The Oke-Ogun region of Oyo State is one of the materially richest part of Nigeria, one that has a lot to contribute to the development of Oyo State and Nigeria but which, for many reasons has remained the most under-developed and one of the most marginalized in the country.
Oke-Ogun serves as host to many towns amongst which are: Saki, Iseyin, Igboho, Igbeti, Sepeteri, Irawo, Tede,Ado Awaye, Ago-Are, Ago-Amodu, Oje Owode among others.
Of the 33 local government areas in Oyo State, Oke-Ogun boasts of 10. These 10 local governments boasts of land, and are suitable for agricultural and agro-allied uses, but 70 per cent of the population are engaged in subsistence farming and related activities.
The resources of the region, according to experts, shows that the area is richer than some African countries, including Botswana which is rich in diamond and is one of the most prosperous African countries.
In almost all sectors of agriculture, Oke Ogun’s solid minerals deposits is beyond comparison in Nigeria.
Marble, dolomite and others are in Igbetti, Olorunsogo Local Government and in Oriire. Tourmaline is in Komu, Itesiwaju, tantalite in Sepeteri, quartz in Itesiwaju, columbite, talc and several other minerals in all parts of the region.
Indeed, the economic development of Oyo State can be taken for granted on account of the mineral deposits in Oke-Ogun.
On tourism, that same region is blessed with almost too much. The suspended lake in Ado-Awaye is just one of the many good things about the Oke-Ogun axis of Oyo State, which are waiting to be fully put to profitable use.
Apart from the suspended lake, other tourism potentials include the Royal Forest (Igbo-Oba) in Igboho; Old Oyo National Park; Asabari Hill, Saki; Rock formation (Agbele hill) In Igbeti; Ikere Gorge Dam, Iseyin; Akomare Hill Iganagan; Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s birth place, Osoogu; and Imofin Hill.
The human capital in the region can be compared to non in any part of the country.
Yet the people have suffered too much neglect and under-development. They live in abject poverty and are regarded as second-class citizens in their state.
Poverty is very much alive there and the educational institutions there are dilapidated.
Successive governments in Oyo State have treated Oke Ogun as the backwater of the state to which leaders only go for votes at election time alone.
This is a justifiable reason why the next Governor of Oyo State should come from the Oke-Ogun part of the State.
Not a few have wondered why a people so blessed are so poor. Many in Oke-Ogun believe that its people have a lot to do with its under-development. Divisions among the people, lack of respect for one another and envy have been identified as reasons why the people have not been able to speak with one voice on the leadership of the state.
Since the creation of the state, no indigene of the area has been elected governor. The best that has happened is producing deputy governor. Ibadan and Ogbomosho have mastered the art of taking advantage of the division in Oke-Ogun, a source said.
There are prominent people in Oke-Ogun who can fight for this course, but only if they can be united and stand as one. Among them are:
Dr Zacheus Ajuwon, former personal physician to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and also CMD of the National Hospital, Abuja. He hails from Ago-Are.
Professor Dibu Ojerinde, former Registrar National Examination Council (NECO).
Former Registrar Joint Admission and Matriculation Board. He hails from Igboho.
Chief Isaac Ishola, current Commissioner for Environment, Oyo State.
Barrister Adebayo Shittu, current Minister for Communication, The Federal Republic of Nigeria. He hails from Saki.
Arch. Basiru Lawal, State Chairman Accord Party. He hails from Saki
Rt. Hon. Wasiu, The Deputy Speaker Oyo State House of Assembly. He hails from Saki.
Chief Micheal Adeniyi Koleoso, the Babalaje of Saki and former Secretary to the State Government under the late Lam Adesina.
Pa Adelere in Iseyin, a staunch politician, though in relatively poor health, who knows Oyo State like the back of his palm.
Chief Gideon Titilade Awakan, the Asiwaju of Okaka, a renowned economist who was the all-powerful Chairman of the Local Government Service Commision under Lam Adesina.
Alhaji Abu ‘Olododo’ Gbadamosi of Ilero, who served as Chairman of the Teaching Service Commision.
Chief Micheal Dokun Adegbite of Iganna.
Former Deputy Governor Hameed Gbadamosi from Saki.
Chief Iyiola Oladokun from Ado Awaye.
Also On this list is Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s deputy, Chief Moses Adeyemo.
A former Chief of Staff to Ajimobi, Deolu Akande
There is also Remi Olaniyan from Igboho, who was Permanent Secretary in Oyo State under Governor Rashidi Ladoja.
Ahmed Sani, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who hails from Iseyin, should not be left out.
The Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian , who was a federal commissioner under the Late President Umaru Yar’Adua should be included as well.
The youths in Oke-Ogun have been clamouring for the Oyo State seat of power to come to the region for the first time. Many youth’s movement have been formed to champion this course.
As the jostling towards the next general elections has begun, names of some indigenes of the area are already being brought forward as likely governorship aspirants. But picking a candidate is not the issue now. Can Oke Ogun speak with one voice?
Would Oke Ogun people work together and not dissipate their energies in all available political platforms?
Equity and justice, of course, speak for Oke-Ogun but the people have a lot of work to do on themselves.
What tomorrow will bring to Oke-Ogun will depend solely on how it’s leaders and followers play the political game today. And if Oke-Ogun must fight for this course, the youth’s should not be left behind.
That the next governor of Oyo State will come from Oke-Ogun is sayable, but for who the person will be? Only time will tell.
Ashiru Adefemi works with Safarahub and Smartsford Solutions. ICT and Consultancy Company.