I have come to recognise the awe, power and relevance of the Aare Ona Kakanfo title very early in life and it was not just about the exploits of the title holders as we read in the books. As a primary three pupil, my class teacher, a woman, decided to conduct a test and promised whoever came first would be named Aare Ona Kakanfo of the class. I came tops and was named the Aare Ona Kakanfo.
And what were the duties of the Aare? I was given a seat directly opposite the class teacher, presided over affairs of the class and dished out punishments. That included dishing out strokes of the cane to some offenders and in some instances appointing the big boys in the class to stretch out key offenders whose names entered the black book. I enjoyed the reign but little did I know it was a ploy by the woman (a nursing mother) to save herself the stress of having to give recalcitrant pupils strokes of the cane.
In those days, it was fun and responsibility co-joined. I saw classmates fell over themselves to curry the favour of the Aare. On our way home, some classmates would offer to carry the Aare’s bag, in anticipation of lesser punishment in case their names enter the black book.
As years went by, I got to read the historical essence of the Aare Ona Kakanfo title. More than the childlike innocence with which we held that title in primary three, it became clearer to me that the title was reserved for warriors, the Generalissimo of Yoruba land. The Aare was the man who led the wars of the Oyo Empire, he never returned from a battle defeated. It was a powerful title for powerful men.
And history has told us of the myths and mystiques around that title. One of the names of the previous holders that struck me is Ojo Aburukamu. The name portends danger and easily strikes fear- One who is so fierce and would not die.
Notwithstanding the changing times and the rise and fall of Empires, historical relics still give today’s generation a sense of connection to the past. A sense of belief that their forebears actually had sense of organisation and operated strong and complex political institutions long before the advent of the scramble for and partition of Africa. That is my point of departure from some social media commentators and those a friend called English-speaking graduates of today, who have tended to question the essence of the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland where there is no one single Oba of Yoruba land. Or even some of those who question Gani Adam’s credentials as the right candidate.
One of the critics who put pen to paper in the traditional media is a former News Editor of The Punch, Tunde Odesola, who wrote from the US. His grouse was that he did not see any visible impact of the Adams-led Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the fight to actualise the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential mandate of the late Chief MKO Abiola. He linked the organisation more to thuggery and violence than noble objectives.
Even while I believe that the OPC is big enough to defend itself, I make bold to state that the organisation did some noble exploits in those days of the jackal. Maybe Odesola lacks the requisite information. But suffice it to state that the OPC had directly affected Odesola’s daily bread when its enthusiasts turned themselves to emergency vendors to help save Punch from the ban imposed by the vendors’ association at the start of the unsold policy. With the presence of OPC, the newspaper kept afloat and was able to break the vendors’ resistance in weeks.
I am one of those who have remained impressed by the rise of the ‘Carpenter’ Adams. Years back, I recall how a committee of five Oodua sons, Wale Adedayo, Gani Adams, Wale Adeoye, Kayode Ogundamisi and this writer met at Adeoye’s Maryland home to fashion out some good causes for the emerging OPC under Adams. The amiable Adams internalised the outcomes of those brainstorming sessions, expanded on them and it is not a surprise that honour for him is coming from home and abroad..
What to add? Only to congratulate Adams for doing Yoruba youths proud and urge him to keep his head up in this position of high responsibility. And just like my own tenure as Aare Ona Kakanfo of primary three class ended in backstabbing and revelry, may Gani’s tenure defy the tragic myth already weaved around that title.
This Maina Saga…
The story of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, which broke last week promises to remain in public eye for long. It has already won for itself an unwinding lifespan, following the trajectory from 2010 to date.
Some commentators hailed the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari in ordering Maina’s sack as salutary and presidential. I beg to disagree. The president cannot direct the sack of a civil servant by fiat. In the same vein, he cannot distance himself from everything that is bad in his administration. The buck stops at his table and like he promised during the campaigns, Buhari must lead from the front. In what looks like trying to turn pap (agidi and in Yoruba it’s called eko) to a match stick, some persons are trying to paint a victim image for the president in all this. It’s what the dramatists would call attempting to pack someone’s stew with bread in his presence. Whether Buhari admits knowledge of the Maina saga or not, I take it as his fault; if he feigns ignorance, I stick to my gun. I will not be party to those who paint a saintly image of a father whose children are turning out as armed robbers. As head of the family, he takes the blame and the praise.
And to his order that Maina be sacked? What does that amount to? Nothing; just nothing. Presidential verbal directives can do nothing to deny a civil servant his job. The appropriate agencies that can do Maina harm are the Office of the Head of Service and the Federal Civil Service Commission. As far as those have not commenced disciplinary measures against the man, the presidential directive is of no effect. And if that is the situation, Maina would continue to earn his money (he was said to have earned N22million already) while the EFCC continues to waste its paint on buildings the Maina family claimed are inherited.