By Tayo Oyekanmi
That Government is a continuous process has become a popular cliché is not in doubt. That every successive government should also focus on anything that would better the lots of people at every point in time should also not be up for debate. In that regard, the essence of Government therefore, is to ensure that activities in a defined territory are properly coordinated in a manner that would ensure fulfillment of common aspirations of the citizenry. Without doubt, governance is about seeking solutions to problems. Government exists to provide services and programs in a just and equitable manner to all strata of people in given territory in accordance with established broad guidelines and principles in a way that would ensure fairness across board.
Unfortunately, the truism enumerated above has not been the case with the people of Ogun West Senatorial District of the State which has seen successive governments in the State treating the Zone like a second Class citizen of the state rather than equal stakeholder. A peep into the memory lane in the State, especially since the return of Democracy after the Military interregnum in 1999 will reveal that Ogun West has become the weeping boy or better still, a pawn in the hand of successive governments in their political chess game.
For a State that was created over forty years ago without an Ogun West person ever been so lucky to preside over the affairs of the State just for once, speaks volume of the level of subjugation the people of Yewa/Awori are currently going through. The stages have consistently been shared between East and Central Senatorial Districts. Though a sizeable number of these years have seen the Military jackboot and their elements running things. Except for 1979 to 1983 when Chief Olabisi Onabanjo was the Governor of the State and the short reign of Chief Segun Osoba between 1992 and 1993 all other years from 1976 when the State came into being to 1999 have seen the military acting like lord of the manor when it comes to controlling the affairs of the State.
With the enthronement of Democracy in 1999 that saw to the emergence of Chief Segun Osoba from Ogun Central Senatorial district once again as the Governor of the State. The spring board of his administration was more on the opening up of Rural Areas. Rural Electrification was the main thrust. Ogun West without doubt actually received a kind of passable interest in this regard. The issue of Public Water also received consideration from the administration but not much of this was done in Ogun West. The Government also constructed some networks of Roads but again and clearly too, Ogun West was shortchanged.
Ogun West received a level of compassionate consideration in terms of Political appointments under the administration of Osoba. The most notable was the appointment of a seasoned Public Administrator, Deacon Poju Adeyemi as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and a couple of Commissioners too. However, in terms of human capital development and other infrastructural facelift, Ogun West was not accorded the needed support to be at par with the other two Senatorial Districts.
The Era of Otunba Gbenga Daniel who came on board in 2003 with the mantra of “Awakening The Sleeping Giant” in the State. But by the time the Administration winded up in 2011, it was clear even to the blind that the “awakening was selectively done in skewed ways against the interest of Ogun West. The administration was full of so much sound and fury but signifying not much for the Ogun West. The Administration heralded her arrival with a new political synchronization (Ziggy) to the consciousness of the people. Under the administration, attempts were made to give a new semblance of direction of governance to the State with Establishment of State agency like Ogun State Road Maintenance Agency (OGROMA) but even as at that, only few roads in Ogun West received the attention of the Agency despite being with the highest numbers of most deplorable roads in the State. Activities of OGROMA were more noticeable in the other districts of the State. To the credit of that administration, the Stadium in Ilaro was put in place but that saw two other ones springing up in both Ijebu Ode and Sagamu in Ogun East Senatorial Districts. That was also replicated with the establishment of a Polytechnics in Igbesa why multiplying that of East with one in Sapade and another in Ijebu Igbo. The administration also established the International market Owode/Ajilete Yewa but the market just functioned in name than operation even ever before the Administration left office up till today.
Under Otunba Gbenga Daniel Administration, Ogun West occupied the position of the Deputy Governor for the very first time in the history of the State even if it was and still for the purpose extra tyre. During the Eight years, some Ogun West indigens also at one point or the other occupied some key commissionership portfolio of Health, Works, Agriculture and Housing. The administration of OGD also tried to resuscitate some farm settlements across the State set up by Awolowo’s foresighted leadership. Unfortunately by the time OGD was leaving office, none was functioning in the real sense of it in Ogun West.
Politically and practically too, major political actors from the Ogun West became more of sycophant under OGD administration. He encouraged multiple aspirants from Ogun West at twilight of his administration to signify their intent to succeed him even with those who could not possibly win Assembly seat joining the fray. The political environment became polluted and saturated. Up till today, the impact of that disunity arisen from that is still plaguing the people of Ogun West.
The narrative of marginalization did not change much under Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s administration. The trend actually continued with Ogun West holding the short end of the stick in terms of nearly everything under the administration. Key political appointments were not evenly or fairly distributed at the detriment of Ogun West. So was infrastructure development. Though Amosun was daring and truthful to himself. He left no one in doubt of his determination to redesign Abeokuta either for the reason of being the capital or other personal attachments. And that he did.
