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Friday, July 30, 2021

Showcasing actors in the making of Sunshine State

Heroes and Icons; Ondo State
Olatunbosun Isijola
Year of publication:

Sunmola Olowookere

The book “Heroes and Icons; Ondo State perspectives” is a 380 paged chronicle of events preceding the creation of the State and the gladiators that acted in the birthing of the dream before bequeathing it to successive leaders since 1976 till date.
The author, Olatunbosun Isijola brought to the fore the herculean effort and the passionate determination for the agitators of the creation of Ondo State in ensuring that the federal government then assent to its demands for the creation of the state.
The book is divided into two parts, the first part showcased the dreamers and the visionaries that conceived the concept of the creation of the state and ensured that the conception reached its full term without being aborted.
The state was created in February, 1976.
The second part now ushered in the icons, these are the men that were bequeathed with the new and fragile baby; Ondo.
This work indeed will probably serve as a reference point for future generations as the author, Olatunbosun Isijola and the writer of the forward, Ajose Kudehinbu hinted that there had been no comprehensive record detailing the history of the creation of Ondo State.
As Ajose Kudehinbu succinctly puts it, the work speaks of the courage and bravery of a people to take their destiny into their hands and charter a course towards financial independence and fulfillment through intellectual tools such as meetings, correspondences, solidarity and propaganda as the situation demanded.
The author drove this point home when he wrote the following about the book “this book was conceived as a result of a perceived poor culture of record keeping by relevant individuals and institutions “.
In an article published in the book, Chief Seinde Arogbofa captured the campaign embarked upon by the Ondo Provincial Movement (OPM) as the group travelled from one town to the other amidst the various chieftaincy tussles and some perceived aggression which nearly marred their efforts but for the dexterity of the members.
Under the prologue, the book opened with the narrative of how the provinces came to be following the 1966 coup-de-tat where Aguiyi-Ironsi clique opted for a unitary model in place of the federal structure. However, the author pertinently noted that Ondo province had been in existence since 1915.
Subsequently, it became part of the provinces under the Western State alongside other four provinces such as Egba, Ijebu, Ibadan and Oyo.
The agitation for the creation of Ondo State began when the province was not feeling the impact that other provinces that were closer to Ibadan, the state capital were feeling.
The people were also irked by the fact that they were allocated pittance despite the fact that the area provided huge agricultural products that were imported.
In one of their letters to Major General Yakubu Gowon, they published statistics of the resources being contributed to the Western state.
The letter cited year 1969 specifically with claims that it produced 76.9 percent of the revenue of the forestry department, 48.3 percent of cocoa, 78.3 percent of palm yet the total percentage of the Western State’s establishment allocated to the Ondo province was only 14.8 percent.
The agitation to take charge of their finances gave birth to Ondo Provincial Movement, OPM. Bigwigs among this movement were Chief G.B.A Akinyede, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, others were men of repute drawn from the academia, the traditional institution and the private sector.
However, the book was quick to point out that there had been several pressure groups that had written letters to the then Head of State, Major Gen. Yakubu Gowon. Most of these groups if not all later became part of the larger group; OPM.
To sum it up, it was a group of eminent personalities drawn from the nine administrative divisions of the old Ondo province; Akoko, Akure, Ekiti central, Ekiti north, Ekiti south, Ekiti West, Okitipupa, Ondo and Owo.
These men along with the people they represented conceived the idea of a state where all are equal, free from oppression, want or disease, educated to be alive to civic responsibility, possessing a deep sense of belonging and undenied of a good daily bread.
The author hinted that there were other groups that sprang up as a follow up to the movement. They all wrote series of petition pushing the need for the creation of Ondo State.
It would be recalled that the book was divided into two parts. The first part introduced the men Isijola referred to as the “heroes”.
These were men that were determined to remove their people from under the yoke of underdevelopment and perceived marginalization.
Also published in the book was an article written by the Publicity Secretary of OPM, Basorun Seinde Arogbofa in which he unequivocally set the record straight on some misinformation that were published in the media regarding the OPM members and their method of meeting.
Isijola presented the workings of the movement and the various committees it was divided into in order to ensure smooth and effortless operations such as working committee, finance committee, contact committee, publicity committee, research committee, elders committee and selection committee.
As part of their mandate then, they set out goals they wished to achieve within a number of years. Mostly they set out a 5 year term agenda.
Part of the goals itemised and published in this book are power electricity, water, good road network, major industries, agriculture, medical and health services and education.
The part two of the book contained the successive governors of Ondo State since its creation till date which the author referred to as “The Icons…..inheritors of the visions of the heroes.”
This part showcased the first government of the Ikpeme/Tuoyo administration till the current administration of Olurotimi Akeredolu, the successive nine legislative assemblies in the state and the judiciary and its judges.
These accounts were replete with pictures of the governors and their aides.
The author has done an excellent job in researching and gathering materials for this work. However, the next edition of should finds out if the visions of the founding fathers of Ondo State has been achieved.”

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