Owo and the quest for LCDAs
From Jimoh Ahmed, Owo
“Owo people have come here with a sense of purpose, there is no acrimony. There is no other place we have to go. We shall always live together irrespective of how many councils we are divided into”
– Oba Kofoworola Oladoyinbo Ojomo, the Ojomoluda of Ijebu Owo.
The present Owo local government remains one of the largest local government in Nigeria and the largest in Ondo State by virtue of land mass and population and so when the news to create Local Council Development Authorities by the Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu led administration in the state was broken, the people took the news as one golden chance to right the wrongs which they have suffered.
And so, when the opportunity came for the public hearing of the presentation of the memoranda, the people trooped out to the local government Secretariat, venue of the event in their large number. The turnout was overwhelming as all the traditional rulers in the area were all present to lead the people in their demand for what has been agitating their minds for a very long time.
However, it will not be out of place to trace the history of Owo local government before going any further on the people’s demand.
The journey to the present Owo local government started with the then Owo division which comprised of Owo and the present four local governments in Akoko land. The position remained until 1955 when Owo Divisional Council was created to include Owo District made of Owo, Idashen, Upenmen, Isuada, Uso, Emure-iIe, Ute and Okeluse, Ire-Akari District which included Idoani, Idogun, AFO Owani and Ughoye. It also included Ekamarun District this was made up of Ikaro, Imoru and Ijagba.
In 1972, this was restructured to two local government area Councils of Owo and Ose which remained until 1976 local government reforms when the three autonomous districts of Ekamarun, Ire-Akari and Owo were merged to form Owo local government with headquarters in Owo.
In 1989 this was dissolved and Owo and Ose local governments were created, the position which has not changed till date.
It should be noted however that of all the divisions then, only Owo was given two local governments while others were given four local governments each.
The news given for memorandum for the creation of LCDAs however brought the unity and oneness out of the people as they came out with one voice resolving to present a joint memorandum.
To achieve this, a version of the LCDA committee was created and tagged Owo Local Government Joint Committee on LCDA which comprised of eminently qualified personalities. It was headed by Mr Agboola Ogunmolawa while a seasoned journalist, Olatubosun Oladimeji was the secretary.
The people waited for the state committee to come and when they came, the hall broke into a thunderous ovation heralding the arrival of the members.
Secretary of the committee, Dr Deji Akinwalere wasted no time in introducing members and informing the gathering about the business of the day.
Chairman of the committee, Prince Adelanke Odogiyan, who took time to condole with the people of Owo on the demise of the Olowo of Owo, Oba Folagbade Olateru Olagbegi III described the late monarch as a rare gem, a great monarch whose shoes will not be easy to fill.
Prince Odogiyan disclosed that the purpose of creating the LCDAs is not about gratifying or creating any unnecessary publicity for any politician but rather to bring development nearer to the people.
“The purpose of creating the LCDAs is to bring government closer to the people. It brings dividends of democracy to the people. It is to make governance easier”
“It is to give the people stronger voice. It is to make local government administration more efficient and not to give any politician any undue publicity”
The chairman who said Owo is a big local government said the committee will see to the logical conclusion of the assignment within the time limit given to it.
Presenting the Owo Joint Memorandum, Mr Agboola Ogunmolawa said Owo will be asking for a minimum of five LCDAs.
Ogunmolawa said Owo was the only division that was not given four local governments as others were carved into four .
According to him, the military with the reasons best known to them then, and not considering the largeness of Owo decided to do so.
He posited that the injustice must be corrected by the opportunity provided by the creation of LCDAs.
Ogunmolawa stated that Owo with a population of over 200,000 in 1991 is populous and also has a large landmass. He disclosed that all traditional rulers in the council area, community leaders and the people unanimously proposed a joint memorandum to be presented to avoid repetition.
He said the people were desirous of being divided along what he called planning lines.
Reading the proposed new LCDAs, Ogunmolawa mentioned Owo Northwest with headquarters in Emure-Ile, saying it has a population of 22,620, two wards and 45 polling units, Owo West with a population of 24,000, 37 polling units, two wards and the headquarters at Isaipen.
Others are Owo Southeast with headquarters at Ijebu-Owo and Owo East at Ofi/Upele and Owo Municipal at Owo.
Dr Adewumi Abitoye, a former chairman of Owo local government and former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria presented the Ipele LCDA memorandum.
Dr Abitoye who commended Governor Akeredolu for the move said the people viewed the move to create the LCDAs as a way of bringing justice, fair play and equitable development to the people.
The former minister said Ipele deserved a separate local government since the state government gave the community an Area Council in 1982 and the 1996 National Confab proposed Ipele local government.
He also disclosed that by the 1991, the population of Ipele was 75,000.
He therefore called for the creation of Ipele LCDA with headquarters in Ipele.
Mr Bola Kayode, a teacher also presented a memorandum for the creation of Owo Northwest with headquarters in Uso.
Kayode said Uso is about 24 kilometres to Owo and the distance has deprived the town of development.
He said the town has not been able to feel the presence of government and that Uso is the only homogeneous community in Owo local government. Equally he disclosed that the people migrated from Oba-Ile which could be confirmed from the title of the ruler of the town, the Oloba of Uso.
However his memorandum was in tandem with the Owo Joint memorandum which called for Owo Northwest but with a different headquarters.
The people of Ehinogbe came up with the next memorandum on Owo West LCDA but was not in agreement with the location of the headquarters.
Dr Olasupo Eniola who presented the memorandum posited that with the headquarters of Owo West at Isaipen, it will amount to concentrating development in the heart of Owo while other areas suffer.
Dr Olasupo was of the view that the need for the spread of infrastructure and amenities make Ehinogbe the right headquarters of the LCDA.
He stated that Ehinogbe has the largest landmass that has never been utilised.
Following the observation of some members of the committee on the proposed use of government infrastructure for the take off of the LCDAs, Prince Odogiyan asked the proposed LCDAs to come up with alternative of properties and facilities owned by communities or private individuals who have signified their readiness to give such to the LCDAs and with a proof to that effect, giving Friday 23, May, 2019 as the last day to do so.
Speaking at the occasion, the Ojomoluda of Owo, Oba Kofoworola Oladoyinbo said Owo has come with one voice to pursue their demand.
Oba Ojomo who said the people came with a sense of purpose said there is no acrimony in doing what they have done.
The monarch posited that the people of Owo shall continue to live together as one irrespective of whether all streets in Owo are made LCDAs.
On the claim Mr Bola Kayode that Uso is made of only people who migrated from Oba Ile, the Ojomoluda said that is far from the truth as Uso is made up of people from divergent areas.
The public hearing was also attended by all the traditional rulers, village heads and community leaders from the local government area.
Some of the traditional rulers that graced the occasion included, the Oloba of Uso, Oliyere of Iyere, Owo, the Asuwada of Isuwada, Oloba of Uso and the Alale of Idashen land.