But in Oyo state, the government has continued to marginalise the Oke-Ogun area of the state, even though the Oke-Ogun people voted massively for the government in power. The people have now come to associate the present administration in the state with past administration that through state policy perpetuated a regime of uneven distribution of infrastructural development in Oyo State.
Till date, development is concentrated along the Ibadan, Oyo and Ogbomosho axis of the state to the utter neglect of the Oke-Ogun axis. It is as if the state government is part of a gang up to under-develop the Oke-Ogun axis of Oyo State. Oke-Ogun is an area with 1.4million people according to the 2006 census results, is the food basket of the state and possesses 60 per cent of the state’s land mass but yet lacks any infrastructural facility.
The Oke-Ogun Development Council (ODC), the umbrella body of all associations and groups advancing and advocating for the development of the area recently undertook an assessment development of the 10 council areas that constitute Oke-Ogun. The conclusion drawn at the end of the tour was that Oke-Ogun is the most backward in all ramifications compared to what obtains in other parts of the state.
Oke-Ogun has the largest land mass in Oyo State but lacks any noticeable government presence; an indication of government’s insensitivity to the plight of the people. If the Oyo State government disagrees with this position, let the administration of Gov. Alao-Akala publish projects executed in Oke-Ogun and their locations.
During the assessment tour, a community leader said: “We thought this government was going to be different from what we had experienced in the past; we canvassed and voted for them, but they turned round to say our votes do not count.
“We’ve no higher institution of learning, no medical health facility, no good roads and you cannot see pipe borne water in any part of Oke-Ogun. The bore-holes sunk are through individual or communal efforts. Many of them have since packed off. Where is the government? We in this part of the state have not seen, felt the essence or dividends of democracy”.
Because of the neglect and injustices meted to the people of Oke-Ogun, the people of the area are now more unified in the agitation for the creation of Oke-Ogun State. They are poised to pursue their cause to a logical conclusion.
Every community visited during the tour backs the agitation for the creation of Oke-Ogun State from the present Oyo State because of the high level of marginalization and deprivation and lack of federal presence in the area in all ramifications. Our struggle for emancipation from the political oppression we have suffered in Oyo State dates back to the 50s. Under the present democratic dispensation, it is the right of the people to decide their socio-political and economic direction, judging from the prevailing conditions, where the Oke-Ogun area has been under developed by successive administrations in the Oyo State; as development is concentrated on the Ibadan, Oyo and Ogbomosho axis of the state.
The people of Oke-Ogun are not ignorant of fifth columnists from the area, who prefer to serve the interests of their pay masters rather than support the mass mobilisation and agitation taking place at the grass root. Traditional rulers from the area have added their voice to the clamour for the creation of Oke-Ogun State. The contentious issue of a state capital that denied us the opportunity of having our state in 1996 has been over -come. Everybody in the area is championing the cause and working for the success of the proposed state, believing that government will actualise the project this time around.
Enemies of the proposed state have bandied many insinuations about our attempt to break the historical link between Oke-Ogun and Oyo. What the people of Oke-Ogun are clamouring for is not history but emancipation and development. There is no part of Oke-Ogun that is developed. Projects to be located in Oke-Ogun by the state government are mysteriously manipulated over-night by powerful forces to be sited outside Oke-Ogun. We have played the second fiddle for too long and we say that, enough is enough. It is time for us to emancipate ourselves from the political doldrums and social backwardness because we believe that, the creation of Oke-Ogun State will translate to rapid development.
To actualise their dream for the creation of the proposed state, the people of Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State under the auspices of the Oke-Ogun Development Council, last week presented their memorandum to the National Assembly, requesting the federal government to create Oke-Ogun State out of the present Oyo State.
The association while presenting its memorandum through its national chairman, Prof. J. D. Adeniyi reeled out the various deprivations the people of the area have sufferied and continue to suffer. He accused the state government of under-developing the Oke-Ogun axis of the state. He implored the National Assembly to summon the political courage to actualize the creation of the proposed state with capital at Agunrege.
“Since Independence, the Oke-Ogun people have been neglected totally as whatever visible development you notice in the area is through community development programmes. Through self-development, Oke-Ogun people have developed themselves and we therefore want the federal government through significant inputs from the National Assembly to consider creating Oke-Ogun State in this dispensation,” he said.
The proposed Oke-Ogun State according to Prof. Adeniyi shall comprise Olorunsogo, Oorelope, Irepo, Shaki East, Shaki West, Atisbo, Itesiwaju, Iseyin, Kajola and Wajowa local government area councils. He said the area has all it takes to be a viable state in terms of its 13,537sq km of landmass; a population of 1. 497million people according to the 2006 census results and abundant economic, and human resources endowments.
Kemi Akintola contributed this piece from Abuja.