Why The Heart Soar And Suffer; An irony of Otta Awori land
By: Comr. Azeem Salako Oladimeji
I put to paper this work In view of my lovely mother’s Golden jubilee birthday celebration Chief Mrs Alhaja Modinat Bolanle Salako. May God bless her age and provide her long live and prosperity. (AMEN).
To her honour (Alhaja Chief Mrs Salako Modinat) as I have pledged last year, I intend to use this piece to demystify and discuss some core and fundamental issues facing Ota community development and to express my regrets and experience working with the Olota of ota palace as a community developmentalist. This article may later expose some truths about the Odunsi/Awori Guber fiasco. I will also later use this piece to reecho some of the highlighted panacea in my blueprint to the Olota palace in 2009. In conclusion, this paper raised a research hypothesis on the urgent need for an “AWORI REINTEGRATION CONFERENCE” as a platform to discuss inclusively the major issues affecting the growth and development of Ota, Awori especially in the area of political development. Beyond this, the paper also discuss possible solutions that can be adopted to resolve permanently the problems of Awori land in general, Lagos state inclusive. I must inform the reader that this article is open to criticism, correction and observation, although I have tried to be most accurate, objective and detailed in my analysis.
The essay can be very useful for students who drive interest in the politics of Ota Awori Land, scholars and members of the public. The essay will also be useful for youths, and other indigenes of Ota Awori land who are passionate about development of Ota, Awori land. As this essay coincide with the period when Ota is at the process of installing a new Olota of Ota after the demise of Oba Alani Oyede, this paper will emphasize although briskly on the politicking and politicization of the process and what whoever emerged as the new Olota must work on.
CONTENT (PART A)
I was never born or live in Ota until the year 2006 when my family relocated from Agege Lagos to our own property in Afobaje Ota, Ogun state. Let me put it emphatic and authoritative, Politics only classified Ota under Ogun state, culturally speaking, the Ota Aworis belong to Lagos state. Infact, the Aworis are the real occupant and first settler in where is known today as Lagos state. I had all my educational career outside Ota, and Ogun state. From primary, to secondary and up till the university level and it took me two years or thereabout before I was able to stabilize my staying permanently in Ota after the relocation. I am a very good student of history and government right from my secondary school so I have read about Ota especially as one of the largest industrial concentration in Nigeria, and the home of the former head of state in Nigeria Gen Olusegun Obasanjo.The first time I bought indomie noodles, It amazed me knowing that the industry that produce the most popular product in Nigeria is located in my Town. I was convinced that the town is naturally and economically endowed. Let me put it correct straight that I facilitated and encouraged our moving to Ota even though my dad and mum business was predicted to be badly affected. But I was able to influence their thought that I kept telling them that the Ota I have read in my books will rather spawn more development into their businesses.
My first week in Ota was a sadden one and very discouraging. It was totally antithetical to my careful prediction. I couldn’t believe the heartbeat of Ogun state economic prosperity could look that way. I wasn’t sure it was Ota. It was purely a theory and practice dilemma. I have read about the rich culture but unfortunately the symbol of the culture (The Olota palace) was more of a 1st century structure. I also have read about the large industrialization in Ota but very disappointing, there was still huge rate of unemployed youths and absence of physical development making the growth a mere numeric figure. I was hushed I couldn’t see a library. The Oba T.T Dada Ota Market, was much unkempt, and there was no appropriate infrastructure that can define such place to be the central market of a big town called Ota. I saw young children hawking during school hour and some in school uniform roaming about the street.
There was poor infrastructure, roads especially the major ones were bad, there was no mini sporting center for youth’s activities, at least to keep one exercised and fit as usual in Lagos every Sunday morning. I noticed and find young people more in jungles than in school. I was so embarrassed and very cantankerous. I spoke to myself that if all I read in school was true about this town, I concluded this is never what the community deserves. if this truly the town that owns the second largest industrial concentration in Nigeria, if this is truly the land that host the home of the former military head of state and the then civilian president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, If that is the town that shares border with Nigeria sister country BENIN REPUBLIC, if truly that is the town that host reputable and transnational organizations like DE UNITED FOOD (makers of indomie), HONDA, NESTLE, etc. If truly this the town that host the largest church auditorium in Nigeria (WINNERS), If truly this is the headquarter of all Awori land, If this is truly the economic heartbeat of Ogun state in terms of generating revenue that is used to build development in Ogun state, then the troubled question is WHY MUST THE HEART SOAR AND SUFFER THIS MUCH? Why must the land that deserves the meat then battles to secure a Bone. The situation is paradoxical, and quite ironical. My experience was a terrible one that I have to discuss it with my friends getting back to Lagos. I begin to ask myself incessantly why the heart should suffer. In 2007 I embarked on a research study of Ota “GOVERNANCE, LEADERSHIP AND DEVELOPMENT IN OTA AWORI LAND”. In 2009 when I became an astute colleague of development studies, I wrote a blueprint of 379 paragraphs and submitted to the Olota of Ota palace, which was duly received and signed by the then secretary of the King (I forgot his name at the moment). In that blueprint, I stated the problems of development in Ota, the causes, processes, methods and solutions. Infact, in that blueprint I tried to address all issues, from economy, Political, cultural, social, health and importantly education.
