There is no doubt that Oke-Ogun is one of the regions in Nigeria that is massively blessed with both human and natural resources and can be regarded as one of the most vibrant economic strong rooms in Oyo state which connects with other states but often left out of many developmental programmes.
No wonder, the thrust of the 2021 June 12 Democracy Day Celebration organized by Oke-Ogun Summit of Honour at Ago-Are City Hall focuses on the lacuna that has been a serious concern to many well-meaning indigenes of the region at home and in diaspora for years. Meanwhile, the new democracy, which many still described as nascent, is 22 years old this year without many positive things to point out.
In his opening remark, the leader of Oke-Ogun Summit of Honours, Mr Adebimpe Aderounmu in his presentation “The ‘Celebration Digest” says the forum has developed as a frontline non-partisan political development advocacy and rallying platform admired by all. The eye-opening maiden edition x-rays the need and possibility of Oke-Ogun producing the Governor of Oyo State because the past editions have revealed; why Oke-Ogun politicians deserve servitude positions, and will never produce a governor except they seek to be redefined themselves around the game-changing formation.
According to him, true democracy is a system of government where the choice of those in government is a correct reflection of the wishes or interest of the governed and the government meeting the development aspiration of the people. No doubt, democracy is a game of numbers, but the numbers must be articulated in commonality, fused and focused for a particular purpose of interest. Sad enough, the Oke-Ogun voters have significant input in making a Governor or Senator over the years, but not to the developmental advantage of the region. Could it be that the region has more democratic onlookers or spectators?
Mr Aderounmu added that history shows there is no regime where Oke-Ogun lacked representatives. The issue might be their interests and the quality of their representation. “Oke-Ogun have high numbers of ‘‘Deputy Governor Emeritus’’ in Oyo State democracy. The region had in the past at least three (3) commissioners per regime and at times as much as five (5) with Secretary to the State Government, Head of Service of the State and other political appointees”.
But a thought-provoking question is “Who is marginalizing who? When those in government see themselves as Solomons that cannot work together for a common purpose while some others claimed to be wise and cannot be led. Where is the resistance for marginalization? It, therefore, seems Oke-Ogun is experiencing more of ‘self-marginalization’! One cannot but admit the truth that the region will continue to struggle with the risk of political irrelevance and development marginalization as long as our politicians continue to be narrow-minded. The region might not get out of the woods of underdevelopment as much as the leaders are shallow in their political thinking and refuse to understand that without power, significant development remains a mirage”.
The first speaker, Comrade Kolawole Bello in his paper “Let’s Change the Game in Oke-Ogun” said the region is grossly affected with marginalization in Oyo state because of political mercantilism as the political gladiators’ trade power with other regions without putting the interest of their people at heart. He further observed the lack of a distinct political leader who pulls others in Oke-Ogun. The scattered settlements with no unified official address often aggravate power tussle and lack of cohesion between major towns; citing the polarized agenda of various indigenous associations instead of working together based on personal missions and egocentric rewards.
Aderounmu called for formidable a coalition of Oke-Ogun associations that can unify Oke-Ogun Consultative Forum, Oke-Ogun Bridge Builders, Onko Solidarity Movement and Alliance for Oke-Ogun Development to have a common voice on issues. He appealed for vibrant Oke-Ogun Students Union, Oke-Ogun Traders Union, United Traditional Council of Oke-Ogun, United Christian and Islamic team that cannot be sectionalized against the course of the region
The second speaker, Pastor Favour Adewoyin said, Nigeria is blessed with large deposits of resources is an understatement. With a thick population of more than two hundred million people blessed with great potentials, Nigerians are ready and willing to use their gifts and talents to turn around the destiny of their country, but the problem lies with those who have been abusing the power given to them at one time or another.
The clergy emotionally said, apart from some other Local Governments that were created under the Abacha Regime in 1993, Local Governments like Kajola, Iseyin, Saki and Kishi had been in existence for a very long time but without tangible development to show for it. Howbeit, the dearth of educational institutions, good road networks and other important infrastructures in Oke-Ogun is becoming an insult to those living in Oke-gun. Investors are finding it difficult to come and site their businesses in Òkè-ògùn for Lack of social amenities.
The royal fathers of the day, HRM, Oba Dr Abodunrin Oyetunji Kofoworola, Ilufemi-loye Olankanla II, the Aare of Ago-Are and HRH, Oba Gbenga Adeoye Oyinlola II, Aare of Ofiki land appreciated the organizers for their foresight and charged the indigenes of Oke-Ogun at home and in the diaspora to shun “Do or Die Politics” which is an expression of nothing, but wickedness, bitterness, and anti-progressive. They appealed to the sons and daughters of the Oke-Ogun to stop painting the region as insecure for investment opportunities.
A special guest at the event, Hon Taiwo Dominic from the Justice Development and Peace Movement (JDPM) of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo, noted that it is essential for indigenes of Oke-Ogun in government presently to create a platform that will enable them to discuss problems and the felt-needs of Oke-Ogun in line with the capacity and focus of government in power. He noted that such a Forum will be an opportunity to strategize and make a request on needs that government can provide, especially if they can network with the traditional rulers, community leaders, as well as leaders of Oke-Ogun Summit of Honour, and Oke-Ogun-Erewa for inputs when needs are.
The experienced politician and development expert maintained that politics should be for integral development beyond party affiliation and differences. Hence, he called on Oke-Ogun indigenes currently in power and those that have been in power to forge trans-partisanship for the development of the region.
Hon Taiwo Dominic advised that Oke-Ogun Assembly should make effort to honour young and vibrant indigenes that are contributing meaningfully to Oke-Ogun regardless of their age since an honour to the dead is not always productive. He challenged people to come up with Oke-Ogun Anthem before the next celebration.
The highpoint of the event also featured various indigenes of Oke-Ogun who phoned in from different locations locally and internationally to contribute to the discussions where one of the contributors who reside in Europe, Ambassador Debo Adesina suggested that Leaders and politicians in Oke-Ogun should always respond positively to democratic events. He urged Oke-Ogun indigenes and those that live in Oke-Ogun who are up to 18 years to go out en-mass for continuous registration of voters adding that his people must remain peaceful at all times.