For the Records: Towards the Development of Oke-Ogun: Challenges and Way Out- Favour A. Adewoyin

0
464
Advertisement

DISCOURSE ON OKEOGUN DELIVERED BY FAVOUR A. ADEWOYIN ON “FOCAL POINT” ORGANIZED BY LLIANCE FOR OKE OGUN

ADVERTISEMENT

DATE: JUNE 20, 2020.

The theme I’m expected to focus on is “TOWARD THE DEVELOPMENT OF OKEOGUN REGION: CHALLENGES AND WAY OUT”.

Added to the above is a rider that says: RETHINKING LEADERSHIP: VISION, CREATIVITY AND CAPACITY.

So, the summary of my discussion will centre on two main points:

  1. Okeogun Region – Challenges.
  2. Leadership concept as a way out of Okeogun challenges or problems.

In my bid to leverage on leadership concept to proffer solution to the problem of Okeogun region, I will be talking on leadership from general perspective. I will talk about leadership in Nigeria because Okeogun is an integral part of Nigeria.

In fact, if you permit my conclusion, I will say Okeogun is a microcosm of Nigeria because, if you check critically, you will find out that the problems facing Okeogun are almost the problems Nigeria has been contending with for almost 60 years now since October 1st, 1960 independence.

I will discuss on the kind of leadership that Nigeria and Nigerians deserve in my effort to find proffer the panaceas that we need to focus on to solve our progress as a people.

Nigeria is natural home for all Nigerians whether home and abroad. Okeogun is the natural home of Okeogun people whether home and abroad.

I have argued in some forums that Nigeria is not yet a country neither has it assumed the status of a nation. I’m not going to concern myself with the present status of Nigeria whether it is a country or a nation. But, it is good to say that Nigeria has not got it right at all.

And, in addition, it is also good to say that, the same way Okeogun has not got it and is not yet where it ought to be, Okeogun has not got it and has not been where it supposed to be.

Probably, I should state that the only difference between the problems facing Nigeria and Okeogun region is that the former is heterogeneous while the latter is homogenous.

May be, before I talk about the problems of Okeogun, it is better to first talk about the strengths of Okeogun which give it a better advantage over Nigeria as a whole.

In other words, even if Okeogun’s problems are similar to that of Nigeria, looking critically, one will find out that Okeogun still has some areas of strengths than Nigeria.

The main strength of Okeogun region is its homogenous nature and the following are the things that make it homogenous:

a. All the 10 local governments are interconnected with the same landmass, same vegetation of exact flora and fauna, same climatic condition with some insignificant and unnoticeable varieties.

b. Same occupation because of the above.

Majority in Okeogun are farmers. Those in business are into similar businesses too.

You may not like it, but it is this sameness in our environment that has made many of our people to go into smuggling business.

c. Same language with some drops of differences in dialects and intonations.

While an Okeho person will say ‘ni be e ni’ in his bid to describe the exact spot an object is, an Ofiki person will say ‘ni be ni’. While a Saki person will say ‘mo o bo’ with a silent ‘g’ in the word ‘gbo’ when he is trying to ask someone to listen to him, an Ilero person will say ‘maa gbo o’. While a Septeri person will say ‘Kayama’ when he is trying to call the name of a town in Kwara State, an Iganna person will say ‘Kayoomo’.

But, as I said, these pockets of differences are not sharp differences in a homogenous language and they can be overlooked as unimportant.

d. Culture, custom, tradition, festivals values, norm, philosophy, etc.

All of these are also similar with some touches of unnoticeable differences here and there.

A good example I can cite to show sameness in culture and others is how we conduct traditional marriages in all the towns.

Another example is in the similarities in parenting where our patents have the same ways of raising their children.

Growing up in the 60s, 70s and 80s, I’m sure many of us who grew up in different Okeogun towns must have heard warnings like ‘mo ‘mo eni t’oose’ (know the child of whom you are), ‘eniti o ni ‘ya e d’egbo eyin’ (an orphan does not sustain back injury) and ‘iya mi ni n ma jeun to ba le j’ogede lo’ (my mother has warned me not to get involved in any hard play).

