By Prof. William Olu-Aderounmu
AKURE IN POLITICS
Education reaffirms culture and it is the only key to meaningful development. It is sad to state here that in the last decade or so, Akure has been sending her 10th eleven to represent her at Local, State and Federal levels. Akure has thus lost the opportunity for her to be adequately represented at these tiers of government.
A cursory look at Akure politicians will reveal sadly that most of them are young school certificate holders, dropouts and young university graduates who have no means of livelihood and who depend solely on politics for their economic existence.
In the 60s, only highly experienced, successful, educated and morally sound Akure indigenes went into politics. In our days at Oyemekun Grammar School, we saw Late Chief B.F.A. Adinlewa as an accomplished Educationist and politician who did Akure proud. We equally saw the best three Akure Local Government Chairmen in Chief R.F Fasoranti, Late Prof. Omolade Adejuyigbe and Dele Johnson whose landmark achievements at the Council were unparalleled up till today. The aforementioned had means of livelihood. Without a career and a sound education, it will be difficult for anybody to succeed in politics, except that person has a godfather. Chief Falaye succeeded in politics because he had means of livelihood at that time.
To compound the problems of Akure, some of her sons are no longer going to school after secondary education. Some of them have been turned into thugs to serve those whose children are attending good schools in Europe and America.
The present polity in Ondo State and Akure in particular, must not be allowed to continue to engage with its advocacy of ruthless tactics of gaining absolute power and its abandonment of conventional morality.
The present administration in the State cannot afford to reject traditional values of political theory and must recognize the complicated transient nature of political life. With the way our tradition is being bastardized (as the case when the Deji was summoned to State horse to collect his staff of office), one would not be surprised if the Chairmen of Local Government areas want them to stand up for them in the name of protocol.
From the above, it can be seen that Akure people and the environment have been debilitated in the economic and political scheme of things in Ondo State since its creation as State capital most especially in the last 9 years or so. Akure has been and continues to be the least developed State Capital since 1976 albeit the town has grown in size and in population.
Akure people must therefore wake up to straighten their present and reconstruct their future for the challenges ahead.
THE FUTURE CHALLENGES:
Akure needs to be united because disunity breeds irreconcilable factions, which do not augur well for developmental programs. Human beings are the most important component in any system, they must be brought together under a strong leadership to move the town forward.
The last five years have been excruciating but we must look up to a new dawn, a new era where we all need to have a rethink of where we were, where we are today and come up with a determined spirit on where we would like to be in the future,
Let us not be deceived, I stand to be challenged that Akure has not witnessed any significant development since 1976 albeit it has grown in size. Her “development’ has at best been glaringly poor or even non-existent when compared with other state capitals that were created in 1976 and even those created after. What we have seen, especially in the last 5 years is nothing more than verbal graphical and rhetorical jingoism.
There is an old adaee that if YOU don’t know where you are coming from, you can’t know where you are going. But for the fact that Akure became a millennium city, courtesy of’the United Nations, the roads today in the city would have been impassable as government presence in Akure has not been significantly felt. It is to say the least, extremely poor.
It is clear from my actions that 1 am not a politician although I am a political animal but I know that under the auspices of the philosophy called “Democracy’1 or as late Fela Anikulapo would call it, “Demonstration of craze”, we have seen how the polity in Akure was hijacked by quarter baked people and thugs who have turned Akure into a militarized zone.
It is high time therefore that Akure sons and daughters at home and in diaspora woke up to encourage and produce future first rate and world-class leaders of the likes of Oba Afunbiowo Adesida I, Late Prof. Omolade Adejuyigbe, Late Pa Josiah Faloye, Dr Akinola Agunda, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Olu Falae, Prof. Bankoie (Em), Prof. E. Fayose, Prof. Falaiye, Prof. Eso and a few others who have distinguished themselves in their various professions and who catapulted the image of Akure to global heights in recent past.
The issue of leadership in Akure is a vexed one and one wonders why a veritable leader has eluded us for so long and the problem has become a tantalizing mirage. Does it mean that the present generation does not want anybody to lead them? We must adopt a strategy to remove the unwillingness of our people to submit themselves to constituted authority.
Akure must quickly put in place a tri-partisan body to include academic elites, political elites and professional elites who will work under the chairmanship of the Deji to work out modalities and strategies that would catapult Akure from the present doldrum to a vibrant and economically viable city.