Two months after my blueprints was submitted, I received a call from the palace through the palace secretary that I have a letter from the paramount ruler of Awori land (Olota of ota), I was engaged with some other important issues so I couldn’t make it that day. When I got there the following day, the letter was an invitation to appear before the Awori consultative council (ACC) on the order of the Olota of ota (who is now late). The invitation was to re-present my blueprint, this time around in a more practical sense and to build a framework of addressing the core issues raised in the blueprint. The ACC is an organ that consist of some principal high chief of the Olota in council, local chiefs known as “Baales” of different traditional local units, heads of families, youths leaders and other eminent members of the town. The ACC has a multidimensional purposes but its primary responsibilities was to receive, investigate and debate on communal issues that confronts the growth and development of Ota Awori land. At the end of the debate, the ACC passed its advisory recommendation to the Olota of ota and ota in council final for consideration and implementation. The organ was very formidable and effective.
Although I missed the first meeting which I apologized before the council during my presentation as I was attending to some other developmental issues in my NGO. On the day I presented before the ACC, it was indeed a large crowd of eminent personalities, very responsible youths and astute scholars, I was asked to represent my blueprint but now in a more practical sense. I was informed the kabiyesi is interested and committed to the issue raised in the blueprint. They gave me ample time and I tried to communicate both in English and Yoruba language. After the meeting ended, I was asked to wait behind for a feedback from the Olota of Ota. Even though I have planned to travel to Ibadan that same day, I still waited patiently for the report from the King. At first I was confused of my waiting because I was neither there for a contract nor appointment, I only wrote the palace on the urgent need to attend to some focal issues. Whatever, what is obtainable is for the palace to address the issues raised, requesting me to wait for a report from the king, to me sound very unnecessary and confusing, but I have no responsible choice than to wait since it was a request from the elders and also made by the palace. After the long meeting with olota, I was implore to set up a committee to address some of these issues on the order of olota of ota, the committee was to work closely with the ACC, and in a sort of collaboration. I was not initially interested with the latest development because it will take part of my time which has not been enough for myself. I will have to maximize my time more so knowing that the job will have no financial gain other than a voluntary responsibility to the development of my town. Since I was not too familiar yet with Ota, I knew I will have issues selecting people who will work with me. I realized it makes more sense to work with some of the youths whom I noticed their brilliancy, intelligence and patriotism in the ACC, and this to me was more plausible since I will be working directly with the ACC. Working with these people was indeed a gift of nature. They took me as their brothers, and gave me all the supports needed. They were indeed patriotic. 1. Mr lamidi Lawal 2. Alfa Saheed Ajayi 3. Mr Erinfolami 4. Mr Lawal Ganiyu(pepper) 5. Alfa Kabir (LIKULI) 6. Mr Iskil Matanmi.
The Palace politics and my experience My invitation to the palace was very much appreciated. Though I was not the type that likes to associate with famous people, the grass root is indeed my choice of association. One thing that interest me more on the day I presented before the olota palace was the fact that I notice the phalanx ACC consist of some brilliant and intelligent people, they speaks witty, and argue with logic. The approach of their questions was interestingly rigid, though in a constructive and investigative method. I tried my human best to give the best answers and reply to all their questions and observations. Seeing this fantastic human resources, I surreptitiously reecho the pained questions of why the heart soar and suffer, the heart that is not only blessed with economic resources, natural endowment but also blessed with reputable, advance, industrious, enterprising and very vast human resources. My implicit conclusion was a sort of marginalization of the real sharp patriots from governance.
