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Ondo @ 43: ‘We got N3 million take off’

By Sina Ogunjobi
Ameagre sum of N3 million was released in 1976 for the take off of Ondo State by the Federal Government just as accommodation was mentioned as the greatest challenge that confronted the new state, 43 years ago.

This was disclosed by pioneer governor of the state, Group Captain ITA Ikpeme and the then Commissioner for Local Government and Information, who is now the Oluyin of Iyin, Oba Adeniran Ogundare in separate interviews with The Hope.

Ikpeme, while speaking at his Ogudu GRA residence in Lagos, disclosed that he realized that there was no accommodation for him, commissioners and civil servants that were transferred to Akure the state capital in 1976.

According to him, he directed the civil servants to come from their various home towns to Akure, having realized that the state capital was not far from the major towns in the state, adding that he provided buses to convey them to their various offices and back home every day.

He said it was the challenge that made him rush the inauguration of Ijapo estate, describing Akure as a small provincial town.

Also, the Oluyin disclosed that offices were converted to residential accommodation for the commissioners when they could not get a befitting one.

His words: “I can remember that an office was converted into an accommodation for me as the Commissioner for Local Government and Information. The same thing was done to some of my colleagues. We were however happy because we got a state we desired.”

He disclosed that a meager sum of N3 million was released by the federal government for its take off.

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Oluyin said one of the things the administration did was the reform of local governments. He disclosed that many councils which they felt were not viable were merged with others.

He said that condition for the merger was a population between 150 thousand and 300 thousand people.

According to him, the resolution was that a local government with less than 150 thousand people should be merged, while that of 300 thousand people be divided into two.

He said they eventually created 17 viable local governments for the state at the end of the day.

Oba Ajakaye lauded the first Governor of the state, Wing Commander Ita Ikpeme for his doggedness and thoroughness.

He described him as a very thorough person who they thought was too harsh then.

Meanwhile, Leader of Pan Yoruba Socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, has hailed the creation of the old Ondo State as it clocked 43.

The elder statesman who was part of the group that championed the course of the creation observed that the creation had given room for development in all ramifications.

He spoke with The Hope in an exclusive interview at his residence in Akure, the Ondo state capital.

The old Ondo State comprising Ondo and Ekiti came into being on February 13,1976.

Fasoranti recalled that the agitation started with a movement called ‘Ondo Provincial Movement’, under the chairmanship of Late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin and the Secretaryship of Late Omoboriowo, himself, Ayo Fasanmi, Seinde Arogbofa, Adamolekun and a host of others.

He described their demand as a very good move as it later brought about good development and made government closer to them.

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According to the octogenarian, the movement wanted the creation of Ondo State to make government machinery closer to people in order to avoid going to Ibadan which was the then headquarters of the Western Region, to demand for anything they needed.

“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 have 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 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”, he explained.

He saluted the courage and commitment of members of the movement, saying their enthusiasm really made their agitation a reality.

“The request was very loud and clear. There was no crisis because everybody wanted it, and it came, he stated.”

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