Igbo-Elerin Day: 200 communities celebrate citizenship participation in rural community development
Elerin District of Ibadan stood still last Saturday when the Igbo-Elerin Council of Baales and Forum of Chiefs held a three tier programme; launching of Igbo-Elerin anthem, N50m development fund and conferment of chieftaincy titles as part of the second edition of Igbo-Elerin Day. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE reports that the event inspired descendants of the district to collaborate to develop their hometown.
Ile wa olokiki
K’oluwa ko bukun wa
Osi o nitawa
Awa layo a sope
Idunnu ati ‘lera
Koje ipin ti wa
K’a ni ‘losiwaju
Ife ati ‘sokan
K’a ni ‘tesiwaju
Imole wa si ma tan
Gege bi ‘rawo sanmo
Ile wa olokiki
K’oluwa ko bukun wa
This is the anthem of Igbo-Elerin that was launched last Saturday as part of the second anniversary of Igbo-Elerin Day which held on the ground of Igbo-Elerin Grammar School. The anthem was initiated by the Forum of Igbo-Elerin chiefs, three anthems were presented to the Igbo-Elerin Council of Baales by the Chief’s Forum led by Asiwaju of Igbo-Elerin, Professor Kayode Idowu.
One of the three anthems presented, Igbo-Elerin wa, Ile Olokiki was unanimously adopted and it was composed and rendered into a song by the Onigege Ara of Igbo-Elerin, Dr Bayo Adebowale at the African Heritage Research Library in Adeyipo village and it was conducted for the first time before an audience by students of Igbo-Elerin Grammar school and pupils of Unity School, Adeyipo led by Abraham Olukunmi Osundina.
Elerin District is an integral part of Ibadan that had always been circumstantial and cosmopolitan. This is due to the influence of the Yoruba war lord and Generalissimo, Lagelu, who founded the town in 1829 and it became a British protectorate in 1893. The district is mainly an agrarian society which specializes in crafts like broom and basket making, palm wine tapping, soap making and palm oil processing,
Elerin district comprises of 200 villages and hamlets which are faced with a number of social, economic and infrastructural challenges that has not allowed it to take a pride of place as one of the integral districts in Ibadan. This is one of the reasons the Forum of Chiefs under the Council of Baales put together the Igbo-Elerin Day celebration to gather its sons and daughters together and encourage them to contribute to the overall development of the land.
In his opening speech, the Asiwaju of Igbo-Elerin, Professor Olukayode Idowu stated that in the last one year, they have identified and prioritized some key things to jump- start the development of the district. “We need potable water and a good network of all year round motorable roads; in most villages, many people can no longer process oil palm fruits due to lack of water, other perishable agricultural goods especially fruits and vegetables are left to rot due to absence of motorable roads.
“The celebration is mainly to gather the sons and daughters of Igbo- Elerin, the purpose is to develop our community and we have set it on three prongs of developmental goals and we will act on them all; we are launching Igbo-Elerin anthem to inspire our people to attain greatness, there is the N50m development fund while honourary chieftaincy titles will be given to some people as part of the celebration. All in all, it is about development and creating interst in the community.
In his address, the chairman of the 2018 Igbo-Elerin day planning committee who is also the Baale of Kutayi, Chief Femi Osunkunle, urged that they should continue in efforts aimed at developing the communities within the district. “I plead that we should not relent in our efforts at laying a solid foundation for the accelerated development of Igbo-Elerin community. All hands must therefore be on deck and this is part of the effort to sustain the Igbo-Elerin day.
“Igbo-Elerin community must wake up and see that a higher institution is established in Igbo-Elerin as we have the land and human resources to actualize our dream. So we are calling on the state government, corporate organizations and wealthy citizens to come to Igbo-Elerin and invest in the socioeconomic sectors,” he said.
On his part, Agbaakin Lekan Alabi, stated that the idea of the people of Igbo–Elerin is a laudable one, adding that the celebration is not a jamboree but a rural development initiative focused on encouraging descendants of communities under the district to give back and develop their communities.
He stated that there is a need for the local government as the tier of governance closest to the grassroots to live up to its responsibilities and also called on well meaning descendants to pull their weight and not leave everything to government, adding that if basic amenities are provided, there will be a limit to rural-urban migration and people will live longer.
“We need to put basic things in place so that people can be connected to urban areas and also live comfortably here and stop drifting to urban areas, when that is done, industries will move here because it is closer to nature and raw materials while human resources will also be cheaper and readily available.
In his address, the grand patron, Dr Sunday Ola Makinde, Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, lauded the sons and daughter of Igbo-Elerin for not forgetting their roots despite the fact that they have attained greatness and urged them not to relent in their efforts at giving back to their community and ensuring the socio- economic development of all communities in the district.
The chairman of the occasion, Professor Harry Taiwo Ladapo, the Basegun of Ibadanland and Babajo of Olorunda stated that every community should promote rural development initiative just like the people of Igbo-Elerin by putting up infrastructures that will stop migration from rural to urban centres.
“This community has good network of roads and with what the people are planning, it will be a good site for businesses especially cottage industries. We need to enlighten the people and encourage what this people are doing as a self help project,’ he stated.
Speaking on the Igbo-Elerin anthem, Dr Bayo Adebowale, the Onigege Ara of Igbo-Elerin and the composer of the anthem stated that, “It is our desire to make history for Igbo-Elerin district of Ibadan and score a first, it has never happened in any other district in Ibadan, we want to be unique and let the whole world see the seriousness in us in this part of Ibadanland. So we decided to compose a district anthem to feature the vision and mission of the good people of Igbo-Elerin.
“An anthem that will be culturally oriented, that will put our people in a position to appreciate their roots, love it and want to contribute to its progress. If you study the wordings of that anthem, you will see that it contains words of inspiration and wisdom to push our sons and daughters into action and draw them back home to contribute their quota. It is mainly to galvanise our people into action and let them appreciate the glory of serving their fatherland and where they grew up,’ he said.
The development project for the 2018 celebration is construction of borehole to ensure adequate provision of potable water to villages and hamlets in the district. The Forum of Chiefs and Council of Baales have projected to sink 60 boreholes in strategic locations.
Despite the seriousness of the celebration, it was a fun filled event with indigenous groups led by the Lagelu Indigenes Council leading the way to ensure a successful outing.
The self help project of the Igbo-Elerin people will indeed go a long way in augmenting government’s effort in the district.