After my brief presentation, it was time for question and answers. An old man refer to as Baba Ibadan asked, according to him a pertinent question, how education can become the top priority of the indigenes of the Town. He argue succinctly that it was sorrowful that education has become less important and unnecessary to our sons and daughters especially living in ota, and in his opinion which has badly affected our role in the Ogun state bureaucracy and politics. Respectfully I replied that education has not been yet introduced to Ota. Many were hushed and quite, I noticed they were confused of my generalization, their implicit conclusion was that I was speaking gibberish. I could read their minds as they were thinking loudly on how I could infer such generalization in a community surrounded by schools, both public and private. I told them I will elaborate my position. Education is a change of an existing order and it can only work successfully with a social revolutionary element. For education to gain tacit adherents, it must be qualitatively affordable, accessible and attractive. I clarify that if education isn’t accessible and attractive, the docile traditionalists may not find it interesting and they will consider it unnecessary. Education must be ready for a serious competition against what we think is traditionally outdated, unthinkable and underdeveloped.
In Ota, we can’t prefer the celebration of land grabbers (Omo onile), political thugs, road unionists, corrupt politicians to educated elites and yet still want younger ones to go into the business of education while they see it as unrewarding. I told them I have moved around the town and those who ride exotic cars, build mighty buildings and showoff in the public are either Omo onile, Political thugs, road unionists, or politicians. These people are the one relevant in the community and they get awards even in mosques and churches despite their questionable source of wealth, while In same community, we have graduates without jobs, and graduates who has turned laughing stock in the public by their counterparts in the other world. We can’t have this situation and expect education to thrive successfully. Education needs to be much attractive through celebrating academics and rewarding them with good jobs and incorporating them with developmental issues and projects in quest of meritocracy. Attractive, rewarding education is the only way to make education a top priority of our children. We can’t ignore the role of socialization in child’s development, what they see makes a part of their development and explicit most especially at their formative years.
I have witnessed about fifty five (55) burial remembrance between 2007 and 2008. 85% of these remembrance ceremony are of over 15 years deaths. I interviewed a boy (I played the recording in the palace) who missed his Jamb examination due to financial support in a year his father had a remembrance ceremony of his father who died some eighteen years ago. The culture itself doesn’t welcome education and the children who socializes with such processes most definitely will tend to develop such similar and identical attitude, as it spreads, acculturation sets in and then it becomes a societal problem. This is the exact case of Ota. The question of priority has to be changed in favor of education. I was in the office of one Hon Aina Akinpelu who represent Ota in the state House of Assembly to discuss roles of education and ways to mobilize the consciousness of our young people to education. That was some few months after he was elected during his first term as legislator. I met tens of people in his office that day, I was confused if my visits did coincide on their political party meeting. The numbers kept increasing even while I was at the reception, we were given a tally on the queue and I was about number forty five on the queue so I joined their discussions to sample opinions of how the population emerged. Let me put it correctly, my argument was not against the fact that there were too many people, in fact I love that since he was their representative, but my anger was the fact that I later realized that over 56% of these people came to beg for financial assistance for naming, religious function, burial, street carnival and police issue etc. they were discussing it as if that was normal, I met a like minds there who came to facilitate the scholarship, bursary and award campaign promise of the legislator, I told him categorically that we need not to search for the cause of high level of illiteracy among the indigenes of Ota, the cause itself is this reality. The mentality, preferability and orientation against education itself is a problem. Beyond that, I noticed many of them smiles after meeting with the legislator which to me means that the attitudes and gesture of our leaders itself is an encouragement of anti-education. To this end, I told them the problem is LEADERSHIP AND FOLLOWERSHIP QUESTION.
Politics is about good life according to Aristotle, and we do not expect our young ones to put their minds in what will not celebrate and reward them, the patent fact is that they will rather focus more on things that can give them fame, influence and fast money. This is the case of education in our community and the reality is what is obvious. Hmmm, I was encouraged with the round of applause after my well-articulated but though bitter position. The claps for me was never my happiness but the real happiness was the implicit and explicit agreement in the Olota palace that my observation was correct. I quickly shifted to infrastructure and its poor state, health and ended with how we can improve our economy through our God gifted culture. I showed them a picture of how Osun Osogbo festival and Ojude oba of Ijebu land have been used to enhance the economic growth and development of these various towns. I informed them in the palace that we can use the Egungun festival, Ijamido Festival, Odun Ogbodogi as a source of economic growth which will be suitable and capable of building a first class palace, complete the Ijamido Hall which has been abandoned for decades on the account of financial capability. I was cantankerous that we still do things traditionally in a world that has turn to a global village where the ideology of communism is still practicable for development in local communities.