All of the above were parent education that came as warnings which refrained, constrained and prevented many of us from getting involved in cultism and other negative associations when we were in higher school outside our domain.

e. Spirit of solidarity or what the professionals used to call espirt de corp.

The moment an Okeogun hears the sound of ‘onko dialect’ outside his region, there used to be this feeling of oneness that often comes out of what in pidgin language we call ‘na we we’ which means we are related by blood even though we are not.

Have you noticed that Okeogun people who lives in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Kaduna, Maidiguri, Jos, Abuja and in the diaspora don’t fight as those living at home. ‘Won mo aduru odo ti won fo ki won to de bi ti won wa’ so they can afford to allow petty things to cause problem among them might be the reason for their peaceful approach to life outside their enclave.

In other words, outside home, Okeogun people are one and can rise to defend themselves against external aggressions and attacks.

But, the moment they enter Okeogun, an Iseyin person will now know he is from Iseyin and an Awaye person will tell you, I’m not from Iseyin.

Personally, I have accepted that I’m from Saki many times outside Okeogun because Saki is the place outsiders know, they don’t know Ofiki. And, ‘nothing spoils’ to accept I’m from Saki.

Honestly, if we can begin to relate among one another when we are in Okeogun the way we do when we are outside, I don’t think we are going to have much problems as we are having now.

f. The nature of timidity is another thing we have in common.

You may not like it, but it’s true and it has it’s merit and demerit.

When I wrote about this in some other platforms sometimes recently, someone picked me up on it and said Okeogun people are not timid.

Now, by timidity, I don’t mean to insult our sensibilities or denigrate our personalities.

When I said we are naturally timid people, I don’t mean we are not intelligent or brilliant. Okeogun people are intelligent and brilliant people and many of them have excelled in their chosen fields all over the world. We have had great bankers, academicians, scientists, technologists, architects, lawyers, etc.

As I’m talking to you, I have a brother, Joseph Ayoola, from Okeho who is an automobile inventors who has lived in America for almost fifty years. Joseph has automobile patent registered on his name and he is doing well in retirement he’s planning to come home.

By timidity, what I’m saying has been proven in so many of our acts as a people. Let me give examples of some of our acts that have been supporting the fact that we are naturally timid people.

For instance, an Okeogun person will know an answer in a classroom, but won’t want to raise up his hand because he is timid, shy and is suffering from inferiority complex, low self-esteem and lack of sense of self-worth.

Another good example is on marriage. I don’t know whether it still happens today, but when we were growing up, our parents used to preach it as sermon to us not to marry from Ijebu-ode or Egba or from among the Ibos.

In fact, parents didn’t want us to go out of Okeogun to marry and, to discourage us, they had different negative labels they used to put on those towns and tribes they didn’t want us to marry from. To them, Ijebu and Egba people were fetish and the Ibos are difficult to live with or they were human-eaters. All manner of unverified labels that we heard of that discouraged many of us from marrying from outside Okeogun.

Whatever informed their conclusions and counsels, which cut across all Okeogun towns, we didn’t know and we were not in position to query their authorities.

But, we later found out by hindsight that, the problem with the Ijebus, Egbas and Ibos was that they were exposed, modern and civilised than our parents. Our parents used to feel inferior to those outsiders and they accepted their Inferiority and they wanted us to feel inferior and accept that we are inferior too.

So, from one generation to another, there was this transference of timidity, shyness, inferiority complex, low self-esteem and lack of sense of self-worth.

But, I can see that things have changed in our modern time because the sermons have stopped and our young ones have started to compete favourably with people from other regions and they are marrying from them.

However, there is this good thing about the nature of timidity. And, the good thing is that, it has refrained our people from getting involved in corrupt practices.

From time immemorial, you can hardly find an Okeogun person being pursued by EFCC, ICPC and other antigraft agencies like we see common among the people from other regions.

g. Poverty is another thing that has bonded us as a people for many years now.

Okeogun is still a poor region compared to the other regions in Oyo State and other regions in Nigeria.

Our people are poor, not because they are lazy, but because they lack opportunities like people from other regions.

