The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland and founding member of the Oodua Peoples Congress, Iba Gani Adams has described his experiences in prisons during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as horrible.
There were reports in the media recently that Obasanjo and Adams have settled their differences and reconciled, after the duo fell apart in 2006.
But Speaking in an interview with The Punch on Saturday, Adams said there is no group in the world that makes a landmark without having a turbulent time.
He said: “For you to be a (prominent) figure, and for a group to be prominent, nationally and globally, you must pay your dues and make sacrifices. When you read books and you’re a student of history, something like that should not weigh you down in the process and after the process. I’ve already made up my mind that no matter the victimisation, I’m ready to pay the price. I do not see it as something that affected me, although the first and second arrests affected my livelihood, especially when (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo was in power and I was detained for 14 months. Everything in my house, including my cars, was destroyed. I had to start afresh when I came back in December 2006.”
According to Adams, both experiences in prison were horrible, adding: “I don’t see Nigerian prisons as correctional centres, although the Minister of Interior has renamed the prisons as correctional centres. I think Nigeria should build more prisons. You don’t keep prisoners in one place without building capacity, especially those awaiting trial. When you go to the prison, you will realise that those that are convicted are not up to 10 to 15 per cent of the inmates. I think they have to be engaged. We have a lot of forests where we can create more prisons and that is why we are talking about restructuring.”
He continued: “In 2001, I was detained for another three and a half months, so it affected a lot of things. But the 14-month detention affected everything I had. So, I had to start to rebuild everything I had in my life. But it has become history today. I think the sacrifices I made are part of the reasons the Yoruba leaders and obas accorded me the prestigious title, Aare Ona Kakanfo, because if you don’t pay your dues, they can’t give you that position. Your antecedents matter. Somebody who passed through all these challenges and did not give up definitely ought to be given a title to defend the Yoruba race.”