By Adeola Badru
IBADAN-THE installation of the National Coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, Otunba Gani Adams as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland by Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, is gathering momentum, as an 80-man committee for the epoch-making event has been inaugurated.
The committee, headed by Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu (retd) and comprising members of the Aare Ona Kakanfo-designate and members from the Alaafin’s palace, was inaugurated to facilitate the smooth conduct of the installation, coming up tomorrow at Durbar Stadium, Oyo.
Since his proclamation as the Aare Ona Kakanfo- designate by the Alaafin of Oyo on October 15, 2017, Adams, a delegate to the 2014 national conference has embarked on visits to all parts of the country soliciting their support and cooperation in his new role as the generalissimo of the Yoruba nation.
Speaking with Vanguard on the level of preparation for the installation, Archbishop Ladigbolu noted that Oba Adeyemi made the right choice by pronouncing Adams as the new Aare, 20 years after the demise of the last occupant, the late Chief MKO Abiola, who died on July 7, 1998.
Shedding light on the myth that surrounded the short life-span of the previous title holders of Aare Ona Kakanfo, Archbishop Ladigbolu dismissed the insinuation that the former occupants of the title did not have short reigns as being speculated.
Ladigbolu said: “When you fight a war and win, you move to another location. So, it is a position that kept them on the move and as such, they have to be prepared. The position of Aare Ona Kakanfo, from time immemorial is a position that involves fighting war almost on monthly basis. As the generalissimo, they do not have a particular location.”
Continuing, he said: “We now have the Army, Air Force, Navy and Police to defend the territorial integrity and as such, the job of the Aare Ona Kakanfo is limited. Instead of fighting wars, it has now become a position of unification where the occupant is expected to unify the Yoruba race. The myth of being a warrior broke through Ladoke Akintola. Akintola, in 1964 was a politician. He was not a warrior or activist. The title was given to him based on his position as the Premier and leader of the Western Region. After that, the late Chief MKO Abiola became the Aare in 1998.”
He said the myth that every occupant of Aare Ona Kakanfo office did not live long was a fallacy as he noted that “the position has changed from that of a warrior to one of leadership since the reign of Ladoke Akintola.”
He noted that the duty of Aare Ona Kakanfo was to believe in the cause of the Yoruba and must be loyal to the Alaafin and all Yoruba Obas.
Tracing the history of Aare Ona Kakanfo, Archbishop Ladigbolu said: “The position of the Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yorubaland by antecedent, is not for the highest bidder, a position which by demand comes with sound might and spiritual profundity reserved only for a person of substance who has fought for the interest of the Yoruba race.”
Also, he said: “The title can be traced back to the old Oyo Empire. Oyo Empire was a Yoruba Empire of what is today Western and North- Central Nigeria. Established in the 15th Century, the Oyo Empire grew to become one of the largest West African states. It rose through the outstanding organisational and administrative skills of the Yoruba people, wealth gained from trade and its powerful cavalry. The Oyo Empire was the most politically important state in the region from the mid-17th to the late 18th Century, holding sway not only over most of the other kingdoms in Yorubaland, but also over nearby African states.
“Oyo Empire at its furthest extent with its capital as Oyo-Ile, Yoruba was the language and as well, Yoruba religion, with a monarchical system of government headed by Alaafin, owner of the palace. By structure, the Oyo Empire has the Aare Ona Kankanfo being in charge of the security of the empire, as generalissimo of all armies in Yorubaland, who was charged with the responsibility of protecting the empire against external attacks.”
He noted that by virtue of his position, he was a king of sorts, and as such, never resided in the same town with the Alaafin, the appointing authority.
While speaking on the prerogative of Alaafin to appoint Aare Ona Kakanfo, Archbishop Ladigbolu stated that with the intelligence and wisdom of the forefathers, they gave the right and power to the Alaafin of Oyo.
On the level of preparation for the installation, he said the 80-member committee headed by him had put plans in motion in conjunction with the committee set up by the state government to ensure the smooth and successful conduct of the installation to forestall any hitch before and after the event.
Expected at the epoch-making event are, Vice- President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the chief host, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State.
Other governors billed for the event are Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo).
Otunba Adams, the National Coordinator of OPC, has been an active ambassador of Yoruba cultural heritage.
Vanguard check at major places in Oyo town showed the people are really prepared for the upcoming installation, with the Alaafin’s palace being renovated for the event.