It was a perfect mixture of pure Yoruba tradition, royalty, rich culture, intellectual discussions, fashion and glamour when over a hundred delegates and members of Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) converged on Akure, the Ondo State capital for the 5th Edition of the union’s annual World Congress tagged Akure 2019 hosted by the convener of OPU, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Dr. Gani Abiodun Ige Adams at Jojein Hotel and Resort, along Airport road.
The World Congress, provides for an avenue for thousands of Yoruba sons and daughters in diaspora to come together annually and converge on any historical city or town in Yoruba land of South Western Nigeria as approved by the planning committee, where delegates will brainstorm on the socio-economy development and rapid growth of the region in all human endeavours such as education, housing, business investments, culture and tourism development and more importantly, on the political future of Yoruba race within the entity called Nigeria.
Hundreds of delegates, family, friends and associates of OPU started talking arrive from different locations around the world on January 23, 2019 and were all lavishly treated to warm embrace of Akure hospitality at an “Asun Night” welcome party by the pool side of Jojein Hotel where the propertor, Chief Sunday Idowu, an Akure indigene conducted the visitors around the large expanse of land and beautifully landscaped and serene environment of the 5-star hotel.
Thursday 24 was the Day- 1 and the main event of the World Congress where delegates, traditional rulers, university dons, student groups, members of home based Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), high chiefs, politicians and other guest seated before a lecturer, Evang. Rufus Adesanya Haastrup who did justice to a well prepared lecture.
But as tradition demands, the Aare Onakakanfo Gani Adams has earlier in the day led delegates to the congress to the over 400 years old palace of the traditional ruler and Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi where they paid homage and royal greetings to the king on his throne surrounded by his high chiefs and revered members of Deji-in-Council.
While welcoming the Aare Onakakanfo and other members of OPU to Akure, the traditional ruler urged the visitors to feel at home and enjoy the rich cultural settings and home grown hospitality of Akure people and Ondo state as a whole, while saluting the courage, boldness, forthright and strong spirit of convener of OPU to bring the Yorubas in diaspora together as one union with the main objective of attracting more of their interest back home to their father’s land.
Oba Aladetoyinbo promised the convener and members total support of all the traditional rulers in Yoruba land whenever and whereever the need arises. decried divisions among monarchs in the region.
He urged other leading traditional rulers in the land, including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Eniitan Ogunwusi and Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi to lend their support to the Aare Onakakanfo to work together by uniting all traditional rulers in the region, saying there would not be development without. unity.
Then came the business of the and main lecture delivered by Evangelist Adesanya Haastrup, a public and motivational speaker who spoke on the essential of quality leadership among political leaders in Yoruba land and why members of OPU across the globe must key into Leadership positions in their fathers land.
Dr. Adams who doubled as the national coordinator of OPC gave a keynote address to the large crowd inside the expansive hall of Jojein hotel which was filled to capacity, where he disclosed that the Oodua Progressives Union was an association of sons and daughters of Yoruba race in diaspora currently launched and in operation in eighty-four countries across the world.
The OPU convener also said about 70 imminent individuals had been set up to serve as Aare Advisory Council, saying: “What we are trying to do now is to work together to unite our traditional rulers, political leaders, socio-culrural groups, in Yoruba land for a common goal. ”We are having 70 individuals to serve as Aare Advisory Council to ensure that will have amicable peace. They are not chiefs. They are people with integrity and intellectuals that have good antecedents. They are to work out modalities to achieve peace in our land”.
According to him, the annual OPU World Congress was about the future of the Yoruba race, through building a formidable economic blueprint, strong investment base and socio-cultural advancement among our sons and daughters who are adjourning in America, Europe, Northern America, Asia and other Africa countries.
“Our aims and objective is to promote our cultural identities and foster unity among the Yoruba race anywhere they live in the world by bringing them together at the annual event hosted at a state capital in the South West. The last congress was hosted in Absolutely, the Ogun State capital 2018“, he added.
The national coordinator of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), declared that there are several tourist centers in the South West region that could enhance the economic life of the land, challenged governors in the six states to invest and develop tourist potentials in their states.
His words: “On several occasions, I never hide my feelings challenging all our governors, especially in the southwest to develop the tourist potentials of their various states. Many of you that stay in abroad can testify to this, you know how much you spend on visits to tourist and recreation sites. “It may interests you to note that we have several tourists centres that are good enough to be turned to money spinning ventures for Nigeria as a country.”