The issues with Ota is incompetent and directionless leaders with low and poor minds. We need to realize the punctuality of involving into government, local and political administration people who can tap from the law of nature and translate it to physical development. I told them that they should advised the olota to be accurately social and make himself open to ideas from people who have the positive and sincere mindset for the development of Awori land. I inform them the importance of the theory of “reintegration system”. My perspective is that Ota has some great and successful indigenes spread within and outside Nigeria, we need to incorporate and bring them into the system of a processing development, there are certain reasons why they choose to be far from their indigenous home, part of it may be the title of this article. We need to hear from them and remind them that the development of their home should be principal and their involvement in the process is very fundamental and focal. We also have some great men who are educated elites and very patriotic living inside the town but who deliberately have been ignored because they do not have the required wealth to play the Abnormal Nigeria politics.
Development must be all inclusive and every parts in the system is important and must integrated to form a more formidable political structure, economic prosperity and the development of our great community. We need to take a responsible position for us to get what we deserve. That responsible position should be devoid of wealth, partisan politics, favoritism, religion, and other factors that can hinder the growth and development of our great town. To achieve development is beyond human WILL, what is most obtainable is the HOW to get it which many who leads us today in different capacity lacks. I advised on a periodic town hall meetings which must be attended by all our political leaders representing Ota in different capacity. After my presentation, I traveled back to Lagos and I was comfortable and happy I have told them the Truth which after I finished I knew many were not absolutely comfortable. But I have delivered my intention and articulate my points. Before I left, I was implore to come for the ACC meeting the following Tuesday which I gladly went, I was supposed to be invited by the olota in council which consists of all chiefs before the next ACC meeting, but unfortunately I didn’t receive any invitation from them. After my series of meetings with ACC, I discovered the real people behind the hand down of Ota. These people were playing the politics of selfish interests, they have never allow initiatives and creative ideas work, hence it’s not traceable to their circle, they also have not established one single idea to foster development of the town. In my philosophy, I am not supposed to be in a position of authority when someone who inhabits that position is performing and representing the interest of that organization or whatever.
But to frustrate and ignore meaningful ideas and not create any was something of satanic to me. I discovered some politics in the palace which its consequence will be against the progress of our great town. The first I noticed was the intention of scrapping ACC. They were not so brave to take that rigid and sort of precarious decision. They looking for any lapses from members to use as an excuse. I informed Mr Lamidi Lawal that ACC will soon be scrapped by Olota of Ota but not by him himself. He was confused of my statement but I decided to be philosophical because Mr Lamidi was a very inquisitive and intelligent person. I didn’t want to talk much so I decide to remain proverbial. Barely seven months later, we received a pronouncement from the palace that ACC has been suspended indefinitely because they perceived that some members of ACC instigated the disruption of the IYA LOJA AND BABA LOJA installation ceremony by the Nigeria police in the order of the state Governor. The allegation was not only untrue and misleading but it was very unfortunate that our high chiefs with the level of their exposure and education can take a decision based on perception and assumption. There were no evidence for their mischievous claim. We were told that these members wrote a letter to the then Ado-Odo/Ota local government chairman, Comr Rotimi Rahman that they were not comfortable with the process of nominating the Iyaloja and Babaloja of Ota and then the letter was sent to the Governor of Ogun state who later gave order to the Nigerian police to halt that ceremony right in front of the Olota palace. Up till now we have not seen the copy of the letter, the then chairman is an indigene of Ota and he is still much alive.
The halt of the ceremony was political and I am not interested going into it except all the high chiefs in Ota can produce a copy of that letter sent to the local government chairman. All was what can be best refer to as “ARRANGEE”, very bogus and fake. Some few people only played their rehearsal on that unfortunate day in Ota for political and selfish reason. Even if it was some members that wrote their dream letter, was it on behalf or on with the support of ACC. Can we punish all members of an association because a member of the association committed a crime outside the organizational scope and goal? The argument was illogical and very unthinkable by all that cooked the movie behind the indefinite suspension of ACC. I was bad tempered and very angry receiving that sad news. I established a separate movement to protest that decision. My leaders also established another and a stronger platform to fight against the pronouncement. Our anger was purely because ACC was conspicuously the only means of communication between the people and the palace. Scrapping it is more like scrapping a gate and link between the king and his subjects. There were attempts by some chiefs to illegally arrest some of our