The body will be required to produce a blue print on annual basis for the social and economic development of the city as well as serving as a pressure group to ensure that Akure is not schemed out of the dividends accruing to the state. The body therefore has a herculean task as Akure. we all know, has grown since 1976 but without appreciable level of development.
1 have a feeling that very soon, Akure will wake up from her slumber and the issue of unity will be positively addressed as it has become inevitable. Sooner or later, Akure Chiefs, politicians, academics and professionals will come together under a non-partisan body to work selflessly for the upliftment of Akure. Our student Associations under the umbrella of Akure National Students Association at Akungba, Ibadan, llorin, etc. are already talking giant strides in ensuring that Akure people unite for the development of the town. These youngsters are already changing the landscape of attempting to rid of the community hatred, envy and other unwholesome attitudes which include brazen display of ill-gotten wealth and disrespect for the elderly.
On the current face-off between the Deji and the Oloba of Oba-Ile, we must exercise restraint and caution. We must not allow that age-long cordial, interrelated, interwoven and symbiotic relationship between Akure and Oba-Ile since the region of the 11th Deji-Kabiyesi Obagbeyi, to be destroyed. Historically, culturally and genetically, Akure and Oba-lle are one and indivisible. Our tradition, culture and historical past must therefore be maintained and nurtured without sentiments. We must realize that there are some elements who want to benefit from the imbroglio and they must be stopped.
Akure must have a strong leadership as can be seen in Ibadan, or Ondo town that will pilot the affairs of the city and one that will be responsible for the screening of candidates from all the political parties with a view to determining those who would adequately represent Akure and her interest. Akure will profit more by being party less and relying on her sons and daughters to do her proud from any or all of the political parties.
Events in the last 8 years have glaringly shown that Akure benefitted more from the UPN government of 1979 and does not have to belong to the so-called ”mainstream” that has pauperized her sons and daughters in Ondo State most especially in the last 5 years.
As a result of the land use Decree. Akure forests from which a large proceed under the defunct Akure land Trust was accruing to the town, had been taken over by the State Government without corresponding benefits to the town whereas OSOPADEC had been set up to benefit the oil producing areas of the State,
There is presently cultural disconnect. Chiefs known to be the custodian of societal values, family tradition and land can no longer be seen as performing these functions,
When even some chiefs are appointed to head families where they don’t belong; that situation creates cultural disconnect.
Lands that were held in trust in the past for families by the Head Chief are now being cornered by the chiefs themselves.
Family traditions are no longer observed in the name of modernization. The family cohesion is no longer in place. Rapidly, the center of Akure is being taken over by non-indigenes while indigenes have to scramble for land in old farm lands. If care is not taken!, traditional chieftaincies will be held by non-indigenes.
Another challenge is the fact that many Akure children can hardly speak or understand the dialect. Those in diaspora are being discouraged, even by their parents who will never speak the same to them. To trace their roots back home becomes problematic when the family house might have been sold out.
There is today, growth without development in Akure albeit the community has grown beyond what it was in 1976. More Institutions have been built at all levels but the attendant unemployment of school leavers and University graduates is mind boggling. It is not enough to buy GSM or Okada for graduates of Tertiary Institutions in all disciplines and ask them to go to the farm to cultivate beehives, canerat farms or fish farms. This amounts to underutilization of manpower and a mockery of the intelligence of our Youths. In a State where political office holders can take Nl billion unsecured loan, and the future leaders (youths) are asked to fend for themselves, leaves much to be desired.
There used to be full scholarship schemes in those days for brilliant indigenes of Akure. This, to my knowledge and no longer exists. We are not referring here to the bursary awards which are grossly inadequate to see an indigent student through.
In the past, community policing was the responsibility of the Local Government but these days, the communities do their own policing to reduce crime. The old Akure town planning appears to be well laid out than the new expansions currently being witnessed which calls to question the professionalism of the Urban/Regional Planning Department. Care must be taken to avoid Urban slums or ghettos that are starting to emerge on a new scale. Akure Local Government used to tar intra-city roads in those days. How many meters have been tarred in the last 5 years by the Local
Government? Once more for Akure to maintain its leadership position since the provincial period in 1915. these challenges have to be addressed squarely by all and sundry. Let every Akure citizen make it a point of duty to elevate somebody from poverty.
The destiny of Akure is in the hands of Akure people. This is a wake-up call.
Akure a gbe wa o.
Prof. W.O, Olu-Aderounmu first published this piece in 2008 at a lecture he delivered.