However, the administration under him attended to some infrastructure deficiencies in Ogun West but it was too little to alter or change the mountain of problem on ground. Before the advent of the administration, the Nitel Road in Ota linking Tollgate to Lagos State was anything than road. Amosun government actually fixed and dualized it during his first term. So he did with some other adjoining roads in Ota axis. The administration also did some road work in Ayetoro Yewa North. The greatest infrastructural impact of that government would have been felt if the stretch of over 100km road linking the four LGs of Imeko-Afon, Yewa North, Yewa South and Ipokia was completed. The road was opened up but not completed. At the tail end of the administration, the Owode/Ilaro road in Yewa South was also given attention but not fully completed, though skeletal work is still on going. The administration also established The Polytechnic Ipokia, more as a parting gift while upgrading the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic in Abeokuta to a University status. That prouncement backed up by the necessary governmental process and law is still a burning issue raging in the State today.
Though it is too early to review the current administration of Dapo Abiodun who is just bearly 100 days in the office. But if the glimpses of his prevailing actions is anything to go by, then Ogun West might continue with the lamentation song of neglect for the time being. In term of political appointments so far, Ogun West is receiving a bloody nose. Even with the various committees being set up, the composition is against Ogun West not only in terms of numbers but status too. On the intention of the administration to attend to three Federal Roads in the State, two of the said roads were located in Ogun East while a fraction of the third one passed through Sango-Ota in Ogun West.
It must be stated, that no successive governments in the State have really been fair to Ogun West in terms of equitable distribution of projects, policy benefits or appointments while juxtaposing it with what was obtainable in the other parts of the State. It can only be the degree of neglect by the different administration that could be up for debate. The spate of inequality is real. There are problems of various dimensions and magnitude. The whole gamut of Ogun West is really in bad shape to put it in simplest form.
What then is the way out from the dungeon for the people of Ogun West? It is more of two prong approach and dimensions. Though it could be simplistic theoretically but experience has shown otherwise. However, if every succeeding government can live up to their oath of office by being just to all parts and strata of the State. Ogun West can possibly enjoy a new lease of life. Succinctly put, whoever is the Governor should adhere to their oath of being fair and just to all parts of the State.
But the greatest and most expected solution lies with the people of Ogun West gaining the State power. As late Kwame Nkrumah was quoted to have said “seek ye first the political kingdom and all else shall be added unto you”. The motive behind this statement is an attestation to what is currently confronting the people of Ogun West today. As such, the people of Ogun West must diligently and truthfully seek the attainment of political power and every other thing might begin to follow suit. While it is true that various attempts has been made in the past even up till the last election which is still undergoing process of litigation. But those attempts had been marred by individual ego, personal and political interests had overtime beclouded the sense of judgment of the individual political actors. Political players in Ogun West, especially a good number of those who had once indicated their interest in the Governorship seat have never been pragmatic and realistic with their aspirations. Better still, they have always been ambitiously blinded by their so-called ambition. Their level of commitment to the higher goal is suspect. Thereby consciously or unconsciously robbing the zone of some outright golden opportunities. What was supposed to be seen and viewed from collective point of view has always been narrowed down to a personal attainment. The resultant effect of that has always been stillbirth, which has in turn created another inherent and multi dimensional problems ranging from animosity and elitist contempt for one another. The major political actors must demonstrate that they are ready to learn from the past mistakes and be truthful to themselves.
More to that, those who have used the cliché of Ogun West agenda to gain political and economic power with recognition should demonstrate utmost patriotism to the agenda while refusing the urge to be a willing tool in the hands of some centrifugal forces against their own people at the slightest political exigencies and consideration. Coupled with that, Ogun West must try to build a respectable voice that would serves as a rallying point to all the people. In that light, politics is far too important to be left in the hands of core politicians, as such we must attract the attention of well-meaning individuals of the area. Like former California Legislator Jesse Unruh said of politics “Until you’ve been in politics you’ve never really been alive. It’s the only sport for grownups, all other sports are for the kids “. To that extent, all Ogun West leading lights must get involved and resist the temptation of always avoiding politics like plague.
Having said all that, the issue of Ogun West Governorship debacle has become a moral burden against all men of good conscience in the State. Until Ogun West gains political power, the agitation will not just evaporate into thin air. The burden will continue to trouble all men of character and fair-minded individuals in the State.
Tayo Oyekanmi is the former Legislative Leader of Ipokia Local Government