When you see our people at work either on the farm in any of our towns and villages, on the fields in their various chosen careers, professions and callings within Okeogun amd outside Okeogun in different towns and cities, you will know that our people are diligent people and all.they need is opportunities.

h. Neglect and marginalisation is the last I like to talk about as a bond that has welded us together as a people.

As earlier mentioned, Okeogun people are bonded together by poverty, not because they are lazy, but because they lack opportunities.

Why don’t they have access to opportunities like the other regions, you may like to ask? They lack opportinities because their region has been suffering government neglect and marginalisation over many years from one administration or another.

Okeogun has not been having good roads, no higher institutions, no social amenities, no industries, etc.

It is in Okeogun that we still have precolonial bridge like the one on Okeogun river between Iseyin and Oyo.

In addition, many well-to-do Okeogun indigenes have neglected their region for reasons best known to them. Many have refused to come back home because they are afraid of witches and wizards. Many have not come back home because there are many family pressures. Many don’t come home because they have been trapped by the pleasures of life. Many don’t come home because they are irresponsible and many don’t come home because they have not made it.

But, Okeogun is a different place now and there are many resources wasting away that our people can tap and turn into goldmine. I pray God will open our eyes to see these resources and give us the wisdom to go about how to harness them to our collective advantage.

I pray God will raise leaders who will believe in potentials of humanity who will do all to empower our people to deploy their potentials for the good of our area.

i. Ignorance is another thing that bonds us together in Okeogun.

A lot of people are ignorant of so many things. Many people are ignorant of how things work, but they won’t accept they don’t know. This has robbed us a lot as a people.

Ignorance is not limited to those who don’t go to higher school.

In fact, many of those people who have not gone to higher school are educated that those who have gone in some areas of life and the earlier we accept this the better.

Take political education for example, we are not there at all. During election, our people still vote for the highest bidder and, as we have all witnessed, such voting pattern has never paid us as a people.

Time has now come for genuine leaders to rise up among us to take up the issue of electoral education as a major issue that we should address. Enough of coming to buy the votes of our people with few tokens to rob them of their rights and privileges as citizens.

The problems being faced in Oke-ogun and the way out.

The main problem of Okeogun is LACK Of UNITY:

In Okeogun, we have never spoken with one voice on serious and important issues that connect us and this has robbed us many things as a people.

Some years ago, we lost Okeogun State because we were unable to decide among ourselves which town was to be the capital town.

Recently, I initiated a discussion on Okeogun University to test how deep the level of our disunity is and, anyone who read what people said, will agree that Okeogun is not united at all.

We have not got it and, until we get it, we cannot talk of real progress and development as a people because, even God cannot do anything where and when people don’t unite to speak with one voice.

Now, let me open up some areas of our disunity in Okeogun.

  1. Politics:

The kind of politics we play in Okeogun is a ‘do-or-die’ politics which is an expression of the ignorance I mentioned above.

Many have used another appelation to describe ‘do-or-die’ politics by calling it ‘blind politics’ and ‘politics of bitterness’. Our people will call it ‘oselu afoju’ and ‘oselu bo ba o pa, boo boo bu l’ese’.

Permit me to say, whichever name we call it, it is a dangerous and destructive politics that has drawn us backward as a people.

During the first republic, ‘blind politics’, ‘politics of bitterness” and ‘do-or-die’ politics featured between the members of AG and NCNC.

We met that story of the first republic, but the second republic which featured NPN and UPN did not only happen before our very eyes, we were part of the players. I was a presiding officer then at Okeho and that politics nearly claimed my life.

Thank God I’m still alive today, hale and hearty, or else, I would have become a forgone conclusion.

The third republic was between SDP and NRC. That was when we had June 12, annulment and interim government because the military wanted to perpetuate itself in power.

But, it was the leadership sacrifice made by the main players of the third republic, particularly MKO Abiola, that has sown the seed of democracy which has now nosedived into the fourth republic that we have been in for almost twenty years now.