youth leaders, while some were threatened of spiritual attacks. Mr Lamidi Lawal, was very active during that time and some of those I have mentioned earlier. In that process, the league of imam Ota dethroned Alfa Abdul kabiru (likuli), who was the imam of a community mosque in ota, these people were threatened because they weren’t supporting the action of the palace. I do not stand happy in the time of tyranny. My activeness was becoming more prominent and I became more interested in Ota movement. I wrote a petition to the Ogun state headquarters of the Nigerian league of imam against the Ota branch given them 48hours to reinstate Imam Abdul Kabiru as there was no concrete evidence for his sack, we sent a caveat to the chiefs that nothing must happen to Mr Lamidi Lawal who was very formidable and resolute to that struggle of reinstating both Alfa kabiru and ACC. I visited the Ekerin of ota on many occasions to seek his opinions and ensure the reversal of olota decision on ACC was made, alas, he was not implicitly in support of the coming back of ACC I concluded. The fact was that ACC was becoming more active and credible in the Ota community than the olota in council and there are objective positions that ACC takes but the olota in council object. The olota in council only feel unsecured because of the prominence and respect ACC was gaining in the community. My first project in Ota which was part of the blueprint I presented, it was an academic festival where students importantly indigenes of Ota will contest in a debate competition. That was obviously the first indigenous debate competition in Ota. The project was about N400,000 and at the end of the competition, winners went home with N50,000 cash. It was very unique and strange in Ota. The olota and all the chiefs didn’t attend the event. Unfortunately, I later heard that olota didn’t get the invitation at all. In 2011 when we had the second edition, the project was to cover Ogun West senatorial district, it was about N1.5 million naira project because we had to organize a preliminary debate in each local government in the district before we have the final stage. My interest was that the final stage will be hosted in Ota so that it will inform other areas the changes that has spawned our Land in terms of education. Mr Lamidi Lawal, Mr Lawal Ganiyu (pepper) were all with me doing this great work. I brought my friends from the University of Ibadan to join the project part of which was Mr. Olaitan Subair who was also a developmentalist and a member of my NGO. We had a local government project director in each of the local government in the district. Interestingly, these officers are indigenous to each local government. So the project was another means of uniting the youths in the YEWA/AWORI SENATORIAL DISTRICT.
Meanwhile, I forwarded a letter to Olota requesting for a letter of attestation to authenticate my proposal for sponsorship from organizations in Ota. Unfortunately, the replied I got on the letter was that the project is too “Bizarre “. Which means it was too broad and impracticable. This was comic to me, I quickly requested for a dictionary from the secretary to Olota to confirm the meaning of the word BIZZARE, because I couldn’t imagine having such word on my letter. What was bizarre? Is the project too much for Ota, or Ota is too much to have such project, or was it the fact that the project was an idea of a young man, I kept asking myself endlessly. The Olota in council couldn’t do anything because same letter was sent to their council, they all separated themselves from the event. More unfortunately, The ACC that would have supported the project has been scrapped and then I was so unhappy. The project had started I would have rather pause it for that moment. Fortunately, I wrote the senator of the district senator Akin Odunsi, I never met him in my life and was never interested in meeting him though until the need arises. In fact I wrote a book which I submitted to his office in his honour without seeing him titled “Sen Akin Odunsi, the leviathan of our time” I was been careful to avoid jeopardizing the motive of the competition which has gained more popularity within Ota, but I was left with Less than a million which could not push the project more than the preliminary stage. I saw our young people preparing for the project, reading books and buying literature.
This encouraged me more that the project must not die. So I wrote Senator Akin Odunsi, and some days later, he sent me a message on how he can come in and I told him anyhow he thinks the dream of the project can be achieved. And after few days, he called me by himself to come to his office. I can’t forget another patriot in Ota, Comr Oko osi.(PARAKOYI) whose title: PARAKOYI was unnecessarily delayed till the demise of Olota of Ota, Oba Oyede. PARAKOYI as popularly called took me to senator Odunsi’s house, and lo and behold, Sen Akin Odunsi gave me a check to withdraw. In fact, he took me to his lobby and re-energized and encouraged my spirit to continue with the project and not be distracted. Immediately I left his House, I met with my team and we decided to honour him as the host of the event. Days later, one of his political fathers in Ota who coincidentally is an Olori ebi(family leader) of my family Alh Ruholah Salako, also gave a check and with that we were able to run the preliminary stages of the debate effectively. After we have selected two students each from each local government, we ran out of cash based on budget deficit so I decided to approach an organization for a loan. At the final edition, which was hosted by Ansar-ud-deen secondary school. The then principal Alh Kadir was a good man so he subsidized the Hall for me, I once donated two standing fans for the school when I got to Ota so I was treated based on compassionate getting the hall at reasonable price and we worked out the decoration superb.
