THERE is no other way to draw the kind attention of Nigerians to the plight of a people whose existence is greatly threatened in our great nation Nigeria than to pen this article. Let me say right away that I am a foundation member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), having registered for the party at Ward 2, Ilaro, Yewa (Egbado) South of Ogun State. I had served in various appointive capacities like Chief Press Secretary, senior consultant to military and civilian governors of Ogun State as well as adviser on communications to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In these positions I had worked as a professional in government and joining APC was my first stint in partisan politics since the dawn of our democracy. I am an indigene of Ilaro in Yewa South of Ogun State.
The people of my area namely the Yewas, Aworis, Anagos, Ketu, Ohori and others, all located in Ogun West Senatorial District, are indeed disillusioned about our status in the state and indeed Nigeria as we have been grossly neglected in the scheme of things in the nation that our people are contributing to its development in diverse ways. For record purpose, Ogun West shares international boundary with Republic of Benin in the west, Lagos State in the south, Oyo State in the north and a host of local governments in the state to the east. With a hub of industrial complex, including the multi-million naira Dangote Cement at Ibeshe, the senatorial district account for about 70 per cent of the state’s IGR and a huge chunk of Nigerian Customs generated revenue to the Federal Government from our international borders.
Among us can be counted great men and women of local, national and international repute that had contributed/are contributing to national development. Historically, we have the warrior figure of Oronna of Ilaro, who was a defender of his people against the marauding Dahomean Army. But for his triumphs, it is possible that part of present day Ogun would have been carved into another country during the scramble for Africa, making us lose the present oil-rich Tongeji Island to Benin Republic. In contemporary time, we have renowned late Professor (Senator) Afolabi Olabimtan, a Yoruba linguistic expert; Professor Biyi Afonja, a renowned scholar; Professor A.I. Asiwaju, an international expert on boundarymatters; General Tunji Olurin, a former ECOMOG commander and Military Administrator of Oyo and later Ekiti states; late Chief J. A.O Odebiyi; Dr. S.A.J Ibikunle; late Dr. Tunji Otegbeye; a pre-independence activist and politician, Alhaji Bolarinwa Abioro; Senator Felix Kola Bajomo; Senator Kamal Odunsi; Professor Titilola Filani; Chief I. Ade Akinleye; Mrs Ebun Oyagbola, a former female federal minister; and Senator Iyabo Anisulowo, another female federal minister and a host of others.
We have no lack of eminent and qualified people to hold positions at state and federal levels. But surprisingly, since the creation of Ogun State over 40 years ago, no indigene of this district has been appointed or elected to govern the state with resultant lopsided and skewed development against the people of the area as will be acknowledged by any objective observer in relation to the two other senatorial districts of Ogun Central and East that had been rotating the governance of the state between them. And the neglect of Ogun West development is continuing. Infrastructure, particularly those structure in the area, are in a parlous state.
Over the years, the marginalisation of the people of the district in the state in terms of equal chances in governance and civil service has been compounded by denial of appointments of key officers of the Federal Government and its agencies. Key and top federal appointments from the state as with the governorship of the state has been from the two senatorial district of Ogun Central and East. Since 1999, no person from Ogun West has been appointed a minister of the Federal Republic. The last time we had a minister was under the military administration of General Sani Abacha when Mrs. Iyabo Anisulowo was appointed Minister of Education. Many federal appointments also ended up by act of omission or commission in the hands of the people of the other two senatorial districts further relegating the people and development of Ogun West to the backwaters.
The majority of Ogun West people that voted overwhelmingly for President Muhammadu Buhari believe in his sense of fairness, justice and equity and were expectant that in terms of federal appointments, you may look in the direction of Ogun West for some key federal positions that are coming to Ogun. The area is not in short supply of qualified and indeed ardent supporters of the Buhari administration. But surprisingly, the administration seems to be following the trend of old and further relegating Ogun West in the scheme of things. So far, the major federal appointments made by the administration have gone to people from Ogun Central and East. They are namely the Minister of Finance, the chairman of NCC and the Postmaster General of Nigeria. We are not in doubt of the competence of the individuals so appointed and we are indeed elated that the state parades illustrious sons and daughters that can hold their own anywhere in the world. But from the above narrated marginalisation of Ogun West, we were hoping that the Buhari administration that believes in change for better will use the privilege to assist in redressing the continuing marginalisation, underdevelopment and undermining of the people of Ogun West.
Our president may not have been fully briefed of the above situation, this article thus servers as a notice and plea for your kind attention to redress injustice and inequity to a people whose sense of belonging to a state and indeed Nigeria has been put to question and stretched to unacceptable levels in terms of collapsed infrastructure and denied appointments in government. We believe that we can still be part of the change we voted for given your sense of equity, justice and commitment to develop all parts of Nigeria.
- Odunaro wrote this piece from Ilaro, Ogun State.