The Untold Story Of Pro-Democracy Activist Turned OPC Leader, Gani Adams + How He Outsmarted 25 Others To Become The Most Powerful Warlord In Nigeria

The Untold Story Of Pro-Democracy Activist Turned OPC Leader, Gani Adams + How He Outsmarted 25 Others To Become The Most Powerful Warlord In Nigeria

Chief Ganiyu Adams, popularly known as Gani Adams, has evoked strong opinions across the political spectrum since he rose to nationwide popularity as a founding member of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC.

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Interestingly, over the past decade or more, there has been an inversion of people’s opinions regarding him. Those in the corridors of power, see him as a threat to the unity of Nigeria, while those from the South-West region, which interest he sworn to protect, see him as a true leader of the Yoruba nation.

In this article, we take a closer look at the humble beginnings of the OPC leader, and how he maneuver his way to become the most powerful warlord in modern day Nigeria.


For a man who has been destined for greatness, Ganiyu Adams steps were directed by Almighty God, who knew the roles destined for him to play and ensured that he was brought into the world through a union of two great families of Pa Lamidi Adams and Late Madam Dada Adams, nee Aduloju.

The journey of life started for Otunba (Dr.) Gani Adams, on 30th April, 1970 at Arigidi-Akoko, in the present Akoko North-West Local Government Area of Ondo State, Nigeria. Gani attended many primary schools due to the nature of his father’s job. His educational exploits started at the Army Children’s School, Oturkpo, Benue State, where he got as far as primary three (3) even before Gani’s father was transferred to Lagos, where he completed his primary school education at the Municipal Primary School, Surulere, Lagos, in 1980. Otunba Adams proceeded to Ansar-Ud-deen Secondary School, Randle Avenue, Surulere, Lagos, for his secondary education before picking a interior decoration job at an Italian Construction Company, Visinoni Stabilini, Apapa, Lagos, from where he voluntarily resigned after some urge to establish his own Interior decoration business, Gadson Interior.

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But sequel to the bastardization of the socio-political and economic life of Nigeria, occasioned by the military fascist rule of that time, Gani Adams 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 and install parcitipatory democratic governance. Young Gani Adams 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 and Member of Oodua Youth Movement, OYM, a pro-Yoruba self-determination group.


The Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) is a Yoruba nationalist organization in Nigeria. The Yoruba people, who live in the southwestern part of Nigeria, and in neighbouring countries such as Benin, are a large ethno-linguistic group; the majority of them speak the Yoruba language (ede Yorùbá). It is also known as the Oodua Liberation Movement (OLM) or the Revolutionary Council of Nigeria (RCN).

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OPC was formed when a group of Yoruba elite, including Frederick 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 12 June 1993 but was barred from office. It was this injustice that led the young Adams to join forces with other likeminds to be part of the movement in 1994. And like the huge elephant that cannot pass unnoticed, Gani Adams was the overwhelming choice for the position of the first Deputy National Coordinator and now later the National Coordinator of the group.

Although the founding president of the OPC was Fasehun, in 1999 a faction led by Ganiyu Adams broke off from the main organization, but continued usage of the main party’s name.


In 2000, under ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Adams was declared wanted by the police authorities for the alleged murder of Afolabi Amao, a divisional police officer at the Bariga police station in Lagos. Adams was also accused of being behind the series of attacks carried out by members of the OPC in Lagos and other parts of the south-west. A year after he was declared wanted, Adams was arrested, paraded like a criminal, and held in prisons.

Likening his imprisonment to that of Nelson Mandela and Obafemi Awolowo, who were both political prisoners, Adams in 2015 said his offence was fighting for the interest of the Yoruba. He said his arrest and subsequent treatment by the police during the Obasanjo administration brought him to stardom. “I thank the then Lagos state commissioner of police, Mike Okiro, for declaring me wanted and subsequent arrest, because it turned out to be a blessing for me,” he had said.

Face with a huge task ahead, especially in a ever complex environment, Otunba Adams returned to school to bag a Diploma in Tourism Management from the International Aviation School, Tema, Ghana in 2003. Not done, he went further to obtain another Diploma in International Relation and Strategic Studies from the Lagos State University (LASU) and capped it with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from same Lagos State University (LASU).

Aare Ona Kakanfo

THE Aare Ona Kakanfo title is a very sensitive position in Yorubaland. It was a title given to the generalissimo, the war general during the old Oyo Empire. At the time, an Aare Ona Kakanfo would lead battles, fight wars, mobilise, train soldiers and emerged victorious. The introduction of the title was informed by the need to fortify the ancient, pre-colonial army of the old Oyo Empire, which at one time could boast of over 100,000 horsemen.

