Sunday, 22 October 2017

Gani Adams still has many mountains to climb — Okunrounmu

Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu, tells SAMUEL AWOYINFA that the National Coordinator of Oodua Peoples Congress, Gani Adams, should prepare for greater challenges ahead in his new role as the Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yorubaland

What do you understand by the title of the Aare Ona Kakanfo?

My understanding is that an Aare Ona Kankanfo is the highest war title in Yoruba land. It is like the Field Marshal of the Yoruba defence forces.

What was your reaction when Abiola took that title then?

I was not surprised, because he had taken so many titles, both within and outside Yoruba land. So, I just thought he (Abiola) had taken yet another title.

Do you think the title contributed to the problems that confronted him later in life?

Not at all! To think like that would be superstitious. I don’t believe in superstition, in that line of thought. I don’t believe the problems he had later in life had anything to do with him taking such title.

Do you know notable Yoruba leaders that had rejected the title in the past?

Even if I know, I will not mention any name. But I know many Yoruba leaders had been reluctant to take the title, because they believe those who took it in the past did not end well. So, most Yoruba leaders ran away from taking the title.

That was why I said in my initial reaction that ‘where Angels feared to tread, fools rush’. It is a well known idiom. With this, I am not calling Gani Adams a fool, if anything; I am only saying he has exhibited courage where others had exhibited timidity.

But it was like you were surprised that he took the title?

I am not surprised because I have had the hunch for some time now that he really wanted the title. So, it is like he has finally gotten what he had wanted for a long time.

Can you tell us what you know about Gani Adams?

The little I know of him is his participation in founding the Oodua Peoples Congress. He is one of the claimants to have founded OPC, because he and Dr. Frederick Fasehun claimed to be founders. I won’t take sides by recognising one of them as the founder; we recognise both of them as founders.

Gani Adams has been supporting the Yoruba cause. For example, he supported very strongly, the Yoruba Agenda for Nigeria, which we took to the National Conference of 2014. Not only that. Even after the National Conference, he supported the call for the full implementation of all the recommendations. In fact, some people translated that he was a pro-Peoples Democratic Party. But despite the blackmail, he stood in support of the recommendations. That was in consonance with Yoruba interest.

The OPC, which he leads, has always been effective in maintaining the internal security in Yorubaland. I also know that he has been supporting the promotion of Yoruba culture. He has spearheaded a number of Yoruba cultural festivals and he continues to be a strong supporter of restructuring.

For these reasons, he has always aligned himself with the interest of the Yoruba. So, he is fully deserving of the Aare Ona Kankanfo title.

But my only question is that of his age. That title will be more appropriate for an older person who has probably gone through what he wants to achieve in life.

It’s like you fear for him!

I am not superstitious. I only mention the superstitious fear of many Yoruba concerning the title. I am not the superstitious type, so I have nothing against him having the title.

But in your initial reaction, you said Gani Adams was rather young and ambitious about the title?

I believe there are still mountains for him to climb in life. I wish he would have allowed himself more time to climb a lot more of these mountains that he still has to climb before accepting that title. By this, I mean there are still many mountains he needs to climb before reaching the post of a Field Marshal, because you cannot go higher than that.

And because one cannot go higher than a Field Marshal that is why I think the title is premature for him to take at this time.

Who do you now think should have the title?

Whoever that must have that title must be somebody who has always aligned himself with the interest of the Yoruba. He should be someone who has always promoted the Yoruba cause selflessly and has never misled the Yoruba. So, looking at those criteria, Gani Adams is fully deserving of the title.

Though there are many others too, they are probably not interested in the title. But since he is interested, one cannot object to his having it.

What advice do you have for him?

As he is assuming the role of the Aare Ona Kankanfo, my advice is that he should remain steadfast in the promotion of the Yoruba cause at all times.

He should never seek his own selfish interest but rather the corporate interest of Yoruba people.

The Federal Government has expressed its intention to take a loan of $5.5bn for infrastructural development. Do you think Nigeria needs this loan?

This is a government that is reckless and gone on the loose like a madman in the market. Money is being looted by some people in government. I do not believe that we need this loan. What has happened to looted funds being recovered from people? The loots are being looted.

Getting another loan is like putting a rope round the neck of Nigerians, because the future generation will have to repay this loan. I don’t see any reason for this loan.

There was another attack on the people of the Bassa Local Government Area in Plateau State by suspected herdsmen and lives have been lost. How do you think the crisis should be tackled?

The government will not do anything until the people affected rise and defend themselves against the suspected marauding herdsmen.

They do not have to be docile and watch the whole village being wiped out. It is only when they rise and defend themselves that government will rise up to assist them. Like I always say, this is the government of the Fulani and for the Fulani.

How would you assess the Senator Ibikunle Amosun-led administration in the last six years it has been in charge of affairs of Ogun State?

Frankly, I will not want to discuss this, because I have been off partisan politics since 2011. I will rather stay away from making any comment on it.

For now, I want to be a patriot and a nationalist.

Some prominent Ogun indigenes have canvassed that the governorship slot in 2019 should go to Ogun West senatorial district which has never produced the state governor since the creation of the state in 1976. Do you support this view?

As someone who believes in justice and equity, I support this line of thought. Successive administrations in the state have always promised them that it would be their turn, but it has always been a mirage. I support those calling for the governorship slot to move to Ogun West, which consists mostly the people of Yewa and Awori.

The World Bank president quoted President Muhammadu Buhari as saying that the bank’s intervention should be concentrated in the North. But the President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, had said that by this the President meant that the intervention should be directed at rebuilding the North-East which was devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency. How do you react to this?

If you observe well, this has been consistent with this administration and my description of President Buhari as president of the Fulani. If you situate him within this definition, you will not be surprised at his actions.

The focus of President Buhari is the North. Why channel all the resources that should be for Nigeria to the North? It is not even the North-East that was devastated by the Boko Haram insurgents, what about the North-West?

The aim is to control and enslave the rest of Nigerians, simply because many of them are timid and fearful.

President Buhari is not particularly happy with some of the governors who still owe workers. Do you share the President’s agony?

As far as I am concerned, all the money that some of these governors collected, were not spent judiciously. Probably the money had been mismanaged for personal purposes. This administration, from top to bottom, needs to be examined.

The Federal Government is making concerted efforts in the area of agriculture; do you believe it is doing enough?

They are trying their best in the area of agriculture, but I have not really done a comprehensive assessment of what they are really doing to boost the agriculture sector and help genuine farmers to abandon their subsistence farming for a more modern and mechanised form.

( Punch)

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