Welcoming the delegates and guests to this year OPU World Congress, the chairman of the planning committee of the congress, Sola Agboola remarked that this year event was designed to further expose members to rich and economic values of the tourist potentials in the South West, especially in Ondo State where the congress was held.
Agboola, who is the Northern America coordinator of OPU noted that members had resolved during the congress to invest more at home with the benefit of increasing the economy and education development of the region, stressing that “an event like this provides an avenue to discuss issues of social and economic development of Yoruba land, and I have no doubt in my mind that we are more resolute and more committedto the ideas that prompted the global convener of this great association, IBA Aare Gani Abiodun Ige Adams, the 15th Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land to sow the seed of this organisation in the first place.”
The programme was interluded with rich cultural dance steps, beats and traditional songs from a well costumed cultural group from Akure South Local Government which gave the delegates ample opportunity to renew their traditional dancing skills are which for a long time was not put to use.
And to the main lecture as delivered by Evang. Haasrup, it was all about the unity of Yoruba where ever, when ever and what ever it may take to achieve it. Here is an excerpt from the lecture:
“In our days, God has appointed people like Aare Dr Gani Adams, the Ooni of ife, chief Bola Tinubu to mention but few to chart the course of Yoruba, with the view of repositioning us for greater exploits and defending, protecting our territorial interests. I want our leaders to see their positions as a clarion call from God to serve their people selflessly with the mind of rendering account of their stewardship to God.
“Unity among Yoruba is non negotiable. Our leaders should come together under one umbrella regardless of their political affiliations or interest to foster PEACE which is a prerequisite ingredient for unity . We should speak with one voice,” he noted.
Among guests that graced the congress included: the Deji of Akure, Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo, the Zaki of Arigidi, Oba Yisa Abu Olanipekun, Chief Mrs. Alice Eniola Owolabi, the Yeyeluwa of Oto-Awori kingdom, Dr. Kashimana Tyovenda, the chief executive officer of Green Wish Environmental, Chief Mrs. Christiana Bamisile, Dr. Adeyanju and Hon. Bola Bamigbola.
The Day-2 of the congress was mainly dinner where delegates and guests were treated to mouthwatering delicases and assorted wines, juices, and soft drinks. It was a day to relax, eat, drink and dance till mama calls. Aare Gani Adams led joyous members of OPU, traditional rulers and other guests to the dancing floor where sensational pioneer woman Juju exponent, Ayo Balogun was on stage, dishing out melodious and superlative juju music to her admirers into the wee hour of the day.
The dinner party afford the delegates to once again feel at home, eating freshly prepared pounded yam with efo riro or obe ede and assorted meats and fresh fish. The music from the live band of Queen of Juju music, Ayo Balogun was so strong dancable that not even Aare Gani Adams could leave the stage on time, as the capacity filed hall only came to rest at the last sound of the queen’s drum early in the morning of the next day.
After the very eventful and enjoyable partytime with Queen Ayo Balogun, the delegates again, led by IBA Gani Adams hit the road in the afternoon of the Day -3 of the World Congress, away from the comfort of their air-conditioned hotel rooms, and went on tourist guide into the mystical world acclaimed Ikogosi warm and cold spring water in the neigbouring Ekiti State to see and feel one of the wonders of the world in the sleepy town of Ikogosi-Ekiti. Also, the delegation visited a newly discovered water fall near the warm and cold spring water before heading back to Akure late in the evening.
To finally say goodbye, God be with us till we meet again, the delegation on Day-4 and parting day, stormed the rocky ancient town of Idanre in Ondo State in long and intimidating convoy, which equally received by a large and intimidating crowd of members of Oodua Peoples Congress and request residents, went straight to the palace of Owa of Idanre land, Oba Fredrick Aroloye, Arubiefin II to pay homage to the nongenierian monarch and also seek his royal blessing and permission to visit the UNESCO accredited World Heritage Centre multi steps Idanre Hills. The Idanre hills experience was another memorable event for the visitor as the guides took them round the historical town on top of the hills before residents of the town came down to the present location of the town.
For IBA Gani Adams, the convener of OPU and leader of delegation for the Akure 2019 World Congress, and interestingly, he hails from Arigidi -Akoko, a town in the Northern Senatorial District of Ondo State, it was a beginning home coming. To the delegates, most of who have witnessed previous four editions of the World Congrss in Lagos, Too Ile-Ife and Abeokuta in that order, the Akure experience stood tall and distinct in terms of organisation, well packaged programmes of events and rich cultural values. I shall be in Ado-Ekiti in January, 2020, God willing, and compare notes, then you will know what am talking about the uniqueness of Akure 2019.