Prof M.N Tijani of the department of Geology in a public lecture delivered at Saki Parapo City Hall on 27th of December, 2014 titled “The cry for Saki’s development: Issues, stakeholders and challenges” and while citing Aderounmu (2014) posed the following rhetorical questions relating to the perceived marginalisation of Oke-ogun.
(1) Why is Oke-Ogun still singing the same song of marginalisation as it was in the beginning of democratic dispensation in Nigeria?
(2) Is Oke-Ogun development ordained by God that the people be subservient to eternity?
(3) Could it be that Oke-Ogun lacks the understanding of the politics that is peculiar to their situation?
(4) Could it be a case of self-marginalization?
In addition to these, I’ve also added a few of mine.
(5) Why is it that Oke-Ogun currently don’t have any politician that can outrightly win an election in the region?
(6) Why is it that majority of our politicians are not well connected/acceptable in other regions?
(7) Why is it that most of our elected officials have not been able to perform reasonably up to expectations?
(8) Could it be that we lack competent leaders?
(9) Could it be that we don’t support our sons and daughters as much as we should do?
(10) Why are we pitting our ‘worst’ against their ‘best’?
(11) Why do we have high numbers of political “dropouts” in the region?
Although the erudite explorer turned social commentator did not attempt to provide any answer(s) to these, I’m afraid that I personally believe that the correct answers are in affirmative of most of these deep, thought provoking and emotional questions.
In as much there are clear evidences to believe that systematic scheme to marginalise and denigrate the region exists, we have to be frank with ourselves that we have not done enough to deserve being reckoned with in the political sphere of the state.
We are virtually devoid of political structure, plan and leaders and we’ve also failed to support the few ones that we have.
I might be wrong but I currently don’t know anyone from Oke-ogun who enjoys relative wide support from the region not to even talk of Ibadan, Ibarapa, Oyo and Ogbomoso axis. Nobody from Oke-Ogun can win in Oke-Ogun.
Even Barrister Adebayo Shittu, a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, would’ve lost massively in the region if he was allowed to contest before his embarrassing and unfortunate disqualification.
I admire Prof Adeolu Akande for the way he’s building his political profile. He seems to have the aura, and political understanding to actually mount a serious challenge in the future.
Many indigenous and progressive movements have assiduously canvassed and campaigned for a son or daughter of the region to be elected the governor in 2019. Oke-Ogun Project Forum (OPF) and Oke-Ogun Development Consultative Forum (ODCF) immediately comes to mind. However, less than 6 months to the election, we still don’t have anyone who can seriously mount a challenge even if given PDP, APC or ADC gubernatorial tickets. There’s serious dearth of leaders and as such, we are ‘directionless’. We need to have abundant pool of individuals from which a governor could be chosen from which we currently don’t have.
Apart from Chief Michael Koleosho whose distinguished service as the Secretary to the state government earned him plaudits and who is well known and well connected to other regions of the state, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to mention a single person from Oke-ogun who commands similar respect. Not even the current deputy governor who I keep wondering how such an ineffective, inactive and docile individual got to that position. Another case of our ‘worst’ against their ‘best’!
Could it be that the likes of Koleoshos and other stakeholders failed to mould the next political actors? I’m afraid so. You look at Ibadan and you can’t count the number of younger politicians that were/are mentored by Lamidi Adedibu, Lam Adeshina, Rashidi Ladoja and even Abiola Ajimobi. The same goes for Oyo region. You look at Ogbomosho and they’re equally adept at political manoeuvering and mentoring unlike us who failed to move on. Alao Akala preferred candidates surely have an upper hand in any election in Ogbomosho. We don’t have such in Oke-Ogun.
What has been the impacts of senators from Oke-Ogun in national, state and local politics? Negligible!
How many senators from Oke-ogun has been allowed to be successfully returned to the upper chamber? Where are the likes of Robert Koleosho, Hosea Ayoola and Gbenga Babalola in Oyo politics now? How can they just go under the radar? The same senate that Bola Tinubu, Rashidi Ladoja, Teslim Folarin, Olufemi Lanlehin and Abiola Ajimobi went, came back politically armed, and used it as the springboard for a lifetime of political relevance and success. Hosea Ayoola was a commissioner for 8 years before he became a senator. He was even, at a time, the only senator in PDP from southwest!. Where is he? There are chances that many people in the region would not even recognise him. He was still a senator about 3 years ago.
How many of our House of Representatives members and House of Assembly members have the opportunity to return to their seats? How many of our House of Assembly have been supported to go to House of Representatives or even the Senate? And what are the impacts and political relevance of those who have been able to do that? Most of them have had their political sojourns truncated due to gross incompetency, inability to understand state politics, negligence of the people who elected them and many other unforgiving anomalies. A classic enunciation of “our worst against their best”.
We also have to support progressive politics, we need to understand that without us supporting the few leaders that we currently have, we will continue to sing the song of marginalisation till eternity. I’m not saying that we should support incompetent and clueless leaders. I know I hugely risk being quoted out of context here. However, there is enough reason to believe that we purposely dig up reasons -tenable and untenable so as never to allow anyone to hold on to power for too long. It’s a tripartite (dys)function involving political stakeholders and stalwarts with cognizable experience in politics and governance who are to develop, guide and mentor the next crop of leaders, the political office holders who should distinguish themselves as ambassadors of the land and the indigenes who should support competent sons and daughters of the region to ascend.
It’s high time we started developing ourselves politically beyond the shore of Oke-Ogun. We need to have our sons/daughters at the upper and lower chamber of the National Assembly being applauded not only in the region but also in the state and across the country for their intelligence, vibrancy, impacts and earning positive reviews for their participation in national politics. We can’t afford to keep sending our worst to compete with their best lest we keep singing the song of marginalisation till eternity. We don’t want a sheepish, clueless and docile deputy governor whose name and/or influence cannot be used to win an election.
Dear stakeholders and politicians, keep mentoring young minds and start creating a legacy for the upcoming youth from Oke-Ogun.
Dear young patriots, now is the time to start learning about politics far beyond the shore of our region.
Only when we have our best in various positions making us proud in local, state and national politics can we truly think of rescuing the region from the myriads of maladies which have plagued it.
Bashiru Hameed Akande-Olokunesin writes from Saki.