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In recent times, however, the title has become more or less ceremonial, because there is no war to fight. Nevertheless, the selection of Adams as Aare ona kakanfo raised not a few eyebrows. Because of his murky past and role in the reportedly violent OPC operations in the south-west, Adams’ critics say he lacks the refinement and pedigree to man the title.

Why Gani Adams Was The ‘Chosen’ One

Meanwhile, the Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi, explained the rationale behind his decision to chose Gani Adams. According to the monarch, the new generalissimo of Yorubaland possesses “three virtues” important to the Yoruba.

“The position of Are ona kakanfo in Yoruba history makes it mandatory for us to hasten slowly, and that is what we have done. Manliness, courage, and patriotic zeal (not political ambition or opportunism), were three virtues respected in Yorubaland, even during the Yoruba warfare in the 19th century,” he said.

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Speaking further on why he chose Adams out of 25 candidates, the Alaafin of Oyo, disclosed that the title of Aare Ona Kakanfo was bestowed on Otunba Gani Adams because of his passionate commitment to the protection of the culture and territorial integrity of Yorubaland.

Oba Adeyemi disclosed that out of 25 candidates shortlisted for the title, Adams was found to have paid dearly and earnestly for the interest of Yorubaland. He said: “The benchmark of selection was not hung at the sentinel of political engagement, solidity in terms of gold, wealth or fortune; neither was it on the number of properties acquired on global pedestal. But on agrarian and blind engagement of those who have abused and abusing, those who have infringed and infringing on the territorial and cultural territory of Yoruba.

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“Whatever methods employed by him and his association, the fact still remains that there was a counter balance check valve which sent jitters down to the spines of the irrational irredentists who hitherto thought that they can make mincemeat of Yorubaland.

“And for his bold steps at ensuring that Yorubaland was not desecrated or lorded over both by blue collar miscreants, ethnic irredentists and he paid dearly for it.

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“Adams has been poignantly consistent in fighting for the protection of Yoruba. He was for many times humiliated, disgraced, manacled and jailed. It is natural for you either to hate, love and dislike him. However, the truth must not only be told that he was there when the Yoruba needed a person who is bold, strong and ready to lay his life for the defence of the heritage.

“After he came first at the examination and scrutinisation by men and earthly beings, his appointment as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo was also subjected for approval and subsequently sanctioned by the gods and all the elemental forces in the firmament.

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“We also ensured that the three religions being fervently practiced by the Yoruba prayed and endorsed his appointment. Thus, we find it expedient to be here today not only to give and pray to God through Mother Mary, the Holy Virgin for my 47th year on the throne, but also for the successful installation ceremony of the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland.

“The role of an Aare Ona Kakanfo both in the peace and war period is not a deal for the lilly or jelly-livered or for a spineless fellow. It is the consignment of a man with a lion’s heart and an eagle spirit, which we have found in Aare Gani Adams.”

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Criticism Trails His Selection

Since his selection to fill the role once occupied by a giant of Yorubaland, a great deal of criticism has come the way of the alaafin of Oyo, and of course, the man in the spotlight.

The title of aare kakanfo, according to opponents of Adams’ selection, has lost its relevance as a result of the development.

Filling Dangerous Shoes

The title, aare ona kakanfo, was introduced in the ancient Oyo empire, and its holders served as the empire’s minister for defence. The aare ona kakanfo is historically charged with protecting the empire from attacks and leading its army.

Previous holders of the title have died in mysterious ways, and this has formed the myth that no aare ‘dies peacefully,’ and over the years, seemingly qualified candidates appeared to have steered clear of being selected.

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“It is a war that kills a warrior,” Adigun Olosun, a high priest of Yoruba traditional religion, told TheCable. “Aares are picked because of their bravery, and they like to die as brave men,” he added.

Aare Kurumi, alongside his five sons, died when, in the middle of the night, Ibadan special forces attacked his brigade in Iseyin.

When Aare Latoosa was confronted by a palace coup, he committed suicide. Aare Afonja who sought the help of Alimi, a Fulani priest, was later killed during an insurrection against him.

Akintola and Abiola, the last two aares, although not frontline warriors, were also killed under violent circumstances. During the 1966 coup, soldiers invaded Akintola’s house and he was shot dead. Abiola would die in prison after he had been denied a presidency he was believed to have won with popular votes.

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As Adams assumes the role of aare ona kakanfo, the fate that befell his predecessors would surely be a thought to ponder.