Oke-Ogun… Oyo’s untapped goldmine

Its name is Ado Awaye. It is about 20 kilometre west of Iseyin in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State. In this tucked-away community lies one of nature’s greatest gifts to man. It is a suspended lake nestled on one of the crests of rocks, which surveyors love to call “sleeping lion”.

To get to this Wonder of Oke-Ogun, you have 350 steps to climb from the base. All you need is about an hour. But as you go, there are ‘consolation prizes’ in the forms of historical shrines and others on the way.

Once you climb up, Benin Republic border beckons. You have a full view of the border into this neigbouring country and a breath-taking view of a range of hills. Many who have got to a point called “Esekan Iku” (the verge of death) have their names etched permanently on the rock with pieces of stone.

The inhabitants rely on the lake for water. The lake does not know dry or wet season. It retains the same volume of water all year round. The thick vegetation remains evergreen all through the year.

The suspended lake is just one of the many good things about the Oke-Ogun axis of Oyo State, which are waiting to be fully put to profitable use.

Apart from the suspended lake, other tourism potentials include the Royal Forest (Igbo-Oba) in Igboho; Old Oyo National Park; Asabari Hill, Saki; Rock formation (Agbele hill) In Igbeti; Ikere Gorge Dam, Iseyin; Akomare Hill Iganagan; Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s birth place, Osoogu; and Imofin Hill.

Of the state’s 33 local government areas, Oke-Ogun has 10. These 10 local governments boast of land, which are suitable for agricultural and agro-allied uses, but 70 per cent of the population are engaged in subsistence farming and related activities.

Oke-Ogun is not just about land alone. Inside the land, nature deposited mineral resources, which unfortunately still lie unused. These minerals have been found in commercial and mineable quantities.

Marble and dolomite are in abundance in Igbeti, Olorunsogo Local Government and in Alaguntan, in Orile Local Government. Tourmaline is found in quantum in Budo Are and Komu, Itesiwaju Local Government.

If tantalite is what interests you, Olodo in Egbeda Local Government and Seperati in Saki East Local Government are where to head to. There are large quantity of feldspar in Atiba Local Government and in Itesiwaju Local Government, quartz is in commercial quantity.

Other resources include: Bismuth in Iwajowa; agate in Iwajowa and  Itesiwaju; cassiterite in Saki East; columbite in Itesiwaju and Saki East; talc in Ona-Ara; kaolin in Ado-Awaye in Iseyin Local Government; and coloured Granite in Irawo, Atisbo Local Government.

From records, there are no exploitations of these resources on commercial scale to yield abundant wealth. No value being added to the abundant raw materials to generate jobs and wealth. Farming is still done at subsistence level, making it impossible for the cycle of poverty to be broken.

The political angle

Not a few have wondered why a people so blessed are so poor. Many in Oke-Ogun believe that its people have a lot to do with its under-development. Divisions among the people, lack of respect for one another and envy have been identified as reasons why the people have not been able to speak with one voice on the leadership of the state.

Since the creation of the state, no indigene of the area has been elected governor. The best that has happened is producing deputy governor. Ibadan and Ogbomosho have mastered the art of taking advantage of the division in Oke-Ogun, a source said.

As the countdown to the next general elections begin, traditional rulers in the axis are said to have begun underground mobilisation to get the political class to speak with one voice.

Already names of some indigenes of the area are being bandied as likely governorship aspirants. On this list is Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s deputy, Chief Moses Adeyemo, who was born on April 4, 1950 in Igboho, Oorelope Local Government. A former Chief of Staff to Ajimobi, Deolu Akande, has also been named as interested. Akande also worked with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

There is also Remi Olaniyan from Igboho, who was Permanent Secretary in Oyo State under Governor Rashidi Ladoja. The name of Ahmed Sani, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who hails from Iseyin, has also been linked with the 2019 race.

Also being mentioned is Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu, who has tried his hands on getting the seat in the past. The last time he tried, he lost the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket to Ajimobi. This generated bad blood and led to a protest against his ministerial nomination.

Aside these contenders, the talk in many circles in Oyo is about what someone has described as ‘the candidate hidden in the plain sight’: Debo Adesina. The Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, who as a federal commissioner under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua walked out and returned to the newsroom, is being encouraged to bid journalism bye and take a shot at being Ajimobi’s successor. The move to draft Adesina is said to have been led by Prof. Dada Adeniyi of Kishi, who was President of the Oke-Ogun Development Council. Kishi was said to have had the backing of many monarchs in the area.

This accomplished journalist — and perhaps the most decorated in Nigerian journalism having been Editor of the Year seven times —  became the Editor of African Guardian at 27. It remains to be seen if the 51-year-old Okaka-born journalist, who edited The Guardian from 1999 to 2011, will join the race.

But for Oke-Ogun to make impact in the race, unity of purpose, said a source, is important. “They have to speak in almost one voice. The majority have to buy into the idea and end the current situation where people from the area belong to almost all available political party.”

Rotational leadership

Apart from Akande, Shittu, Adesina and others who are from Oke-Ogun, Ibadan, which has led the state more than any other zone, is warming up again. Former Governor Ladoja is warming up. A deputy governor in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is also being prodded by Ibadan elite to join the race. There is also Soji Akanbi, who represents Oyo South in the Senate. His predecessor on that seat, Senator Femi Lanlehin, is also said to be interested in the coveted seat.

A former candidate and an indigene of Ibadan, Seyi Makinde, is also said to be re-oiling his machinery ahead of 2019.

Not a few, however, feel that for equity and justice, Ibadan should back off for Oke-Ogun. A former governorship aspirant in Oyo State, Dr Bayo Adewusi, believes rotation should be a factor in determining who becomes governor.

Adewusi, a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, said a situation where only a zone in the state produces successive governors is not in the best interest of the people of the state.

Speaking with reporters on his 58th birthday, Adewusi, who hails from Eruwa, said: “If you have followed the politics and voting patterns of election in Oyo State since 1999, you will see that nobody will emerge governor without the active votes of all the other 22 local governments of the state. Ibadan votes alone cannot produce governor in Oyo State. In the last election, the votes from the Oke-Ogun part of the state produced the governor. For me, in the interest of justice, equity and fairness, the position of the governor must be rotated. Let everyone be a part of it. There should be a sense of belonging of every other part of the state. If there are other people from other parts of the state who indicate interests, they should be encouraged; that is my view.”

Time will tell

Analysts are of the view that Oke-Ogun deserves more than it is getting. T is also their contention that what tomorrow will bring to Oke-Ogun will also depend largely on how its leaders and followers play the political game.


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