religious tolerance, national re-orientation, South-west integration, re-invigoration of the pride of place of Yoruba language and culture.”
The cleric noted, “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 respond to the myriad challenges facing our nation and our world today”.
He noted that with the completion of the rites to become Aare Ona Kakanfo Adams has become a different person and spiritually empowered. He said in Yoruba proverb, “Anyone who deals too familiarly with a corpse may find himself stripped naked by a ghost”.
He, however, congratulated Oba Adeyemi as the longest serving Alaafin and the first to install the Aare Ona Kakanfo in the 556 years of the Chieftaincy title.
Also praying for the new Aare, foremost Ifa Priest, Chief Yemi Elebuibon said with the courage of Adams to complete the traditional rites for his installation he has protected himself against violent death that is already creating myths against the chieftaincy title.
But there was a mild drama as the State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, declined to make speeches even when the protocol was being set for him to speak at the historic event.
Ondo State Deputy Governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayi represented Governor Akeredolu, other South-west governors who sent representatives included, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode represented by his Information Commissioner Hon. Kehinde Bamgbetan; Osun Governor represented by the SSG, Moshood Olalekan, and the Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, Hon. Suraju Adekanbi represented his governor.
Other dignitaries at the event were former Governor of Oyo State, Otunba Christopher Alao-Akala; former Governor of Delta State, Chief Emmanuel Uduaghan; former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party candidate in the last governorship election, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, and Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin.
Prominent traditional rulers include the Owa Obokun of Ijesha-land, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran; Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade; Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji; Ogoga of Ikere-Ekiti, Oba Adejimi Adu-Alagbado; Oba Arigidi Akoko, Oba Yinusa Olanipekun, and the Ologbosere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Ayiyi Emami, who represented Olu of Warri.