By: Kayode Odunaro
Come February 3, 2016 Ogun State will clock 40 years since its creation in 1976 by the then General Murtala Mohammed Administration. The area that constitutes Ogun State is unique in several respects. Its people were pioneers in various
fields of human endeavor in Nigeria. In the professions, Ogun State indigenes are pioneers in almost all the fields one can think of. In political sphere, it has played a larger than life role in the affairs of the nation since independence producing such national leaders as late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, General Olusegun Obasanjo who had governed the nation as a military head of state and an elected president, Chief Ernest Shonekan, who equally had a short-lived stint as head of state and Chief MKO Abiola who won a widely acclaimed free and fair election but was denied his mandate to rule Nigeria. As pioneers in
education, the state produced many academic giants epitomize by the first Nobel Laureate in Nigeria and in Literature in Africa in the person of Professor Wole Soyinka.
Predictably from its early exposure to western education and culture, the state has also produced many frontline human and social rights activists that stood against injustices and inequities of military rule and its attendant violation of human rights, as well as all forms of social and political injustice and inequities across the land. Among the earlier purveyors of this tradition were Rev. Ransome Kuti family whose matriarch, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a thorn in the flesh of the colonial rulers before independence, a trait that she passed
on to her kids notably Fela , the legendary Afro beat musician and the medical doctor, Beko Ransome Kuti. The state also parade such social crusaders as late Tai Solarin, aforementioned Nobel Laureate, who even in his greying years would be found at the fore front of national agitation against injustice, inequity and impunity.
We can even count on the traditional institution to produce its own advocate of social and political justice for people. One is thinking of such traditional ruler as the Awujale of Ijebuland Oba Kayode Adetona who spoke truth to power during the
military era and was a source of succor to many fighters for individual and peoples’ rights. Indeed, one can say the traits to oppose injustice and inequity of any sort is a generalized trait among the people of Ogun State as no roll call of such category of people would be complete without a fair representation
of Ogun State people. It is in that light that you will have a Pastor Tunde Bakare, a Prof. Soyinka fighting for a Goodluck Jonathan to be made a president when it became apparent that President Umaru Yar’adua was no longer capable of governing due to a terminal illness.
But from all indications it looks real that this trait is more on display at the national level and elsewhere than internally in the state particularly on the political turf with its concomitant effects on other turfs. Since the creation of Ogun State in 1976, a section of the state have suffered social and political
injustice in varying degrees that the famous activists in the state seems to turn a blind eye to or pretend it is of no consequence or at best pay lip service to redressing. One is talking about the real marginalization of the people of Ogun West Senatorial District, comprising 5 Local Governments of Yewa South, Yewa North, Ipokia, Ado Odo Ota and Imeko- Afon, in socio-political sector of Ogun state that is symbolically epitomize in not producing a chief executive, military or civilian, in the state four decades history while the two other geo political zones of Ogun Central and East had various stints as military governor as well as elected governor. On two
separate occasions in its 40 year history both Ogun East and Central Senatorial District have been cumulatively elected to govern the state clocking respectively 12 years three months and at present 10 years and seven months. The running term for Ogun Central will up the ante to 14years plus for Ogun Central once Governor Ibikunle Amosun completes his
second term. And if we add the one year and 8 months of General Oladipupo Diya (rtd) tenure as military administrator to the years of Ogun East, the district will have governed Ogun State for over 13 years. So in essence out of the 40 years of statehood, the two zones of Ogun Central and East have governed for 23 years leaving the military 17 years.
Certainly either by commission or omission, there is inequity and injustice in the 40 years ruler ship of Ogun State against the citizen of Ogun West. It might be argued that there are no issues as long as all areas of the state are evenly developed. But the problem is that the reverse is the case with the rulers from
various senatorial districts skewing development to their areas to the detriment of the Ogun West people. In terms of infrastructural development, Ogun West is the least developed. In terms of recruitment into the MDAs of the
state indigenes of the area of Ogun West comes last. There is an imbalance even in Local Government structure of the state with the west again coming up at the rear. These inequities are not justified in terms of population ratio among the three districts that are almost at par.
It was certainly not out of lack of trying that Ogun West people have not attained the position of First Citizen of Ogun State. Repeatedly, the district have presented candidates and contested elections but by a sometimes shameful conspiracy, sometimes barefaced treachery and regrettably lack of unity of
purpose on the part of Ogun West, the injustice and inequity of 2 against 1 festered till date and most activists and stakeholders pretends normality or have a riposte of saying the Ogun West District have no “acceptable or capable”
candidate for the office. The last is false on all scores as the area then and even now have sons and daughters that can hold their own nationally and even internationally. The problem has always been the turning of blind eye to injustice and inequity and a selfish greediness that is counter- productive to
a holistic development of the touted “Gateway State”.
At 40 as the popular axiom goes, life begins for Ogun State. Is the state ready and willing to commence a new life that will redress the injustices and inequities of relegating one section of the state to underdevelopment? Will its leaders practice what they are known for nationally in their own backyard or continue the hypocrisy of the double standards of advocating one thing nationally and doing the opposite at home. The point any development experts can tell you is that a one sided development of a section leaves the whole less developed than
it would have been had all section been evenly development. The layman point of view of this is that no bird can fly with one wing or a triangular seat cannot balance properly on two legs. Attempt to proceed on the old order of injustice and inequity will lead to less development of the whole Ogun State as its apparent now for a state with much resources and potentials. Another opportunity stares the state in the face in 2019 for Ogun West to be fully part of Ogun State.
I am convinced that in 2019 Ogun West is ready and willing to present its best foot ever forward in redressing 4 decades of lopsided socio economic and political development of Ogun State. This conviction is premised on my belief that Ogun
State will NEVER proceed in error to fulfil the popular axiom of “a fool at 40 is a fool forever”. Now let us see where “Omo Oguns”, both leaders and led will cast their lots in the months and years ahead towards 2019 on this issue of political injustice and inequity. As the state anthem goes “Omo Ogun Ise ya, Ise po fun wa la tise.”
Baaroyin Kayode Odunaro, a former Chief Press Secretary To 3 Ogun State Chief Executives, write from Ona Ola Compound, Ilaro-Yewa, Ogun State. firstname.lastname@example.org