Creating Ondo State, good move – Fasoranti

Chief Reuben Fasoranti, leader of Afenifere was one of the agitators for the creation of Ondo State, 43 years ago. He spoke with AFOLABI ADEKOLA in his residence.


Ondo State is 43, how was the creation started?

The story is very simple. We were meeting under the chairmanship of Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, under a movement called ‘Ondo Provincial Movement’. We were many there, we had people like Ayo Fasanmi, Seinde Arogbofa, late Adamolekun, and a number of others; Late Omoboriowo was our Secretary. We felt the government was too far away from us and that we wanted something near so that we could express our grievances. The meeting went on and we used Omolere school as the venue of the meeting. It went on very well and people were very enthusiastic and anxious. We felt Ibadan was too far away from us; whatever we wanted we had to go to Ibadan. So,  we wanted government’s machinery to be nearer to us. What I’m saying is, as far away as Ikole, Omuo, Owo and the present day Ekiti. We believed it was too far away and we wanted government nearer. We were meeting very regularly and we were very solid and committed. So, when the idea of the creation of the state came up it was automatic. Our request was given automatic approval.

Were there hiccups or challenges during the agitation for the creation of Ondo State?

The request was very loud and clear. There was no crisis because everybody wanted it, and it came under the chairmanship of Baba Ajasin.

What was the support the host community, Akure, gave to the agitation?

Automatic. Was agreed that Akure must be the headquarters and there was no quarrel about it. As far away as Okitipupa, as far away as Omuo, as far away as Ikole, as far away as Ikare, as far away as Owo, we were all united. Akure had been the headquarters all this time.

Yes, Akure had been the headquarters of the Provincial Movement and it was so easy and convenient for all of us. There was no argument at all. It was automatic.

A group of us under the leadership of Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin. We were agitating for the creation of Ondo State and that Akure must be the headquarters. We felt government was too far away from us.

Looking back 43 years later, would you say successive administrations have lived to fulfill the dreams of the founding fathers?

Truly, we said we wanted a state and it was granted, but nothing much has happened. Ekiti was part of us when the old Ondo State was created under the chairmanship of  Baba Ajasin. And when Baba Ajasin became governor, there was disagreement, especially Ekiti side. They did not give him peace even though he became governor, they didn’t let him rest. I don’t want to go into names, a group of them, they didn’t give him peace. We didn’t know what was responsible for this. Baba Ajasin was trying to keep everybody together. But when the creation of Ekiti State came we felt relieved, and there has been peace since then. The disagreement stopped and there was peace everywhere. So we were relieved when Ekiti State was created.

What was the teething problem as at the time the old Ondo State was created?

I just mentioned it. We wanted peace but we didn’t get it. Some elements gathered and gave Chief Ajasin a tough time. But some of us took our stand and insisted that the state must survive under his chairmanship. Because he was the one who spearheaded the agitation.

I think it was a personality thing, a personality problem. Nothing specific. At that time the state extended to as far as Omuo, Okitipupa, Ikare and others. There was no reason why there should not be peace, after all we were all united when we wanted it. But as soon as the Old Ondo State was created the disagreement started.

Has the state lived up to the dreams of its founding fathers?

Yes. I said so because the solution was the creation of Ekiti State and as soon as that was done there was peace.

But is the group still meeting today maybe to examine or review its activities?

No, we don’t meet again, but we are still friends. Some of the members are dead,  Omoboriowo has gone, Baba Ajasin has gone, one Prof of Geography has died and some few others like that. Those who are still alive are quietly in their corners, myself,  Falegan, Chief Falodun from Odo-Oro in Ikole, there is another one quietly in Ado, Babatunde, and others. We didn’t meet again, the bitterness was so much, things didn’t augur well. However, some of us still talk.

As one of those who championed the course of Ondo State creation, have you ever regretted doing so?

No, no, no. I think it was a good move. One, creation of the state gave room for development. Government became very close to us. Even after Ekiti State was created from the old Ondo State, both Ondo State and Ekiti State were developing even though there was disagreement. There were developmental projects in Ondo state and we are all happy.

Your dream for Ondo State in the next 20 years?

Improvement. In the next 20 years I expect that things should change, things should continue to improve and the younger ones should come in as we are off the stage now. But we can occasionally express our opinions. The younger ones should be given a chance to play their roles

Are you satisfied with the level of development in the state so far?

Creating Ondo State, good move – Fasoranti

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Creating Ondo State, good move – Fasoranti

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