I must appreciate the support of the Icon club Ota who were also solidly behind me and towards the success of the event. Aside the gifts for winners, we also distributed over 20,000 exercise books to indigent students who came for the event. After the event, I was surprised hearing from a reliable source that some of these chiefs boycotted the event because it involves Odunsi. It was so unfortunate hearing that. I was indeed fulfilled especially when the Olota BIZZARE project was planned and done successful. After the event, I wrote the palace through a letter that I will seize to organize the competition again here in Ota. I couldn’t imagine myself paying back a loan of over three hundred thousand Naira after all I have spent initially, and the father of the land couldn’t show a sign of encouragement. I love challenge in anything I do, but this was indeed beyond challenge. This was how and why I returned to Lagos. We have just concluded the 4th edition in Lagos this year and massively supported by the people. The day I heard the news of the demise of king of Olota of Ota, I was so sad and wept. More enough, Up till he died, ACC was never reinstated and we never had an Awori Governor of Ogun state. I am sure if given opportunity to speak with us, this will be his two regrets.
Why and how Ota missed the Guber race in 2015 After the ACC has been scrapped and chiefs were Happy. This created the ground for the politics against Sen Akin Odunsi.
The scrap of ACC was political as I have said earlier in my previous part. Don’t forget I have said it in my part B that ACC was becoming more stronger and large, the proliferation was increasing every day. The Olota in council was becoming so unnoticed and it should be on record that most of the financial resources used on communal issues in the palace was from the ACC purse. ACC within one year resolved about fifty eight communal cases, the only challenge of ACC was the implementation of its recommendation and resolution. This challenge was necessary since the Olota in council has the delegated jurisdictional power to implement and enforce recommendations except there is an overrule order from the Olota of Ota himself. Quite evident and nauseating, over 95 percent of active ACC members didn’t have access to see Olota himself, no one can see him except through the high and highest chiefs, this allows distortion of information between ACC and Olota. The main reason for scrapping ACC was to complete the movement against ODUNSI/AWORI GOVERNORSHIP RACE. There are no other logical explanation for the scrap of ACC other than this. This is the real and bitter truth, but though somewhat enigmatic. The ACC was a forum of members with different political parties but bedrock and underpinned with the love and passion of Ota. The passion was beyond partisan politics, religious, and ideological believe. The discussion at this forum is always Ota, Ota, Awori, Awori, Ota and Awori and Ota. The strength of ACC was becoming excessive and highly influential. The ACC has set up an Agenda of AWORI FOR GOVERNOR IN 2015.
There were plans for different movements to ensure Odunsi became Governor of Ogun state since he was the only Awori man at the highest political level in Nigeria. We had notice factionalism between Awori leaders as a major tactics usually used to defeat Ota in any political struggle. Since we have observed this, Our major goal was to resolve the difference between Sen Odunsi, Hon Aina, Hon Rotimi Rahman and the late Adeniji. Our goal was defined and central on orientating these people on the necessity to put Awori beyond their partisan or personal differences. We were sure we can’t succeed the Aworism in acrimony, building an harmonious leadership circle becomes more important than necessary. Mr Lamidi Lawal, Mr Lanre Icon, Alfa Saheed Ajayi, Mr Jelili Erinfolami, Mr Lawal Ganiu, Alfa Kabiru, Myself and some other Amiable comrades began to tour round the circle to ensure we meet these people to put Ota Awori beyond their partisan differences, the interest we want them to protect this time around is Awori Governorship. These comrades worked tirelessly, the ACC that brought us together which we had plan to use as a platform for this purpose even outside Ota has been scrapped. The debate Competition we organized in Ogun west had given us ground in Ilaro, Ipokia, Owode, Imeko Afon, Ayetoro etc. We were trying to meet with baba Olusegun Osoba in Egba and Sen Kaka from Ijebu. Those were the strong plans and the feasibility study was excellent. We were planning to start public discussion across different institutions on the role of Awori in the Ogun state politics. But quite unfortunate, they saw all of these, and the ACC was scrapped. That was the reason and no other logical reason that that. The claim that ACC was scrapped because some ACC members wrote a letter to the Governor was too illogical, impracticable and utopia to be true. If not, where is the evidence of the letter which gave them such unthinkable thought? Yes, quote me anywhere, ACC was scrapped because of Ota Awori Governor Campaign.
The Olota palace didn’t want it because Odunsi is not their direct blood brother, son and cousin, and so he may not rule to favor their kleptomania. When I say Olota, my operational semantic here is the oligarch in the palace. They were few but very strong, they were all allies of the enemies of Ota and yet still benefited from the gigantic project of Odunsi. Olota himself was ruling not by him himself don’t forget I said this in the part A. He was partially part of the problem, reason is because he wasn’t available and accessible. He only work on anything he heard from the olota in council without any system of verification from ACC even when ACC was still much alive. If kabiesi (the king) himself was accessible and available and he could hear from us directly ACC position, I am very sure he wouldn’t have pronounced such perilous decision. We planned to arrange a place for our meetings and to create a new name for our struggle. We went to the local government for registration and we were frustrated with bureaucratic processes. Mr lamidi Lawal gave the name and I was doing the silent job in terms of information and strategy. A week after, I was terribly sick so I couldn’t be reached any longer, in fact I was not in Ota. Mr Lamidi Lawal went to my Ota house but was not inform of my whereabouts. I gave an order not to disclose my location to anyone.
