Ours is an abandoned, desolate, unwanted, lamenting and unanswered region in the northern senatorial zone of Oyo State. Whenever you think of a region with zilth Federal government presence, think of Okeogun area.
The sahel region of Borno State, Bakassi area of Cross River state and the Baruten area of Kwara and Niger state despite been in the same abandonment predicament by the Federal Government have one way or the other in the news, for good or bad, their voices were been heard nationally and internationally but same can not be said of Okeogun region in Oyo State.
We are so peaceful, loyal, conspicuous and also too silence that all the three tiers of government treats our people with disdain. Are we still part of the nation called Nigeria? Even in Oyo State, we are being treated with disdain to the extent that we are not considered worthy of becoming governor of the state and we are only good to produce deputy governors, a slot permanently allocated to us.
The reason, I do not know. Is it lack of people of integrity? The answer is NO because Okeogun sons and daughters all over the world are second to none in terms of integrity. The region can boast of the lady professor that authored the National Pledge we recites till date. A veteran and former commandant of ECOMOG, Surveyor-General of the federation, the world famous magician late Professor Peller and father of Christianity faith in West Africa, Late Samuel Ajayi Crowther, to mention but a few are all sons and daughters of Okeogun area in Oyo State.
Politically, Okeogun area has 10 out of 33 local government councils in the state. Ibadan has 11, Ogbomoso 5, Oyo 4 and Ibarapa 3. In other words, out of 5 geopolitical zones in the state, Okeogun is next to Ibadan in terms of population.
Geographically, Okeogun covers 68% of landmass in Oyo State, meaning that it is bigger than any of the states in the East and South South of Nigeria! The land is arable in nature for all sort of agricultural species and also blessed with natural resources amongst which is the largest marble deposit in Nigeria, the largest dam in Africa, though abandoned Federal Government Project (Ikere Gorge Dam). Precious stones deposit that are being illegally mined by Senegalese up till now, the limestone deposit being in the same longitudinal zone with Sokoto, Ibesse, Ewekoro that has capacity to accommodate a cement factory as done by Dangote group in Ibesse, Ogun State. Studies also revealed the Okeogun area has more natural resources than some countries in Africa especially Botswana.
All these resources have not appeal to government in both State and Federal to develop the region. We are so detested and rejected that some of our people have started thinking of excision and becoming citizens of Republic of Benin if the government over there will see to our plight.
Mr President, On several occasions, I always stop our people from lamentations. We can not continue to lament while we have not make efforts to seek power especially at the state level. A built up to last general election Okeogun Project Forum was formed to pioneer agitation for an indigene of the zone to become governor of the state. This encouraged about 8 prominent Okeogun sons to publicly declare their interest in gubernatorial tickets but met strong political manoeuvre from the dominance of our Ibadan people that now parades themselves as the only bonafide to the governorship of the state.
However, the only Federal government presence in Okeogun area are the security agencies like: Nigeria Police, Army, Customs, Immigration, DSS etc, not a SINGLE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROJECT is available to the region.
Education, no Federal university, colleges of education or even secondary schools. Transportation, all federal roads are abandoned talk less of railway! The much sought after Badagry – Sokoto Expressway has been abandoned in the last 35years! The new railway grids that will cut across all the 36 states of the federation did not pass through our over 23,000square kilometres of Okeogun region.
President Muhammadu Buhari, you had both as a military head of state and a civilian visited the zone specifically, Saki Town, the roads are still the same since then, the electricity is zero, recently our traditional rulers were in Abuja cap in hands to beg for direct connection from Kainji. What is our offence? Are we not part of this nation? Does the natural resources God blessed our land with not useful for the nation? Many questions begging for answer. You are not a cruel or callous leader. Please come to our plight. Okeogun area needs a share of Federal presence.
Succinctly put, we want our zone to be included in the railway grids, completion of Ikere Gorge Dam, re-award of the Badagry – Sokoto expressway, completion of Okerete Free Trade Zone, Federal University, Federal Polytechnic, Federal College of Education, and Federal or Government Secondary Schools.
God bless Okeogun Area,
God bless Nigeria
Esv. Ismail Adewoyin is Public Commentator & The Convener of Okeogun Project Forum
He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org or @ismailadewoyin on twitter.
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