In recent times, agriculture has been identified as the way to go to lighten the burden of poverty and unemployment prevalent in the Nigerian society. In order to better the lots of its people and put Oyo State, as well as the South-West on a path of economic emancipation, the leadership of Itesiwaju Local Government has embarked on a series of developmental projects and massive agriculture. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE reports.
Itesiwaju Local Government Council area of Oyo state with headquarters at Otu town in the Oke Ogun region of the state was created 20 years ago. And like many other local councils, though it has 10 wards, it has not attained its full potential economically and in terms of infrastructure.
As big as the council is, there is no banking institution and the people in the towns that make up the council have a mental division that lets them see themselves as different communities rather than a unified community.
All these are, however, a thing of the past as the tide has turned for the communities in the council in the last seven months that the present caretaker chairman, Hon. Niyi Adeagbo was appointed. For him, it cannot be business as usual as he believes the council has all the ingredients of greatness.
Assessing the council in its 20 years of existence, Adeagbo believes that it can be better than it is at present. “I will say successive governments have tried their best over the years and have put some things in place but we are we not where we should be and there is much to be done. It is not good that as big as we are, there is no financial institution in this council; this cripples the economy of the people and narrows their business transaction opportunities. But we are working to bring micro finance institutions here and we are talking to some commercial banks too,” he told Nigerian Tribune.
At present, activities at the council are geared towards four cardinal points; unity of purpose that will allow everyone to see themselves as one so that whatever facility is brought into the council will not be seen as belonging to the area which it is domiciled, but to all the communities within the local government area, human capital, which involves empowering the people to move beyond working for feeding alone, but to also explore their potential and reasoning to also be decision makers and an income generating society, economic development and infrastructural development to encourage investors.
“We have to develop our infrastructure, especially in the hospitality sector. If you need to bring people here, there must be a conducive environment to sleep, power especially at night and some other little things that will make their stay comfortable and encourage them to invest. We are working on this and all our activities are centered on improving the council,” Adeagbo said.
The chairman believes that it is time to focus on development of the council and its people to present a united front and work together for the development of the local government.
“The Itesiwaju of our dream is one where the towns in this council will be united, agriculture will be a big venture, not only for community consumption, but as an income generating vessel, the economy will be transformed and there will be infrastructural development.
“We want to create employment opportunities for our youths through the various sectors of agriculture so they won’t all be commercial motorcycle riders that only live to get money for food and nothing more,” the caretaker chairman said.
Adeagbo, as the youngest chairman in the state, has a lot of challenges but he is not overwhelmed. “I am not the youngest in Oyo State. I am the youngest caretaker chairman in Oke Ogun and the second youngest in the state. This just makes it imperative for me to perform and perform well. I belong to a group that has been clamouring to be included in the decision making process.
“I have been given the opportunity and if I fail, I would have let down my generation and also given the older people a chance to say we tried them and they didn’t measure up. So I cannot afford to fail, there is so much at stake and my community is also looking up to me.
“I believe it is a challenge but by the grace of God, we will succeed because at the end, it is not about age but about delivering and doing the right thing for the people”.
According to him, the opportunity to serve his people is a rare one that he will always be grateful for. “This opportunity is a privilege and one that I had always wanted; to serve my people and prove that as youths, we can make a difference in peoples lives and in our society. I use this opportunity to thank our dear father and leader, Governor Abiola Ajimobi, for his support, trust, fatherly advice and rear privilege given to me to serve my people, the only appreciation I can show is to put the best of my abilities to work and to deliver, in real terms, the dividends of democracy to my constituency to justify the trust placed on me is not misguided.”
He reiterated that Itesiwaju local government will not be on the back burner when issues of agriculture are being discussed and he has gone beyond cultivating farms only on paper. To be a part of the agricultural revolution in the state, the council had as required made available 10, 000 hectares for the first phase of AgricOyo project and had gone beyond that to actually plant 200 hectares of cassava.
He is not a chairman that sits in the office when others have gone to the farm as he is always a part of all activities of the AgricItesiwaju project which has adopted many youths and trained them for the job ahead.
Indeed, for the people of Itesiwaju Local Government, the dawn of a new era in development is here.