In this fourth republic, ‘blind politics’ ‘politics of bitterness’ and ‘do-or-die’ politics is between the APC and PDP. And, as we can see, it’s like Nigerians have not really learnt any lesson from the previous political experiences. What is happening in Edo State now is unhealthy politically which shows how we can be desperate when it comes to politics.

Okeogun has not benefitted from politics because of the kind of politics we have been playing because there is no unity among our people.

The common feature of this kind of politics that I’m taking hinges on is unhealthy competition or rivalry which has obstructed many blessings that should have come to our region.

Another strand of politics common in our area is money politics. Money politics is ruled by greed, avarice and selfishness of the players.

Nigerian politicians don’t hide their greed or selfishness either collectively for their party or individually for themselves. When opportunities come that should be for the generality of the people, they won’t consider the people, but the party.

Another dimension of politics is party loyalty. Party loyalty is a good thing, but it has it’s own disadvantage in a set up lile ours.

For example, when political parties should come together to speak with one voice in favour of Okeogun cause, they will still hook on to their party’s interest.

We are not saying party supporters should not be loyal to their parties; but, whenever it comes to Okeogun matter, the interest of the region should override that of the party.

Okeogun has lost so many things to outsiders due to this negative and unproductive type of approach to politics.

When it comes to fighting for common cause, other regions used to come together to speak with one voice irrespective of their party’s differences only to go back to their parties after the battle has been won. This type of approach to politics is what we need if we want to move forward as a people.

Another thing I like us to view has to do with the elective and selective political officers who always forget their region after they get into position.

Many don’t remember when they sought for votes or when they were considered for offices by the people. Many others are only loyal to the political leaders, but always neglect the people of their constituencies. This is a common practice among many of our office holders and it hasn’t helped us as a people.

Now, it is instructive to note that all these approaches to politics like blind politics, politics of bitterness or do-or-die, money politics, politics of greed or selfishness, politics of neglect or selective dealing are not limited to Okeogun politics and politicians. They are characteristics of the Nigerian politics which have placed her at the backward position she has been occupying among the comity of nations.

  1. Town patronage:

One other major problem of Okeogun is what I call ‘town patronage’.

We all saw what happened when, few weeks ago, we debate where Okeogun University should be sited on another Okeogun platform.

Saki people wanted the university, Iseyin people wanted it. Tede people said, the centre of Okeogun is around Oje-Owode and Ago-Amodu and the university should be sited along that axis.

The committee that worked on the capital of Okeogun in the past gave their reason for choosing Agunrege. They didn’t deny that the capital is around Oje-Owode and Ago-Amodu, but they also shared their reason why they chose Agunrege.

The argument was so tense even before the university gets approval. Everybody wanted​ the university to come to his or her town.

But, it can only go to one town. How do we go about it? This is where good leadership structure comes in . If we have good leadership structure that we trust, solutions would be given to this kind of problem without much ado.

Feeling the pulse of many of people those two or three days of debate and hot arguments, many people don’t bother if the university is taken out of Okeogun if it will not come to their town. Many of us demonstrated what the Yoruba will call as ‘kaka k’eku ma je sese, a fi sawadanu’.

But, such approach to life as ‘town patronage’ is an anti-progressive approach which will never help our region to move up as it ought to.

Nobody says we should not love our towns. We should love our towns, but our region should occupy an overriding position in our hearts more than our towns. Wherever the project is sited in Okeogun, as long as it is in Okeogun, we should be happy about it.

When the Mobile Police Squadron was sited in Ago-are, we are all happy about it. We all rose up to defend it and we said ‘a ti m’oye yi je, iwo papa, iwo n na’.

None of us wanted Okeogun to lose it to Oyo.

This is the kind of spirit we should nurture to grow in our midst as a people.

And, I want to suggest that we come together as a people to draw up sharing formulas that will be all-inclusive because I can see that many projects are coming to our region sooner than we can imagine.

My prayer is that, before they come, we would have forged out a strong unity among ourselves so we won’t be pushing away our blessings by ourselves.

We are the ones who will build Okeogun. Nobody from outside will do it for us and, the earlier we embrace and accept this fact, the better.

The next fact we should embark and accept is that the time to act is now and the responsibility is on our generation to do something. If we don’t act now, the next generation will not find it funny when they still have to confront the problems we inherited from our own parents that we refused to solve now.

