AAre Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba-designate, Otunba Gani Adams, yesterday said the title offered to him by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, will moderate his radicalism and strengthen his resolve to contribute to the unity of Yoruba.
He described the Alaafin as a highly respected monarch and an intelligent leader, adding that he consulted with the traditional institution, political class and leaders of opinion in Yoruba land before giving him the title.
Adams told reporters in Lagos that the status had catapulted him to the enviable position of a statesman.
According to him, it has fulfilled the wish of the activist-lawyer, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), who always hailed him as “generalissimo”.
The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) leader said he accepted the offer with optimism and enthusiasm in deference to the Alaafin, who, historically, has the prerogative to confer the honour on him, following consultation with the Oyomesi.
He said he met the criteria, including loyalty to the royal father, focus on welfare of Yoruba land, defence of Yoruba cultural values and leadership of a socio-cultural group with about six million people.
Adams said he had consulted prominent Yoruba leaders.
Noting that attention will focus on him as the Aare Ona Kankanfo, he said: “The title of Aare Ona Kankanfo will moderate my radicalism. I am going to meet Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Frederick Fasehun to inform them. The title will moderate my radicalism.
“But I will not compromise my principle. I will not betray the cause of Yoruba people. I will also be a good Nigerian. I will relate with all Nigerians, based on justice. The position of Aare Ona Kankanfo is a position of a statesman.”
Adams, who holds 52 chieftaincy titles in Yoruba land, promised to work with prominent leaders to unite the race and fight for its progress.
He added: “Chief Obafemi Awolowo became the premier of Western Nigeria at the age of 45. Gowon became Head of State at the age of 38. Obasanjo became Head of State at 42. In the United States of America, Bill Clinton became president at 42, George W. Bush at 42 and Barack Obama at 46. In France, the president got there at 39. In Austria, the president is 31. At 47, I can occupy any position in Nigeria.”
He added: “When the Alaafin saw my curriculum vitae, especially the formation of the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) in 78 countries, he resolved to consult widely before giving me the title. Aare is a position of service to Yoruba land. You can only attain the position as a freedom fighter and philanthropist.
“Chief Ladoke Akintola became the Aare because he was the premier. Chief MKO Abiola became the Aare because he was a philanthropist. Gani Adams is a promoter of Yoruba culture. Since March 15, 1999, I have been serving Yoruba as the coordinator of OPC.”
Former Abia State Governor Orji Uzor Kalu has felicitated with Adams on his designation as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba.
In a message, Kalu said: “The news of your confirmation as Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land did not to come to me as a surprise, owing to your gallant qualities and exemplary leadership style. It is indeed a well-deserved honour.
“You have, over the years, demonstrated patriotism in your pursuits; as such, your contributions to the socio-political development of the Yoruba nation and Nigeria are remarkable.
“While urging you to use your position to promote peace and unity in Nigeria, I wish you a successful reign as the field marshal of Yoruba land.”
Also, OPC leader in Ekiti State, Prince Adeniyi Adedipe, has said Adams deserves the title.
He hailed Oba Adeyemi for considering Adams worthy of the prestigious title.
Adedipe described the recipient as a “round peg in a round hole”.