By Yemi Adeleye
Several traditional rulers, ethnic and civil society groups, as well as other well-meaning Nigerians poured encomiums on the Aare Ona Kakanfo Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams as he celebrated 49th birthday on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that several Obas, Chiefs, Baales and other dignitaries graced the birthday celebration of the National Coordinator of Oodua People Congress (OPC) in Ikeja, Lagos.
Adams received the award of Life Patron of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club and several other awards for his contribution toward national unity and development of Yoruba cultural values and heritage.
Speaking at the event, the Olowa of Igbara Oke, Oba Francis Agbede, commended Adams for taking giant strides in protecting the cultural and traditional values of Yorubaland.
“Iba Gani Adams is somebody we should accord every respect in all regards. He has done a lot to promote the unity of the Yoruba race and Nigeria in general.
“This birthday is a great day in the history of our nation in general,’’ the monarch said.
Also, the Zaki of Arigidi Kindgom, Oba Yisa Olanipekun, called on state governments in the South West to massively support the Aare in tackling various challenges in Yorubaland.
“It is wrong for the Southwest Governors not to be relating with the Aare Ona Kakanfo on the progress of the Yoruba race.
“Southwest leaders should not take for granted the position of Aare Ona Kakanfo. Our six Southwest governors should sit with Aare in moving Yoruba nation forward,’’ the monarch added.
The Bobaselu of Ejigbo and Ijanland, Eze Alex Nwoye, told NAN on the sideline of the event that Adams remained a friend of Igbo community in Lagos State.
Nwoye said: “He carried Igbo along and we are partners in progress. He is someone God has blessed. He is a man many people love. Leaders have a lot to learn from him.’’
Alhaji Ado Dansudu, the National President, Arewa United Consultative Forum, described Adams as an honest man and hero who always stood for the interest of the masses.
Dansudu said that the Southwest had gained a lot from Adams in the area of security.
In her words, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, the President Women Arise, a Civil Society Organisation said: “Iba Gani Adams is committed, dogged, and indefatigable supporter of culture.
“He is a man I can go to the battle with closing my eyes. He is a peace ambassador. He is for peace; he is firm and a man of his words.
“Today, as he marks the 49th birthday, he remains a great life wire for the survival of the Yoruba race. He is one of the greatest gifts to humanity. He is a very reliable and progressive activist.’’
Dr Rafiu Ladipo, President General of the Nigerian Football Supporter Club, said that the Aare Ona Kakanfo had done so much for the good of the country, propagating the positive culture of Nigeria.
Ladipo said: “He is a man who believes Nigeria must not just exist but Nigeria must live.
“For us in the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, we don’t just give anybody the position of patron; we must look at the person and be able to know that such is worthy.
“If you look around the world today, the supporters club has only 19 patrons since inception, 63 years ago.
“Just two months ago, the board resolved to appoint Iba Gani Adams as life patron.
“Having looked around the world, looking for those who merit the position of life patron of the supporters club, Iba Gani Adams scored 100 per cent.’’
He said that the Aare had done enough for the protection of Yoruba culture and ensuring unity of Yoruba race and Nigeria in general.
Also speaking, Dr Qasim Akinreti, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos Council said: “The event is remarkable and the personality is extremely iconic in terms of his contributions to Yoruba race.
“Adams was part of the struggle for the enthronement of democracy and he is a cultural ambassador and that is why I described him as iconic.’’
He said that Yoruba Obas needed to learn from Adams, his genuine love for his community and Yoruba nation.
“He has no apology for the promotion of what is good for Yoruba race. He is also a promoter of restructuring of the Nigeria State which means politically he is not a push over.
“Culturally, he is iconic and that is a great lesson the traditional rulers need to learn from him,’’ Akinreti said.
In his remarks, Adams said that OPC had been celebrating him since his hay days for his contributions to the Yoruba nation.
“Eighteen years ago, my people started celebrating me. But now, it has to go beyond my organisation, my family and well-wishers must be involved.
“This day is epoch, a day of merry making, and a day of meeting some of my friends and a day of celebration,’’ he said.
Some of the dignitaries at the event were High Chiefs Ibikunle Adio, the Oluwo of Lagos and Tajudeen Balogun, both representing the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu and representative of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi.
Also present were the market woman leader – Iyaloja of Oyo Kingdom, Chief Adepeju Bakare, representative of Osun governor, Mr Semiu Okanlawon.
Others included intellectuals such as Professors Tunde Babawale, Derin Ologbenla and Raheem Kolawole.