Ereke Day is like Xmas for Ikenne indigenes —The Alakenne Of Ikenne, Oba Adeyinka Onakade
I thank God for allowing me to witness the 40th Ereke Day. I thank God for everything. I am happy because I am one of the founding members. Around 1976, when there was no pipe borne water in Ikenne, during the construction of the Abeokuta/ Iperu/ Ilishan Ijebu Ode road, the pipeline was distrupted.
Everything was uprooted. That was the pipeline that brought water to Ikenne from Ogere. Then, we had no water. What we used to do when coming from Lagos was to fetch water from Lagos for our use in Ikenne. There was a day my self and my wife went to Odogbolu from Ikenne to fetch pipe borne water.We put kegs at the back of our car. When we got there, we met five indigenes of Ikenne who also came there to fetch water. Along the line, the crowd became unbearable for the indigenes and they started to abuse us. They wanted to drive us away. They reluctantly allowed us to fetch water that day. I was annoyed. Ditto other Ikenne indigenes who were there. I remember Revd Awobajo was there; one Akinola was there. And some others too. It was then we put heads together and asked ourselves; what manner of embarrassment is this? We then mooted the idea of having a borehole. Fortunately, Revd Awobajo and others belonged to a society. I think Ikenne Youths Circle. I belonged to Ikenne Inner Circle. The two societies and other societies in the town put heads together and went to the late Daddy Kolawole Oronti. Papa Oronti belonged to Ikenne Social Circle. There and then, we fixed a meeting. The meeting was held on 2nd of July, 1977. That was the beginning of the birth of Ikenne Development Association (IDA). I remember Revd Awobajo represented his society, I represented my society, the late Tunde Allen came with me. My wife represented her club, Ikenne Ladies Circle. She was the secretary then.
We were many. That was what gave birth to IDA. Thereafter, we started holding series of meetings. And the idea of having a borehole came in. The first borehole was constructed and donated to us by Pa (Prince) Onafowokan.All the club members embraced the association in view of its very good programmes.
The main objective include: development, improvement, social well being of all sons and daughters of ikenne.The unique part of our asssociation is that all the developmental projects we have been having are mainly handled by Ikenne indigenes. The federal, state and local governments never had hand in our projects.It has been self help throughout. That is why I said IDA is a unique one. In other development societies, they will ask people from other parts to come and help but here in Ikenne, it is not so.
Kabiyesi, former Governor Gbenga Daniel started the construction / dualisation of Sagamu/Ikenne road…
That is government project. The former Governor Gbenga Daniel started dualisation of Sagamu/Ikenne road. He did not complete it before his term expired. Unfortunately, the road has been like that since he left. It has never been attended to. And the IDA has no resources to handle the road.
We thank God that all the access roads to Ikenne are dualised. We have been urging the present government to help us complete that road. no joke. We have a lot to list as our achievements while some are on going. If you permit me, I will say the IDA has become our own xmas festival. It has become a very big festival. It is a programme that our sons and daughters both at home in the diaspora travel down to celebrate.
It is so far, so good —Otunba Olusola Odumosu, President, Ikenne Development Association
Otunba Odumosu, you are the 8th presient of the Ikenne Development Association and the association is celebrating its 40th anniversary. How has the journey been so far?
It has been very smooth and challenging. The journey has not been bad. There had been ups and downs but we thank God because the glory belongs to Him. I also have to thank all the past presidents beginning from the pioneer president, the late Daddy Kola Oronti, to Architect Adenike Adesina, to Barrister Ariyo Adebayo, to Dr Tunji Adelowo who handed over to the Barrister Omololu Layemo, to Elder Tayo Fadipe and to my sister, Mrs Olaolu Adubifa. We thank God for everything. The most important thing is that we have peace in the town.
You have been in the system for decades. What, in your opinion, informed the establishment of IDA?
