By Tunde Akanni, PhD
This book, Voice of media, voice of the people, edited by Dr. Qasim Akinreti, and published by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos State Council, celebrates Otunba Gani Adams, the Aare Ona Kakanfo.
From royalties of distinction, to first rate, national political figures and activists together with the central players (in this context) of tested journalists drawn from all genres across the print, broadcast and online, have issued forth, kind words of memorable commendation to Iba Gani Abiodun Adams. All of these have been particularly stimulated by Iba Adam’s ascent to the height of Aare Ona Kakanfo, one of the most prestigious traditional titles in the entire Yorubaland which today comprises Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti and of course the nation’s financial nerve centre of Lagos State, as well as the fringes of Edo and Delta states.
Until this high point in the life of this trans-generationally worthy son better labeled akikanju for which there hardly exists an English equivalent, Gani Adams, as he used to be popularly called, was most associated with six million strong Oodua People’s Congress, OPC. But who is that Nigerian that does not even know, admire or fear OPC for whatever reason? Mine combines the three dimensions. I’m also convinced there would be tons of anecdotes from many others here today if there would be time to share related experiential tales.
Gani’s story is yet another of poetic grass to grace narrative we all pray and aspire to realise in different contexts. Born to Pa Lamidi Adams and the late Madam Dada Adams, nee Aduloju, Gani Adams attended many primary schools due to the itinerant nature of daddy’s job as a driver. His educational exploits started at the Army Children’s School, Oturkpo, Benue State, where he got as far as primary three. At this point came the father’s transfer to Lagos, where he completed his primary school education at the Municipal Primary School, Surulere, Lagos, in 1980.
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Gani subsequently proceeded to Ansar-Ud-Deen Secondary School, Randle Avenue, Surulere, Lagos, for his secondary education before picking an interior decoration job at an Italian Construction Company, Visinoni Stabilini, Apapa, Lagos.
Cultivated for independence early in life, Gani commenced its actualisation by resigning from Visinoni Stabilini to establish his own interior decoration business, Gadson Interior. Still with a pressing thirst for more knowledge in a world where the indispensability of knowledge keeps heightening, Adams returned to school to bag a Diploma in Tourism Management from the International Aviation School, Tema, Ghana in 2003. Not done, irrepressible Gani went further to obtain another Diploma in International Relations and Strategic Studies from the Lagos State University (LASU). Gani had fallen in love with LASU and therefore returned there to cap this up with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
Obviously well immersed into the doctrines of such renowned radicalising political science literature including but not limited to those of Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney and the likes, he got further fired up to challenge the pre-existing social order in Nigeria largely occasioned by the military rule of that time. Young Gani thus became an active pro-democracy activist in 1992. He pitched his tent with the Campaign for Democracy, CD, in the struggle to end military rule in Nigeria for democratic governance.
Energetic Gani had a big and daunting responsibility thrust on his shoulders when he became the Public Relations Officer, PRO of Mushin Local Government Chapter of CLO in 1993 as well as a member of the Oodua Youth Movement, OYM, a pro-Yoruba self-determination group. He was a foundation member of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC when it was formed in 1994. Like the proverbial huge elephant that cannot pass unnoticed, Gani Adams was the overwhelming choice for the position of the first Deputy National Coordinator and now the National Coordinator of the group. This availed Otunba Gani Adams the needed pedestal to distinguish himself and earn the recommendation for the much revered Aare Ona Kakanfo title.
This work presents a somewhat palpable translation of the meaning of the media as the mirror of the society, having mirrored the Aare Ona Kakanfo of this generation relatively extensively. Otunba Gani Adam’s nomination for the exalted office attracted a flurry of communications in the form of a national newspaper’s editorial, presidential courtesy, messages from state governors, Kabiyesis, political leaders as well as media leaders across genres. “In spite of the fact that I am a holder of 52 traditional titles; none has drawn as much comments and commendations as this,” Aare Adams notes in the post-installation speech also contained herein.
In all, there are 61 entries divided into no fewer than eight categories apart from sections on the profile of the Aare, his inaugural speech, the news report on his visit to Ooni Ogunwusi and the appendix. The eight groups of messages are editorial comments, presidential commendation, editors’ comments, royal commendation and political acclamation. The rest are eminent personalities’ approbation, socio-cultural groups’ endorsement and media applause.
Some of the messages are polite and celebratory replies to invitation to attend his investiture which was scheduled for January 13, 2018. Expectedly, the most rounded or balanced of the communications is that of Oba Yisa Olanipekun, the Zaki of Arigidi Akoko, the monarch of the birthplace of Aare Adams. Kabiyesi is not only full of kind words betraying his admiration for ‘his son’, he is profoundly grateful to the Alaafin for finding ‘their own’ worthy of the huge honour. He even reports the support of all the brother monarchs in the adjoining communities for Otunba Gani’s choice for the exalted position by the Alaafin.
While Dr. Fasehun, also of OPC fame, concedes the right to Alaafin for his choice for Aare Ona Kakanfo, Asiwaju Tinubu describes the generalissimo as a man with “heart of steel.” Joseph Evah, leader of a coalition of Niger-Delta groups in Lagos, finds Adams as deserving of all goodwill for, among other reasons, supporting their kinsman, former President Jonathan, when it mattered most.
Expression of support from the media community came from Daily Times, The Nation, Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Sun, NUJ, New Telegraph etc.
This publication is a rich resource material for researchers in historical, sociological and anthropological studies with its scope and depth on the subject in focus.
However, the publication, throughout, struggles with the spelling of Oodua variously spelt as O’dua, Odu’a and Odua. May I therefore suggest, in line with the much desired regional integration that the name registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission for the commonwealth headquartered at Cocoa House be adopted. A consistent spelling is particularly necessary now that Lagos is effectively part of the South-West of Nigeria having been admitted into the fold of the commercial conglomerate.