After I came back I met Mr. Lamidi also on the sickbed. In fact, the project has been forgotten as everyone was facing similar condition. The ACC has been scrapped, we couldn’t register the new font, sickness of active members (more of spiritual), Physical threat etc all of these affected the plans and surreptitiously, the Amosun le kan si (AMOSUN FOR SECOND TERM) became a household thing. The money and power and everything was working for them. Before I forgot, there were also problems from those working closely with senator Odunsi, his aides were too rigid and tried all time to block access to Odunsi. The aides were not on ground, and not credible enough, they lack the real political value and political influence in Ota. I think Odunsi was not really good differentiating between fame and popular, the former was the best adjective for his aides. I left Ibadan on a Friday to Ota to speak with the Ekerin of Ota, when I got to his House, he wasn’t around so we rescheduled. I went the day I reschedule my meeting with Chief Ekerin, the motive of meeting him was to play the last card. I was to implore him to ensure Sen Akin Odunsi contest Governorship by all means even if the palace has willed there trust for Amosun. My concern was for Odunsi to contest governorship and win Ogun west senatorial district, infact I requested he sweep all the votes in Ota to set a good ground for him by 2019 and to make him more formidable and politically strong. I told him I know APC won’t give him a slot but senator Odunsi must contest, APC is not an Awori property, but Akin Odunsi is our blood and we must support him to the extreme. He was careful to reply me because he presumed I may be recording his voice, he didn’t give a precise answer but I could read his countenance against my opinion. That night I went to Comr oko osi PARAKOYI, which was where I knew Prince Gbolahan Dada will be contesting for the seat of senate and to represent Ogun west senatorial district. It was then i realized my meeting with chief Ekerin was a waste of time as the relation between Prince Dada and Chief Ekerin was a biological and both were very close. I knew it will be incorrect for Prince Gbolahan Dada to work against the governor who worked out his APC ticket. Senator Odunsi with Baba Osoba defected to APC and I was very happy. Fortunately he was given the slot to run as governorship candidate of SDP. I knew he will not win based on some reasons, but I never imagine he could lose in Ota. My position was that Ota will show their political readiness for leadership with a convincing and landslide victory of Odunsi.
PART D (THE 2015 ELECTION AND THE POST ELECTION)
As I have said in earlier in the part C, since APC was not to field Sen Odunsi as Guber candidate. Sen Odunsi defected to SDP with the former Governor of Ogun state Aremo Olusegun osoba together with all the sitting senators in Ogun state, senator Obadara for Ogun central and Senator Kaka for Ogun East. Despite this huge defection, my calculation was that Odunsi can’t win Ogun governorship because there were no ground for that Political mathematics. But I insist that Odunsi will sweep the whole vote in Ota and possibly Ogun west. My calculation was that this will be a sign of readiness and preparedness for leadership of Ogun state by the people of Ota. It is unfortunate that since the creation of Ogun state, only two among the three senatorial districts have been rotating power, the Egbas and Ijebus. Democracy must be consociational, all parts must be well represented. Four days to election we begin to receive message of Amosun Second term agenda by Prince Gbolahan Dada campaign group, the beautiful posters of Amosun was everywhere and that of Odunsi was quite unnoticed. We heard of the money the chiefs shared. They brainwashed some illiterates and old men that Amosun will handover to Awori in 2019 and also he wants to finish the incomplete roads.
When the result came out officially, we heard that Odunsi lost the election that was never a sad one to me, what was rather painful and unfortunate was the fact that he lost even in his own town. OTA BETRAYDED THIS MAN AND THEMSELVES. This was an embarrassment to Ota and I concluded the land has been cursed. The election has gone and no meaningful development has been sighted. The PAPA road to AYOBO is still a death trap and the model school is yet to be accessible. The Igbesa Polytechnic built by Gbenga Daniel has been turned to an advance secondary school and the percentage of our people working in Oke Mosan has not increased. The promise given to them by Amosun is that Prince Gbolahan Dada will become Governor of Ogun state by 2019, and the chiefs played fool into this joker caused by selfishness. What is the possibility of this where you have a Dimeji Bankole who is getting stronger day by day and extending his tentacles underground. YAYI from yewa is keeping and monitoring his ambition to become Governor of Ogun every day.