The whole thing was based on general development of the town particularly education. We cannot leave Papa Awolowo’s education programmes. From inception, it was a decision to educate the people of Ikenne. That was why we started giving scholarships to people, establishing schools, increasing the number of public schools, from primary to secondary. I remember we started with Our Saviours Primary School. Then Wesley school which is now Methodist School. The idea to increase the schools came. An Sa Ud-deen primary School came in to take care of the muslim community and later, Obafemi Awolowo Primary School at Yawa, Ikenne. Also secondary school.
You mentioned scholarship scheme. How do you go about the scheme and what are the parameters for indigenes to benefit?
The whole idea started from papa’s free education programme. We got to a point the government was no longer practising the real free education. Ikenne indigenes who are blessed brought the idea of giving out scholarships to students. We have Alagba Simeon Oyeniyi. He is still alive. The late Juwon Adesina gave scholarships to students. The late Daddy Kolawole Oronti also gave scholarships to students. the late Kehinde Sofola also gave out scholarships. Otunba Adeleke Adesina is still giving scholarships.Lately, Deaco Tunde Odumosu also gives out. And when you talk of scholarshipit is not limited to primary or secondary, it is extended to tertiary institutions.
There are beneficiaries who will be given their chequeus during the grand finale (today). Personally, I give out scholarship too. You know I am not asrich as most of them.
How many people benefit from your scholarship?
At least, I give to six people annually both at the primary and secondary school levels. I have been doing that now for the past 20 years.
Your emergence as the IDA president was through an election which was against the initial norm of succession plan for IDA presidents. Where did Ikenne people get it wrong?
It has become history now that I became the first democratically elected IDA president. I personally see that election as uncalled for.We do conduct election into other posts but not that of the president. The contest ends at the level of the second vice president to the first vice president. Once you become the first vice, automatically, you are going to be the next president. That had always been the pattern. I had served in various executives so I know what I’m saying. I stand to be challenged. You can’t just bring money from outside and attempt to upturn the system. I thank God for what happened. There were so many factors. I can assure you that such election will never happen in the system again. I paid the sacrifice which was uncalled for.
Where the word ‘Ereke’ came from —Idowu Sofola, San
To my mind, I think it’s God’s grace because before then, there was a lot of division among people of this small place through politics. Division in the sense that it could be traced to those days when we had the Action Group (AG) and the NCNC and many people belonged to both. And there was a lot of problems. Serious problems. So bad that some times, some people who had been married to a side were withdrawing their daughters from the marriage. From the start of Ereke Day, it was the beginning of true onenessof Ikenne people.
Because since we started, we got people together no matter your political difference, no matter where you belong, it is Ikenne first. When we started, it was like a federation of clubs that made up the IDA. It was the the clubs that took over projects. If you look at our roads, you will see that they are all good. They were not made by the government, they were done by IDA. One club will say I will take this projet, the other will say I will do that project and so on. Then, specific bills of street lights were undertaken by the IDA. Apart from that, every year, we have a chairman who presides over that event. That chairman will undertake a project which he will start and finish before the next Ereke Day.
Let me state here that Ikenne started this idea of annual day before others joined.. Here, unlike in some other places, we dont invite people to come and make donations. We have high table where the governor and other dignitaries will sit, the truth is that we dont invite people to come and make donations.
It was a suggestion by Papa Awolowo —Prince Emmanuel Adebanjo Osibona
The idea came into being as a suggestion by Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He told us that there should be a forum where all Ikenne sons and daughters will meet and share opinions. At that time, as individuals, we had societies but there was no collective one that we are doing now. Papa Awolowo even said that was why all his daughters didn’t marry in Ikenne; because they did not know themselves.
He noted then that if we had been coming together for a purpose, we would have known ourselves, then the question of going elsewhere would not have arisen. Then, we decided as members of Ikenne Social Circle, the oldest in this place.
Our president was the late Chief Kolawole Oronti. We decided that we should arrange a date around the christmas time where all of us will come together as a group. You know during christmas season, at that time we were doing fanfare during which we invited people from Lagos to come and sing and make people happy.
That was how we started Ikenne Development Association around 1975. Since then, it has been expanding.