  1. Religion:

Another thing that disunite us is religion.

Religon has divided so much that the damage it has done cannot be quantified.

In Okeogun, Christians from a family are suspecting Muslims from the same family. Muslims are not comfortable with Christians from the same family and town.

Religion has divided us more than anything in Okeogun. Christians talk of Islamic agenda and Muslim are talking about Christian agenda too. Nobody is talking about Okeogun agenda and this is not good enough. Nobody is talking about Okeogun dream, vision and project and we are drifting apart more than ever before. And, even though we are living together under the umbrella of Okeogun region, we operating like strange bedfellows just like the tribes that make up Nigeria.

Religion which supposed to be a personal thing has been allowed to colour every aspect of our lives and our judgments are subjective.

There is trait of negative religion in family, community and social life; there is trait of religion in politics and governance; there is trait of negative religion in a religion as there are many fanatical sects across the two main religions whose doctrines are at variance with that of others within the same religion not to talk of the doctrines of other religions.

Religion has fragmented our interests so much that things have fallen apart and the centre has been difficult to hold together.

When there is appointment opportunity or any other kind of opportunities, the people of one religion will be scheming that such opportunities should be their own and for their members. At no time have we been giving merit and competence to have their places in the way we do things.

So, what we have been able to achieve with all this is nothing but average and mediocre results.

One thing we must not fail to acknowledge is that good and excellent result can only come from merit. A society that is not merit-driven cannot maximise its potentials. A society that is not merit-driven will never make it because sentiments like religion will not allow real success in anything.

My people, there are many other problems facing our region that time will not permit me to share with us; but, as I have said, the main problem is disunity of politics, religion and town patronage that I have itemised above.

So far, I have been able to paint the pictures of the strengths and the problems facing Okeogun. The next thing I like to discuss with you is the solution.

Now, I like to say that the solution to all human problems lies in the hand or on the head of leadership because, according to a leadership expert, John Maxwell, ‘everything rises and falls on leadership’.

Note that Maxwell didn’t say some things lie in the hands or on the heads of leadership, he said ‘EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership’s (my emphasis).

And, in English, everything is everything!

Another word for leadership is headship. As you know, it is the head that has the brain that learns, thinks, reasons, imagines, meditates, plans, stores memory and retrieves it.

Leadership or headship is responsibility. The problems created by everyone in the society should always be the burden of leadership or headship to solve. An English adage said: ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’. Yoruba people said ‘eni to lori lori n fo’.

The above two adages mean that the responsibility to find solutions to all problems should be the responsibility of leadership, no more no less.

If this is true, then the solution to Okeogun problem lies in the hands and on the heads of the leadership.

To solve the hydra-headed problems facing Okeogun, we need true, authentic, visionary and servant leadership.

In my few years on earth, Okeogun has not produced a one-man leadership figure who will serve like a rallying point that majority of people will respect across politics, religion in the different communities that make up Okeogun and I’m not sure we can have such a one-man figure leadership because of the peculiarity of Okeogun that I have highlighted above.

But, the acceptable leaders of each of the different communities of Okeogun can always come together to discuss and find solutions to the problems facing Okeogun.

In those days, growing up, we used to have leaders like Pa. Adelodun and Alhaji Shittu Olopoeniyan from Okeho. We used to have leaders like Pa. Taiwo and Pa. Lagbaja from Ilero. We used to have Alhaji Olona from Iseyin, Pa. Adigun from Irawo, Mr. Oyeleke Agboola from Sepeteri who were leading figures from their various communities.

Every community in Okeogun used to have rally-point leaders that were moving the communities in the past. You must remember such figures in your community too.

So, sorry, If I don’t mention your community, I just mentioned the people I knew and can remember, but, the point I’m making is that, we should identify leaders from different communities who will fashion out an Okeogun blueprint or agenda that we should follow.

In addition, all the current committees who are doing good jobs like the ODCF should come together under one umbrella to work on a body that will live and operate above the sentiments of politics, religion and town patronage to provide good leadership for us in Okeogun.