The question that is most central is that can Amosun prefer an Awori against an Egba man especially with the aphorism that “Egba meji ki jara won niyan”. We have missed it tactically, and it may not likely happen again having a former Governor from Egba, sitting senators from Ijebu and Egba supporting an Awori candidate for governor in Ogun state. In a comparative analysis, Prince Gbolahan Dada isn’t performing if compared to Odunsi, the Egbas will force Amosun to support his brother if Bankole dare contest Governorship election in 2019. The Yewas are also ready to take charge the senate seat after which an Awori has used eight years consecutively. Selfish interest has continue to damage our future and hope for tomorrow. PART E: THE SOLUTIONS AND BEYOND. It is not worst beyond repair, my solutions prescribed in this article are two AWORI REINTEGRATION CONFERENCE, and PROLIFERATION OF AWORIS IN THEIR LAND SPACE AWORI REINTEGRATION CONFERENCE There is an urgent need to have a conference to discuss and address the core issues affecting our town development, the need for reintegration is very paramount and necessary at this time. We can’t deceive ourselves that there are no issues, what is most obtainable is to create ground to discuss and resolve all of these problems and prepare ourselves strong for leadership in 2019. The conference should be for at least 3 days. All and sundry of Ota should be involved and given access to participate. Political leaders Past political leaders and figures Traditional rulers in all Awori land Academics, scholars and elites The youths Stake holders Awori in diaspora Civil societies Students and all interests group The agenda should be straight, POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IN 2019. This will invite all other solutions problem facing us as a community. We need to set the stage without allowing any means to bring acrimony between us. We know we can’t become governor of Ogun state by our votes alone but others will support us when they see that we are united, strong, prepared and ready to lead. A conference is most requisite this time around and we all need to act fast on this before it is late. All warring parties must come together to fight for common goal. AWORI AGENDA must be put beyond and above religion, and partisan politics. We must be ready to act as one and present a recommendation and consensus at the end of the conference. With this conference, I am sure that the outcome will be positive. PROLIFERATION OF AWORIS IN THEIR LAND SPACE Awori needs to begin to make lands more accessible to indigenes, if the rate of selling lands to immigrants continue, then the votes in ota may not favor the indigenes again. It will get to a point where an Egba man will contest local council election and win based on the principle of democracy of majority carries the vote. It makes no sense to favor an immigrant on a piece of land against an indigene of Ota because of price difference.
There must be a level of patriotism. Unfortunately, we still have the Omo Onile (LAND SELLER) selling properties owned by indigene to immigrants because of money. This must be genuinely exterminated. The ways and manner we treat the indigenes must be different, and with this the population of indigenes will increase in their land and their political participation becomes more useful and meaningful. Asking an indigene to pay money each time he wants to build on his land is a discouragement of settling in the town, we can’t move or develop with this attitude. All hands must be on deck for us to achieve our desired goal. Let me also use this opportunity to implore Aworis to be more active in the Lagos politics. The Aworis must speak to the world they are the real owner of Lagos through their active and gladiatorial political participation. The assertion that Lagos is a no man’s land is something baseless and quite illogical. But this can only be correct through the activeness of the Aworis in politics with the philosophy of supporting each other when any of them deem it fit to contest for any post in the nearest future.
There are issues and problems which truly are inevitable but I am sure we must realize that we come together to address these issues. Every communities has its own peculiar problems but what makes them develop is their high level of patriotism, and transformational spirit. The people of Ota-Awori need to be ready to address the problems ranging from Education, Infrastructure, economic, socio-cultural and political development. They must rise beyond will and ensure they give position of responsibilities to people who can lead with benevolent character and kindness. Favoritism, nepotism and cronyism are apolitical elements that underdeveloped any society, the Aworis must ensure they eliminate this to an unnoticed level. The need for political leadership of Ogun state must be set and then incorporate other community outside AWORI to accept their idea and movement. The political power sharing in Lagos also must change in 2019 as more Aworis should get involve in Lagos politics and castigate the fake assertion that Lagos state is a no man’s land. The Aworis must prove to the world that they are qualified and bless with resources both Economic and human resources to be significant in the world politics. ILU AWORI A GBEWA OOOOOOOOO (ASE!) Happy birthday to my lovely mother whom I write this article to her honour Alh Chief Mrs Modinat Temilade Adunni Salako. May you live long ma.
Comrade Azeem Salako Oladimeji [CASO]. (Political science, University of Ibadan, 2016)