From militancy to cultural renaissance, poverty alleviation
TWO decades ago, the mention of his name invoked morbid fear in the Southwest. His words were law in the land. Such was the awe with which he bestrode the entire region that a myth of invincibility was woven around his name and his group.
Indeed, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) was synonymous with Otunba Ganiyu Adams, that at a point, the founder of the group, Dr. Fredrick Fasheun, almost became a passive player. Members of the group became an alternate to the regular police force. They arrested at will, prosecuted and sometimes delivered and carried out jungle justice in the neighbourhood.
OPC came as a child of necessity in 1993 when a group of Yoruba elite, including Fasehun, decided to form an organization to actualize the annulled mandate of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, a Yoruba who won the presidential election of June 12, 1993, but was barred from office.
Although the founding president of the OPC was Fasehun, in 1999 a faction led by Adams broke off from the main organization, but continued to use the main party’s name. Adams and Fasehun are widely held by the Yoruba to be the leaders of the OPC.
At a point in time, the OPC was involved in fratricidal conflicts, as the two factions headed by Fasehun and Adams were always fighting and killing one another.
But today, that young man has come of age, bringing with him a positive revolution to the hitherto fearsome group. In fact, Adams has transformed into a matured intellectual, who has found his voice among the best in the region.
Indeed, as part of repackaging the OPC brand, there is a conscious shift from militancy to cultural activism, economic empowerment and linkages with the Diaspora. Unlike in the past when he was seen as an enemy of the uniform men, his camaraderie with the police and other uniform men has improved greatly. He has moved from being a man whose ideology for the emancipation of Yoruba race must be achieved through violent means, to a man who believes in peaceful co-existence among the different ethnic groups in the country.
The new ideological bent of the group is predicated on the constitution of OPC which states inter alia “to identify with our historical and cultural origin with a view to re-living the glory of our past for the purpose of posterity; to educate and mobilise the descendants of Oduduwa for the purpose of the above; to integrate the aspirations and values of all the descendants of Oduduwa into a collective platform of an Oodua entity; to monitor the various interests of descendants of Oduduwa . . . and struggle for the protection of these interests . . . to further the progress of Oodua civilisation by protecting and promoting our value, mores and the intergenerational transmission of same.”
To actualize this, the group, through its foundation- Olokun Festival Foundation- has begun preaching the gospel of cultural renaissance through the sponsorship of traditional festivals across the entire Yorubaland and even the diaspora.
Apart from organising festivals to promote Yoruba culture across the globe, there is the Oodua Economic Empowerment Initiative (OEEI), which is designed to empower the indigents across the Yoruba landscape, including non-OPC members. .
Adams has noted that the OEEI was put in place to ensure that members of the group were meaningfully and economically engaged to earn a living, rather than engaging in unlawful activities. .
Each beneficiary of the programme will get a minimum of N250,000 and according to Adams, the scheme was also geared towards ensuring that politicians do not engage OPC members as ready-made tools for election violence.
Also, the group has been spreading the preachment of cultural renaissance across the length and breadth of Europe under the aegis of the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU). Today, Yoruba presence is felt in 52 countries around the world and still counting.
Adams has been moving from one country in Europe to the other in the last two months with a rich retinue of traditional rulers and prominent sons and daughters of the race such as Oba Kolawole Aremu Sowemimo, Olu of Owode-Egba; Oba Mukaila Salako; Oba Michael Ayinde Oderinde, Olu of Sawonjo; Oba E. Olanuloye, Olu of Igbogila; Oba Mukaila Salako, Adokun of Iganokoto; Oba Patrick Fasinu, Olowo of Owo and Oba Adeogun Ogunbona, Alagbore of Igbore.
Other dignitaries include Arc. Mobolaji Falase, President, Yoruba Council of Elders, Europe and USA and Councillor Adedamola Aminu, Deputy Mayor of Lambert Council, Dr Dapo Williams, and Mr. kayoed Ogundamisi, Captain Olatokunbo Adeshina, Prince Adedapo Adesanmi,
Chief Yinka Quadri and Alhaji Musiliu Akinsaya among several others.
In one of his outings, Adams said; “The formation of the OPU is significant in two ways: First, it will serve as a platform for all Yoruba sons and daughters in the United Kingdom (UK) to contribute their own quota to the development of our fatherland. In others words, from today, the Yoruba people all over the world will hope to tap from the abundant human resources available in all of you, hoping that you would collectively rise in defence of any member who faces injustice or needs assistance of any form. .
“Second, the union is coming at a time when major events all over the world point to dangerous directions that demand you to clearly identity with your root to be able to survive the potential dangers. Don’t forget that racism is still with us as it was in those days of our forefathers and slave trade. Tribalism has continued to assume an alarming dimension in the modern world. And in recent time, religious bigotry seems to have joined the axis.
“It was here in the UK that our illustrious son, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, along with other sons of Oodua, formed the Egbe omo Oodua in 1945. You will recollect that it was that same group that formed the base of the political party that would later rescue the Yoruba and established us as the most enlightened and advanced race in Nigeria.
“Today, once more, we are taking another giant step towards the further emancipation of our people with the launching of OPU. With this group, we are offering all sons and daughters of Oodua in the UK a platform to contribute their quota to the development of our fatherland.”
At Gothenburg, Sweden on November 29, 2014, Adams said: “It is imperative for us, as a true son of Oduduwa to rise up and quash the scientific and systematic obliteration of the pristine Yoruba cultural heritage and value particularly among the new generation of the Yoruba in Diaspora. It is a task which if we failed to do will bring upon the present generation inter-generational curses and denouncement by next generation and generations yet unborn.”
Adams pointed out that any race which out of sheer carelessness, irresponsible despondency and unbridled complacency allowed cultural imperialism, vogue, modernisation and social indoctrination to wash away its intrinsic cultural heritage, traditional values, norms and mores will heap on itself irreversible generational curse and odium from generations yet unborn. “And I cannot be part of this generation and allow this omen to come to fruition; hence, I have taken this burden of Yoruba cultural rejuvenation, sustainability and enhancement upon myself in alliance with you all. .
“Some of you may be complacent and careless about your children embracing other people’s cultures without having a grasp of your own. It may not be expedient now, but very soon, the children will have cause to blame and even curse you by the time they failed to culturally identify themselves which may subject them to ridicule and embarrassment as children of no culture, no tradition, no value and identity.” . Adams warned: “If Africans in Diaspora fail to aggressively address the deliberate cultural imperialism being launched in a systematic destructive process by the western world in the name of vogue and modernism, the continent will wake up one day to find out that its culture and values have been obliterated from the socio- cultural map of the world. .
“This is why we have inaugurated the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) in 52 countries of the world and we will not rest until OPU is launched everywhere under the firmament where the scion of Oduduwa lives and recreates. On my own, I have decided to defend the cultural integrity
and heritage of the Oduduwa race without entertaining any fear or favour. .
“The task of revamping, resuscitation and rejuvenation of the cultural identity, norms and moral traditional values which distinguish the Yoruba race from the others is necessary accomplished mission. It is in this line that I urge all of us to see the intrinsic necessity in teaching our children our culture, tradition, values and mores. These are what make and distinguish us from others.”