What is leadership?

Leadership is mobilising people to pursue a worthwhile goal.

Dr. Myles Munroe defined leadership to mean ‘the capacity to influence others through inspiration motivated by passion, generated by vision, produced by a conviction, ignited by a purpose’.

What type of leadership do we need in Okeogun?

The above statement made by Dr. Myles Munroe is a loaded statement.

But, the argument is not that leadership is all about influence, but what type of influence are we talking about?

What type of leadership do we need in Okeogun that will influence our people positively and effectively?

To move Okeogun region forward, we need leadership with the following qualities:

  1. Integrity – must have integrity, be honest and truthful.
  2. Nurturing ability – must be able to nurture people to good and productive people.
  3. Navigating ability – must know how to navigate people through problems.
  4. Communication – must be ready to communicate with people and listen to them.
  5. Faith – must have faith in the people.
  6. Emotionally intelligence – must be sensitive to the plight of your people.
  7. Compassion – must have compassion on the people.
  8. Courage – must be courageous – ‘an army of sheep led by a lion will always defeat an army of lions led by a sheep’.

We need leaders who will be bold to speak the truth at all times. We need leaders who will call a spade a spade.

  1. Passionate – without passion no leader can move his people far in the journey of destiny.
  2. Understanding – we need bad leaders who are ready to treat people with understanding.
  3. Trusted privilege – we need leaders who will know and appreciate that ‘leadership is a trusted privilege given by the followers’.

Leaders who don’t not have all the above points and many more are going to create what a leadership expert had referred to as ‘flu effect’.

‘Flu effect’ will always destroy the family, organisation, the Community or the nation that leaders with ‘flue effect’ lead.

Over the years, we have been experiencing ‘flue effect’ from our leaders in Okeogun and all over the countries of Africa at large.

Enough of bad leadership whose selfish interest always override the general interest.

We need leadership who will mobilise the people, especially the youths of Okeogun to tap into their God-given resources for economic advantage thereby empowering them to create wealth rather than continue in jobs that will only guarantee existence without living.

Finally, we need leadership who will restore or rebuild the broken or lost values of integrity, honesty, truthfulness, righteousness, uprightness, respect, loyalty, sincerity, probity, accountability, fairness, justice, the fear of the Lord because, according to Sunday Adelaja, ‘nations are not built by virtue of their wealth, but by the wealth of their virtues’.

We need visionary leadership who possesses the heart of a servant.

We need knowledgeable leader who will ‘know the way, show the way and go the way’ according to John Maxwell.

We need righteous leaders because it is righteousness that builds a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

We need leaders who will have the fear of the Lord to do the right thing at all times. We all talk about respect for the ‘rule of law’. This is good, but it is the fear of the Lord in the heart of an individual that will make him observe the rule of law. Anyone who does not fear God cannot observe any rule of law.

We need leadership who will live by examples, not leadership who will say to the people ‘do what I say, don’t do that what I do’.

We need leaders who will move us from deliverance to freedom.

Presently, the whole Nigeria is still basking in the euphoria of the deliverance it got on October 1st, 1960. We have been mistaken to call deliverance day for independence day.

Independence means freedom, but we didn’t get freedom on that day, but deliverance.

Deliverance is instant and can happen in few hours by the lowering of the Union Jack flag and hoisting the Green White Green. That was what happened on October 1st, 1960.

But, true freedom which must follow certain processes has not followed. Freedom doesn’t just happen in a day or on the sour of moment, it takes time, price and sacrifices. Freedom is not as free as we think.

Or, may be I should say, what we got was on October 1st, 1960 was ‘physical freedom’, we still need mental and spiritual freedom which will take time, price and sacrifice as I said a while ago.

Someone said: when oppression becomes a mental condition, physical freedom is not enough’ and I share that thought with him.

Lastly, we need leadership who will not rest until Okeogun is moved to greater heights that is expected to see.

I pray that one day, very soon, this will happen before our very eyes.

SEE YOU AT THE TOP!

Thank you and God bless.

Pastor Favour Adewoyin is the Convener of Destiny Moulders College of Transformative Education

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here