Ona-Ara is in need of urgent help. No doubt, the council is the most backward local government area in the state. Literally, Ona-Ara can be translated to mean ‘miraculous way’. But is there anything miraculous about the council? Those who know what I am saying will agree with me. Development eludes the council.
A brief story about the council: It is one of Oyo’s 33 local government areas. It is also one of the 6 Ibadan rural councils. Others are Egbeda, Lagelu, Akinyele, Iddo and Oluyole. It shares border with Egbeda, Oluyole and Ijebu-Igbo. It has a state constituency, shares a federal constituency with Egbeda. It is one of the 11 local government areas in Oyo Central senatorial district.
What is my concern about the council since I don’t hail from the council? I got to Ibadan when I was barely 8-month old. Together with other family members, my late paternal grandmother, an Ibadan woman, would lead us to a farm not far from Akanran, the headquarters of the council. The journey was like we were travelling a long distance. Things have not changed since. In fact, it has been from glory to story as the little development the council witnessed them are almost gone!
The council has produced two federal ministers- Chief Richard Akinjide and his brilliant and beautiful daughter, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide. It has produced a senator, Oloye Teslim Folarin, who later became Senate leader. Folarin is the only person to have represented a senatorial district twice. Presently, Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s Chief of Staff and Finance Commissioner, Dr. Gbade Ojo and Mr. Bimbo Adekanmbi respectively are also from the council areas. I learnt that the lawmaker representing Egbeda/Ona-Ara, Engr. Taiwo Michael Akintola hails from. It has many sons and daughters whose heads have reached the sky.
But from anywhere you enter the council, you are welcome by signs of underdevelopment. In Babanla, Amuloko, Akanran, Ogbere, Idi-Osan, Jegede, Orita merin and othhers, you see signs of underdevelopment. From the overhead bridge at Oremeji, in GL 550 Benz, it took us more than 40 minutes to get to the council secretariat which looks like a grazing zone. There was nobody there on a Wednesday. All we saw were abandoned official cars, tractors etc. Most workers, we were made to know, don’t find it easy ‘travelling’ from home to the council headquarters!. We were told that they have a guest house which they use as a temporary council secretariat, at Jegede. It was not an interesting ride. The council, for me, cannot even compete favourably with Itesiwaju LG where I once served as personal assistant to the chairman. For many years, it has always been like that. Like Kogi, like Ona-Ara! But is the council jinxed? But what is working elsewhere that is not working in Ona-Ara LG?
Not long ago, the proprietor of Ilaji Farms, Akanran, Engr. Dotun Sanusi, out of his love for his village, embarked on the rehabilitation of some kilometres of the road. This is just as he promised to continue with others, in phases. The man’s love for Ona-Ara cannot be over-emphasized. It cannot be due to his multi-million naira international standard game village and farms in Akanran. He brought those investment, despite the state of the things, especially the road.
Few years ago, the youth of the area went on the rampage and set fire on electricity equipment in the area, which is located on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Their grouse was that despite the fact that they pay their bills regularly, there was no light. They burnt everything. For many years after, till 2015, darkness took over communities in the council.
Ex-FCT Minister, Jumoke Akinjide, I was aware, tried, though unsuccessfully, to get the road repaired. She later brought an ICT facility, located not from her father’s village, to the council. I am also aware of efforts by finance commissioner, Adekanmbi to influence development to the area considering his closeness to Governor Ajimobi. But the basic truth is that an outsider can never come to develop the council with the way it is. I am aware indigenes of the council area are worried by the lack of development. But this is not to say that the current administration has not done anything developmental. The many years of neglect has affected things. Before Ajimobi came on board, the popular Babanla river consumed many lives, especially during raining season. It now has a modern bridge done with quality materials.
Indigenes of the council area are not unaware of this. Last year, at the first Ona Ara Stakeholders’ Summit, chairman of the Ona-Ara Development Forum, ODF, Alhaji Kola Bolomope, explained that all development indicators revealed the community as one of the least developed local governments in the Oyo State.
He went further: “Ona-Ara has never been short of successful people in politics, commerce and various professions but still lacking the necessary development among the various councils in the state. This is why we have evolved several strategies, among which is the summit to rally our people and channel ways for meaningful development in our community,” he said.
Also speaking, the Asiwaju of Ibadanland, Chief Olabode Amao, who hails from the area, said that sustainable growth could only be achieved through effective collaboration and goodwill of relevant stakeholders.
Amao, who is proprietor of the popular Bode Foam, decried how the state grapples with poor development, calling on the federal government to help rehabilitate Ibadan-Akanran-Ijebu Igbo interstate road.
Former President-General, Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Alhaji Adebayo Oyero, also charged indigenes of the community to display greater commitment to their individual villages and participate actively in Community Development Association meetings.
Oyero, who is also the Aare Mayegun of Ibadanland, urged members of the community to desist from selling village lands and be ready to donate such for meaningful development of the area.
PEN-TA-GUN, Sikiru Akinola’s opinion about political events in Oyo State, is published every Monday. He can be reached via email@example.com.